Before you get all excited, this is not a sale. If you are in a blackjack game where you are wagering $20 per hand and an insurance wager costs you $10, this does not mean that for a limited time insurance will only cost $3. Sorry, if casinos are going to try to hang on to their house edge they are not about to put a sale on insurance.
When I say 70% off of insurance I am talking about the odds of a dealer’s hole card being worth ten when the dealer has an Ace showing.
Start with 100%, then you look at the probability of that hole card being worth ten. There are thirteen cards in a suit and only four are worth ten. That gives you a roughly 30% chance that the hole card is worth ten. This also means that there is a 70% chance that the hole card will not be worth ten.
So take that 100% chance that a blackjack player has of hoping that insurance will work out in his favor and that he will at least receive that payout if the dealer does in fact have a natural blackjack, and subtract 70%. This gives you a roughly 30% chance of making anything off of an insurance wager.
Now if you knew that you had less than a 50% chance of a bet working out in your favor, would you wager on it? If you knew that a lizard almost always ran to the left, would you wager on it running to the right? No, you would not because you are smart enough to know that the odds are on the lizard running to the left, and that wagering on it running right would be most unwise.
So why would you wager on insurance when you know that the odds are against you? The house likes and encourages blackjack players to feel as if the dealer showing an Ace is more threatening than it really is. They are hoping that you will take the insurance wager even though there is only a 30% chance of you making anything off it.
While insurance will never have an actual discount, the blackjack odds on insurance panning out for a blackjack play are always 70%. While supplies last.
I am not sure how many blackjack players out there think about this, but have you ever thought about what happens when you bust as opposed to when the dealer busts? If you have not, you just did. I am willing to bet on it.
A blackjack player busting has a different effect than when the dealer busts. And that difference is one of the contributing factors of how the house gets its edge in blackjack over your blackjack odds.
When a blackjack player busts, that is it, you are done. You have lost and you are out of the round and out the money you wagered on the round.
But when a dealer busts he is not losing a wager because he never had to make a wager. But even more of a kick in the pants to your blackjack odds is that if you bust and then the dealer busts, you still lose. This is a result of the fact that the dealer plays last. Imagine that he played first for a moment; say he busted—at that point everyone would win.
But because blackjack players play first there is the chance that a player will bust him or herself, thusly removing themselves from possibly benefiting if the dealer busts. The more players that are removed from the possibility of benefiting from the dealer losing, the more money the house makes. Hence, why players play first in blackjack. It has nothing to do with the house being polite and saying, “No, you play first.”
Unfortunately there is nothing for a player to do in terms of blackjack strategy to overcome this one. This is just how blackjack works. The only thing a blackjack player can do to overcome an odds-hitter like this is to bone up on the rest of their blackjack strategy and hit the house in other areas.
Some players who play in brick and mortar casinos teach themselves to count cards. Basic strategy is always a popular means of hitting the house’s edge over time because it gives the best statistical play for every hand, and will lower the house edge over time to 0.5%.
Last year I brought to light a United States based gaming table company who specializes in poker. Well, poker tables that is. Automated ones. In November I discussed how PokerTek was expanding their product line with the introduction of automated blackjack tables called BlackjackPro. This would also change their specialization from poker to automated casino game tables in general.
This month with the installation of the first round of several BlackjackPro installations. Two things were revealed by CEO Mark Roberson with the first round of installation of BlackjackPro. 1. PokerTek was looking to expand its offering of automated table games, calling the forth coming tables ProCore, and BlackjackPro would be the first of the ProCore series; and 2. The expanded offerings were to generate more revenue.
At first the expansion openly detailed to increase expansion might raise eyebrows—boy, aren’t they cocky some might say. But it turns out there is a reason behind the expansion due to increase revenue.
PokerTek is a six year old company that has yet to show profit. In their fourth quarter they reported a $481,453 loss on their revenue that totaled at $1.6 million for that quarter. PokerTek has experience consistent loss in the last two years, although 2010 was not as bad as 2009, but then the first BlackjackPro tables would have sold right at the very end of 2010. While that helped to make losses not as bad, it still did not show a profit.
In 2009 PokerTek lost $5.67 million compared to revenue generated of $5.41 million. Like I said 2010 was not as bad: $4.02 million on $5.9 million.
Hopefully the expansion of offering an array of automated tables will help PokerTek stick around in the casino game industry. If BlackjackPro tables helped cut down on the losses for 2010, then it is possible that they might be the beginning of the saving grace for PokerTek.
One of the online casino groups that is powered by Vegas Technology will be running online blackjack tournaments this week. One is already in progress and the other will be beginning this weekend. The online casino group is the English Harbour Group, who owns the title online casino English Harbour, Millionaire Casino and Silver Dollar Casino.
The tournament that is in progress at the moment is the Head2Head. This is the weekly tournament that runs Monday through Thursday that will take players through the week. The Head2Head online blackjack tournament for this week will continue through tomorrow, February 24th, ending at 11:59 pm. Players can register for this tournament by paying the $5 entry fee when registering for the Head2Head. The $5 gives players a starting tournament balance of $100. There are $5 rebuys available which will give players another $100 if they cross the $10 low balance point. At the time of this writing the top prize is set at $176, but the Head2Head is a play for the pot kind of online blackjack tournament—the more players, the bigger the pot.
