Multiple Hands per Round is Not Blackjack Strategy

I have heard of this. Players playing two or three hands per round and calling it blackjack strategy. The way I have heard it explained to me is that playing more hands per round is good blackjack strategy that increases one’s blackjack odds of winning.

Not true, and I am going straight to the math on this one. And this is not hard math so follow along.

Your blackjack odds of winning a round, not including pushes, are 48% as opposed to the house’s 52% chance of winning. So if you play one hand you have a 52% shot of losing.

Now if you were playing two hands per round, each hand has a 48% chance of winning and a 52% chance of losing. So each hand still only has a 48% of winning. Three hands per round? Yes, each one still only has a 48% chance of winning.

Notice that the odds of winning do not increase with the number hands being played per round.

However, your potential to lose money goes up.

Blackjack, even with basic strategy, is a casino game in which the house still has the edge. Yes, card counting can even out the odds and even possibly tip the odds in favor of you. But the average blackjack player will be facing blackjack odds that lean towards the house.

The 48% chance of winning and 52% chance of losing does not change no matter how many hands you are playing per round. But playing more hands per round open up more opportunities to lose and that means money lost. Remember, your blackjack odds are based on your opportunity to make money. So if you open yourself up for more opportunities to lose money you are only hurting yourself. Stick with one hand per round.

Unless you are playing Blackjack Switch, in which case you have to play two hands, but it has a slightly different strategy.

Betting Progressions and Blackjack

When playing blackjack you always want to go into playing with a playing strategy and a betting strategy. And while basic strategy is an easy to use playing strategy, not all pieces and parts of blackjack strategy are that simple. But some players think all parts of blackjack strategy should be easy. These would be the players who fall into using betting progressions, calling it a betting strategy.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: betting progressions are not betting strategies for blackjack.

Think of this phrase: “Progression to depression.”

That phrase is exactly where a betting progression will leave you, not only in blackjack but in any casino game.

An example of a commonly used betting progression is a positive betting progression. In this progression the player doubles the amount of their wager each time they win, only returning their starting amount when they lose. Let’s say that you start out with a $10 wager. Here is what it would look like:

Round 1: $10, win, Round 2: $20, win, Round 3: $40 win, Round 4: $80, lose, Round 5: $10

The problem and the reason why players should stay away from any betting progression, positive or otherwise, is because you stand to lose in the long run. This is because the house has the edge. In the above example, the player won three times in a row. This is not a likely scenario. Yes, it can happen, but you are then betting on chance rather than the statistics of the game. Betting on chance is how you lose money.

In blackjack, your odds of winning are only 48% each round. This means that the likelihood of getting on a winning streak that is long enough to make a profit off of any progression is slim. A more realistic example looks like this:

Round 1: $10, win, Round 2: $20, lose, Round 3: $10

You would have won $20 in Round 1 and then lost that $20 in Round 2. Over time you will lose more hands than you win. Yes, basic strategy will help you to win more hands than you would if you played without it, but the house edge is still against you.

The real trick to winning in blackjack is taking advantage of money making opportunities, such as double downs. Betting progressions in blackjack are the sure way to lose money over time.

Blackjack Odds and Blackjack Payouts

This morning I discussed Atlantic City Blackjack and why just its payouts alone make it a bad blackjack variation. The payouts that it carries hurt a player’s blackjack odds. But, one, a good many blackjack players do not know that payout ratios impact their blackjack odds, and, two, they do not know how those payout rations impact their odds—the how and why is not known.

So, one, yes, payout rations impact your blackjack odds.

That was simple enough. But to really understand why you should avoid blackjack games with 6-5 payouts on natural blackjacks you need to see just how payout impacts odds first.

Odds in blackjack—or any casino game for that matter—are based on the player’s opportunity to make money on the game. This is why rules that allow you more opportunities to double down increase your odds while rules that limit your opportunities, such as limiting double downs to hard 9s and hard 10s, decrease your odds.

Following that line of logic, payout ratios that increase the amount of money won off of a natural blackjack will increase your blackjack odds, while those that decrease the amount you win will decease your odds.

A 3-2 payout ratio is normal for blackjack. It is the good old payout that has been a part of the game for as long as anyone can remember.

