Who is Hollywood Dave?

Ladies who play blackjack, you should all know who Hollywood Dave is. Doesn’t matter if you play blackjack online or not. You should know who this guy is.

This guy is not only “The Undisputed Bad Boy of Blackjack,” he would also qualify for entry in a Hot Dudes of Blackjack blog post series.

When he was younger he realized that he wasn’t the jock-type and turned his interests to artistic pursuits. This included acting. After attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre, Dave moved to Los Angeles. Once there he worked those boring mundane jobs that all actors seem to get stuck with so that they can make a living and still be in the area to try to make it on the screen.

But Dave got smart. And he got into blackjack. Pursuing an income from playing blackjack, Dave got the income he wanted and the flexible schedule he needed for acting. And thus Hollywood Dave entered the blackjack scene.

But something happened. He wasn’t just good at blackjack—this guy had talent! Especially when it came to card counting. And while local casinos didn’t like him, the blackjack world would come to love him.

Hollywood Dave eventually wound up on the 2004 World Series of Blackjack where his fan base began to grow. And no wonder he has a fan base—this is a hot blackjack player who can play the cards!

But it didn’t end with the World Series of Blackjack. Oh, no. Hollywood Dave on Celebrity Blackjack as well.

But what makes him worthy of a potential Hot Dudes of Blackjack blog post series? Cute face, blue eyes, black or blond messy spiked hair. And he does have that bad boy style going on with his clothes—wrist bands, cuffs, loose jeans, dark attire. His fun and funky style makes him a favorite among the ladies of blackjack and his fans. And we could never forget about his talent with card counting and blackjack!

How Not to Look Silly at the Blackjack Table

I heard tell of a guy who is planning a vacation to Vegas. He’s a slots player but for some reason feels compelled to play blackjack. He’s wondering how he can avoid looking silly while at the blackjack tables and just how different blackjack is from slot machines.

My first piece of advice to this man is to play at a low stakes blackjack table. If you’re new to the game or are learning you don’t want to put yourself in the position to lose a large chunk of money by playing a game you aren’t familiar with for high stakes.

Piece of advice number two: find a basic strategy chart. This is the easiest way to play blackjack without having to know any complex strategies and still have a decent shot at winning some money.

As to how blackjack differs from slots, well, there’s the obvious. Slots are played on a machine that you insert a player card in, push a button and wait to see what the outcome is. Whereas blackjack is a card game played at a table in which the player chooses how to play out his hand.

At the center of the difference is that slots are games of chance while blackjack is a game of skill. This means that in blackjack you can have an effect on the outcome of a round. This is why I recommend a basic strategy chart for a new blackjack player or for someone who just wants to give blackjack a shot.

Another difference: for the most part, slots are a losing game. Depending on the machine, it may take longer, but overall you will lose more money on a slot machine than what you win. In blackjack, because the player can choose how to play out his hand, he can apply strategy—even if it’s as simple as using a basic strategy chart—to lower the house edge and actually win some money.

If this man is looking to come home with more money than he started with, I’d recommend sticking to blackjack while on his Vegas vacation. Even playing with only basic strategy he will have better odds than what he will find at a slot machine.

Player Advantages in Blackjack—Surrender

Yes, I have another one!

But come on, why shouldn’t I point out the advantages that players have in blackjack?

While payouts, splitting pairs and doubling down can be done both in blackjack online and off, surrender isn’t always available online. It might take you some hunting before you find an online blackjack game that lets you.

But on to surrender.

Surrender is an option that’s kind of like folding in poker. In poker a player can look at his cards and decide to give up his wager and quit the round without having to bet anymore money.

Surrender is like this but better. That’s right, I said better.

When a player surrenders in blackjack he is only giving up half of his wager. So if you wagered $50 and were dealt a couple of cards that you just can’t really do anything with, you can choose to give up $25 and quit the round.

There are two types of surrender: early and late.

Early surrender is when you surrender before the dealer checks to see if he has a natural blackjack. This version allows players to quit the round even if the dealer has blackjack.

Late surrender the player can only surrender after the dealer has checked to see if he has blackjack. The downside is that if the dealer has blackjack, the player is stuck.

