Blackjack Boats Possible in 90 Days

North Charleston has been talking about whether or not to launch casino boats with games like blackjack on them as a new source of revenue. And as of Thursday casino boats with blackjack are now legal in North Charleston. Huzzah for good blackjack news!

For residents and tourists who are interested in the casino boats, they will be glad to know that the boats could be set up and launching as soon as ninety days from now. Thus far there are at least eight companies who have expressed varying degrees of interest Mayor Keith Summey has said. But he only thinks that a few of those will actually make the investment to create a casino boat business.

The way it would work is that a company interested in running a casino boat with blackjack would have to pay for a licensing fee as well as pay rent for a loading and unloading point. The company would also pay a percentage in taxes from whatever earnings they make off of games like blackjack and slots.

The loading and unloading points would be limited to a certain area, on the Copper River area south of Riverfront Park extending as far south as Shipyard Creek. In short to and from the former Nave Base and Shipyard complex. Any gambling would wait until after the boats had crossed the city’s boundaries so that the actual gambling would not take place within the city’s limits.

Officials of North Charleston are pleased with the now legal casino boats. The reason for the pleased feeling comes from the projected $700,000 in revenue that the casino boats and their blackjack could generate for the North Charleston city.

Strategy for Pairs in Blackjack

Pairs are another type of hand in blackjack that are played differently than the more basic hard hands. Or at least they should be played differently. However, a good many blackjack players will play them like hard hands. And while some pairs should be played like hard hands, some need to take advantage of a pair’s option for splitting.

A pair is any hand in blackjack in which the two starting cards are worth the same amount. Because each card has the same value, the player has the option in blackjack to put forth another wager that is equal to their original wager and split the pair. The two cards are separated and each one receives a new second card.

Some casinos and some blackjack variations will allow for continued pair splitting on top of other pair splitting.

I mentioned that for some pairs it is okay to play them like a hard hand in blackjack. A pair of 10s is one such pair. However, some players will get caught up in the notion that they can split pairs, and will split a pair of 10s just because they can.

A pair of 10s should not be split, and here is why. You have to look at their value as number, rather than the fact that they are a pair: 10 + 10 = 20. A pair of 10s is another way of saying hard 20. And the only thing that can beat a hard 20 is a dealer with a natural blackjack or a dealer who hits to 21. There is no reason to throw away a perfectly good hard 20 just because it is a pair.

On the other side a pair of 8s should always be split. Again, look at the value of each card added together: 8 + 8 = 16. So a pair of 8s that are not split are in fact a hard 16, one of the hardest hands to play in blackjack. It is too high to really hit because you stand a pretty good chances of busting. But it is also low enough that it is not likely to beat the dealer unless the dealer busts.

So why hang on to a hard 16 when you can double your wager and start over with two mostly new hands? At least with splitting you stand the shot of building up one if not both of the new hands.

The easiest way to tell what the best statistical play for a pair in blackjack is to play according to a basic strategy card. Basic strategy will tell you whether you should split a pair in blackjack or leave the pair together, unsplit.

Blackjack Variation: Spanish 21

Spanish 21 is a blackjack variation in which there is a fairly good balance between the rules that favor the house and the rules that favor the player. In fact, it is the one blackjack variation which has a balance similar to a standard game of blackjack, unlike other variations, which are skewed heavily to the house.

This morning I discussed how the rules and game set up for blackjack actually is pretty balanced. So let’s take a look at what Spanish 21 one is and what its balance is.

First, the bad news. Spanish 21 is played with the 10 cards removed. All of the face cards are still in play, but the actual cards with 10 of their suit are removed. Removing 10 cards from the deck does hurt the player. Spanish 21 is also played with six to eight decks, and we all know that the more decks being used, the better the odds for the house.

And now the good news. There is a whole host of player favorable rules to help make up for the hit to the player’s blackjack odds by the multi decks and removed 10s.

Let’s first look at why 21 features in this variation’s name. Player 21s will always win against the dealer rather than pushing. And a player’s natural blackjack will always beat the dealer’s natural blackjack. Again, no pushing.

Players are allowed to make late surrender. And late surrender can happen after doubling down. This is known as the “Double down Rescue” because the player gives up an amount of their wager that is equal to their original wager. So it is like a normal surrender when you surrender half of your wager, except in this rule you are surrendering half of the total doubled down wager.

They can double down after splitting a pair as well as double down on any number of cards.

And for pairs of Aces, resplitting of Aces is allowed and players can double down after splitting Aces as well.

Spanish 21 also has a number of different payouts:

-five card 21 pays 3-2
-six card 21 pays 2-1
-seven card 21 pays 3-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 made of mixed suits pays 3-2
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of the same suit pay 2-1
-a 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of spades pays 3-1
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $1,000 for wagers between $5 and $24
-a 7-7-7 of the same suit with the dealer holding a 7 up pays $5,000 for wagers of $25 or more

Between the various payouts and plethora of other player-friendly rules, the balance between the house and the player is remarkably close—close enough that it is the one blackjack variation that is closest to standard blackjack. This is the one blackjack variation to play…especially since it does not have side bets.

