Online Blackjack News: Player Jailed in Ireland

How far will you go to play online blackjack? Seems some blackjack players will go to great lengths, but a lot of people cease calling them players and call them addicts.

Such is the case with Eamonn McGirr that I saw in my online blackjack news this morning. McGirr has been ordered to serve twenty months in prison and another twelve months on probation for his online blackjack and online gambling addiction.

Why prison? Are they that harsh about gambling in Ireland?

No, they are not as long as you are playing and gambling responsibly. That means not embezzling your employer for the U.S. equivalent of $500,000 over two years.

But the embezzled $500,000 is not all that McGirr has stacked up, although the embezzled money is his only illegal action. Everything else is just pure debt—and I do mean debt: overdrafts on his two bank accounts, a loan for the U.S, equivalent of $6,400 from a credit union, and finally maxing out five credit cards. All on gambling.

I have two responses to this: one about something the judge said and another on online gambling in general.

The judge of the McGirr case was concerned about how a person could gamble away such enormous amounts of money without being checked, and that online gambling companies should take a “look at how they did business.”

First off, it is not the online casinos’ fault that the man got himself jailed. They are a business. They are there to make money. If this judge is saying that online casinos should be called to task because players gamble away too much, then what about all of the designer fashions and expensive electronics and cars that people will put themselves into debt for?

If the judge’s concern is people being wooed into spending more than they reasonably should because of how a company advertises and does business, then all the companies that lure people into racking up debt on credit cards should be put out of business. Shame on them for offering products that cost more than what we are paid. Let’s go back to farming and trading chickens and wearing loincloths—perhaps that is living within our means.

Then there is my response to online gambling. Obviously not every single player puts themselves into debt to play online blackjack and other online casino games.

But there are players who do become addicted to online gambling, and it can be a very serious problem. As McGirr showed us it is possible to hide the problem until someone else catches on that a friend or loved one is addicted. Sometimes the player him or herself knows they are addicted.

This afternoon I will talk about addiction to online gambling.

For Your Blackjack Strategy and Your Odds—the Double Down

No, I am not talking about that so-called sandwich. A friend of mine tried it once and could not eat for two days his stomach was so upset.

I am talking about the double down play that players can make in blackjack. This handy little play packs quite a punch against the house. And we all know that when the house’s edge is hit, the player’s blackjack odds go up. So it is important to include doubling down in your blackjack strategy.

Doubling down is when a player doubles his original wager and only receives one more card before standing.

As you can probably tell, this is not a play that you make any old time in blackjack. It is a play that must be used at advantageous times. And this is where strategy comes in.

It is well-known that one of the best tools for blackjack strategy is basic strategy. This little chart will tell players when the most advantageous times to double down are. Doubling down when it is not advantageous is a quick way to lose money since your wager, once you have doubled down, is twice what you started with.

Casinos lean on the fear players have of losing their money to keep them from doubling down. But players need to take a deep breath, swallow the fear and double down when strategy calls for it to happen. Otherwise players will not knock 1.6% off of the house’s edge.

Did I forget to mention that earlier? I did? Well, it is true, doubling down when it is advantageous hits the house’s edge for 1.6%.

That is a fairly big hit to their edge, which means that players make a gain to their blackjack odds because they are gaining money. And not just the regular amount won off of a normal hand; players win twice the amount of their double down wager. In fact, it is the extra amount won that makes for such a hit to the house’s edge.

Because of the gain in blackjack odds and in money, players need to add doubling down to their blackjack strategy—but only when it is advantageous.

Microgaming Creates New Online Blackjack Tournaments

Microgaming is known as one of the industry leaders when it comes to online gaming software. They are constantly creating new games and revamping their older games to improve them.

To be honest there is not a lot that can be done to online blackjack games. The game itself does not change. It is not like a slots game that allows for the same type of game to be repackaged in a new colorful package. Online blackjack is online blackjack.

But that does not stop Microgaming from working with this game to give it something new to entire old and new players alike. This time Microgaming has revamped their online blackjack tournaments. There are now four types of online blackjack tournaments for players to play in at Microgaming powered online casinos:

One-Shot:
The name says it all on this one. Players must play their best as they have only one chance to get the highest score. There are no add-ons or rebuys for this tournament either. It is literally a one shot chance to get the highest score and win.