But there are now 6-5 and 1-1 payout ratios that are becoming increasingly common. Usually these ratios are found only in blackjack variations, but there are some regular, yet single deck blackjack games with a 6-5 payout. That 6-5 payout decreases your blackjack odds by 1.39% and that 1-1 payout will drop your blackjack odds by an alarming 2.27%.

The drops in your blackjack odds come about because you make less money off of the natural blackjacks you receive. There is less opportunity to make money. And with less opportunity your blackjack odds suffer. And payout ratios are not the only way hits to your odds—insurance is also a biggie that can hurt your money making odds. This is why some variations of blackjack should be avoided simply because of the hit you take to your blackjack odds.

Atlantic City Online Blackjack

I can understand creating an online blackjack variation named for Atlantic City. After Las Vegas it is the biggest city in the United States for casinos. And we do have an online blackjack variation called Vegas Strip Blackjack, named so for Las Vegas. So I suppose Atlantic City Blackjack does not surprise me now that it has shown up in the online casino world: Atlantic City Blackjack has recently been released by Cyrptologic to some of their partner online casinos.

Now while I am not a fan of blackjack variations, I will admit that Vegas Strip Blackjack is not too bad of a variation. This comes from the fact that the dealer will peek to see if he has blackjack when he has a ten-value card or Ace showing; this increases your blackjack odds since not peeking increases the house’s edge.

There are other rules to Vegas Strip Blackjack that I like, but we need to move on to Atlantic City Blackjack and why it cannot hold a candle to Vegas Strip.

Right off the bat, the first issue with Atlantic City Blackjack is the payout offered for natural blackjacks. It is only offering a 6-5 payout for a natural. This is a problem as it hits your blackjack odds for 1.39%. But the game tries to make it up to you by offering a 2-1 payout for any suited natural blackjacks, meaning that the natural must be made up of a ten-value card and an Ace of the same suit.

Yes, a 2-1 payout on a suited blackjack does offer a boost to your odds: 0.57%. But this is a poor step in trying to make up it up to players for losing so much in odds from the 6-5 payout. There is still a 0.82% difference in odds that does not favor the player.

Most players are uninformed as to just how much payout can affect their blackjack odds. I will talk about that this afternoon. But for now it is best to stay away from Atlantic City Blackjack. It is a shame that Atlantic City has to be associated with this online blackjack game.

Reasons to Be Thankful for Blackjack

‘Tis the season. Well, almost. But it is the season to be thankful. Not that you should not be thankful the rest of the year, but Thanksgiving is the time of year that we put our focus on food and being thankful for said food and other things. While there are many things that I am thankful for, this post is dedicated to the reasons why I am thankful for blackjack.

Blackjack is the one casino game with the lowest housed edge. And that is before any strategy is applied. Blackjack starts with a house edge of 2-5% depending on what house rules are being used. But it by far beats out the 14% that easy games like slots have.

And speaking of strategy, I am thankful that blackjack offers the easiest and most effective strategy: basic strategy. All a player needs to do is play according to the basic strategy chart and they can lower the housed edge to 0.5%. The lowered house edge happens because basic strategy comes in the form of a chart with each dealer up card and each player starting hand; where the two lines intersect lies the best statistical play. You may not win every single time, but you will win more and make the most of profitable opportunities.

I am thankful that I do not have to worry about what the other players are doing because, in blackjack, their hands do not affect mine, nor am I playing against them. It is just me and the dealer regardless of whether I am playing blackjack in a casino or playing online blackjack—it is always just me and the dealer.

Thos are the main points that I am thankful of blackjack for. It makes it a simple and easy to play casino game. And most of all I am thankful that with blackjack strategy tools such as basic strategy, I can actually make a profit from blackjack.

Blackjack Makes Brushing Up on Your Math Skills Fun

For most people math ends when we get out of school, be it high school or college. Other than basic adding, subtracting and multiplying we do not really use much math. And with all these nifty apps for mobile devices we almost never do basic math anymore. But blackjack can help you brush up on your math and make it fun at the same time in two ways.

First there is the basic math that is inherent with blackjack—you have to add up your cards for your hand total. Now I do not know about you, but I find the idea of adding up numbers on a sheet of paper less interesting and less fun than when adding up cards in a hand of blackjack.

But the big aspect of blackjack that can help you brush up on your math skills is card counting. Card counting uses the addition of positive and negative numbers. For example you could be adding a -1 to 3, which gives you 2.

