When I was young, London was one of the first cities I went to for gambling purposes. I had found a small advertisement for a casino guide book and very soon after I’ve got it I went for a road trip all around Western Europe. I was 19 years old and I left Sweden full with confidence of beating the casinos in Black Jack. Obviously the whole trip became a disaster. I was a rookie still in card counting, but I needed to practice. My first stop the main casino in Amsterdam, on my way to London. I walk into this beautiful and very large casino and I’m super excited. I walk around a bit and starts playing… wait for it…. . How could I not do that, the French Roulette is super nice and beautiful and they have 3 dealers and an inspector, and they throw around the chips like pro´s and it is very exciting and romantic in a strange way. Just like in the James bond and other casino movies.
Of course I lose a third of my bank roll in 2 hours and I realize, what a stupid romantic buffoon I am. I walk over to the black jack table and starts playing there instead and after a few hours I leave with no particular gain.
In the next few days I visit Brussels, Bruges, and Oostende and have some minor successes even without counting cards. But I do have to say back in the 90´s the casinos in Belgium were very shabby and not very interesting.
I take the ferry to London and starts visiting and trying to find the casinos. There were a few big ones that I don’t remember the names of but I visited The Ritz Club, Palm Beach Casino, The Victoria and some very small clubs that I don’t remember the names of. Back in the days in London the casinos were private and often very small and they had private memberships. They also had a rule in place where you had to become a member 24 hours in advance and come back the day later, almost like a reverse cool down period.
Most of the casinos were super luxurious and you had to have a jacket and tie, which I hate. But after managing to borrow one to get in, you start plying and realize how expensive the minimum bets were. Here you have me, 19 years old, lost a big chunk of my bankroll in Amsterdam and wants to play Black Jack and count cards. It just does not add up. I will write in later episodes about bankrolls and counting cards, but when you have a small bankroll, it just does not matter. The game becomes all luck in the end if you don’t have a proper bankroll of at least 300-500 large bets.
So my first gambling trip became instead a very good lesson on what is necessary if you want to be a player. The gaming success was very meager but instead I learned where to play and the obvious fact that I needed way more training.
The good thing though was that now after that first trip, my faith was sealed… I was going to study gaming and my future plans were set.
I see you very soon with a more comprehensive look at some of the casinos in London and I will also include a section of UK´s online casinos that I have played at.
I see you soon again.
Gaming Consultant and Games Expert
Master of Science Casino Marketing, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Daniel Sahlin is highly respected for his expertise within casino and gambling. Daniel have been studying Science Casino Marketing at University of Nevada in Las Vegas and has been seen frequently within casino regulation debates. See his stories for Casinomir here.