Your Blackjack Losses and Wins

Today we are going to talk a little bit about using how to handle your wins and losses in regards to your blackjack bankroll. What do you do with your winnings once you get them?

I know your first response is to keep them, but stop and think for a moment. Do you really pocket your winnings? Most blackjack players do not. In fact, most casino patrons do not. They will turn around and immediately reinvest their winning in their bankroll.

And there is nothing wrong with this. However, it is counterproductive to making a profit in blackjack.

Let’s say you convert $100 into chips. You are also playing blackjack according to basic strategy. So under that strategy you should only lose on average $5 in an hour, give or take a bit. So you would think you’re then down to $95. But because you put your winnings back into your bankroll, you’re back at $100 if not higher.

The problem with this is that it puts you in the position to lose your winnings. If you are losing 5% per hour, having a bankroll of more than $100 means that you will then be losing more than $5 per hour.

The smartest course of action in regards to your bankroll when you are playing blackjack is to keep your winnings separate from your bankroll. This means that when you are paid your winnings, you pocket them or set them in a separate pile from your bankroll. This way at the end of the night you still have something to cash in. And in the worst case scenario, say you did lose all of your bankroll, you would still have something to show from your blackjack playing.

Ease of Online Blackjack When You are Sick

I had something else planned to write about today and share with you, but there has been a change of plans. As I am sick today I feel more compelled to share my thanks at how easy online blackjack is to play. The ease of online blackjack makes it possible for me to do something other than stare at the TV when I am home sick.

I think this is in part to the fact that blackjack offers some very simple rules: take a card, do not take a card, double or split. Easy. Heck it is even easy to add up to 21 when sick too. And I can do all of that while wrapped up in a blanket and sitting on the couch with my laptop. All I need to do is click the write button, and the interfaces on the majority of online blackjack games is so simple that I can read it while in a cold medicine induced semi-coma.

But another plus to online blackjack is its strategy. Players—sick or not—can use basic strategy and impact their odds, brining the house edge down to around 0.5%. All you need to do is find your starting hand and the dealer’s up card on the basic strategy chart. Where the two lines intersect is the best statistical play for your starting hand when faced with that dealer’s up card. All you need to do as a player is make that play. You are not guaranteed to win, but because it is the best statistical play, it gives you the best odds for that hand possible. And you have the satisfaction of knowing you are making the best possible play and making a success of playing online blackjack when you are in the condition that the TV remote is baffling.

So as I sit here on my couch in my PJs and cow slippers, armed with my tissues and laptop and cold medicine, I am so thankful for how easy online blackjack is to play. It makes for a much better occupation than watching soap operas.

Bad Blackjack Strategies: Mimic the Dealer

Are blackjack players mockingbirds? No, really this is a real question not some random thought. The answer is no, blackjack players are not mockingbirds. I only ask this because there is a so-called strategy out there in the blackjack world that tells players that the best way to play is to mimic the dealer.

But as players are not mockingbirds this strategy is a bad idea. And not only because we are not birds. The odds on following this so-called strategy are awful.

You cannot really say that players can even follow basic strategy and mimic the dealer at the same time. The reason for this is that the dealer does not double down or split pairs. The odds that a player can knock off the house’s edge through successful doubling down and pair splitting is 1.6% and 0.06% respectively. A player mimicking the dealer will also hit all 16s because that is what the dealer does; the dealer does not start standing until he has a 17. According to basic strategy, a player will stand on many hands below a 17.

Because of abstaining from doubling down and splitting pairs and hitting hands that players should stand on, the house gains quite a bit in odds, which brings the house edge up to 5.48%. Considering that basic strategy would normally bring the house edge down to 0.5%, a house edge of 5.48% is pretty ridiculous for blackjack.

This is why a blackjack player does not want to be a mockingbird and mimic the dealer. The consequences to a player’s blackjack odds, and therefore their bankroll, are not player friendly.

Players should always research a new blackjack strategy they hear tell of before using it. Mimicking the dealer is not a new so-called blackjack strategy, but many novice players will use it because they do not take the time to research it and see just how bad it really is for them.

Bad Blackjack Strategies: Dealer Has a 10 Hole Card

There are some so-called blackjack strategies out there that players no in the know will swear by. Assuming that the dealer has a card worth 10 for a hole card is one such strategy.

