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Posts posted by Big_G_111

  1. All right! I actually found one other person that could use this info!!!


    As for the software - I did it myself in Excel. :)  (I was an actuary for a short time in my ancient history.)


    I looked at the commercial BJ analysis programs, but it wasn't clear that I could modify them to incorporate the Spanish 21 deck probabilities and rule mods. 


    So, I read a couple of papers online on how to do infinite-deck regular BJ calculations. (Over the years, there have been a few math/statistics majors here and there choosing this for their senior thesis.) I then set up a set of spreadsheets in Excel, only dealing with the 10-12 cases I listed in the first post. 


    Took me about 10 hours for the initial setup. The key was to first run them using standard BJ, so I could compare the results to the readily-available results of others, then fix any errors I made. 


    Once they were 100% working for standard BJ, I first shifted the probabilities to the 48-card deck of Spanish 21, then adjusted the payouts and player rules to those of Spanish 21. (Dealer rules don't change in Spanish 21.) That took me another 5 hours or so, then 2-3 hours to fix the omissions, as seen in posts 2, 3 & 4.


    I saved maybe $100 total from these surrenders on my cruise, so I guess I'll have to go on more cruises to fully recoup my time investment. :) 

  2. A cruise ship is a great place to learn how to shoot, as you’ll likely have the same few dealers working the table for the whole trip.


    My #1 tip would be to come right out and tell the dealer that you’re new to the game. They will then know to bring you onboard and clearly explain what’s going on.


    Speaking of which, know your crew - you have the boxman watching the chips, the stickman working the dice, and two dealers, one at each end. 90% of your interaction will be with the dealer on your end. He is your man in the game, watching and paying your bets. Treat him well (not just $$$) and he will treat you well, learning your preferred bets and reminding you if you forget. 


    Everyone has their own preferred bets - for me, it’s the pass line and one come bet, both with full odds behind. But hey - you do you.


    I don’t do the dark side, but I don’t have a problem with someone else doing so - unless it’s me shooting. 🙂 Fact is, having a dark side player at the table keeps the game honest. Otherwise, it’s to the house’s advantage to call a questionable 7-out with a tipped die or what not. But yeah, if you’re looking for fun and socialization, don’t do the dark side.


    There’s a lot of superstition that goes with craps, and you’ll pick it up by observation. Eventually, you’ll do something that angers someone.  For the most part, don’t sweat it - no one can please everyone, and you aren’t purposely trying to screw up the game. But, since you asked ....


    My list of 4 absolute DON’Ts:


    1) Do NOT reach into the bowl (main area of the table) when the dice are out, that is, once the stick man has pushed the dice to the shooter. If you missed a bet, tough. Worst case, you can verbally request your bet from your dealer (i.e., “$10 on the pass” or “$6 on the eight”). If he’s working with you, he will acknowledge with “It’s a bet”, and you can get the money straight after the roll. 


    There is nothing that will anger the entire table more than some doofus sticking his hands in and getting in the way of the dice while they are in the air. Superstition says that’s a guaranteed 7-out. Place your bets while the dice are at center table. 


    2) Do NOT hold your drink over the table. There’s a ledge under the table for drinks. Use it. Turn to the side to drink your beer or whatever, like everyone else is doing. One spilled drink will shut the table down for anywhere from 15 minutes to the rest of the night. 


    3) Do NOT buy in with cash money in the middle of a roll - wait for the shooter to make a point or 7-out. You can spot this condition by looking at the black/white puck that indicates the point number  - if it’s on white/on, hold off on your buy-in.  Otherwise, you’re slowing down the game. (This one isn’t as absolute as the others. If there’s a bunch of chip-shuffling at the other end or players hashing out hardway bets, and you can get your buy-in done quickly, then have at it.)


    4) Do NOT, under any circumstances, say out loud the number between 6 and 8. No real reason, just don’t. 

    • Like 1
  3. One last clarification before I sail - 


    The hard 16 v 10 is only early surrendered if it’s 10-6 or 9-7, not 8-8, which should be played out as a split. 



    Let me explicitly list every play.


    One should early surrender the following:


    Hard 16 v 10 (but not 8-8 v 10)


    Hard 13 v A

    Hard 14 v A (including 7-7 v A)

    Hard 15 v A

    Hard 16 v A (including 8-8 v A)

    Hard 17 v A


  4. tl;dr version:


    Corrected Early Surrender Optimal Strategy for Fun 21 on Carnival plc ships

    Hard 16 v 10

    Hard 13-17 v A

    (Includes 7-7 & 8-8, excludes soft hands)



    Long version:


    OK, here are the corrected numbers. (I realize few people here will care about the specifics, but I’ll leave them here anyway for those who stumble upon this post years later.)


