Mis-advice About Looking for a Place to Play Online Blackjack

I have seen it time and again. Those informational websites that are full of articles on how to do something that the person who wrote said article probably has not done themselves. I take for evidence an article I found on what to look for when looking for a place to play online blackjack which had a piece of advice that was very not correct.

This particular article advised players to not register at an online casino that offered less than 10 variations of blackjack. I had to laugh at this because this does not exist. There is no online casino that has 10 variations of online blackjack available, and the reason is because there are not 10 variations that are all played popularly today. You do not believe me? Here, I will show you:

Online Vegas: 4
Millionaire: 4
Rushmore: 7
English Harbour: 4
Aladdin’s Gold: 6
Cherry Red: 7
Go Casino: 4
Silver Oak: 7
Silver Dollar: 3

As you can see right there half of the online casinos listed have less than half of that particular article’s “required” amount of blackjack variations necessary for it to be a good place to play online blackjack. As for the two online casinos that offer 7 variations of online blackjack, they are the same variations: Blackjack, Face Up 21, Blackjack Perfect Pairs, European Blackjack, Match Play 21, Pontoon and Super 21.

And of those variations most of them are true variations in which the rules have been restricted for doubling down and splitting pairs, along with side bets being added, to increase the house’s edge and win more money off of the players. So why would you want to play them anyway?

The number of variations of online blackjack that are offered by an online casino is not indicative of whether it is a good place to play online blackjack or not. There are other more important factors to consider when looking for a place to play online blackjack and tomorrow I will share them.

Is Card Counting Legal or Not?

While card counting can be a highly useful skill for blackjack players, there is some concern over whether it is legal to use in a casino or not. This question will sometimes cause blackjack players who would normally teach themselves the skill to not learn it and therefore not take advantage of it.

In all reality there is no law that says that blackjack players cannot use card counting when playing. So in the law’s eyes it is okay to use card counting when at the blackjack table.

But if it is legal why are players so covert about using it? And why are there all those warnings about not letting dealers, pit bosses and other casino staff members catch you counting cards?

Casinos frown on blackjack players. Okay, forget frown, they flat out dislike them—and that is putting it nicely. And it is true that they will not hesitate to kick a blackjack player out without his winnings if they catch him counting cards. Sometimes casinos will even ban a player for counting cards.

The reason that casinos can remove players from their premises is because they are privately owned companies. In other words, you are playing on private property. And similar to how you can have someone removed from your home if you so choose to, so too can casinos have players removed from their property.

Players have gone to court to fight over being removed from a casino for counting cards when playing blackjack. And while those players are not subject to fines or the like, they really do not have ground to stand on. It comes down to the casinos being on private property, and casinos can choose to serve or not serve anyone as they see fit.

This is why blackjack players will be cautious when using their card counting skills. They know there are no legal repercussions to counting at the blackjack table, but they do know that the casino could kick them out and refuse to give them their winnings. Always go card counting with caution. Unless you like being thrown out of casinos and then by all means, be obvious with your blackjack card counting.

A Basic Card Counting System

Now that we have talked about what card counting is and what it is not, what it does and what it does not do, it is time to look at the starting point of actually counting cards. Today we are going to look at the most basic of card counting systems, the Hi Lo system.

The Hi Lo system is the counting system that most blackjack players start out with. It is easy to remember and the math is easy enough that those who are not inclined to the subject can still use the system.

In the Hi Lo system cards fall into one of three categories: High, Low or Neutral. Each category is assigned a counting value: -1, +1 or 0. Now we look at the how the cards are broken down:

High cards: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10 with a counting value of -1
Neutral Cards: 9, 8, 7 with a counting value of 0
Low Cards: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 with a counting value of +1

Okay, so now that we have the counting values down, now the work comes in.

When you are card counting you are tracking the cards that have been played. This means adding up the values of the cards as they are dealt. Of everyone at the table. So say you are dealt a 10/10, your neighbor is dealt a 10/7 and the dealer has been dealt a 6 your count would look like this:

-1 + -1 + -1 + 0 + 1 = -2

The -2 outcome means that more high cards have been played, which means there are more low cards left to be played. Low cards favor the dealer, so when your count moves beyond a -3 or -4 it is time to begin reducing your wager as the odds are more in favor of the dealer.

Now if your count goes up to +3 or +4 it means that a good number low cards have been played and have passed out of the game leaving a larger number of high cards—which favor the player—still in the deck. So when your count moves that high into the positive it would be time to increase your wager. Not too drastically of course, you do not want to tip off to the casino staff that you are counting cards; while not illegal, card counting is frowned upon by casinos because how dare you find a skillful way of gaining an advantage.

But that is the most basic of card counting systems. It is a good system to start with if you are looking to get your feet wet with card counting.

Understanding Card Counting

Card counting can be a very useful skill when playing blackjack. But it is a skill that requires time, practice and patience to learn to the point of effectiveness. A good many novice players do not have the correct perception of what card counting is and what it does.

So we will start there, with what card counting is. Card counting is a skill in which the player mentally tracks the flow of cards. This is not an exact count; the purpose of card counting is to give players an idea of when there are more high cards left in the unplayed deck. This is discovered when the count a player is keeping has reached the point that more low cards have been played than high cards.

Once a player has the knowledge that more low cards have been played, leaving a greater number, and therefore likelihood, of high card being dealt, the player can begin raising their bets. Bets are raised at this point because there is a greater chance of being dealt a strong hand if not an outright natural blackjack. When the remaining deck is rich in high cards, there is a greater chance of the player winning, which is why bets are increased at this point.

To sum it up, counting cards in blackjack can give players a long-term advantage over the house by knowing when they are more likely to win, and raising their wagers accordingly.

Now. What card counting is not.

Card counting is not a short cut that will allow players to beat the house. Yes, it will allow players to tilt the odds in their favor, but it is not an instantaneous happening. It is not a flashy skill to be thrown around the casino.

To be successful with card counting in blackjack, time and patience must be applied while learning the counting system of your choice. Players who utilize card counting when playing blackjack also have to understand that they are not going to win every single hand, but that they will win more over the long run.

New Online Blackjack Bonuses at Silver Oak

Online blackjack players will be quite pleased to know that Silver Oak Casino has launched some new bonuses this month. Silver Oak is calling it their Bright Side bonuses and they are four in number.

The cause for celebration is that their year has started off on a very good foot, and they owe it all to their players, hence the bonuses. All four of the new Bright Side bonuses are deposit match bonuses of varying amounts which will appeal to a variety of online blackjack players—those who are just starting out and who are wagering small, and for the high rollers who are wagering $100 per hand or so.

The Bright Side bonuses start out with the Happy100. This is a 100% deposit bonus that does not require a minimum deposit. Next up is the Bright100. The Bright100 is a 150% deposit match bonus, but it does require a $35 minimum deposit. Because of the low to no required amount for deposit, these would be good Bright Side bonuses for online blackjack players who are just getting their feet eat in online blackjack.

Moving into the middle tier we find the Sunny175. This mid-range deposit match bonus gives players a 175% bonus amount so long as they deposit a minimum of $50.

The fourth Bright Side bonus is the Super200. This would be a good bonus for high rolling online blackjack players. The Super200 is a 200% deposit match bonus that only requires a minimum deposit of $75.

Regular online blackjack players can use those four bonuses as many times as they would like during the course of February. So long as players meet all of their play through requirements, the bonuses are unlimited.

There is one more Bright Side bonus but it is only for Silver Oak’s VIP players. For those online blackjack players who belong to the VIP program at Silver Oak, they can take advantage of the VIPositive Bonus: a 250% deposit match bonus that only requires a $125 minimum deposit. If a player is not sure if he or she is a part of the VIP program at Silver Oak, all they need do is contact the customer support team and find out.

All in all, not a bad bonus offering at all from Silver Oak this month. It is not often that online blackjack players find bonus offers that are this useful.

The Never Bust Blackjack Strategy

This one is for the blackjack players amongst us who are wary of playing stiff hands. Stiff hands in blackjack are a hard 12, hard 13, hard 14, hard 15 and hard 16. These are some of the hardest hands to play in blackjack—underdog hands some call them, mostly because the player is at the disadvantage.

The disadvantage comes from the fact that these are hands in which hitting is more likely to cause a bust, and standing is nearly the same as conceding your wager to the dealer. So I can see how a good many blackjack players would groan at being dealt one.

A so-called blackjack strategy was started once upon a time that is generally referred to as the never bust strategy. According to this blackjack strategy, players do not hit a hard 12 or anything above it. Despite the fact that basic strategy will have players hitting any stiff hand from hard 12 to hard 16 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher. And, yes, according to this so-called never bust strategy players are not going to bust.

But it comes at the cost of the hands that would have been won if the player had hit the hands facing a dealer’s 7 or higher. And that is definitely conceding your wagers to the dealer. If you were dealt a hard 12 against a dealer’s 7, basic strategy would advise you to hit. And in hitting you run the possibility of being dealt a 2 through 9—all which would not bust you. A 2 would give you a hard 14 and you would hit again, and a 9 would give you a 21, which is likely to beat the dealer.

The cards that would bust you—10, J, Q and K—are outnumbered by the number cards that would not bust you. So it is silly to stand, which is what the so-called blackjack strategy of never bust has you doing.

In not hitting when it statistically advantageous, players lose opportunities to take money from the house. And lost opportunities means the player’s blackjack odds go down and the house’s goes up. Normally a blackjack game played with basic strategy would result in a house edge of around 0.5%. Using the so-called never bust blackjack strategy is a game in which the house has a 3.91% edge. Which would you rather have, 0.5% or 3.91%? Stick with basic strategy.

Determining Your Play in a Blackjack Tournament

When playing blackjack at a normal table or even when playing blackjack online, it is best to follow basic strategy. But this strategy is based on what the dealer has. And this does not always work when playing in a blackjack tournament.

Let’s say that in a normal game of blackjack you were dealt a 12. Since this is not tournament play you do not need to be concerned with what the other players at your table are doing with their hands. If they win and you lose it has no impact on you as a player. You would lose your chips and that would be the end of the round. Move on to the next and hope for better cards.

But in a tournament, while you should consider basic strategy, you sometimes need to make adjustments to how you are playing it, especially if you are the leader and the chaser–the next closest player–is not too far behind you. Sometimes to keep your lead you need to play how the chaser plays so that the same outcome is likely. Meaning if he wins, you win, and this will allow you to hang on to your lead even if he wins. We call this blackjack tournament strategy.

We will take that same hand, a hard 12, and put that back in your hand. Only this time you are in the lead at a blackjack tournament. The chaser is only $100 behind you. As the leaser you are going to be betting last so pay attention to how the chaser bets and plays. He bets $450. This means that you beat $450 since you lead is not a huge lead. He is dealt not a hard 12, but another hard hand, we will say a hard 16. And the dealer has a 7 showing.

With that 3 showing the chaser is going to stand, which is according to basic strategy. According to basic strategy you should hit your hard 12 against a dealer 3. If you were to hit though you will most definitely not generate the same play and potential outcome, which is the whole point to this bit of blackjack tournament strategy.

You want to make the same play as the chaser. So in this instance you would stand because he stood. This way if the dealer busts you both will win and you did not put your hand in jeopardy of hitting and busting.

There will be times in tournament play that you have to make decisions based on what the other players make. Just like in the above case, this sometimes means adapting your strategy when in a blackjack tournament. You do want to hang on to your lead do you not?

Blackjack Tournament No-Nos: Over Betting

While there is a certain amount of luck involved in tournament play, it is not the sole deciding factor in a blackjack tournament. Blackjack tournaments are won on skill, and lost because of poor playing. One such poor way of playing is to over bet when you are in the lead by a good chunk.

What is a good chunk of a lead in a blackjack tournament? Well, let’s say you are playing in a good sized tournament where the excitement is going to be high and the pressure is on. It is in this kind of situation that blackjack tournament mistakes are made. So in this good sized tournament you have $15,000 at the beginning of the final hand and you are in the lead. Everyone else is at $5,000. Naturally they are feeling that all-or-none feeling and are going all in, wagering $5,000. In the excitement you too wager $5,000. Your fear is that if one of them wins you will lose your place as leader and therefore lose the tournament.

Your fear is ill-founded. A player that wagers $5,000, even if they are dealt a natural blackjack is only going to wind up with $7,500. And while losing $5,000 is only going to drop you down to $10,000 and you will still win, wagering $5,000 was unnecessary. All you will win is $5,000 less.

At this point you have such a strong lead with $15,000 that you can get away with wagering the minimum. You are going to win the tournament no matter who wins the round. All you can do at this point is control how much you win—do you win $15,000 or $10,000? Over betting in this situation will impact how much you get to take home as the tournament winner.

Now if the lead you have is still a good-sized lead but is closer to the next player in line, you definitely do not want to over bet. Over betting at that point could cost you the tournament. Say your lead was only $10,000 and you bet $5,000. Losing at this point will cost you everything.

The point of the matter is that you do not want to put your lead at risk in a blackjack tournament. Take a moment to think about how much you have and how much you closest opponents have. Then figure how much money you should be wagering in that final round of a blackjack tournament.