Sure on the surface it might sound like an okay strategy to use in blackjack, almost like it is a safety net based on the player assuming the worse. But the statistics do not add up on this one. And it is those statistics that show it as the bad blackjack strategy that it is.

To begin with, and to make the math simple at first, we are going to look at a single deck. In a single suit there are thirteen cards. All of those cards have their face value applied in blackjack except for the three face cards and the Ace which has the ability to be played as a 1 or an 11; the three face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are each worth 10. So out of thirteen cards in a single suit, only four (10, Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10; obviously the other nine cards are not worth 10.

So let’s break that down into percentages. Because there are only four cards in a suit worth 10, it means there is only a 30% chance of one being the hole card, and a 70% chance that the hole card will be a card that does not have a value of 10.

Even when you add more suits and in turn add more decks, the percentage of the hole card being worth 10 is still going to stick pretty close to 30%. So if the odds are in favor of the hole card being something other than a 10, why use a blackjack strategy that is based on poor odds? Because to me a 30% chance on the hole card being worth 10 is a pretty poor odds.

Considering that the odds are against the hole card being worth 10, it gives blackjack a house edge of 10.03 to assume the dealer’s hole card is worth 10. And that is an extremely bad house edge for blackjack. Never assume the dealer’s hole card is worth 10.

Blackjack Games Not to Play: MindPlay Tables

Part of being a savvy blackjack player is knowing strategy and how to play the game to squeeze the best odds out of a game. But another part of being a savvy blackjack player is knowing where to play and where not to play. I am not talking about specific casinos. I am talking about specific games of specific rules to avoid.

That being said, there is one specific blackjack game that I recently heard of that I feel compelled to tell of. In fact, this is more a type of blackjack table than a blackjack variation’s rules. The type of table is called a MindPlay table.

A MindPlay table is a specifically built table with a purpose. That purpose is to track the cards and chips on the table; it is programmed to determine a player’s skill level, track wagers, count the deck and how long a player has played at that table. MindPlay tables use specifically marked decks; they are not marked where a player can see the marks of course, but they are indeed marked.

Play at a MindPlay begins with the dealer removing the decks from the shuffle machine and placing them in a sort of well in the table to the right of the dealer. Once in this well-like space, an optical device then scans the deck, counting the marks, and creating an order of the cards. The cards are then dealt and played in that order.

Once play has begun the MindPlay program counts the cards as they are played, similar to how a blackjack player counts cards. When the MindPlay device’s count reaches a certain number, the dealer is ordered to reinsert the cards into the shuffler and then reinsert them into the well-like space for scanning. This counting and pre-programmed command to reshuffle is in place so that players will not be able to squeeze an advantage out of the decks through card counting.

But the optical device of a MindPlay table does more. It can track how much a player is betting, calculate their average bet and how long a player has been playing at that table. This information can be used by pit bosses when it comes to comps for players. A player can ask the pit boss for a comp, telling him or her that they have wagered this much in this much time at that blackjack table over there; the pit boss can then check the program in the MindPlay table to see if what the player says is true or not. Casinos like this feature because it will allow them better—and tighter—control on comping players.

But comping aside, the scanning and tracking of the order of the deck and the increased odds it gives players is enough to give blackjack players a reason to avoid MindPlay tables. It seems though that casinos are saying that it is not okay for players to count cards, but it is okay for them to count and track the cards.

So, blackjack players, this is one type of blackjack table to avoid. Unfortunately these tables are not labeled with signs or the like; you will not see a ‘MindPlay Blackjack’ sign sitting on the felt. The giveaway is the black well-like device in the table on the dealer’s right—in other words, near the third base position. If you see that well-like device it is highly likely that the blackjack table is a MindPlay table. Avoid it, and encourage other players to avoid it.

Difference Between Blackjack and 21 Games

Perhaps on the surface there is no discernable difference between blackjack and 21 games. But obviously there is. Or I would not be about to tell you about the differences now would I?

So, yes, there is a difference between blackjack and 21 games. Actually there are only two differences, but they are very glaring when you stop to think about them. In fact, once you know them you can never un-know them and they will be forever in your mind’s eye.

Ready? Here we go.

