It’s a Thursday and I’m at the local casino. The $15 tables are all packed with people, and I want to get home by my bedtime, so I decide to suck up the extra risk of ruin and play with green chips. Halfway into the first shoe, the RC goes up to +10, the big bets go out, and the green chips start piling up. Then black ones. The count goes south with a few hands left, so I color up to look for another table. With purple chips clinking in my pockets, I find a near-empty $15 table and start playing. The count goes down past -1, so I sit out and watch the guys next to me lose their asses while the dealer pulls out five-card 20’s. Then the $25 table across the pit opens up again. Shuffle time.
So over I go, and buy in with a purple chip. Playing heads up, and the count goes up right away. I’ve got two max bets out, the RC is at +24, and I keep drawing 13’s and 14’s. I lose insurance bets, I bust hitting these stiff totals, the purple’s gone, then another purple, then I’m pulling bills out of my pocket. A guy sits down next to me and tries to buy in. “Sorry, no mid-shoe entry.” The the dealer says. Then she adds, “If you want to let him play, you can request a shuffle.”
Interesting. But the running count’s still in the 20’s so I keep playing. I get a blackjack in there somewhere, but the shoe is totally New Balance: expensive, not good. Less than two decks left, RC 24. More cash out of my pocket. More losses.
“Are you sure you don’t want a shuffle”
“NO! The shuffle’s fine!” I buy more chips. It’s the last hand, so I put out three max bets. 13, 17, 18. Dealer Ace. Are you kidding?
“Insurance.” Then I realize I have to buy more chips for my insurance bet. I also realize that the wad of bills in my pocket only has like three more bills in it. And I need two.
Three max bets insured. Dealer checks… and… “I got it.” Relief. Dealer relieved, too.
“You want that shuffle now?” Says the guy next to me. He’s been watching me pull money out of my pocket for whole shoe and can’t believe what this degenerate gambler is doing.
The cut card hadn’t come out. There’s one more hand left and the True Count is at least +10. I’ve got those three max bets back, but… if I play ’em all, I don’t have enough to double or split. So I drop back down to two hands. Draw K6, KQ, dealer draws a Jack… again. I stay on the 16. Dealer turns over a 2… and then the cut card… then a 7. And my big winning night is officially a big loser. Damn.
But I leave with a lesson: When I’m playing at those $25 no mid-shoe tables, I can just take a break when the count goes bad, and when a ploppie sits down and wants to play, I can say, “Sure, start a new shoe.”
Suddenly, that no mid-shoe rule turns out to be a blessing.