Cake Takes on Online Blackjack Tournaments

I found where 21 Gnet went. Back in May 21 Gnet and Rushmore Casino ended their partnership in regards to blackjack tournaments. This resulted in Rushmore ceasing to offer blackjack tournaments and picking up slots tournaments instead.

But 21 Gnet is not the sort of company that just fades away. And it is true that they have not.

It appears that 21 Gnet has made a partnership with the Cake Network, who is known for primarily dealing with poker. I say primarily because they do offer blackjack, but mostly just as a back burner sort of offering. It is there is you want it.

And 21 Gnet is definitely excited about the partnership. Chief Executive Officer Shane O’Connell said, “Cake has been and continues to be an important player and industry leader and we are thrilled to unite with it. The deal is a perfect fit for us and equally beneficial for Cake. It gives 21 Gnet an extended reach and more capacity and gives Cake a great new form of entertainment to offer their players.”

And what is this new form of online blackjack tournament entertainment? Surely one online blackjack tournament is like any other.

You would be wrong.

The online blackjack tournament format that 21 Gnet offers is a multi player type of format. Rather than having players play against a dealer to earn points to move up a leader board, 21 Gnet’s format pits players against one another in elimination style tournaments.

This sort of online blackjack tournament has the potential to further close the gap in the differences between online blackjack and blackjack found in a brick and mortar casino. It would create online blackjack tournaments that are similar to the tournaments offered in casinos. This might warrant some watching to see where this goes.

Blackjack Dealer Charged with Fraud

So it came up in the casino and blackjack news that a dealer in Minnesota was arrested and charged for committing fraud at the Mystic Lake casino he worked at.

Over the course of two weeks at the end of July and the beginning of August more than $18,500 was paid out to three people involved in the scam.

The dealer in question, Jacob Edwin Christensen, was paying those three players, his friend from high school, his landlord’s daughter and a woman he thought was ‘good looking,’ money on hands that they lost at the blackjack table, and did not collect their wagers when they lost.

His blackjack fraud was noticed on August 2nd. Casino staff noticed that Christensen was paying lost hands and not collecting wagers. That day alone $3,875 was made in the scam. When casino staff had reviewed the security tape and confirmed what they had suspected they called the police in.

Police and staff removed the errant blackjack dealer and his accomplice, which turned out to be the friend from high school, from the floor.

Police and casino staff reviewed security tapes from the previous two weeks featuring Christensen. Between the statement of the dealer’s friend and the tapes, it was learned that Christensen’s other two accomplices were his landlord’s daughter and the woman he thought was ‘good looking.’

Of all of the money taken from the casino in the scam, $9,500 was received by the land lord’s daughter over multiple days. The ‘good-looking’ woman received $5,075.

Now the former blackjack dealer’s high school friend had received $3,875 by the time he was caught along with the dealer. However, he paid back $1,825 in chips when he realized the scam was wrong. He also identified who the other two accomplices were.

Christensen was charged with theft by swindle and gambling fraud. Both are felonies

The lesson here, blackjack players, is that while accepting a pay out that the dealer mistakenly paid you is one thing. Accepting multiple mistaken payouts is another entirely, and that can get you in trouble with the law. If a blackjack dealer keeps giving you payouts you know you are not supposed to receive, give the wager back and point out the mistake to the dealer. If he continues to keep paying you wrong, notify the pit boss. See, there are game lessons even in blackjack news.

Missing Queens from Blackjack

The majority of the time casinos will offer an honest blackjack game, meaning they are not trying to pull anything sneaky. Just the standard blackjack rules that might scoot the edge more in favor of the house, such as hitting soft 17s. But sometimes you cannot help thinking that the casino is pulling a fast one when you are on a bad losing streak.

Again, majority of the time you will find honest blackjack games. But sometimes shoes malfunction or a really seedy casino might with hold cards. What does such a thing do to your blackjack odds?