Think about blackjack for a moment. Only blackjack. The very basic game that you first learned when you decided that you wanted to make money from a casino game. You know that you wager on one hand. You know that the only plays you have are to hit, stand, double down, split a pair or surrender. You also know that a ‘blackjack’ is made up in the first two cards you are dealt: a card with a value of 10 and an Ace. You also know that you are given a 3-2 payout for being fortunate enough to be dealt 21 in your first two cards—the price tag on luck for the casino.

That is blackjack at its very essence. And that is the only blackjack game. Ever.

Everything else is a game of 21.

Think about it. There are some games out there that have many of the same rules, but you are not paid 3-2 for a natural blackjack. You might get a 6-5 or a 7-5 pay out on a natural blackjack. And this is a problem because you are not getting the traditional payout on a two-card 21. And since the entire point of blackjack is to be dealt a natural and receive a 3-2 payout, changing the payout ratio changes the game.

Hence any change to the payout for a two-card 21, otherwise known as blackjack, a natural or a natural blackjack, is a change to the very essence of the game of blackjack. And changing the essence of a game makes it not that game anymore. In this case, changing the essence of blackjack no longer makes it a game of blackjack and it must be called a game of 21.

And that, folks, is only one difference between blackjack and a game of 21.

Dealer Standing on Soft 17 Better than a Dealer Who Hits a Soft 17

The astute blackjack player pays attention to the house rules set by the casino or online casino for their blackjack games. This is why you do not see professional blackjack players playing variations of the game or at blackjack tables with poor house rules.

One such house rule that is of poor quality is allowing a dealer to hit a soft 17.

While on the surface this house rule does not like it would be all that damaging to a player’s blackjack odds. Many players assume that the dealer will just hit to busting. They make the mistake of assuming the dealer will still bust because he is starting at 17.

But what these unknowing players forget is that an Ace is just as flexible to a dealer as it is to a player. This means that if the dealer hits his soft 17 and receives a card that would normally bust a hard 17, he can reduce that Ace from being worth 11 to being worth 1, just as would happen for a player. Reducing the value of the Ace makes what was a soft 17 into a hard 6, which the dealer can then safely hit again and again with the possibility of stringing out a multi-card strong hand.

Because of that possibility, a dealer who is allowed under house rules to hit a soft 17 decreases a player’s blackjack odds. The hit to the player’s odd is for 0.22%, which is about half the value that basic strategy reduces the house edge to. So even with basic strategy reducing the house edge to 0.5%, a dealer hitting a soft 17 alone can raises the house’s edge back up to 0.77%–half the work of basic strategy is undone!

Now you see why blackjack professionals will avoid playing in blackjack variations and at tables that allow the dealer to hit a soft 17—they value their blackjack odds too much to throw away 0.22% of them.

Scamming Blackjack Dealer Sentenced

Remember three months ago when I brought you news of a Minnesota blackjack dealer who was charged in scamming $18,500 plus from the Mystic Lakes Casino? Actually it was three months ago to date. Anyway, the young man in question who was charged with gambling fraud and theft by swindle—two felonies in case you did not know—has finally been sentenced for being a cheating blackjack dealer.

Jacob Edwin Christensen was caught back on August 2nd for paying a player at his table $3,875 for hands he did not win. Security called the police and Christensen and the player were removed. The player, who turned out to be a friend of Christensen’s from high school, felt bad about cheating the casino, and paid back $1,825 in chips.

But Christensen has a much bigger debt to pay. His charge of theft by swindle has been dismissed as a part of a plea bargain. But he has been sentenced to three years of probation and eighty hours of community service. On top of that Christensen must pay Mystic Lake Casino $18,720—the total amount scammed: $3,875 wrongfully paid to his high school friend; more than $9,500 paid to his landlord’s daughter; and more than $5,075 also wrongly paid to a woman at his blackjack table that he simply thought was “good looking.”

Nothing more has hit the blackjack news reel about the other three accomplices. The most that has been said was that it was the friend from high school who told police that there were two other accomplices and who those accomplices were.

I doubt that Christensen will be dealing blackjack in any casino for a long time, if ever again. But it can be hoped that with his sentence he has learned that nothing comes for free and that casinos have security for a reason—it is not just for catching shady players, but for catching dishonest dealers. The blackjack world at large should be glad to have a disreputable dealer removed from the casino floor.