It isn’t often that a smart time comes along to surrender. It’s best to do so when basic strategy advises you to. Most basic strategy charts will say that the best times to surrender is when you have a hard 15 versus a dealer’s 10; and when you have a hard 16 versus a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace. Those are the only time you want to surrender because it’s going to be hard to beat a dealer with those up cards when you have a stiff hand.

Surrender is a player advantage because it allows the player out of the game when the dealer can’t leave the game. He has to stay and play. This is because blackjack is a player versus the dealer type game. The dealer cannot quit the game because without him there is no game.

So even if the player dealt a natural blackjack in a face up game the dealer just has to stand back and lose.

Player Advantages in Blackjack—Payouts

Did you know that your 3-2 payout is an advantage all by itself? That just being paid 3-2 on a natural blackjack eats away at the house edge?

No?

It’s actually quite simple. See, every time that a blackjack player wins with a natural blackjack he receives a payout of 3-2.

The dealer, no matter what he wins with, will only receive a 1-1 payout—better known as an even money payout.

So how does this impact the house edge?

Let’s look at some math. Let’s say that you go one-on-one with a blackjack dealer for two hundred games at $10 per game. Now of those two hundred games you win fifteen with natural blackjacks, and the dealer also wins fifteen rounds with natural blackjacks; we’re going to forget the other games, only looking at those games that have been won with natural blackjack.

With the 3-2 payout you will have won $225. The blackjack dealer, being paid 1-1 for his natural blackjacks will have only won $150.

The point is that over time the blackjack player can eventually empty the dealer’s chip rack just from winning. It would take time, but we’re looking at the fact that it can be done because no matter how many times the dealer wins, he is only receiving an even money payout while the blackjack player is getting 1.5x what he has wagered.

The 3-2 payout is an advantage to the blackjack player because he is getting more for a win—his wins are worth more and accomplish more in terms of payout. In strategy, the point is to win more. And since the player is winning more money in a win it gives him an advantage that the blackjack dealer doesn’t have.

Player Advantages in Blackjack—Pair Splitting

My last post talked about the advantage given to blackjack players when they double down. But this is not the only play that players have at their disposal that the dealer doesn’t.

Players are given these plays so that they can have a hand up on the dealer in terms of options to play with. A dealer can’t double down. He also can’t split a pair.

Splitting a pair can only happen when a blackjack player is dealt two cards worth the same, like being dealt an 8 of hearts and an 8 of spades. A blackjack player puts worth another wager equal to their first wager and the cards are then split into two hands, each to be played out like any other hand.

Whereas doubling down is more of an offensive blackjack play, splitting pairs is viewed as more of a defensive play.

For example, look at a pair of 8’s. The hand total here is 16. And since it doesn’t have an Ace it’s a hard 16. Typically you would be stuck standing, unless the dealer’s up card is 7 or higher. This isn’t a hand that we like since standing usually means a loss and hitting usually means busting.

But if it’s a hard 16 built with a pair of 8’s they can be split, and the blackjack player can start over with an 8 in each new hand; and an 8 would be hit against any dealer up card.

The reason this is a defensive play is because you have a chance at recovering your chances for winning. Think of it as giving your hand a second life—the hard 16 didn’t work, out so let’s try two hands that start with 8 and see what happens.

It’s hard to build a strong hand from a hard 16. Starting out with an 8 gives you the chance to go a second round at building a strong hand.

Just like with doubling down, this play has its advantages when played at the right time. The right time can easily be determined with basic strategy. Just check the chart for the best times to split a pair.

And not all pair should be split. Like a pair of 10’s. That is one of the strongest hands after a natural blackjack because the only thing that can beat it is if the dealer has a natural blackjack or hits to 21. Never throw away a pair of 10’s by splitting them.

But the point is to take advantage of the plays that dealers can’t make. But using them players can eat away the house edge, which will raise their own chances.

Player Advantages in Blackjack—Double Down

Sometimes when I’m out in a casino I hear a blackjack player complaining about how the dealer has the advantage. Usually these players have lost a good number of hands. But then when watching them I can see that they’re not playing by basic strategy even.

But as to the dealer having the advantage, not so much. When playing according to basic strategy, the house only has a 0.5% edge over the blackjack player. And what gives them that edge?

Mostly they have more cards that favor them. High cards favor the player, and low cards favor the dealer. There are twenty cards per deck that favor the player and twenty five that favor the dealer. That’s where the edge comes from mostly.

