Things I Do Not Like About Blackjack

I love the game of blackjack. The one on one feeling that you get from playing only against the table, even if you are at a full table. The smooth feeling you get when you know your blackjack strategy is doing its thing against the house edge. The feeling of knowing that I am playing the one game in the entire casino or online casino that has the best odds for me to win and make a profit.

But it is true that there are some things that I just do not like about blackjack.

For one thing I do not like insurance.

I do not like the sneaky way the casinos present this playing option as something that benefits the player when in fact it is designed purely to try to take more money from the player—sure, get them to put more money on the table in wagers, more money on the line means more opportunity for the house to take it which means lower odds for the player.

It is just a sneaky way, deceptive yet entirely game-legal way of lowering a player’s blackjack odds. And that sneakiness is what I do not like. Come on, just be up front and tell players, ‘Hey, this can maybe kind of help you, but it is likely to cause you to lose some money.’

Another thing? Side bets.

Side bets are found in blackjack variations. And variations came about in two ways. One way is that some are cultural variations, such as Pontoon and Spanish 21. But other variations are creations meant to take more player money—no surprise—through side bets.

The problem was that players were getting bored with blackjack and rather than give themselves and their bankrolls a break (which is smart), they wanted a variation of blackjack…kind of like the best of both worlds: a different game that is still the same.

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, and it just might cost you more. Which is exactly what blackjack variations with their side bets do.

Insurance and side bets are two of my biggest pet peeves with a game that I otherwise thoroughly love. And I will continue to warn players to avoid both insurance and side bets—which insurance is actually a side bet in its own right—so that players can hang on to their blackjack bankroll.

Blackjack Tournaments for Almost Nothing

While online casinos will prominently display their list of slots tournaments that they are hosting, it is possible to find online blackjack tournaments. I do not need to say again why blackjack is superior to slots. Actually some of the online blackjack tournaments that are offered are quite nice.

Take for example the online blackjack tournament series being offered by Online Vegas. Every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday players can play in a twenty four hour blackjack tournament for all of $0.99.

Yes, it will cost you one penny less than a dollar to play in one of these blackjack tournaments. Granted you are only playing for a percentage of the pot, but it is better than nothing. And not too shabby when you consider that you are playing for only $0.99 and it is a twenty four hour tournament.

The $0.99 entry fee will get you 50 tournament credits to play with. After that rebuys are $2.49 for another 50 tournament credits.

Each tournament starts at 8 pm on the starting day—meaning 8 pm on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday—and runs through 8 pm of the following day—meaning 8 pm on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday respectively.

There is one downside to these online blackjack tournaments. There are two variations of blackjack being used and they are alternated so that one tournament will have one variation and the next will have the other variation. One variation is Vegas Strip, which is just fine and is one of the standard forms of blackjack to play.

However, the other variation is Perfect Pairs. And no variation of blackjack involving side bets should ever be played. And do not tell me that it can be played without making the side bet because the payout for a natural blackjack in Perfect Pairs is not 3-2, making that variation not worth the time or credits.

So if you find yourself looking for something to do on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday night, give the online blackjack tournaments at Online Vegas a try. Or at least the tournaments played out with Vegas Strip Blackjack.

Blackjack News, Players and Shadows

I think of blackjack as a respectable casino game. It is not all loud and rowdy like craps. It does not have a steep house edge like slots. And you can actually use strategy to impact your odds of winning, unlike roulette. In fact, I think blackjack is right up there with poker as one of the best casino games.

But I am a blackjack player, not a poker player.

Also in my opinion blackjack players tend to behave themselves better and are not the subject of gossip like poker players. In fact blackjack as a game is not surrounded by the aura of gossip, further increasing its respectability.

This is why you never hear about all the little scraps blackjack players get into like how the poker players do. Blackjack players do not show up in the news for having dressed up as a member of the opposite sex to enter a tournament. On top of that blackjack tournaments are not steeped in controversy like the women-only poker tournaments.

So that is the positive side of blackjack—it is a respectable game with well-behaved players.

The downside is that there is almost never any news. Well-behaved players are like shadows, they are never seen. And if they are not ever seen there is not really anything to write about. Same goes for blackjack tournaments. Without controversy there is no news.

And that is the tough part about writing about blackjack. Without gossip a blackjack writer winds up reviewing blackjack variations, doing tournament announcements and going over blackjack strategy.

Do not get me wrong, it is not bad to write about such things. But it does make blackjack news tough when you are faced with well-behaved players and no tournament controversy. Ah, the price of respectability.

Why Blackjack Side Bets are Bad

Blackjack variations provide a breath of air to when compared to playing standard blackjack. I cannot say that they provide a breath of fresh air considering what they do to a player’s blackjack odds, but the difference in the games does indeed provide for a change of pace.

Majority of the time when a player seeks out a blackjack variation it is because the standard game of blackjack has gotten a bit stale to them—same thing happening just about every round. Variations have catching names like Perfect Pairs to pull in these bored blackjack players. Players think that these variations of blackjack are different from the regular game.