Extender:
This type of online blackjack tournament will allow players add-ons and rebuys as the point is to play again and again to build their scores. As always, the highest score wins. These tournaments will have long time periods to play out to encourage players to play more and more.

Reloader:
This one is a sort of combination of one-shot and extender. Players have one shot to get as high a score as they can, and there are no add-ons or rebuys. But if a player is not satisfied with their score they can play again starting their score over at 0 to try for a higher score.

Survivor:
This is an elimination type of tournament. At the end of each round a number of the players are eliminated from the tournament. This happens at the end of each round until the last round in which the player with the highest score ends.

When Microgaming makes changes to their games, be it new games or revamping an older game, they usually hit their mark and delight players at Microgaming powered online casinos. The new online blackjack tournaments are sure to be a hit.

Good and Bad Blackjack Tips: Card Counting Online

When looking at online casinos many of them have little sections on their sites with information about their casino games and casino games in general. Not always, but fairly often casinos will actually give players tips on how to play, say, blackjack and tips for blackjack strategy.

Now what is funny to me is that there are some players out there who blindly follow those tips on how to play blackjack and for blackjack strategy. Stop and think about that. You want to follow the tips on how to play better—as in win money—from the online casino—which wants to take your money? Yeah, that is what I thought too.

So I went out to see what some of these tips are. Some of it was as I expected and other times I was surprised. There are actually online casinos out there that will offer genuinely good blackjack playing tips.

Here is some of what I found and some blackjack tips about what I what I found.

I did find online casinos that encouraged players to use card counting. This is very dubious to me. Card counting is very much frowned upon in brick and mortar casinos. So first off why would an online casino encourage players to use it in online blackjack?

The answer is simple. Because card counting is ineffective in online blackjack. Because of the game’s RNG no card is ever discarded and all are still in the deck, so to speak since we are talking about a virtual game. On top of that, again because of the RNG, it is like all of the cards are shuffled before each round because the RNG randomly pulls a combination for the beginning of each round.

So online casinos will encourage card counting for online blackjack because it will not actually work and it actually can hurt a player’s online blackjack odds by trying to use it. Players could increase their wagers, thinking that they are getting the jump on the house and a run of high cards, when there are not any discards to back up that run.

Really all this so called blackjack tip is doing is encouraging players to use a blackjack strategy that does not work online in order to create erratic betting, which causes a gain in money for the online casino. So understand card counting does not work online, even if the online casino’s tips say it does.

Oh, and think twice about an online casino that is encouraging you to use card counting when playing online blackjack.

Silver Dollar Blackjack Tournament

There is nothing that boosts the excitement of online blackjack more than playing in a blackjack tournament. Well, winning with a natural off of a good sized wager is great high too. But it is not the same as the unknown thrill of tournament play—will you win or lose?

Thankfully there are some fun online blackjack tournaments to play in. And while I do enjoy the little $0.99 tournaments that Go Casino hosts, it is not the same as a full-fledged big money blackjack tournament. The $0.99 tournaments are good as practice for the experienced player, and good for the novice tournament player to begin getting their feet wet with.

But sometimes experienced online blackjack players want more.

And Silver Dollar is certainly offering more.

Every Friday Silver Dollar hosts their Weekend Blackjack Classic. As you can well guess, this online blackjack tournament spans the course of a whole weekend, starting on a Friday and ending on a Sunday.

Now when I was talking about a full-fledged big money online blackjack tournament I was referring to tournaments that do not offer the winning player a portion of the pot, but a cash prize instead. And that is exactly what Silver Dollar is offering their players.

The Weekend Blackjack Classic has a prize pool of $5,000. Yes, the winning player will get the biggest chunk of that $5,000 cash prize. And that is a lot more than what a player could win from a low-key Play for the Pot type of online blackjack tournament.

Silver Dollar is using the US Blackjack created by Vegas Technology variation of the game for these tournaments. This means that there are no side bets—other than insurance—and that the dealer does not check for blackjack at the beginning of the round.