Blackjack Balance

The game of blackjack is one of the most balanced casino games, be it online blackjack or blackjack found in a brick and mortar casino.

Think about it for a moment. The odds of winning blackjack are 48% and the odds of losing are 52%. That is actually pretty even in terms of odds of winning. The reason for the fairly even odds of winning or losing comes from the fact that blackjack is a pretty balanced game.

The balance is from the structure of the game, from its rules. See, look:

For every house rule that gives the player some sort of advantage in terms of odds, there is some aspect of the game that will counter balance it. Take for example the house rule that has the dealer standing on all 17s, that is one rule that benefits players because once the dealer reaches that 17 there is nothing else he can do, and if he has a hard 16 he still has to hit it even though it is likely that he will bust.

To counter the increase in player odds, the house will also be using multiple decks at that table. It is not a normal occurrence to find a game of single deck blackjack and that also has the dealer standing on al 17s.

Another example is a blackjack game played with two decks that does allow the dealer to hit a soft 17. But in that game players are allowed to double down on any of their first two cards, not just 9s, 10s or 11s, double down after splitting pairs and resplit pairs up to a set number of hands.

If you study the house rules and the number of decks being used, you can get a pretty good idea of whether the blackjack table you are looking at is balanced enough or not. And if you observe that the rules and set up lean heavily on the house, you know not to play at that blackjack table, and to keep looking for a balanced blackjack game.

Online Blackjack Tournaments at English Harbour

English Harbour is a well-established online casino that opened its virtual doors back in 1997. It has a well-known reputation for offering a quality online gambling experience. What is more is that they offer online blackjack tournaments all week!

Each week English Harbour will offer two online blackjack tournaments each week. One is a weekday tournament and the other is a weekend tournament.

The weekday tournament is known as the Head 2 Head and is played with US style online blackjack from the Real Time Gaming arsenal of online casino games. The Head 2 Head carries an entry fee of $5 and has players playing for the pot. As a weekday online blackjack tournament, it runs from a Monday and ends on a Thursday.

Now the Weekend Blackjack Classic, that is the bigger of the two online blackjack tournaments at English Harbour.

The Weekend Blackjack Classic begins on a Friday and will run through the weekend, ending on a Sunday. This tournament cost $10 to enter instead of $5, but players are not playing for the pot in the Classic. Instead they are playing for a portion of a cash prize of $5,000. But like the Head 2 Head, the Classic is played out on the US Blackjack game.

Thankfully US Blackjack is used in both tournaments rather than some blackjack variation. Some online casinos will use Perfect Pairs from time to time in an online blackjack tournament, which just does not seem right when considering that tournaments are meant to award players that the online casino should use a variation with unfriendly player rules.

So if you are ever in the mood for an online blackjack tournament, there is always some tournament action going on at English Harbour.

Sneaky, Sneaky Blackjack Insurance

Imagine that there is a way to protect your blackjack wager. A sort of insurance that will cover your wager so that you do not lose it in case the dealer turns up that natural blackjack.

Such a thing exists. And it is called insurance in blackjack. But it is not as rosy of a picture as casinos would like for you to believe.

Insurance is offered when the dealer has an Ace for an up card. It is offered because an Ace is required for a natural blackjack, and is the less common of the two cards needed. So the feeling is that if the less common required card is present, there is a good chance that the hole card will have a value of 10.

This is what casinos would like for you to think. But let’s look at the statistics of that hole card being worth 10.

In blackjack there are only four cards worth 10: the 10 itself, the Jack, the Queen and the King. There are thirteen cards per suit and four suits per deck, so there are sixteen cards in a single deck that are worth 10. Of the possibilities that the hole card is worth 10, only sixteen out of the theoretical fifty one remaining cards will be worth 10. That means that there is only a 31% chance that the dealer’s whole card will be worth 10, giving him a natural blackjack. Therefore there is a 69% chance that the dealer will not have a natural blackjack.

Insurance is a side bet in which you wager half the amount of your original bet. If the dealer’s hole card is in fact worth 10 and he has a natural blackjack, you would lose your original wager, but collect on the side bet.

But you are a smart blackjack player, so why would you place a side bet for an outcome that the odds do not favor?

That is the case with the insurance side bet. You are wagering that the dealer’s hole card will be worth 10 when there is only a 31% chance of that happening.

The casino is glossing insurance over as something that will help you, when the odds of insurance actually helping you are a little less than a third of a reality. This is why experienced blackjack players will tell novices to decline insurance in blackjack—the odds truly are against the outcome favoring the player.

Using Basic Strategy with Blackjack

Blackjack players are the best off when it comes to casino games. For one thing they have a lower house edge to begin with. On top of that they can actually use strategy to influence the outcome of a round of blackjack. Players are also lucky because they have the easiest to use and most effective strategy tool: basic strategy.

Basic strategy is a chart that player can use to determine what the best play to make is. And when I say ‘best’ I mean the best statistical play to make. Players are not going to win every single hand, but they will win more hands with it than without.