Sure you might be saying that the above example looks easy but imagine that you cannot see the actual positive and negative numbers, and that you have to do all the math instantly in your head as soon as you see the cards and without giving away to anyone else that you are doing the math in your head.

Now you see where the challenge and the fun comes in to using blackjack as a fun way to brush up on your math skills. Not to mention you will be gaining a blackjack strategy skill in card counting that you can use to help lower, if not beat, the house edge.

Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive is Sneaky too

And I thought that insurance was being sneaky. It has nothing on Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive by DEQ Systems Corp. DEQ has spent the last five years creating and designing a new electronic side bet that can be built into blackjack tables.

Shall we compare the two and see just how sneaky Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive is.

First we will look at insurance. Insurance is offered when the dealer has an Ace showing, and essentially is a side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 or not. If the hole card is worth 10 the dealer has a natural blackjack, you would lose your original wager, but you would collect 2-1 on your insurance side bet so that you were paid an amount that is equal to the wager you lost.

There are only four Aces per deck. Let’s say that you are at a table that is using four decks, like a Vegas Strip Blackjack table. That means there are sixteen Aces out of 208 cards. On average there is a 7% chance that an Ace will show as the up card. So you only have the opportunity to take insurance sixteen times.

Now we will look at Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive.

This is a side bet that will pay the player if they have a final hand total of 20 and are beaten by the dealer with 21. The more cards that make up the dealer’s 21, the more the player receives on their side bet; but a dealer 21 made up of seven cards will payout the progressive jackpot.

Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive plays on the notion that the player will always receive something if his strong hand is beaten. Which on the surface sounds like a good idea. But there are several problems:

– It only covers a player 20, not a player who hits to 21.
– It does not cover if the dealer beats you with a natural blackjack.
– It does not cover pushes.

And perhaps the biggest problem of all is that the side bet can be made every single round. This is very bad. At least with insurance there are only certain times it is offered. But Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive puts players in the position to lose even more money every single round. The probability of you having a hand total of 20 and the dealer beating you with a multi-card hand of 21 is actually very slim.

This is one type of side bet that should be high on your list of things to avoid since you stand a better chance of losing more money each round than you do of winning a payout off of it. And it is just horrible to prey upon player feelings in order to extract more money. Sure, it is a blow when our 20’s are beaten, but that is a part of the game.

And this company, this DEQ Systems Inc., has created a way for casinos to cash in on that feeling. Because of the increased opportunity for players to lose money Bad Beat Blackjack Progressive should be avoided. There is no sense to throwing money away on almost every hand to collect on a hand here and hand there—the financial cost does not balance out unless the dealer has a seven card 21.

What Makes Vegas Strip Blackjack Good

I will admit it. I am a fan of Vegas Strip Blackjack. For those of you that are just now getting into blackjack, this is not some drinking version of blackjack in which you get to take your clothes off. Clothes stay on. Vegas Strip Blackjack is actually one of the most common types of blackjack out there, and it can be found in a great many brick and mortar casinos and in the majority of online casinos.

While the majority of the rules are the same, Vegas strip does have some variations to its rules.

For starters it uses only four decks. While this is not as good as a single deck game, it is a better than the more common six and eight deck blackjack games. Playing with only four decks adds 0.06% to your blackjack odds.

Another good rule is that the dealer must stand on all 17s—including all soft 17s. This saves you from losing 0.22% from your blackjack odds, which is a fairly significant save in odds.

Players can double down on any two cards as opposed to only being able to double down only on 10s and 11s. This opens up the ability to double on some of those hard 9s and soft hands according to your basic strategy chart, and it add 0.23% to your blackjack odds.

And speaking of doubling down, players can double down after splitting; so add another 0.08% to your blackjack odds.

As for splitting, players can split up to three times for a total of four hands, which saves you a loss of 0.10%. Players can also split Aces once, but this saves an odds loss of 0.18%.

Two other rules include a split Ace with a 10 value card is not a blackjack, which is standard. And unlike 10 value cards, like a starting hand of a Queen and 10, can be split.

But one of the best rules is that the dealer will peek to see if he has blackjack if he is showing a ten card or an Ace. I know on the surface this does not seem fair, but it actually save you some money.

Imagine that the dealer has a 10 showing and you have a hard 11. Basic strategy says to double down and so you do, reaching a hand total of 18. The dealer then reveals his hole card to be an Ace; he has a natural and that trumps your doubled down hard 18 causing you to lose twice the amount you normally would have.