    5 v A -0.46159

    6 v A -0.47934

    7 v A -0.49838


    12 v A -0.49233

    13 v A -0.53138

    14 v A -0.56743

    15 v A -0.60070

    16 v A -0.62142

    17 v A -0.66625


    As I guessed earlier, this DOES make it so you should NOT early surrender the 7 v A. 





  5. Let me get started with the tl;dr version:


    Fun 21 on Carnival plc ships - you should take early surrender in the following cases:

    16 v dealer 10

    8-8 v dealer 10

    7 vs dealer A

    13-17 vs dealer A

    7-7 , 8-8 vs dealer A




    Long version :


    On the Carnival plc ships, they offer a blackjack variant called “Fun 21”. You can find the details elsewhere - this game is essentially Spanish 21 in the US or Pontoon in Australia.


    However, one difference is that early surrender is offered - you can toss in your hand after seeing your cards and the dealer’s up card, but BEFORE he/she checks for a dealer blackjack, and get half your wager back. This is different than the more common late surrender, where you can only pull out after the dealer has checked for blackjack (and taken all the bets if he/she has it). 


    You can find the optimal strategy for Spanish 21/pontoon online. What you CAN’T find is the optimal early surrender strategy, because AFAIK, the Carnival plc ships are the only places on earth that run this particular game, and no one has bothered to compute it.


    So I ran the numbers myself, using an infinite deck approximation. I saved myself some trouble by only checking those hands that would call for early surrender in normal BJ (14-16 vs 10, 5-7 and 12-17 vs A).


    Here are the numbers I got for expected return - anything below -0.5 means you should early surrender:

    16 v 10 -0.52647

    15 v 10 -0.48701

    14 v 10 -0.44426

    5 v A -0.46416*

    6 v A -0.48183*

    7 v A -0.51335**

    12 v A -0.49465

    13 v A -0.53353

    14 v A -0.56941

    15 v A -0.60253

    16 v A -0.63311

    17 v A -0.68005


    I also ran some edge cases - 16 v 9, 17 v 10, 18 v A - to make sure I wasn’t missing any additional surrender cases - they all cleared the -0.5 hurdle. 

    * This number excludes the possible gain from drawing to a hard 11, then doubling. I didn’t compute the gain because these already are good enough to not surrender.

    ** This number also excludes the gain from drawing to hard 11 (via a 4 or a pair of 2s), then doubling. I ran the gain from that times the odds of getting to that spot, and the gain was still below -0.5, but not by much. 

    As far as splitting 8s v 10 or A - doing that puts you into -0.6 territory before accounting for the chance of doubling, and there’s no way the double option comes close to making up that much money. Toss it in. 

    I might have made some calculation errors, but I’m pretty confident these are the right plays. 


    The 16 v 10 and 7 v A are pretty close to even, so no big deal if you want to take your chances with them. But you should definitely be giving up on those stiff hands v A. Interestingly, the worst hand in the game is 17 v A, not 16 vs A or 16 v 10. 


    All in, this looks to trim about 0.2% from the house edge, bringing it down to the 0.6-0.7% range. Not as good as 3:2 blackjack, but better than 6:5 blackjack. 


    Hope this helps. I enjoy playing this game, and y’all should give it a go. Just be sure to print off the strategy before you sail - it’s NOT the same as for regular BJ. 




  6. I did a whole cruise on Koningsdam with nothing but jeans & collared buttoned shirts. Now, I didn't crash the MDR on Gala Night dressed like that, but aside from having to eat at the buffet or elsewhere on those nights, you should be fine.


    In other words, HAL is *not* too formal for you.

  7. FWIW, what happened to the OP has been my experience MOST of the time with promo chips on land-based casinos as well.


    Occasionally, I'll get "play-til-you-lose" chips, which do indeed work as the OP was expecting them to behave (except that they just let the promo chip ride, rather than replacing it with a real chip), but that's been the exception, not the rule.


    IMO, Princess was in the right, here, and it's unfortunate that the OP chose to no-play them based on it.


    Now, had the dealer taken away the promo chip on a push, he'd have a valid gripe. (Actually, the fine print would imply that the casino COULD take away the promo chip after a push, but I have a 100% hit rate on the dealer letting it ride until a win or loss.)


    Also, I've always been restricted to even-money bets only, which makes the net value of these chips at just under 50% of face value, as noted above. Given that, you're better off taking the free slot play, if the total amount is the same.


    Finally, if you can really get away on Princess with playing the promo chips on single roulette numbers - all bets are ON! The analysis upthread is spot-on, and makes the chips worth over 90% of face value.


    Referencing the OP's analysis, the bets shift from "X to 1" to "X for 1". Going from "2 to 1" to "2 for 1" is a big haircut. "35 to 1" to "35 for 1" is almost nothing.