The Head2Head takes players up to the weekend and the Weekend Blackjack Classic. This online blackjack tournament carries an entry fee of $10 too. That $10 will give players a starting balance of $100 to use in playing towards the $5,000 prize pool, whose top five prizes look like so:
1st place: $2,500
2nd place: $750
3rd place: $250
4th place: $100
5th place: $50
The Weekend Blackjack Classic begins at 12:01 am on Friday, February 25th, and continues through to 11:45 pm on Sunday, February 27th. For any player who plays to the low balance point of $10, rebuys are available for $100, which will give players another $100.
Both the Head2Head and the Weekend Blackjack Classic are played out with the Vegas Strip variation of blackjack.
But here is the good news—well the even better news. The English Harbour group hosts these online blackjack tournaments every week. Players can register at English Harbour, Millionaire Casino or Silver Dollar Casino to play in either of the online blackjack tournaments each week.
Remember about a year ago when the subject of adding blackjack and other table games to existing Pennsylvania brick and mortar casinos was being discussed? Also on that topic was the opening of new Pennsylvania brick and mortar casinos. And like any legislation—be it state or federal—that is in favor of either increasing or adding new gambling options there were those that were opposed to the idea.
Well they might want to reconsider their nay-saying when it comes to the Pennsylvania blackjack and other table games. For one thing there was the blackjack revenue generated in August, the first full month that all nine of the Pennsylvania brick and mortar casinos were up and running with their blackjack tables.
Now some might say that such figures are not a sign of success; that those figures on reflect on the newness of the blackjack tables—kind of like comparing a bunch of adults to a wild pack of five year olds with a shiny new toy. Not a very nice comparison to say the least.
But here we are a little more than six months out from when the blackjack tables were installed, and they are just as popular with Pennsylvania casino goers, if not more so.
The Sands Casino in Bethlehem is seeking permission from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to increase their table games, with particular emphasis on blackjack tables. Of the twenty nine requested table games, twenty of those tables would be allotted for blackjack; of the remaining nine, eight would be allotted for Baccarat and one for Roulette.
So to the nay-sayers, those blackjack tables are still bringing in increased revenue. And if the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approves the table game increase, which is thought to be likely, it would not only further increase revenue, it would also create 139 new jobs ranging from dealers to housekeeping. There is plenty of proof that the addition of blackjack tables to the brick and mortar casinos of Pennsylvania was a success.
Now if only we could get the federal government to think about online gambling like this.
Have you ever heard of the principle called Gambler’s Ruin?
It is pretty common in casino gambling, both in brick and mortar casinos and in online casinos. This is the principle that sums up the idea that a player will keep playing their chosen games, say blackjack, until he has lost all of his bankroll. He plays like this because he believes he will win his money back.
While it is possible to recover a few lost dollars from the house, losing a larch chunk of money is generally not recoverable. The cause behind large chunks of money not being recoverable is because the house has the edge.
Granted, a skilled card counter could tip the odds in his favor and win his money back. But blackjack players who are that skilled are not as common as we would all like to think.
The reason behind the house having the edge over the blackjack player in this instance is because of the house’s bankroll. I bet you did not think of the house as having a bankroll. But it does. After all, it has to pay you your winnings out of something. But the trouble with the house’s bankroll is that it is essentially infinite so long as the casino does not lose all its money. The dealer will keep handing out chips. Add to the fact that the house takes in more chips than it pays out.
Now compare this to the fact that a blackjack player’s bankroll is not seemingly infinite. With the house’s edge against the player, it is more likely for the blackjack player to lose his money than for the house to. But this is why we have blackjack strategy right? We use that to help boost our odds and narrow them down as best we can by controlling how we play blackjack.
Back in November I announced that a hitherto manufacturer of automated poker tables, PokerTek, was expanding their product range by creating a new gaming platform that they are calling ProCore. The first casino game in the ProCore lineup is BlackjackPro. And the first of several installations took place earlier this week. In other words, it has begun.
Prior to ProCore, PokerTek was an industry poker specialist. Apparently they were not content to stick with poker and decided to expand their reach within in the casino industry: “A key element of our overall strategy is to expand PokerTek’s addressable market and opportunities for revenue growth,” said PokerTek CEO, Mark Roberson. In other words, PokerTek wanted more income, more money. And blackjack is their first step in doing so.
BlackjackPro is an automated blackjack table with the core rules of the game programmed into its software. However there is room for casino operators to tweak the game play, such as changing the payout or when a player can split pairs. But the biggest difference is that, being automated, there is no dealer. Instead players are faced with one large screen upon which everyone can see everyone’s hands. Players push buttons to play out their hands on the console in front of them—kind of like an arcade machine. Effectively BlackjackPro is a fancy arcade machine for blackjack.
