Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part IV

One of the best player favorable blackjack rules out there is for a blackjack payout of 2-1 instead of 3-2. And there are a couple of reasons why this should be your favorite type of game.

First, the payout is larger. Significantly larger. A 3-2 payout breaks down to 1.5 to 1. When comparing that to 2-1 you can see how 2-1 is a larger payout. Now let’s put that in terms of money.

Let’s say that you’ve wagered $10, and then were dealt a natural blackjack. In a 3-2 game you would only win $15, whereas in a 2-1 game you would $20. The more you bet the larger the payout: in betting $100 you could win $150 or $200. Which would you want to win? That’s what I thought.

Another reason to absolutely love this blackjack rule is because of what it does to the house edge. While other player favorable blackjack rules only reduce the house edge by parts of a percent—and that’s not a bad thing, everything little bit helps after all—the 2-1 payout rule reduces the house edge by about 2.2%. Yes, 2.2%.

So let’s say that all other rules were the same and you were playing in a 2-1 game; and we’ll go worst case scenario of a house edge of 5%. The 2-1 rule reduces the house edge to 2.8%. If you’re playing perfect basic strategy you can come even closer to evening out the odds; and if you’re a card counter the odds can be tilted in your favor.

Now the down side to this blackjack rule is that it’s not offered often because when it is pro blackjack players will flock to and descend on those games. And with large bankrolls too. Casinos will then have to make a great number of payouts to the pros, causing casinos to not offer this promotion often. It’s not been unheard of for the 2-1 promotions to be cut off because the pros have won too much money.

But if you hear tell of one of these 2-1 payout games, you had better run as fast as you possibly can to that casino to get there before the pros do. And while you’re running there, let me know about the game too.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Rules—Part V

Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part III

Ready for some more player favorable blackjack rules to look for? Well, who wouldn’t be?

Now, the likelihood of finding every single player favorable rule at one single game isn’t that great. You need to look for the best combination of these rules. You may only find a game with only one of these rules, but it will still be better to play at than a game with no player favorable rules—or worse, casino favorable rules like the 6-5 payout. But if you happen to find a blackjack game with all the player favorable rules, let me know!

But for right now we’ll look at resplitting Aces.

We all know to split Aces. We split them for their flexibility of being used as a 1 or as an 11. Each time you split up a pair of Aces you are potentially starting each hand with 11 and are half way to blackjack. At the worst you can reduce the Ace down to 1 if necessary and play out your hand as if you had been dealt a soft hand.

But look for a moment at being dealt a pair of Aces that you split. Let’s say that one of your original Aces received another Ace. Some casinos won’t allow you to resplit, which leaves you with a hand total of 12. A stiff hand that you can try to hit, and might win. But we all know how stiff hands turn out.

By not letting you resplit Aces, casinos are increasing your chances of losing, which of course increases their chances of making money.

And this is why you want to look for blackjack games that will allow you to resplit Aces. Allowing resplits lowers the casino’s edge by about 0.06%. It’s not a huge amount but the point of having a blackjack strategy is to chip away at the casino’s edge. And resplitting Aces is one more way of doing so.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part IV

Good News for Pennsylvania Blackjack Players

Blackjack players in Pennsylvania have cause to celebrate.

After months and months of debate, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted last night to approve table games. The racinos and slots-only casinos already in the state will be allowed to expand their offerings with the sorts of table games that can be found in Vegas—including blackjack.

Tuesday night saw the Pennsylvania Senate approving the bill. And Pennsylvania State Governor Ed Rendell has already said he would sign.

The good news coming from this bill isn’t limited to giving Pennsylvania blackjack fans a place to play; it is also good news for the state itself.

The revenue from this bill—expected to about $250 million—will fill in the gap in the state’s budget for this fiscal year. It will also prevent around 1,000 state employees from losing their jobs. And there will be jobs, an estimated 10,000, to come since the casinos and racinos will have to have employees to man their new table games—calling blackjack dealers!

Larger casinos in Pennsylvania will have to pay a licensing fee of $16.5 million. The smaller resort casinos will only have to pay $7.5 million. But the casinos will also have to pay a percentage in state taxes as well. For the first two years, it is a 14% tax which will drop when those first two years are up to 12%. But there is also a 2% local tax which will remain in effect.

It is predicted that in the next 18 months $320 million in revenue will be generated—and that is much needed in that state.

It could take up to another six months before blackjack and other table games are installed while licensing and regulations are sorted out, new employees trained and the tables actually installed.

With this sort of increase in state revenue and in job creation, it’s a wonder other states with casinos don’t take another look at gambling as a source of money for their states. And why the federal government should consider licensing and regulating online gambling for revenue too.