    Me personally, I wouldn't "paint the table" and make it obvious that I was hedging the bet. That might invite being shut down. I'd just play roulette as usual, making sure to use the promo chips ONLY on single-number bets.

  8. Just have to ask, what were the others?


    Is this an Alzheimer's test? Because I'm probably going to fail! :o


    It's likely in my post history, but as best I recall, it was:


    2014 - RCCL - Vision of the Seas (Baltic)

    2015 - NCL - Dunno (Full Med)

    2016 - Princess - Diamond Princess (Japan)

    2017 - HAL - Koningsdam (Norway)


    I had fun on ALL the cruises, but it was pretty obvious that I was sailing on tired, old, "red-haired stepchildren" ships, and traveling to places that were not part of the lines' core business model.


    K'dam was different - a flagship asset for HAL.




    Edit: The NCL was on Norwegian Spirit. Also, the RCCL was Legend of the Seas, not Vision of the Seas. Partial credit for correct class, at least??

  9. I just got a screaming casino deal in the US Mail today on Caribbean cruises leaving in the pre-Christmas timeframe. We are talking free insides and dirt cheap balconies (like $150-$200 total for 7 days). They must be struggling to fill those cruises going to heavily impacted ports.

  10. The stairs between the music venues and the casino presented a significant noise issue on my cruise, since the two floors can hear each other.


    Having the tunes from the dueling pianos rise up to the casino isn't a problem. But, imagine the sounds of degenerate gamblers (self included :evilsmile:) whooping it up at the dice table. Then think about that bleeding downstairs, particularly during the classical concerts. Now that IS an issue.

  11. I had a connecting cabin on Koningsdam and had no issues with excessive noise bleeding over.


    YMMV, of course. But IMO, if you have some loud talkers or a hacking cough next door, it's going to keep you up, with or without a connecting door.


    Just from a space POV, the non-connecting would be preferable. But I wouldn't give up a desired balcony/location for it.

  12. I haven't been myself but have been told by people who worked on the island that there is world class nature on the island. Were there no excursions to Lake Tyanacha or other wild areas?


    Not on our cruise. That's too bad, as the nature outings we took on Hokkaido were some of the highlights of the cruise.


    Our options were:

    1) Bus around Korsakov

    2) Walk around Korsakov

    3) Bus to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

    4) Historic Train to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

    5-8) The same options in Japanese


    Keep in mind, the tourism infrastructure for this port is.... well, there isn't any. In order to have Japanese-speaking tour guides, they had to bring them in from Vladivostok specifically for our ship.

  13. I was on a Princess cruise that stopped in Korsakov. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but....


    1) It's a tender port, not docked. So there's a big production to even get off the ship.

    2) AFAIK, you had to book a "tour" even to just walk around Korsakov.

    3) There is absolutely nothing to see in Korsakov, unless you want to see what the wrong end of the Soviet Union looked like, in a town that time forgot.

    4) The "big city", Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, is marginally better. Their big attraction is a giant Lenin statue. :) That requires an hour bus or train ride, though.

    5) This port is clearly scheduled for legal reasons to make it an international cruise, not for any intrinsic appeal to the destination.

    6) The majority of the cruisers simply stayed on board and treated it as a sea day. They must have gotten the memo that I missed.


    2/10 would not recommend.

  14. HHHHHEEEEELLLLLLLLLLOOOOO Tutontow: Sounds like the way to go. Also, take the odds. The odds on the Pass Line and on the Come bets as well as the Don't for each of those bets are the only bets in the casino that pay true odds.


    Oh yeah, continuing the beatings, RCCL offers single-odds only on craps.


    (FWIW, NCL was 3-4-5 and Princess and HAL were both double-odds when I sailed with those lines.)

  15. I was just off the Koningsdam last week.


    We did the self-disembarkation, so we were gone and in a cab by 730.


    The longest part of the luggage haul was within the cruise terminal maze - from the ship to the point where you'd pick up your luggage if HAL were schlepping it for you. That was a good several minute walk.


    The taxi stand is located right outside luggage pickup - maybe 20 steps. There were many, many taxis ready for fares.


    There is a cruise terminal employee (or some other "official" dude) there managing the taxi stand, so I assume he would prevent getting an unlicensed cab. Still, I ended up with some shady business. Even with no traffic on a Sunday morning, I was paying 65 euros to the airport, which I suspect includes a 10-15 euro long-haul, given that my inbound taxi was just over 50 euros in heavy traffic.


    It sounds like you'll have plenty of time, particularly if you take your fate into your own hands with a cab. I was able to arrive at the airport in time to switch to a 1020 flight. It DID take 30 minutes or more to clear passport control / security, so allow for that.

  16. So, can you tell us which cabin on deck 4 you would recommend? You got my attention at "mega-balconies", haha, I am thinking maybe 4154?