In a game of blackjack in which the dealer does not peek on a 10 card or an Ace it hits your blackjack odds for 0.11%.

When you add it all up, Vegas Strip Blackjack adds 0.37% to your blackjack odds and saves you from losing 0.61%. All in all, I think those are some pretty good reasons to seek out Vegas Strip Blackjack in a casino or to play it in an online casino like Go Casino. This is one variation of blackjack that I can be on board with.

Pennsylvania’s Blackjack Rules May Not Hang Around

Right now blackjack at the new Pennsylvania casinos is at its best. Players are currently enjoying a house edge of 0.4% if they play according to basic strategy, which is lower than the typical basic strategy blackjack house edge. But such a house edge may not last, and speculation is already building on what will change.

With the opening of any new casino, the games are highly likely to have more player favorable rules and therefore lower house edges. This is done primarily to bring new players in and get them comfortable with the casino in hopes that they will return even if the rules change.

And the rules almost always change.

When the Gaming Control Board of Pennsylvania fist set down the blackjack rules, they did so with the intention of meeting a few months after the casinos had been open to discuss possible changes. The few months is drawing to a close, and member of the Gaming Control Board are not commenting on the possibility for changes to the blackjack rules.

And naturally the casinos are not going to mind changes to the blackjack rules as long as they are favored in the changes, which is likely. The casinos will present and promote the potential of gaining more through taxes with changes to the rules. And the need for revenue was the whole reason for legalizing casinos and blackjack and other table games in Pennsylvania. So I am guessing that if they learn that they could make more for changing a couple of rules, I am willing to bet they would make the changes.

So the state would get more revenue. The casinos would get a lot more in profit. And blackjack players would be left will less money in winnings in the long run.

What rules would be changed?

The Wizard of Odds is banking on them allowing dealers to hit soft 17s and that the natural blackjack payout be changed from a 3-2 payout to a 6-5 payout. The change in payout alone would increase the house edge by 1.4% alone. But both rule changes combined would raise the house edge to 1.9%. Again, that is if you are playing according to basic strategy, and with rule changes like that on the horizon, you had better be playing according to basic strategy.

Now no rule changes have been made yet. But gaming professionals have seen rules change after a casino has been open for a few months, and they have seen which rules change the most often. This is what makes them think that the good blackjack rules Pennsylvania players are enjoying now could be shuffled along for house friendly blackjack rules.

If you live in Pennsylvania you had better get your blackjack in now should the rules change.

Blackjack Strategy Specifics: Your 11 vs. the Dealer’s Ace

How do you play your 11 if the dealer has an Ace showing? We are going to say that you are playing Vegas Strip Blackjack and the dealer has checked for a natural blackjack and does not have it. Which 11 is stronger, yours or his? And how do you play an 11 versus an Ace?

If you look at your basic strategy chart because I know you have one, you will see that you do not double down on a hard 11 against Ace despite doubling down on against all other dealer up cards. And there is a very good reason for this.

As a player you would think that your 11 is stronger than the dealer’s Ace because the dealer does not have blackjack. For starters, that does not mean that the dealer cannot win; he could still, with his hole card or through hitting, wind up with a strong soft hand. And furthermore, that Ace is a lot more flexible than your 11, and it is that flexibility that makes the dealer’s Ace stronger than your hard 11.

Even with showing an Ace you cannot expect the dealer to bust simply because of that flexibility. If need be necessary, the Ace can be reduced to a 1—the same reason why players like Aces and why Aces are the strongest cards a player can hold.

In all reality, the dealer will only bust 17% of the time. Otherwise here is the run down on hands of 17 or more and the dealer’s chances of winding up with one of those hands:

A hand of 17 or more: 83%
A hand of 18 or more: 65%
A hand of 19 or more: 46%
A hand of 20 or more: 27%
A hand of 21: 8%
Busting: 17%

From the start of the round the dealer has the upper hand. This is all because that Ace gives him more room to wiggle. And because he has more Flexibility, you need to keep doubling down against an Ace out of your blackjack strategy.

Doubling down will actually hurt your odds here because the dealer has the slightly stronger hand. Blackjack strategy is meant to increase your odds in opportune moments, and is meant to preserve your wager as best possible if you do not have the upper hand. This is one of those non-upper hand times and your blackjack strategy needs to reflect that. So now doubling down.