Blackjack Myth: 2 is the Dealer’s Ace

I have heard the myth said many times that a 2 to the dealer is their Ace in blackjack. Players say it and blackjack dealer say it. But I have to say that it is not true, and that it is definitely a myth. Let’s take a look shall we.

For one thing a 2 does not have the flexibility that an Ace offers. Its value can only be 2, whereas an Ace can count as 11 or as a 1 depending upon what the situation calls for.

But what makes a 2 seem like it is a special card to a dealer is because it allows them to string out multi-card hands that add up to 21. It is not the same as a natural blackjack, but it can wipe the table. And the reason the dealer can string out such a long hand is because he has to.

Say for example you have a hard 14. You can stand. And unless the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, you will stand according to basic strategy. But a dealer how has a hard 14 has to hit according to the rules of blackjack. And it is because he has to keep hitting that a 2 seems like a powerful card to the dealer. In all reality it is not anymore powerful to the dealer than it is to you. Say you have a two in your starting hand. You are likely to hit, and it just might be that you hit to a multi-card strong hand. But the dealer has more chances of stringing out a long hand than the player because of the rule to hit anything below a 17.

Another reason not to consider a 2 to be a dealer’s Ace is that is it not the card that can give the dealer a 21. In order for that to happen the dealer would have to be holding a 19, and if he was he would not be hitting based on house rules. And as a player you would not be hitting with a 19 either.

As a player you have to come to understand that a 2 just another low card. Without the flexibility that an Ace offers it cannot be thought of as the dealer’s Ace in blackjack. It only allows a dealer to hit for more cards than a player simply because the dealer has the short end of the stick, and has to keep hitting until he has a least a 17. You do not want to go giving a 2 power that it does not have in blackjack.

Online Blackjack Tournaments at Silver Dollar

Silver Dollar is an Old West themed online casino with some rather fun graphics and animations. It is a Vegas Technology powered online casino as well, so the Vegas Tech favorites that we have all come to love can be found here as well. But one of the things that Silver Dollar offers that, as an online blackjack fan, I like are the online blackjack tournaments.

I’ve seen a lot of online blackjack tournaments around the online casino circuit, and I have to say that blackjack tournament offerings at Silver Dollar are not that bad, despite the slim pickings. Silver Dollar only offers two types of online blackjack tournaments:

The weekday tournament begins every Monday and ends on Thursday of the same week. Players can buy into the tournament for $5 and rebuy, if necessary, for another $5. Players in the Head2Head blackjack tournament play for the pot, which is split between the top placing players. The player at the top of the leader board receives 40%. After the top placing player receives his or her 40%, the remainder of the pot is then split between the next top nine placing players. The next ranking ten players receive a $10 prize. So the top twenty players receive prizes in this tournament.

The other type of online blackjack tournament offered at Silver Dollar is called the Weekend Blackjack Classic. This tournament picks up where the Head2Head leaves off, starting on a Friday and ending on Sunday of the same week. As you can see, the Head2Head then picks up on the day after the Weekend Blackjack Classic; so there is always some online blackjack tournament action happening at Silver Dollar.

The Weekend Blackjack Classic differs from the Head2Head in that the buy in is $10 with rebuys available. In this tournament there is a guaranteed prize pool of $5,000, with the top placing player receiving $2,500 of it, and the remaining $2,500 being split up between the next 219 ranking players.

There are two blackjack variations that are used in the tournaments at Silver Dollar: Vegas Strip Blackjack and Perfect Pairs. The two are alternated, so that if the Head2Head is being played out with Perfect Pairs, the Weekend Blackjack Classic is played out on Vegas Strip. The next week the variations are switched so that the Head2Head is on Vegas Strip and the Classic is on Perfect Pairs.

Of the two variations, Vegas Strip is the better blackjack game to play as it offers better odds, no side bets to lose extra money on and the dealer checks for blackjack before players make any plays which improves odds for the player—Perfect Pairs does not offer any of that.

If you are looking for some online blackjack tournament action, there is always something happening at Silver Dollar Casino. Just make sure to play in the tournaments that are being played out with Vegas Strip Blackjack.