    No, not that big! :D


    Any of the VB or VF balconies have a nice, large extension open to the sky above, on top of a covered area equal to those of the higher decks.

  17. From the layout, it looks as if they just flipped the locations of BB King and Lincoln Center.


    That's an improvement in terms of not having to worry about casino noise or general bar noise. However, that area is still open to the deck above and the walkway alongside.


    Also, I'm a bit wary of space utilization. On my cruise, BB King was packed whenever the band was playing. The Lincoln Center space is nowhere near as large and doesn't have a dance floor. Unless they are planning to just supersize the new BB King area by also taking over the Billboard space, it doesn't make sense.

  18. Re: The Spa cabins on Deck 10:


    Far forward would probably be better. I would advise avoiding those cabins aft of the main forward staircase. (VQ 10033/10034 or higher)


    In particular, there are a few specific cabins there you would definitely want to avoid - VQ10051/52/54/55. Those are the ones directly adjacent to the Lido Pool area. Continual traffic and slamming doors. Even worse, on the port side, there is an automatic door-opening mechanism that is LOUD. I have no idea how the people in VQ10054 got any rest at all.


    As for the forward location - that worked well for us. You can easily access the stage, the Crow's Nest, the Spa, the Lido Pool, etc. from that stairwell. Yes, getting to the MDR was a hike. We saved some hassle by first walking to the back using the empty hallway of our own (all-cabin) deck, THEN going up/down to the needed floor. That way, we were never fighting crowds.

  19. We just spent 7 days on the Koningsdam (8/20/17 - 8/27/17), cruising to Norway RT from Amsterdam. Rather than starting a new thread, I'll just hijack this one to post my thoughts.


    For the most part, I'm aligned with the OP. Excellent food in all the venues, great service. Absolutely agree about "the best showers on the seas". Had one of the Deck 4 mega-balconies - very nice bonus relative to other decks, IMO. Grand Dutch Cafe was great - and on my cruise, became the hangout for actual Dutch people, which speaks well for the food's authenticity.


    As for negatives: Entertainment/activities seemed limited, compared to previous cruises on other, more mass-market lines. World Stage layout is a bit wacky - I went to a Q&A with two of the headliners, and they had little good to say about the configuration from the performers' viewpoint.


    Most critically, HAL will need to re-jigger the Lincoln Center Stage. It just doesn't work as-is. You have a main walkway that has to be closed off with doors and "Quiet, Please" signs. You have the Billboard dueling piano lounge across the walkway, whose customers have to either shut up or clear out during a Lincoln Center performance. Finally, you have the open spiral staircase up to the casino. Heck, at one point, while shooting craps, the guy next to me got chewed out by a concert-going passenger for being "too loud". Too loud - in a casino! That was a new one for me.


    Overall, it was a delight to take a vacation on such a nice, new, well-appointed ship.

  20. I was on Vision of the Seas in 2014 for a Baltic cruise. So my info may or may not still be relevant.


    They only had one craps table, and a "bathtub" version at that. Room for 6-8 players, tops. On the plus side, it was usually staffed and ready for action. (That hasn't been the case on my last two cruises on other lines.)


    I don't remember there being ANY hand-dealt poker available on the ship, but I'm not a poker player, so I could have just missed it.


    Beyond that, other available options were roulette, baccarat, a few blackjack tables, and a couple of carnival games.

  21. The issue with the magical toilet seats on Diamond Princess isn't their set of features - it's the size/shape of the bowl you have to work with.


    As stated upthread, when you encounter these in, say, Japanese hotels, it's no problem because the seats are paired with an elongated, elliptical bowl.


    On the Diamond Princess, you have a circular bowl that is already smaller than even an old-style circular bowl as encountered on land. Take away another 2-3 inches on the back of the sitting area for the mechanism, and you're left with something approximating the size of a toddlers' porta-potty.


    I will agree that this is largely/exclusively a problem for the males, as the ladies don't have to worry about anything getting squished on the front lip of the seat. :D

  22. Alright, since everyone else is slagging the OP, I'll give him/her a little backup.


    I was also recently on the Diamond Princess, probably 1 or 2 cruises before the OP.


    I will actually agree (to an extent) with the OP's point #1. There DID seem to be more "checked-out" personnel than on previous cruises. The drink people, in particular, seemed disinterested in making any sales.


    I wouldn't chalk that up to Princess as much as just fatigue.


    I chatted up the casino personnel, my steward, and some of the wait staff. Probably 3/4 of them were coming up on the end of their contracts. FWIW, the entire production crew was also 2-3 weeks away from finishing their gig.


    Can't help you on 2 or 3, though. The food was fine, and paying for the daubers is SOP everywhere I've seen Bingo. :D

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