The truth is that they really are not that different. They can be broken down into two parts: the base game and the side bet.

The base game is the same as any standard game of blackjack. Players can hit, stand, double down or split pairs. Granted these plays might be limited somewhat. Perfect Pairs, for example, will only allow players to double down once and split only the first two cards. No additional doubling down or splitting of pairs. Otherwise it is played the same as a game of standard blackjack.

Then there is the side bet. Side bets are usually where the name of a blackjack variation comes from. And it is also the main difference that allows the variation to be a variation.

A side bet is a wager separate from the regular playing wager. For example, you might wager $10 on the round of blackjack and $5 on the side bet. Two separate wagers. And both can have two separate outcomes meaning it is possible to lose one and win the other.

In the case of Perfect Pairs, players are placing a side wager on whether their first two cards are a pair. At the beginning of the round the player makes his round wager and his pair wager. If his first two cards are a pair, he wins the side bet. But he can still lose his regular wager in the actual game.

Because of the increased opportunity for the house to win money from the player, the player’s blackjack odds drop and the house’s edge increases. Standard blackjack before any strategy is around 2-5% depending on the house rules. However a game like Perfect Pairs starts at 4.10%.

Rather than putting more of your bankroll at risk it is better to take a break from playing if you find blackjack getting a bit dull. A blackjack break is a breath of fresh air is better than pretend air that is only stealing your money in a sneaky way.

Online Blackjack for Florida

Now that blackjack tables have been straightened out between the state and the Seminoles, the state of Florida is now turning its attention to online gambling and the possibility of regulating it. This would mean that online blackjack would be available to those in Florida.

There are two aspects of this online gambling regulation that fit together. One, there are one million residents in Florida who gambling online be they online blackjack players or online poker players or a fan of some other online casino game.

Two, despite the Seminole compact and the $1 billion in revenue it will generate, Florida is still around $2 billion short of its budget after considering the compact revenue.

So what can Florida do with its one million residents who gamble online and its budget shortfall?

They can regulate online gambling, thus allowing revenue to be generated from the online gambling.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) allows for each individual state to choose whether or not to regulate online gambling within their borders. This compliments the enforcement of UIGEA by the financial institutions. See, US citizens are not banned from gambling online, but financial institutions are banned from knowingly processing transactions between citizens and online casinos.

But if a state were to regulate online gambling, residents of that state would be able to gamble online legally, and financial institutions would not be prohibited from processing those transactions going to online casinos licensed by the regulating state.

In short, if Florida were to regulate online gambling, those of you who are in Florida and play blackjack online would be able to do so. So you would get your online blackjack and Florida would get its revenue.

How much revenue? It is estimated that Florida could make $200 million in the first year and $100 million in subsequent years. While it will not entirely cover the budget shortfall, the revenue would certainly help Florida’s state funded programs.

The race is on between Florida, California and New Jersey to see who will be the first of the fifty to regulate online gambling, and make online blackjack available.

Incorrect Blackjack Dealer Payouts

Blackjack dealers are human just like the rest of us. While they have been trained and have practice in dealing the cards and making payouts, every now and then a mistake happens and the payout is incorrect.

By incorrect I mean that perhaps a player is paid for a push. Or the player might have lost and be paid anyway. Or the incorrect amount for a blackjack or win might be paid.

When such a thing happens novice players wonder what they should do about it and whether or not it is legal in the game.

First off, if you receive a payout that is more money than you are supposed to receive or receive one when you are not supposed to be paid it is not illegal in the casino. It is not considered cheating in blackjack. This is a mistake on the dealer’s part.

In such an instance you have a couple of choices open to you. Which one you choose depends on your own morals and ethics. Remember, you have done nothing wrong. You can keep the money. It was given to you and you are not obligated to return it. Or you can snag the dealer’s attention, make him aware of the mistake and give the payout back.

Now if you did win the round and were not given your payout, stop the dealer before he takes your cards away. If he removes them before you can draw attention to the fact that he did not pay you, stop him immediately before he deals the next round. Explain what happened in a calm voice.

When dealers pick up the cards to discard at the end of a round, they are collected very carefully and in a way that will allow them to be re-laid on the table to show a previous round. Dealers are taught this manner of collection for the purpose of setting debates. Ask the dealer in a calm voice to lay the cards back out to show him that you should have been paid.

Whenever you are trying to fix a dealer’s mistake, speak in a calm voice. No yelling. Everyone at the table will appreciate your calmness more than anger. Remember, it is just a mistake and can be corrected, but you get more accomplished by being nice.

As it stands mistakes can and will happen. You will probably encounter a payout mistake at some point when playing blackjack. Just remain calm and call the dealer’s attention to it. And if you received a payout by mistake remember that you have done nothing illegal, and that it is your choice to return the payout or not.