Well if the missing cards are queens or another of the cards worth 10 it can hurt your odds badly. And thinking realistically, a card worth 10 would be the most likely card to be removed from the deck, not just because it favors the player, but because there are more 10 value cards in a deck and is less likely to immediately be noticed.

Tricky, yes?

So what does a missing 10 value card do to your blackjack odds?

Quite a bit actually. Ten value cards are one of the cards that favor players, the other being Aces. The hit to your blackjack odds is 0.49, just shy of half of a percent. Keep in mind all the rounds of playing perfect basic strategy to lower the house edge to that 0.5% and you can be hit with the same amount from having just one card removed.

The reason for the hit is that with less ten cards, such as a single queen being removed, cuts down on the chances of a player being dealt a natural blackjack and on being paid that 3-2 payout. It also cuts down on the number of strong hands, such as 20s from double downs, pairs of 10s, and three or more cards adding up to 21.

So since removing a single 10 value card from a deck cuts down on the number of player blackjacks and strong hands, the player’s blackjack odds are hit hard. Thankfully the large majority of casinos offer honest blackjack games.

Card Counting: Really Illegal?

As I began to discuss yesterday, card counting is surrounded by blackjack myths. It increase the mystique of this blackjack strategy skill. It also raises it up on a pedestal as the blackjack strategy skill that every player wants but just does not think he can achieve. All because of the myths that surround card counting.

One of the myths about card counting makes up most of the intimidation about the skill, and casinos are only too happy to allow that myth to keep going. It is widely believed that card counting is illegal.

The truth is that there is no law that says that a player is not allowed to think—to use their brain—when gambling. While I am sure the casinos would love for players to not use their brains when playing blackjack, the truth is that players are at least protected from legal action against them for counting cards.

However, the law stops there.

It is also widely believed that casinos will throw players they catch card counting out. Casinos are private businesses. They are offering games as their services, and any business can refuse to serve a customer or ask them to leave the premises.

This holds true for casinos when they catch card counters. They can ask blackjack players they catch counting cards to stop playing blackjack or to even leave the casino entirely. And such actions are well within the law.

So while it is a myth that card counting is illegal—the law does not prohibit brain use when playing blackjack—it is within the casino’s right to ask a player to stop playing blackjack or to leave the casino.

Because casinos can legally ask caught card counting players to leave, it is your task to practice your card counting skills so that you do not get caught. That means practicing your card counting skill so that you can count quickly and quietly in your head while surrounded by distractions and even when making small talk.

Blackjack Myths for Card Counting

Thanks to movies like ‘Rain Man’ and ‘21’ a good many people are convinced that some of the blackjack myths surrounding card counting are in fact truth.

I would not already be calling them myths if they were real.

Blackjack myths having to do with card counting surround the skill in a sense of mystique like how the rose bushes surrounded Sleeping Beauty’s castle. You know they are there and you want what is on the other side. But there are all those thorns and other scary things in between.

And like how Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale, the myths about card counting are just as untrue.

For example, a photographic memory is required to be successful at card counting.

This would be very untrue. Yes, I know that Rain Main did. But it was a movie and that is all. Card counting does not require a photographic memory. It does require basic math skills. Can you add 1 and subtract 1? Yes? Then you can learn to count cards.

All card counting is made up of is assigning tags or values to cards, such as +1, +2, -1 or -2, to the cards and then doing the appropriate addition or subtraction when those cards appear in game of blackjack.

Similar yet opposite of the photographic memory is the blackjack myth that you need to be a mathematical genius in order to successfully count cards.

Obviously I have already unreasoned that one. Adding and subtracting one is not an exceptional math skill. In fact, you could probably teach a child to count cards to a certain extent as they are capable of adding and subtracting numbers.

And those are only two of the blackjack myths that surround the castle of card counting. Make no mistake that card counting is a worthy skill, that it can give blackjack players a slight edge over the house.

Blackjack Boats One Step Closer

A little more than a month ago I wrote about the possibility of North Charleston launching casino boats with blackjack as a way to bring in some extra revenue for the city.