But within six months, blackjack players in or neat Pennsylvania will have a place to play without having to travel to Atlantic City or Vegas.

Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part II

In addition to single deck games, you blackjack players also want to keep an eye out for blackjack games that allow you to double down after splitting a pair.

You have a pair when the first two cards you are dealt are worth the same amount. This would be being dealt two 6s. It is also a pair when you are dealt a 10 and, say, a Queen. These cards make a pair because they’re both worth ten, but no real blackjack player would split a pair of 10s when it could be played as a hard 20—nice strong hand there.

Doubling down is when you double your original bet and receive only one more card before standing.

Not all casinos will allow you to double down after you split a pair. But when you can it lowers the house edge by about 0.14%. And it also the payout potential is pretty outstanding.

Let’s say that you are playing at a $10 minimum table. You place a $10 bet and are dealt a pair of nines against a dealer up card of three. Basic strategy for this situation is to split. So you put out another $10 and split your cards.

But let’s say that you want to double down on one of your newly split pairs. You put forth another $10—your total bet that’s on the line is now$30—and receive a 10. One of your hands is now worth 19, which is pretty strong. Let’s keep going and say that the dealer busts and you win. You just won $60!

You can see how some casinos might frown on doubling down after splitting pairs—it might cost them too much when they add up the lowered house edge and the payouts they would have to make.

But if you can find a blackjack game that will allow to double down after splitting play there. If you play there and use perfect basic strategy, you can look at a house edge that is a little lower than the 0.5% you would have at a regular blackjack game.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part III

Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part I

Blackjack rules aren’t the same from casino to casino. I’m sure most casinos are happy if you believe this, but it’s not the truth.

The rules of the game can sometimes vary from casino to casino. Some rules will be casino favorable while others are favorable to the players. Some casinos try to give themselves an edge business-wise by offering players blackjack games with rules that favor the players.

Over the next few blogs posts I’ll cover what some of these player favorable rules are and why you want to play in games with these rules.

Single Deck Games
The first type of game for you to look for is a single deck game. When blackjack was first played in casinos it was played with only one deck. Over time the casinos figured out that they could increase their edge if they had each game played with more decks of cards. And that’s how we got to the six and eight deck games we have today. These multi-deck games give the house an increased edge by 0.5%.

But the single deck game has never died out. Over the last few years, casinos have begun offering single deck games to compete with their neighbors. But you would have to know that a single deck offers better player odds than a multi-deck game. The casinos that are not offering single deck games are hoping that players will remain ignorant and assume the there’s no difference between the two types of games.

But the one thing you want to watch out for when looking at single deck games are the ones that offer a 6-5 payout. The 6-5 payout actually cancels out the player favorable odds from the single deck game; in fact, the 6-5 payout actually increases the house edge.

When looking for a blackjack game, keep an eye open for single deck games, just not those with 6-5 payouts.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part II

Word on the Hi Lo 13 Blackjack Variation

While cruising the online casinos, I saw a variation of blackjack that I hadn’t seen before. Or maybe I just had just missed it in my other online casino perusals. The variation that I found was called Hi Lo 13 Blackjack.

Hi Lo 13 Blackjack is played pretty much the same as any other blackjack game, although there are restrictions on doubling down and resplitting isn’t allowed. But then such restrictions shouldn’t surprise us after all. We’ve all come across them before. So really this variation isn’t played any differently than what we’re are used to.

What makes this blackjack variation different is the Hi Lo 13 part. Players are offered not one, but three side bets. These side bets, like most others, don’t have anything to really do with blackjack. I think side bets were created just to jazz up the game.

The side bets offered in this game center around the number 13. Players can place a side bet that the first two cards they are dealt will either be less than 13 or equal to 13 or—you guessed it—more than 13. While the under and over 13 bets give you more opportunities to win, the equal to 13 bet is just throwing money away because, come one, how often are you dealt a 13?

The thing that’s frustrating about this variation is that if you were a card counter and had counted the remaining deck as being rich in low cards, you could potentially make some side bets that your first two cards would be less than 13. But we all know that you can’t count cards online. This one is like having a piece of cake held over your head and it’s just out of reach.

So. That being said, like all other variations this one should be avoided too. Side bets are prime opportunities to lose money which is why they are not the best blackjack games to play. And since the actual game is the same as regular blackjack, and if you’re not making side bets, why play a variation when you could play regular blackjack?

Now if I could find Hi Lo 13 at a land based casino then I’d be more inclined to play it since you can use some card counting then.

Plus One, Minus One—Card Counting Explained Part II

Well now that you know that the basic aspect of card counting is only adding one or subtracting one.

But what is the point of card counting and what does it do to your blackjack strategy?