But look at what the player has in his blackjack pocket.

Let’s take a look at one of the plays that the blackjack player has that give him an advantage: double down.

Doubling down is when a player doubles his wager and only receives one more card before standing. If he wins, he is paid twice the amount of his original wager because he doubled his wager. Doubling down is done so that the player can take advantage of circumstances that lie heavily in his favor.

Players will usually double down when they have a good chance of making a strong hand with only one more card, usually with a hard 10 or 11 and sometimes with a hard 9. By doubling their wager they are taking advantage of the greater payout offered to them.

See, when a blackjack player wins a round he is paid 2-1. When the dealer wins he is only paid 1-1. The higher payout that a blackjack player receives is what tips the odds in his favor. If a player and the dealer each win the same number of hands, the player will have taken more of the dealer’s money than the dealer has taken of his. This is what tilts the odds in the player’s favor.

And that is why it is so important to double down when the opportunity arises. Doubling down not only has the benefit of receiving a greater payout, that greater payout hits the house harder than a payout on a non-doubled hand.

Basic Card Counting

Card counting isn’t the hard complicated skill that it’s made out to be. Yes, there are more complex systems out there for card counting, but not every single system in existence is difficult.

You don’t have to have a photographic memory or be a math genius to learn how to count cards. If you hear that, ignore it. Does it take effort to learn? Yes, like any skill it will take time and dedication to learn. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a hard thing to do.

Many blackjack players at least start out with the most widely and simplest to use: Hi-Lo.

What makes Hi-Lo so simple is that the math involved is easy. If you can add and subtract 1 you can use the Hi-Lo system. It works like this:

Cards 2 through 6 are classified as low cards and are counted as +1. Cards 7 through 9 are classified as neutral and are counted as 0. And finally 10’s, face cards and Aces are counted as -1.

When you’re playing a round of blackjack you add the +1’s and the -1’s of all the cards played during that round. For example. If you have a 10/9 and the dealer has 7/10 it translates as such in the Hi-Lo system: -1 + -1 + 0 + -1 = -3.

Then with each new round you add the card values of the cards played to get a running total.

If the total goes into the negative by at least -3 it means that a high number of high cards have been played and that the remaining deck is rich in low cards—and low cards favor the dealer. This is when you would reduce your wage a bit. But not too much, you don’t want to attract too much attention from the casino staff and risk getting kicked out of the casino.

Likewise if the running total goes positive by at least +3 it means that a high number of low cards have been played, and that the remaining deck is rich in high cards—cards that favor you. This is when you would increase your wager a bit.

As you can see, the math involved with card counting it not all that complex. You can always take a deck of cards and practice on your own.

Lazy Card Counting

I read about this card counting system this morning. I’m not too sure if it’s a real system or someone who is writing about their theory on card counting, but I have to comment on it. In the defense of good ol’ card counting.

This article I read gave several misconceptions of card counting. First they said that card counting required intense concentration and a mathematical mind. And here’s what’s wrong with that notion:

While card counting does require concentration it isn’t an intense concentration. If you have the ability to tell a 2 from a 10 you can card count.

As for the mathematical mind, do you have the ability to add and subtract numbers? Like 1 plus 1? Or 3 minus 1? If so you can count cards. Low cards are +1 and high cards are -1 in terms of card counting. Card counting doesn’t require a high level of math.

Now what this new theory on card counting in blackjack requires is for the player to recognize and keep track of how many small or large cards have been played.

See, the player is supposed to calculate how many dealer friendly cards there are. Dealer friendly cards are 4, 5 and 6. In a six deck game there are 72 of them, which is about 23% of a six deck game. So what a blackjack player is to do is count how many 4, 5 and 6 cards have been played. And when 23 of them have been played it should mean that there’s now a higher concentration of high cards left in the deck.

Should mean. But what about other low cards that, while they don’t favor the dealer as much, still favor the dealer? And ‘should mean?’ It seems a little imprecise. If I have money on the line I want a better idea of what I’m betting on. And ‘should’ isn’t a good enough idea.

It seems to me that this unnamed new card counting system for blackjack is on the lazy side. Simply count how many 4, 5 and 6 cards have been played and then go hog wild with your betting.