For players who are interested the entry fee for the Weekend Blackjack Classic tournament at Silver Dollar is only $10. Think about it–$10 for a chance to win a piece of that $5,000 prize pool.

Blackjack Strategy: Card Counting Odds

Card counting has always had this glamorous image in the blackjack world. It is considered the crème de la crème of blackjack skills. It is also the blackjack skill that can allow the player to beat the house. But how much of an edge does this piece of blackjack strategy give a player?

You might be surprised.

A skilled card counter may only get a 1% edge over the house.

But when you think about it and compare it to other casino games, that 1% is not as little as it might sound. Blackjack already has the smallest house edge of all the casino games: 0.5% for the player who uses perfect basic strategy, and card counters certainly do use it.

Card counting is when a blackjack player uses a counting system to get an idea of what kinds of cards are left in the deck. If their counting system reveals that a good number of lower cards (2 through 6) have been played, it means that the remaining deck has more high cards (10 through Ace) left than low cards.

Because there are more high cards left, the chances of being dealt a strong hand or a natural blackjack are increased. This is when skilled card counters will begin to raise their bets.

But when their counting system reveals that a larger number of high cards have been played, leaving the remaining deck rich in low cards that favor the dealer, the player will then begin to decrease his bets.

It is having the idea of what the remaining deck is rich in that gives players that 1% edge on the house—if they can exploit it and not be caught by the casino staff. And the risk of being caught is why players must be skilled at card counting to include it.

Blackjack on North Carolina Gambling Boats

Remember when Pennsylvania and Florida and other states wanted to add casinos or add table games like blackjack to casinos already in existence? Well, it is now trickling down to a city level.

Similar to several states, now cities are eyeing gambling as a source to alleviate the strain on their budgets. North Charleston is one of the most recent.

Mayor Keith Summey’s desire to authorize casino cruises will take a step forward when his proposal goes to the city’s Planning Commission next week. And it appears that the City Council will support Summey’s proposal. Seems they see the need for more revenue and do not mind it coming from blackjack, slots and other casino games.

If the proposal is approved these casino cruise boats will offer patrons blackjack, slots and other casino games. And of course there will be dining available—you do not want to put people on a boat without food.

To help earn the proposal’s approval, Summey has stated in his proposal that these casino cruise boats will dock only in industrial areas and away from areas that are “in close proximity to educational or religious uses.”

For those not familiar with the North Charleston area, this puts the casino cruise boats near the area south of Riverfront Park on the Cooper River.

As for the desired revenue, Summey’s proposal offers two options.

The first is to have owners of the cruise boats pay the equivalent of 10% of the face amount of each ticket sold to patrons along with 5% of the proceeds of each trip.

The other option proposed is to just charge a $7 surcharge to the patrons.

Either way the revenue is coming from the money that patrons put into the boats through tickets and wagers made on blackjack, slots and other casino games.

But before blackjack sees itself sailing on the Cooper River a few amendments need to be made the city’s business licensing. Mainly there needs to be coverage for gambling boats in the licensing. There also has to be a repeal of the 1999 ordinance that bans gambling devices.

But with the favor already shown by the City Council it looks likely that Summey will see the reality of his gambling cruise proposal, and blackjack will be floating the waters around North Charleston.

Blackjack Odds: Another Reason to Cut Insurance from Your Blackjack Strategy

Some players are die hard about insurance and blackjack. They insist on insurance remaining a part of their blackjack strategy.

It has been explained numerous times why insurance is bad for your blackjack odds.

For one thing it is a side bet. Side bets were created with the purpose of squeezing even more money out of players. The best you can do with insurance is break even. In other words you wager an additional $5 on a $10 wager just to hang on to your $10. It is still more money on the line, which is another opportunity for you to lose money. Losing money is bad for your blackjack odds and will lower them.

For another thing the only way to win an insurance bet is for the dealer to have that 10 for a hole card and to therefore have a natural blackjack. Hoping to win an insurance wager is hoping for the dealer to win the round. And there is something just wrong about hoping for the dealer to win.