Last Thursday the blackjack boats are one more step closer to becoming a reality. The bill, introduced by Mayor Keith Summey and supported by the City Council, had its first reading. A reading is kind of like a public hearing on the bill in which people are allowed to voice their opinions about the proposed bill—in this case, casino boats with blackjack.

Surprisingly, twelve people spoke against the bill’s approval while only one person spoke in favor of the bill. And yet the bills till passed. Just goes to show you how much the North Charleston City Council wants those casino boats.

The reason for wanting the boats is because of the potential $700,000 per year that the city would receive. And everybody right now needs money to cover their programs.

If the bill is passed, casino boats offering blackjack, poker, slots and more will be allowed to sail out of a former Navy base on the Cooper River. The casino boats would take their passengers outside of the state’s territorial line, which is the point when gambling becomes legal. These casino boats would only be allowed to sail within a designated zone, which looks to be the waterfront area of Riverport Park, extending as far as Shipyard Creek.

Any company who is interested in operating a casino boat must negotiate their own parking, docking and departure points. Naturally fees must be paid to the city as well as taxes paid.

If the bill passes its second, and final, reading the boats would then be allowed to begin setting up. It is thought that passengers could be sailing along playing blackjack as soon as this winter.

Nothing like a little cruising while playing some blackjack—I think North Charleston is on to something with these blackjack boats.

Soft Hands in Blackjack

Recently I talked a bit about the different types of hands players are going to find when playing blackjack. Most specifically I talked about hard hands and how best to play them. Today we are going to look at soft hands.

What sets soft hands aside from other hands in blackjack is their Aces. In order to be a soft hand the player must be holding an Ace. However the big misconception is that just because you have an Ace it means your hand is soft.

Not true.

A hand is only said to be soft in blackjack when the Ace is being valued at 11 and the possibility still exists to reduce that 11 to 1. It is the flexibility of the Ace’s value that makes the hand soft because it can change the value of, says, an Ace/5 from 16 to 6.

If the value of an Ace has already been reduced to 1 it is no longer considered a soft hand. This is because an Ace is usually reduced because the player hit and had to reduce the Ace to keep from busting. Obviously the player cannot increase the Ace back from 1 to 11 because they would bust. So since the Ace is no longer flexible in its value it is no longer a soft hand and is then considered a hard hand.

Because of the ability to change the Ace’s value, the blackjack strategy for soft hands differs from hard hands. There are some totals that players would stand on if it were a hard hand, but should hit if it is a soft hand.

For example, you would stand on a hard 18 against a dealer 9. But a soft 18 against a dealer 9 should be hit. And if your new card would take the soft 18 over 21, reduce the Ace to 1 and try rebuilding.

The trick to soft hand strategy in blackjack is to remember that Aces are flexible and to not be afraid to hit a soft total that you would normally stand on if it were a hard total. It takes a bit of getting used to, but if you practice blackjack and practice your basic strategy you will become comfortable with it.

21 Blackjack Party

For those of you who have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and who love to play blackjack on the go, you will be quite pleased with what Spin3 is doing with their 21 Blackjack Party app.

Back in February of this year Spin3 was launched, and 21 Blackjack Party was their first game to be sold in the Apple App Store. Spin3 itself is actually a division of Spiral Solutions who is known for being a leader in eGaming services and managing those services.

The Spin3 21 Blackjack Party app has been a hit with those who like to play blackjack on the go, not to mention that this particular blackjack app is free.

But Spin3 was looking to take the abilities of the 21 Blackjack Party app further, make it even more well-known. And recently they found out just how to spread the word about their darling blackjack app: Facebook.

Yes, we are back to talking about Facebook again. But the social networking site is worming its way into everything in some form or another. I remember when people asked if businesses had a company website; now they ask if they have a Facebook page.

I digress.