I think I’ll put a little more serious effort in to my game, add and subtract ones and make my betting off that. It seems much more sound to stick with the classic hi-lo counting system than staking money on this lazy man’s version of card counting.

How to Manage Your Betting in Online Blackjack

It’s pretty well known that as awesome as card counting is, it can’t be used in online blackjack. Very unfortunate. Especially when you stop to consider the benefits that playing blackjack online has.

But the point remains that card counting can’t be used online. Oh basic strategy can be used online, that works like it would at an online casino. But for those who use card counting to manage their betting and bankrolls, well what do they do now?

I’ll be honest. Unfortunately there really isn’t anything you can do.

Some blackjack players will use a betting strategy, usually a progressive one, to try to fill in the whole left by card counting. But this isn’t the wisest thing to do. The problem with using a progressive betting strategy is that each hand of blackjack is independent of the next.

This means that there is not magic law of the cards that says that if you lose X number of hands you will win the next. The hand that you are dealt is not connected in any way to the one before it or any of the hands after it.

A progressive betting strategy usually works by doubling your wager each time you lose or win a hand, depending on which type of betting strategy you’re using. If you’re doubling each time you lose a hand, you keep doubling until you win; if you’re doubling each time you win, you keep doubling until you lose.

You can see how these progressive betting strategies are dependent on previous hands. And that’s the problem. Say you’re using the progressive system in which you double every time you lose. At a starting wager of $10, if you lose seven rounds in a row you will be wagering $1,280 on your eighth round. As you can see it quickly adds up and you have the potential to lose a lot. And there is nothing that says you will win back any of that money.

So what can you use to manage your bankroll in online blackjack?

Choose an amount to wager and wager that on each hand. Don’t deviate from that amount. And follow basic strategy on every single hand. Sticking to basic strategy will give you your best shot at bringing down the house edge. Thankfully online blackjack and online casinos, overall, have a higher payout percentage; that helps to even out the inability to use card counting online.

3-2 Payouts vs. 6-5 Payouts

Some blackjack players don’t seem to see what the big deal is about the difference in getting a 3-2 payout or a 6-5 payout. Sure you don’t get quite as much money from a 6-5 payout, but then you are getting to play in a single deck game.

Really quick: casinos have been offering 6-5 payouts on single deck blackjack games. These games are to be avoided at all costs by the way.

But the problem with a 6-5 blackjack payout versus a 3-2 payout is not that you are getting less money. Yes, that’s a problem—a very justifiable one—but it’s not the main reason to be avoiding those tricky 6-5 single deck blackjack games.

The main reason you want to avoid playing those games is what it does to your odds.

Part of a player’s odds is how much he’s winning…or not winning.

Think of it this way. When you’re dealt a natural blackjack you are paid 3-2; and when you simply win a round you’re paid 2-1. Now look at what the dealer gets paid: 1-1 for a natural blackjack and 1-1 for winning.

Look at this situation. You’re playing the dealer one-on-one for twenty hands. Of those twenty you win five with blackjack and five you just beat the dealer’s hand; the dealer also wins five hands with blackjack and five only just beating you, how much money have each of you been paid?

You would have won $75 on the blackjacks and $50 on the regular winning hands, for a total of $125. The dealer would have won $50 on his blackjack and $50 on his regular winning hands, for a total of $100.

In a 6-5 payout on a $10 wager, you would only be paid $12 for a natural blackjack instead of $15. In the same scenario as above you would’ve only won $60 for your natural blackjack hands; added to the $50 from your winning regular hands, you have won $110 instead of $125. And the dealer’s winnings would not have changed either.

Which is more advantageous to the player: the $125 or the $110?

The 6-5 payout blackjack games increase the house edge by 1.4%. And that 1.4% is just given to them because they don’t have to pay you as much for your blackjacks.

So between the 1.4% increase in house edge and the lower amount of money paid to you, why would you even think of playing in a 6-5 game?

Pst!

By the way, increasing the wager from $10 to a more widely wagered amount like $20, makes the payout differences look like this in the same twenty hand game from above in which you and the dealer each won five rounds with blackjacks, and each won five regular hands

3-2 Game: $250 (you) vs. $200 (dealer)
6-5 Game: $210 (you) vs. $200 (dealer)