PokerTek’s intention is to take a game that is player vs. dealer and try to cultivate a feeling of camaraderie around the main screen. Also they seem intent on taking jobs away from table game dealers since automated tables do not require live dealers.
So now there is one more thing for blackjack players to look out for when they pay a visit to a brick and mortar casino that has elected for a PokerTek installation: watch out for the BlackjackPro tables. They will be recognizable, just look for the tables with the big single screen.
And what would be something about blackjack that does not ever change? Ever. One more ever just in case you missed it. And by never ever change I mean it is the same for blackjack in brick and mortar casinos, in online blackjack and in the mobile blackjack that is one the rise.
One such thing is insurance. Yes, insurance is the same. Not only does the rule not change, but a blackjack player’s strategy for insurance does not change no matter what format he or she is playing the game with.
Insurance is a bad bet all around mostly because it is a side bet on whether or not the dealer has a 10 for a hole card. The house makes you feel like you are making a big mistake when you do not take insurance, but the mistake lies in taking insurance. This is because there are less cards that have a value of 10 than there are cards with other values. This means that the odds of the card not being worth 10 are higher.
And speaking of side bets, they are another thing about blackjack that does not change no matter how you play it. Other than insurance, side bets are found in blackjack variations whose sole purpose is to take your money and drag your odds down.
Take Perfect Pairs for instance. Before the cards are dealt, players wager on whether or not their first to cards will be a pair or not. The problem with this is that there is no strategy that can help a player here. Being dealt a pair at the start is sheer luck and that is all.
Blackjack is a game of strategy, of skill. This is one casino game in which a player can shift the odds that are against them and lessen them. But playing in a blackjack variation with a side bet is the fastest way to turn the odds against you. And this holds true no matter where you are playing blackjack, be it in a casino, online or on your mobile device.
The last couple of days I have been discussing things to not look for and things that you should look for in an online casino where you are thinking about playing online blackjack. You do want a safe place and a fair place to play online blackjack right?
Of course you do! Who would not? No one. But how can you even possibly know if an online casino is safe or fair? Sure you could ask their customer support staff, but I am pretty sure they are not going to say that their online casino is not a safe or fair place to play. Customer Support is likely to be a tad bit biased. But fear not, there is another unbiased way to tell.
There is an auditing body known as eCOGRA and they are the most well-regarded auditor of online casinos and online casino game software developers in the industry. They are also unbiased.
The group eCOGRA was formed back in 2003 when a group of online casinos—competitors to each other mind you—and decided that there needed to be some sort of body that would be unbiased and would serve as a guide for online casinos in terms of responsible gaming practices, unbiased dispute resolution, fair standards in their games, timely and fair payouts and a strong customer support team. And so eCOGRA was formed.
Now eCOGRA does not answer to any of the online casinos that had a hand in its formation, nor do they accept any sort of funds from those online casinos; this is important to maintain the unbiased standpoint and reputation that eCOGRA has.
When eCOGRA reviews a potential online casino for their approval, they will check the casino for the points mentioned above. They will also periodically check in and audit the online casinos that do have their approval. Of the hundreds of online casinos out there on the web, only 145 have the eCOGRA “Fair and Safe” approval seal, which is the most sought after seal in the industry.
Players who are looking for a secure place to play online blackjack should look at the bottom of the online casino’s main page for their seals. If they are approved and have met eCOGRA’s standards they will have the “Fair and Safe” eCOGRA seal.
Yesterday I discussed some misadvice I had stumbled across in regards to what to look for in looking for a place to play online blackjack. So I thought for today I would discuss some things you do want to look for in when looking for a place to play online blackjack.
In yesterday’s post I talked about how the number of blackjack variations being offered was not the best indicator of whether you should play online blackjack at a specific online casino or not. And while this is true, there is one thing in regards to the types of online blackjack offered that you will want to be sure of: that the blackjack game or games that you want to play are offered.
Let’s say for example that you want to be able to play not only standard blackjack, but also want to play Pontoon. Not every online casino offers Pontoon in their blackjack selection. Let’s also say that you are also considering an online casino from yesterday’s list. Now all nine of the online casinos mentioned offer standard blackjack; that is par the course for any online casino. But what about Pontoon?
Online Vegas: no Pontoon
Millionaire: no Pontoon
English Harbour: no Pontoon
[insert_php]echo $casino1name;[/insert_php]: Pontoon!
Cherry Red: Pontoon!
Go Casino: no Pontoon
Silver Oak: Pontoon!
Silver Dollar: no Pontoon
So out of those nine online casinos, only 4 of them offer Pontoon in addition to standard blackjack. This means it would be pointless to research the other five online casinos since you know that they do not offer one of the variations of blackjack that you want to play online. This narrows your search down, in this case, to those four online casinos.
Once you know that the online blackjack variations you want to play are available, you can check out the quality of their customer service, their deposit and withdrawal methods, whether they are regulated and if you like the Welcome Bonus they are offering.
While choosing a place to play blackjack is not based on how many blackjack variations they offer, what they offer is important in so much that you need to find an online casino that offers the blackjack games you want to play.