So how is 21 Blackjack Party opening its little programmed heart to the social networking giant? It is quite simple really. Players who are playing can post their progress to their Facebook pages so that their friends can see just how awesome—or not awesome—they are doing with blackjack. At least that is the surface of this app’s integration with Facebook, but it is never as simple as what is on the surface anymore.

The Head of Spin3, Matti Zinder, said, “Our social lives and our digital lives are becoming more and more connected with more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices globally.”

But Zinder also says, “It is crucial that Spin3 is active at the heart of new consumer trends and technologies. The ability to link our casino-style games into players’ digital lives represents a new level of integration and a huge opportunity for the mobile casino industry.”

Now I do not know about you, but to me it seems that under the surface Spin3 is using Facebook and 21 Blackjack Party as a bridge to try to increase their own customer base. Let current players post their blackjack progress and hope their friends will want to play too.

But those of you who are already playing 21 Blackjack Party, Spin3’s decision to link its app to Facebook should be a nice addition, especially if you want your friends to know just how good of a blackjack player you are.

Low Cost Blackjack Tournaments

While the world of online casinos is rife with online slots tournaments, there are also online blackjack tournaments as well. It is possible to find tournaments with larger entry fees aimed at players who are serious players.

But what about players who still working on their online blackjack playing skills and who think they are ready to try a tournament—they might not feel up to spending $25 or more to enter a tournament? And what about players who are looking for a competitiveness of a tournament but are looking more to play for fun or for tournament practice? Are there any online blackjack tournaments out there for those such players?

The answer is yes.

Online Vegas offers online blackjack tournaments with only a $0.99 entry fee. Such a tournament is perfect for the novice player who is looking to begin getting their feet wet for tournament play. These tournaments are also perfect for the experienced online blackjack player looking to have a little competitive fun.

These nice little $0.99 online blackjack tournaments are offered at Online Vegas every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Each tournament is a twenty four hour tournament, beginning at 8pm on the starting day and ending at 8 pm on the next day.

For the $0.99 entry fee players are given 50 tournament credits to play with for a percentage of the pot. If a player should play through their tournament balance, rebuys are available for $2.49 which will recharge a player’s tournament balance.

There are two types of blackjack games being used in these tournaments and they alternate each time: Vegas Strip and Perfect Pairs. I recommend playing in the Vegas Strip tournaments.

Because these online blackjack tournaments cost so little to enter they are good for players new to playing in tournaments as well as for seasoned players looking for a fun tournament or practice. Online Vegas has done well to offer these online blackjack tournaments.

Hard Hands in Blackjack

In the game of blackjack there are three types of hands: hard hands, soft hands and pairs. Each of these types of blackjack hands has a different type of strategy. This is because each type of hand has something about it that makes it different.

Hence, different types.

Moving on, we are going to look at hard hands and blackjack strategy for hard hands today.

In blackjack, hard hands are the most basic of hands. The two cards that make them up are not worth the same value each and neither card has a flexible value. Because of those simple little facts, hard hands are the easiest hands to play…most of the time.

They are easy to play and are often the first hands novice players learn strategy for because there are no special tricks available for them. You can hit, stand of double down on them. All you need to do as the player is decide if your hand total is low enough to hit or high enough to stand.

As a rule of thumb, a hard hand of 17 or higher and players will stand. It is too high to hit safely, and other than the hard 17, stand a fair chance of beating the dealer.

Some of hard 9s, hard 10s and hard 11s can be doubled down on. This allows players to make twice the amount in winnings off of one hand than they would without doubling down.

While many new blackjack players who are just starting out will not bother overly much with strategy, these hands thankfully are not too hard to play. The majority of them can be played with common sense.

However for the player who wants to get the most out of his hard hands and to begin building his blackjack strategy and skills, the best recourse is to check out basic strategy. This is a chart that gives the best statistical play to make for each hand against each dealer’s up card. Playing each hand according to basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. This takes the guess work out of deciding how to play your hard hands in blackjack.

Oh, and one more benefit—it is legal to use in casinos. Now take it to the blackjack table and use it for your hard hands.