The reason for this is that the chart features a column for every possible dealer up card. It also features rows for every possible starting hand for the player. Where the columns and rows meet the best statistical play for that starting hand against that dealer’s up card. All the player needs to do is make that play.

Because basic strategy is made up of the best statistical plays for every starting hand, if the blackjack player plays each hand according to basic strategy, he can lower the house’s edge to 0.5%.

The lowered edge happens because those best statistical plays that make up basic strategy are there to minimize losses in times of being dealt difficult hands, and to take the most advantage of times that present money making opportunities.

Such as double downs. A successful double down can take 1.6% off of the house’s edge. But you of course need to know when those times are. And that is exactly what basic strategy is for—to tell you when to make the most opportune plays, like when to double down.

Because of its ease of use and what it brings the house edge down to, basic strategy is the best strategy tool to use when playing blackjack.

Blackjack with a Shoe vs. a CSM

A CSM is a Continuous Shuffle Machine. This is a device typically found in casinos on blackjack tables. And the purpose of this moderately sized device? To shuffle the cards after each round of blackjack.

On the surface a CSM may not seem all that bad, but it is a sneaky moderately sized device and does do something to your bankroll that is not pleasing.

What CSMs really do is speed up the rate of play, meaning that you will play more hands per hour at a blackjack table with a CSM than you would at a blackjack table with just an ordinary shoe.

A shoe is a small device, as compared to the moderately sized device that is a CSM, that shuffles multiple decks, usually six or more, before the first round. The dealer will then draw from the shoe until near the end of the deck when the cards must all be reshuffled and placed back in the shoe.

On average there will be 20% more hands per hour when playing at blackjack table with a CSM than when playing at a table with a shoe.

Now in blackjack, even when played with basic strategy, the house will still have the edge. On average players will only win 48% of the time and lose 52%.

Follow the theory and you will see that players stand to lose more hands than they win. So the more hands you play per hour increases the number of hands you lose per hour, and increase the amount of money the casino will make off of your blackjack game.

While casinos adore their moderately sized CSMs, it is better for a player’s blackjack odds to play at a table with a shoe. The sole reason for playing in a shoe game is because you are playing fewer rounds of blackjack per hour, which means you stand to lose less in an hour than you would at a table with a moderately sized CSM.

Your Bankroll and Card Counting

For players who do not know much about card counting—real card counting, not the stuff that they show in movies—there is pervasive idea that card counting blackjack players are rich and that they win every time which is what makes them rich.

This would be an inaccurate idea about card counting.

Now a betting system, those require a large bankroll due to their need to double and double and continually double wagers in order for the system to be used. Note that I said ‘used,’ not ‘work.’ That is because betting systems do not work.

Anyway. Card counting bankrolls.

The beauty of card counting is that you can use any size bankroll. No joke. You can play with $100 or $10,000. It boils down to what the table minimum is and how much you are betting per round.

If you are starting out with a smaller bankroll you need a blackjack table with a lower table minimum. That minimum will be you base wager. As the count swings up into the positive slowly begin to raise the amount of your wager. Do not jump from $10 up to $50. That is called a give-away. It is bad and it tips the dealer and pit boss off that you are up to something. Then they will watch you and watch you and put pressure on you until you either quit counting or they will escort you out.

The point is that you can start out with a small bankroll and slowly work your way up. You are not going to win every single hand in blackjack if you are card counting. But if you follow the count and subtly increase you wagers as the count goes positive, you can increase your bankroll. Being rich is not a necessity with card counting.

Even Money Payouts in Blackjack

It does not matter if you play blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino, you will come face to face with blackjack variations in either one. Variations are presented as a fun alternative to standard blackjack: Why play boring old blackjack when you could play something like Perfect Pairs or Super Fun 21?

Variations such as Perfect Pairs and Super Fun 21 have special rules and side bets worked into them. Perfect Pairs for example features a side bet for wagering on whether your first two cards will be a pair or not.

Along with additional features, better known as money sucking side bets, blackjack variations will also have some differences in their basic house rules. Super Fun 21 will allow players to double down on any number of cards, not the first two like in a standard game of blackjack. Such changes in rules are there to increase the player’s blackjack odds and to make them feel more enticed and secure about playing the variation.

But you do not want to get lulled in by that false sense of security. What online casino or brick and mortar casino will actually allow players to get the edge? None.

Not all of the rule variations in these variations of online blackjack and casino blackjack are good for a player. One of the most common differences to be found in blackjack variations are changes in the payout for a natural blackjack.

Many blackjack variations will only pay a 1-1, or even money, payout for a natural blackjack instead of the 3-2 payout. So if you were wagering $10 on a round, not including a side bet, and were dealt a natural blackjack, you would be paid $15. But in a blackjack variation you would only be paid $10.

Ultimately it comes down to odds. An even money payout for a natural blackjack lowers your blackjack odds by 2.27%. That is an incredibly big hit. But then you are losing out on the biggest opportunity to make money from blackjack, hence the really big hit to your odds. Your best bet is to stay away from blackjack variations be they in online blackjack or in a brick and mortar casino.