Finally there are the blackjack odds of the dealer having a 10 card and the money involved in those odds.

A dealer only has a 31% chance of having a 10 card for a hole card. That is only four times out of thirteen: 10, Jack, Queen, King. The other nine out of thirteen, or 69%, of the time the hole card will be any other card.

Now we are going to say that you are wagering $10 per hand, which makes insurance $5 each time. In terms of money this means that you could expect to win $40: four times $5. So if there is a nine in thirteen odds that the card is anything other than a 10 card it means that you will lose $45.

So you see, by taking insurance you are hurting your own blackjack odds and losing more money that you would not have to. Insurance makes for bad blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Strategy and Odds for Shuffle Machines

A good many blackjack players do not think twice when in a brick and mortar casino about what sort of shuffling is happening at their table. This is especially true of novice players who do not understand how shuffling impacts their blackjack odds.

And it is true, something as with seemingly as little consequence as a shuffle machine can indeed impact a player’s blackjack odds—and not in a good way.

I will cover online blackjack first as it is the simplest. There is only one kind of ‘shuffling’ in online blackjack, and it is like a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM). This is because when the RNG goes to pull the cards for the next round, it is pulling from all possibilities. This means that no cards are ever discarded. Hence, why online blackjack ‘shuffling’ is like playing with a CSM.

In online blackjack there is no choice on shuffling methods. Players just deal with the RNG and keep on playing. But players in brick and mortar casinos do have a choice. And often they make the wrong one.

When playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino there are generally three different types of shuffling available: CSMs, non-continuous shufflers and hand shuffling.

For experienced blackjack players it is well-known that CSMs are the worst type of shuffling. Well, they are if you are a card counter as they make card counting impossible.

Sometimes novice blackjack players pick up on this, and so they deem CSMs as bad and avoid playing at tables that use CSMs. Good job, newbies!

However, a good many of them will play at tables with non-continuous shufflers. In truth, when you do not consider card counting, these are just as bad as CSMs. This is because all shuffle machines—CSMs and non-continuous shufflers—speed up the rate of play, and THAT is what hurts a player’s blackjack odds.

Both types of shuffle machines speed up the rate of play by around 20%. So say on average you play 100 rounds per hour; if you were playing with some sort of shuffler you would be playing 120 rounds per hour. The more rounds per hour you play, the more opportunities there are for you to lose money:

You are wagering $10 per game. If you lose 52% of the games—which does follow blackjack odds—you would lose $520. At a table with a shuffle machine you stand to lose $624 per hour.

It would be in a player’s best interest to include in heir blackjack strategy to not play at tables with shuffle machines. Why voluntarily hurt your blackjack odds like that?

Microgaming Online Blackjack Upgraded and Improved

Like any good online game, every now and then an upgrade is needed. Even a game such as online blackjack needs to be updated once in awhile to tweak this or mildly enhance that.

But considering that online blackjack is always the same game with the same rules, its upgrades are more of the tweaking variety. Unlike World of Warcraft, which is changing a great deal in its upcoming expansion. Or so I hear.

So one would not expect that online blackjack could be truly upgraded. But then along comes Microgaming, who likes to show that they are the best in online game development, and gives their blackjack games quite the upgrade.

Microgaming has available a type of online blackjack that features a dealer. It is similar to having a live dealer. Except that there is no pretty dealer on the other end of the Internet connection. Players just have to be content with the pretty computer generated dealer who is not real.

These online blackjack games from Microgaming had a slightly awkward interface. There was the table on which players could play multiple hands if they so desired. And then there was a box where the dealer was supposed to be which featured a picture of a dealer. But the look and the angle of the table to the dealer box to the dealer image itself was on the awkward side. The lines and angles did not line up.

But Microgaming has come along and fixed it. All a player need to do now when they want to see the dealer is change their casino view. Once they do that players will have the appearance of sitting at a blackjack table with a dealer.

No awkward angles. No dealer boxes. But there is still a pretty dealer, boys.

It just goes to show that Microgaming is constantly up to ways to create new games and to improve their existing ones—even ones as unchanging as online blackjack.