Natural Blackjack and Even Money

There is no feeling in blackjack like being dealt a natural blackjack. Just seeing those two cards come face up in front of you is euphoric. It is because you won that round of blackjack and you know you have won. And then every now and then the dealer will rain on your blackjack parade and have an Ace for an up card. It does not mean that you have lost; it just makes the situation a little trickier is all.

Naturally the dealer’s first act is to offer you, no, not insurance. Insurance is not offered in blackjack when the player has a natural. When the player has a natural blackjack and the dealer has an Ace showing he offers the player even money. Yes, even money. It feels like a let-down when you were already thinking you were going to get a 3-2 payout. Almost seems like a waste of a blackjack.

But there is nothing that says you have to take that even money. In fact, you should not. And there are two reasons why.

The first reason is obvious; if you take even money then you definitely are not going to get a 3-2 payout. If you decline and wait to see what the dealer has there is still a chance that you could still get your 3-2 payout. Worse come to worse, the dealer has a natural too and you have to push. At least you have not lost any money.

The other reason is your blackjack odds. Even money is the worst payout in blackjack and it hits your blackjack odds the hardest. How hard? Even money hits your blackjack odds by 2.27%. That alone should be enough to make you decline, as if the potential of losing your 3-2 payout is not bad enough.

The point though is to decline even money when you have a natural blackjack. It is too bad for your blackjack odds and it also means giving up your 3-2 payout. Always decline even money.

About Card Counting

It is entirely up to the player in blackjack if he wants to use a blackjack strategy. Many players will take up basic strategy because of how easy it is to use and how effective it is. Playing every hand in blackjack according to basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. But for some blackjack players that is not enough strategy.

For those players looking for a little extra edge they will usually turn to brick and mortar casinos and card counting because card counting cannot be done in online blackjack.

Card counting is a way of tracking what cards have been played to have an estimation of what is left in the deck still to be played. Once card counting blackjack players have an idea of what is left unplayed in the deck they will base their wagering on that estimation.

Throughout an entire game of blackjack, these players will count the cards as they are played and discarded to manage their betting. This becomes a part of their betting strategy.

When counting cards, blackjack players tend to use one system or another. But like how basic strategy is the most widely used strategy for its ease and effectiveness, card counters in general will use the simplest counting system: the Hi-Lo System.

The Hi-Lo System assigns counting values to the cards, designating them as high, low or neutral cards. The breakdown is as follows:

2-6 are worth +1 and are considered low cards
7-9 are worth 0 and are considered neutral cards
10-Ace are worth -1 and are considered high cards

Well, now that you know that, let’s see how this counting system works, shall we?

In order for a count to be accurate, players must count all cards on the table including those of other players and the dealer. When making this count it is as simple as adding positive 1s and negative 1s. As the game progresses, players will gain a sense of what is left in the deck based on what their count says.

If their count is a strong negative number, like -3, it means that a good chunk of high cards have been played. This is because enough high cards have been played to send the count into the negative. This would be when blackjack players scale back on their wagering.

On the other hand, if the count goes strongly into the positive, like a +3, it means that a larger number of low cards have been played and counted and discarded. This means that there are a greater number of high cards left. So counting players will then increase their wagering.

While card counting can give players an edge, it is not the key to beating the house. You can still lose a few hands here and there because counting cannot tell you exactly which cards are going to be dealt next—only what is likely.

One more thing on card counting in blackjack—while basic strategy is legal in casinos, card counting is not. You must be able to count in your head without alerting the dealer or any of the staff that you are counting. Getting caught can get you kicked out of the casino or even barred. And your winnings would not be accompanying you out the door.

True Insurance Odds—Worth the Wager? Part II

Earlier today I explained how the odds of an insurance bet in blackjack are not equivalent to the payout, making it an unfair blackjack wager.

Yes, fair wagers do exist. Take that single number roulette wager. It carries 36-1 odds and has a 36-1 payout. That makes it a fair wager.

We already determined this morning that if in the first round of blackjack that the dealer had an Ace showing and neither of your cards were worth 10 that the odds were 2.0625-1, which does not equal the 2-1 payout that the house offers.

But that is an unlikely scenario. So let’s look at a more realistic one.

Let’s say that that the dealer still has the Ace showing and you do have a 10 in your hand. That means that there are only 15 10 value cards left in the deck (remember, we are using a single deck in these examples to make the math easier to show), and 34 non 10 value cards left. So the odds are now 34-15 that the dealer has a 10 for a hole card; those odds reduce to 2.26-1. So the equivalent payout here would be $22.60 on a $10 insurance bet. But we already know that we would only get $20.

Now we are going to say that two rounds have passed and that we are on the third. There are 40 cards left now, and with 3 10 value cards taken out of play already, that leaves 13 left in play. The third round begins and the dealer is dealt an Ace up while you are dealt a 10 and a non 10 value card.

So now there 12 10 value cards left in play and 16 non 10 value cards left. That means the odds are 38-12, reducing to 3.167. That means that if the dealer were to have a 10 for a hole card, you should be paid $31.67 on a $10 bet. And that is definitely not the $20 you would be paid for an insurance wager.

So you can see why insurance is not a good bet in blackjack. The odds do not match the payout. And because the payout is lower than what the odds say it should be it means that the house as the advantage on this odds-wise because it is an opportunity that you are losing money on. And you will remember that if it is an opportunity in which you are set up to lose money the odds favor the house and not you.

True Insurance Odds—Worth the Wager? Part I

Chances are you have heard countless times that you should not take insurance in blackjack. Does not matter if you are playing blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino. It still stands that you do not take insurance in blackjack no matter what. You have been told that you are losing money faster to the house when taking insurance in blackjack.

And yet, there are players who still take insurance in blackjack.

Those of you who do take insurance, are you really aware of the odds on insurance? Do you know that you are not receiving a payout that is equivalent to the odds, which is a further rip-off on the casino’s part?

Here I am going to spell out the odds of insurance and how those odds do not match the payout.

For a wager to be considered ‘fair’ to the person making the wager, the odds need to be equal to the payout. Take a number on a roulette wheel. The chances of one number being the winner is 36 to 1. The payout on one number is 36-1. The odds equal the payout, making it a fair wager, even if it is not the best wager to make in roulette.

Now we will look at insurance. For this explanation, I am going to make the math as easy to understand as possible, so I will be using a single deck. But the same odds apply to multi deck games.

For this example this is also going to be the first hand of the game so that only three cards have been dealt If it is just you and the dealer in a single deck game, there are three cards whose values are known: the dealer’s Ace and your two cards.

We are going to assume that you do not have a 10 value card in your two cards. This means that are 16 10 value cards still in the deck and 33 non 10 value cards. That makes for 33-16 odds that the dealer will have a 10 value card as a hole card. Those 33-16 odds work out to 2.0625 to 1. And that means for the insurance wager to be fair, the payout should be $20.63 on a $10 bet, not $20.

As you can see the odds are not equivalent to the payout. And that is with all 10 value cards available. In my next post I will show you this 2.0625 to 1 is a best case scenario.

Dealing with a Hard 12

Stiff hands are miserable to get in blackjack. There is a feeling of losing before the round before the game really gets going. And in blackjack—be in online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino—you are going to be dealt a stiff hand around 43% of the time.

But of all those stiff hands one is not as bad as the other hands. That stiff hand is a hard 12.

Thankfully a hard 12 offers us a little bit more room to work with than the other stiff hands we could be dealt in blackjack.

For starters let’s look at the plays recommended by basic strategy. For a hard 13 through hard 16 the basic strategy recommended plays are the same: if the dealer’s up card is a 2-6, stand and if the dealer’s up card is 7 through an Ace, hit.

But a hard 12 is different. Basic strategy recommends standing only on a dealer’s 4-6. If the dealer has a 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace the recommended play is to hit. That alone gives the player some more room to work with this stiff hand in a game of blackjack.

On a side note, you can win 37% of the time when you hit a hard 12 against the dealer’s 2 or 3. Standing will only allow you to win 35% of the time. I do not know about you, but when it comes to a stiff hand, I will take that extra 2% any day.

So why is it recommended to hit a hard 12 against a 2 or 3? Mostly it has to do with the dealer’s chances of busting.

The dealer has the highest chances of busting when he has a 4, 5 or 6 showing. This is why you stand against those three so that you can leave the path to him busting open. All the other up cards have less than a 40% chance of busting. And since a hard 12 still offers a chance of not busting because of it being a lower hand total than the other stiff hands it allows us the chance of hitting against a dealer’s 2 or 3.

That being said do not think the round of blackjack is entirely lost when you are dealt a hard 12. Thankfully, the odds in blackjack give you a little room to work with.

Low Entry Online Blackjack Tournament

Many online blackjack players enjoy taking a break from regular game playing and take some time to play in an online blackjack tournament or two. Some of these players are serious high rolling players and they will seek out online blackjack tournaments with higher limits.

But not everyone wants to play in such a tournament; they would rather play in an online blackjack tournament with less pressure—especially if they are just breaking into online tournament play.

For online blackjack players who are new to tournaments or who are just new to playing their favorite casino game online, low entry tournaments are a nice alternative.

And thankfully there are a couple of online casinos that offer low entry tournaments. How low is low? Try a $0.99 entry fee. Now, that is low. In fact, it does not get lower than that unless you are playing in some low entry online slots tournaments. But you are a blackjack player, and $0.99 is as low as blackjack tournaments online get.

These online blackjack tournaments happen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8pm on the starting day to 8pm on the next day. In other words, these are 24 hour tournaments. Players are given 50 tournament credits to play with; rebuys are $2.49. Players are playing for a percentage of the Pot. As for the variation of online blackjack being used, it is Vegas Strip.

This type of online blackjack tournament is great for those that are novices at online tournaments and for those who like the thrill of a tournament but do not want to drop a large entry fee or “invest” a large entry fee.

Now the names of the two online casinos that were nice enough to offer novice tournament players and for-fun tournament players to play for such a low cost: Online Vegas and Go Casino.

Online Vegas is a Vegas technology powered online casino and licensed out of Cyprus; it has a payout percentage of 97.8%.

Go Casino is newer online casino licensed out of Curacao with a payout percentage of 97.1%, it also is powered by Vegas Technology.

To get in on this $0.99 online blackjack tournament action every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, click over to Online Vegas or Go Casino.

How Blackjack Odds Change

Because of the nature of the game, a player’s odds in blackjack are constantly changing. Well, they used to at least.

Because of the constant shuffling method of operation of a Random Number Generator (RNG) in online blackjack and the Continuous Shuffle Machines (CSM), the odds in those blackjack games stay pretty fixed. The reason for why the odds on those two types of blackjack stay the same, roughly, is because in regular blackjack the remaining deck changes.

A player’s blackjack odds traditionally shift throughout the course of the game. When a round ends, the cards that were just played are collected and set aside as discards. In other words, they are no longer in play.

With cards being removed from play it affects what the percentage of cards that are left in the deck. For example if there has been a run of low cards, it means that more low cards were being dealt and then removed from play at the end of each round. With those low cards gone, it leaves a greater number of high cards left to be dealt. A shift in cards like that is what causes the odds in blackjack to change.

When there has a been a run of low cards, like in the scenario above, the remaining high cards in the player’s favor, increasing the player’s blackjack odds. With high cards remaining there is an increased chance of being dealt a natural blackjack or having high double downs, both of which pay more and take away more from the house’s edge.

But when the run was a high card fun and the remaining deck is rich in low cards, it means a decrease in the player’s blackjack odds. This is because low cards favor the house and not the player. Dealers are more likely to hit to strong hands while a player busts or loses because of a stiff hand.

Because an RNG pulls from dealing outcomes that include all the cards in a deck it means that no cards are left out of the outcomes. This is similar to a CSM in that all cards are in play at all times.

This is can be good and bad. It is good because it means that the house does not have an advantage at times; but it is also bad because the player does not have an opportunity to have increased blackjack odds from discarded cards.

Betting in a Blackjack Tournament

Being that you are playing against other players in a blackjack tournament, your bankroll becomes very important. This is because advancement to the next round is based on who has the largest bankroll at the end of a blackjack tournament round. And ultimately the winner of a blackjack tournament is determined by the size of their bankroll.

So it is an understatement to say that your bankroll is just as important as your blackjack strategy in a tournament.

It does not matter whether it is a blackjack tournament that you have paid an entry fee to and are playing with that money, or whether you are playing with the nonnegotiable chips of a tournament. Your bankroll is just as important as your blackjack strategy.

That being said, let’s look at how players approach their betting strategies for blackjack tournaments.

Usually players will take one of two approaches to their betting strategies when playing in blackjack tournament. Some will start out betting conservatively. These players are of the sort who are hanging back to see how everyone else is playing, observing them you could say. Then near the end of the tournament round they will break out with the necessary betting to either over take the table leader or to hang on to their lead if they already had it.

Other players will dive head first into the tournament round and bet aggressively to try to gain a lead. These players are the sort who try to make table leader right away and then spend the round defending their place.

Both betting strategies have good points and bad points.

Going the conservative route will help you preserve your bankroll, but if the table leader is too good at defending their place you will not be able to overtake them. So even though your bankroll is stable, you may not have the time to overtake.

On the other hand, if the player who goes the aggressive route is not careful he could wipe out his bankroll if the cards have poor run. At that point he would be hard pressed to keep up with the table and try to regain the lead.

Think carefully before you choose which betting strategy you want to use. Or you could even find some online blackjack tournaments with a low entry fee and try both out to see which one you are more comfortable with before playing in a higher blackjack tournament.

Blackjack Tournament Tips—Being the Leader and Staying the Leader

Blackjack tournaments present a different experience to the average blackjack player. Once in a blackjack tournament, a certain foreign competitiveness is felt that is not normally present in regular blackjack games. This is because blackjack tournaments—online or not—put us into direct competition with other blackjack players. Something that does not normally happen.

Blackjack players will wager and play their way to be the table leader. And once you are the table leader you want to stay the table leader. What can you do to defend your place at the table?

Once you have succeeded in becoming the table leader pay careful attention to what everyone else at the table is betting. You are now going to need a betting strategy. Do not confuse that with a betting system. You do not under any circumstances want to use a betting system. You only need to use a little bit of betting strategy. And the betting strategy to use as the table leader is quite simple:

Match your wager with that of the player who is closest on your tail.

It is really that simple.

The reason you want to match the wager of your closest opponent at the table is because if you both lose then your opponent is no closer to gaining on your lead. Also if you both win he is not any closer to catching up to you. Sure he might have just won $50, but so did you. He has not gained any advantage.

Now if you win and he loses then you have just increased you lead against your closest opponent even more.

If you lose and he wins then he is a little closer on your lead; but if he over takes you in this same scenario, his lead is not that much ahead of you, and you can increase your wager to overtake him and become the table leader again.

Blackjack Tournament Tips—Catching the Table Leader

Most of the time blackjack players are just fine playing against the dealer. They do not have to worry about what any other blackjack players at the table are doing. They can play out their rounds of blackjack only focusing on their strategy and what the dealer is doing.

But from time to time we like to increase the thrill of our blackjack games. And to do that we usually find ourselves a blackjack tournament. In a blackjack tournament we have to take what the other players at the table are doing, most particularly what they are betting.

And that brings me to my first blackjack tournament tip.

If you are trying to catch up to the table leader you are obviously going to have to increase the amount of your wager. But how? Do you increase it by a large amount in one or two rounds? Or do you increase by a moderate amount over several hands?

The thing to keep in mind is that, while blackjack players are used to not paying attention overly much to each other in a normal game, they are watching each other like hawks in a tournament game. Only the player with the largest bankroll will go on to the next round. Tournament games are highly competitive.

So considering how competitive blackjack tournament games are your best bet, no pun intended, is to do a couple of large increases over one or two rounds to try catching up to the table leader. Betting moderate amounts may not allow you to catch up to him, especially if he is betting higher than you to try to keep his lead.

Blackjack tournaments are sometimes played to a certain number of rounds. Do not waste rounds trying to catch up with moderately increased bets. You are more than likely not going to catch up, much less overtake him.

Blackjack is a gambling game. There is risk involved in a regular game, but in a tournament there is a feeling of even more risk—even if you are playing with nonnegotiable tournament chips and not your actual money—simply because it is not only about betting the dealer.

A blackjack tournament game is about having the highest bankroll. It is that heightened sense of competition that makes tournaments feel more risky. With that in mind, use larger wager increases to try to catch up to the table leader.