While basic strategy, when played perfectly, can lower the house edge to 0.5%, card counting can even out the blackjack odds and even give you the edge. How does that work?

The whole reason to card count is to know whether the remainder of the unplayed deck is rich in high cards or low cards. High cards are 10s, face cards and Aces. Low cards are 2 through 6.

When you are counting and you count goes positive it tells you that more small value cards were played and have been discarded. And because more small value cards have been played, it reasons to say that the unplayed cards have more high cards.

Your card is positive because you have counted more low cards. Your count is based on the cards that have been played so that you can get an idea of what is still left to play. A positive count means more low cards have been played, and that the remaining deck has a higher ratio of high cards left. A negative count means that more high cards have been played, leaving more low cards left to be played.

This is where card counting affects the betting portion of your betting strategy. When your blackjack count is positive, reasoning that the remaining deck is rich in high cards, you want to increase your bet. With a remaining deck rich in high cards you stand a better chance of being dealt a high hand value or even a natural blackjack.

Conversely, when you blackjack count goes negative you know that more high cards have been played and the remaining deck is rich in low cards. At this point it will be easier to hit to bust than to be dealt a strong hand. When your count goes negative you will want to decrease you bets.

Think of it this way: when you count is positive you need to add to your bets, whereas if your count is negative you need to decrease your bets. Make your betting action reflect the positive or negativness of your count.

Plus One, Minus One—Card Counting Explained

There are many myths associated with card counting and blackjack. Some are associated with cad counting in casinos. Others are associated with learning this blackjack strategy:

You have to have a photographic memory.
You can’t count into a six deck shoe.
You have to be highly intelligent to count.

The truth is that these are all false.

You do not have to have a photographic memory.
You can count into a six deck shoe.
You don’t have to be highly intelligent to count.

Basic card counting is a simple skill to learn. It does take a lot of practice to get to the point that you don’t alert casino employees that you’re counting. But first you have to learn. And so many players are intimidated by this skill—perhaps after hearing of the legendary MIT blackjack team or seeing Dustin Hoffman in ‘Rain Man.’

About those two: 1. The MIT students were not operating as individuals, hence ‘team,’ and 2. Dustin Hoffman was playing an autistic man whose mind didn’t operate like yours and mine does. Because of those and other media representations, cad counting has taken on this reputation as a difficult skill to learn.

But don’t worry. There are many seasoned blackjack players out there. Think about it, if this skill could only be used by a handful of blackjack players casinos wouldn’t feel threatened by it.

The point is that card counting is as easy as elementary arithmetic.

Card counters assign values, sometimes called tags, to cards. In the most basic and easiest system to learn, tags are assigned as such: 2-6 are plus 1, 7-9 are neutral and have no value, and 10-Ace are minus 1.

Now for the basic math:

You have been dealt a 6 and a 4. Both of those are plus 1, so you add +1 to +1 to equal +2. You hit and are dealt a 10. A 10 has a tag of -1. Add that to your +2 to equal +1. It looks like this:

6, 4 and 10 becomes +1, +1, -1 = +1

It’s like the basic adding and subtracting of positive and negative numbers you did in elementary school. Card counting is that easy. You simply add or subtract the tags of your cards, other players’ cards and the dealer’s cards.

But then what do you do?

Keep an eye out for Plus One, Minus One—Card Counting Explained Part II

How to Play a Hard 12 in Blackjack

When playing blackjack, you are bound to be dealt a stiff hand. These are the hardest hands to play in blackjack. They are difficult to win with.

You’ll be dealt a stiff hand around 43% of the time you play. This is because there are more stiff hands (12-16) than there are strong hands (18-20); and when you’re dealt a hand with a low total, you have a decent chance of hitting yourself into a stiff hand.

But off the stiff hands, according to basic strategy, hard 12 gives you the most room to work with…for a stiff hand.

With hard 13 through hard 16, you will need to stand against half of the dealer’s up cards. But with a hard 12 you’re hitting against seven of the ten cards a dealer could have.

We all know that all stiff hands will hit when facing a dealer’s 7 and higher. And you stand on a dealer 2 through 6. Except for the hard 12.

When you have a hard 12 against a dealer 2 or 3 it’s best to hit. You can actually win 37% of the time when hitting a hard 12 against the dealer’s 2 or 3. Yes, you can lose 63% of the time. But if you were to stand against the dealer’s 2 or 3 you will only win 35% of the time.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be making the play where I stand a 37% of winning than 35%.

While 37% isn’t that much higher than 35% it is still higher. And in this game you want to make the play that gives you the best chance of winning and minimizes your losses. And that is the case with a hard 12 against a dealer 2 or 3. By hitting you are increasing you chances of winning and minimizing you losses as best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt.