It is a question I hear fairly often: Are CSMs fair to use in blackjack? CSMs by the way are Continuous Shuffle Machines. Most blackjack players hate them. The ones that do not hate them learn to dislike them once they understand what they do. Blackjack players who count cards particularly hate them.
When a CSM is being used at a blackjack table, the dealer will collect all of the cards that were just used in the last round and pop them into the CSM. The CSM then immediately shuffles the just used cards back into the deck. At no point is there a stack of discards at a table that is using a CSM. It is the lack of discards and the constant shuffling that makes blackjack players hate CSMs.
But to answer the question, yes, CSMs are fair to use in blackjack. We may not like them, but there is nothing anywhere that says that they cannot be used. Sucks, right? Right.
Online blackjack players really do not have much to say on the idea of a constantly shuffled deck. But that is because the RNG used in online blackjack games creates an effect similar to a CSM. There are no discards in a game of online blackjack. At the beginning of a new round the RNG will pull at random the two starting cards of the player from all possible two starting cards; and will pull at random the dealer’s up card from all possible up cards for the dealer to have. Each card that is dealt is dealt from all possibilities. This is a similar effect to a CSM since the cards from a previous round are not removed from the possibilities.
Casinos can use that similarity as a means to back up the idea that it is fair for them to use a CSM. But at the end of the day, CSMs are fair game to be used in a casino no matter how much players do not like them.
I am into exploring new things. Originally this might have been limited to blackjack variations and blackjack strategy, but now I am going to take a look here and there at different online blackjack bonuses. Why not? America is heading towards online gambling whether the nay-sayers want it to or not. It never hurts to get familiar with what is being offered out there when it comes to online blackjack.
Today we are going to take a peek at what Win Palace is offering new online blackjack players.
Naturally Win Palace is offering a deposit match bonus. They are giving new online blackjack players a 100% deposit match bonus worth up to $500. Not excited? How about if they make it redeemable ten times? That means that new blackjack players can receive a maximum of $5,000 from this Welcome Bonus. And it is all for online blackjack,
The way it works is new online blackjack players must create their player account at Win Palace. Then they have to click over to the cashier section of the website, and then click the Redeem Coupon button in the tool bar. It is here that players enter the Blackjack Welcome Bonus: WINBJ. Then simply click redeem and make a deposit. Players can repeat this process nine more times for a total of ten times.
Like any bonus there are some restrictions. For one, this is a playing only bonus. This means that the bonus money is not withdrawable and will be deducted from the player’s when they do make their first withdrawal. A withdrawal cannot happen until the wager requirement is met; that wager requirement is to wager the combined total of the deposit and bonus twenty five times. Blackjack and Perfect Pairs will meet the wager requirement. Other games such as Roulette, Craps, Baccarat and more will not count towards meeting the requirement, and playing them will void the bonus. In short, stick to playing only blackjack until the wager requirement is met.
Do you remember that guy I talked about recently who won $5.8 million from the Tropicana in Atlantic City? Yes, it was that unnamed guy. Well that unnamed guy is no longer unnamed. He is Don Johnson from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He is also the CEO of Heritage Development LLC. Heritage is a software company that specializes in betting computer assisted software. That software is not for blackjack or any other casino game but for horse races.
It was Johnson himself who stepped forward to reveal himself as the unnamed blackjack player who ruined the Tropicana’s profits for the month of April. But the Tropicana is not the only casino in Atlantic City that Johnson has hit with his outstanding blackjack strategy, that he refuses to reveal by the way and no small wonder he will not. Although he will say that card counting is not a part of his strategy, and that his entire strategy is based on knowing the game and its math.
“They [the casinos] beat most people in the long run because the average person will not have the bankroll. But I have my own bankroll. If you can take the swings, you are going to win. You also have to understand the math,” Johnson said when asked about his strategy. When it comes to Johnson, he started wagering $25 per round fifteen years ago. Now he is up to sometimes $100,000 per round. Players do not need to start with $25 per round when they are getting started in blackjack, but the point here is that Johnson started out wagering only a little before slowly working up over the years.
Johnson has had two other wins in the millions within the last six months. One of his wins was for $5 million at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. His other big win in the last six months was at Caesar’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino for $4 million. Throw in a few other large wins and it brings Johnson’s total to $15.1 million.
Today we are going to look at another variation of blackjack. Thankfully this one is rarely found in the online blackjack sections of online casinos. Today’s variation of discussion is 21 + 3.
The idea behind this one comes from an attempt to combine blackjack and poker, to somehow bring two of the most popular casino table games together. In 21 + 3, the 21 stands for the blackjack side of the marriage and the game’s main highlight, while the 3 represents the Three Card Poker variation of poker.
When playing, the blackjack player has to place a side bet, which is usually around a dollar on average, as well as place a wager for the actual game of blackjack. Once all wagers are made the dealer will deal the cards. In order to win the side 21 + 3 wager, the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card must make up a flush, a straight, a straight flush or a three of a kind. So long as those three cards make up one of those poker hands, the player receives a 9-1 payout.
It sounds simple enough, but like all side bets in blackjack variations, there is no way for the player to impact the outcome of the side wager—the part in which the two player cards and dealer’s up card make one of the hands from Three Card Poker. It is all chance. As a result the house edge is higher.
In blackjack the house edge, if you are playing according to basic strategy, is 0.5%. That makes it the lowest house edge on the casino floor. But the side wager portion of 21 + 3 is 3.2% in a six deck game. Since the two portions of the game are separate from one another they have separate house edges. The difference between 0.5% and 3.2% is harsh. It is for reasons like the difference in house edge that I say to avoid blackjack variations with side bets.
Even if you are not a slots player I am willing to bet you have heard of hot and cold streaks. It is when a slot machine is either paying out often or is paying next to nothing, respectively. I have crossed paths with a number of beginner blackjack players who smirk at slot players, believing that they are playing a game that is above hot and cold.
Blackjack is not above the hot and cold phenomenon. It relates to the dealer. When a dealer is hot is winning more than he is losing; and a cold dealer is he is not winning as many hands. Obvious which dealer you should want to be playing with right?
Like with slot machines, there really is nothing a blackjack player can do if they find themselves with a hot or cold dealer. Not that you would want to give up a cold dealer and all those opportunities to win.
What do you do when you find yourself with a hot dealer though?
Finish the round you are playing, and then take your chips and find a new table. There is nothing that says you have to play at only one blackjack table or at the same blackjack table. You can hop around. So if you find yourself at a blackjack table with a hot dealer, leave!
It may not always be immediately apparent that you have a hot or cold dealer. The trick is in observation. Watch the rounds, see how the dealer does. If he is winning more it would be a good idea to find another table; and if he is losing more often then pull up a chair and play some blackjack.
Wow, talk about irony. Last Friday I wrote a piece on using a pretty woman as a distraction when counting cards, and then I watch ‘The Hangover’ for the first time the next day. There you go, my blackjack playing friends, proof that distraction with a pretty woman works at the blackjack table.
Okay, so it was written that way, but it is still perfectly viable. It at least shows you how such a thing would work.
But while watching ‘The Hangover’ I noticed something else about that scene at the blackjack table: Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner is making a big card counting no-no: He is exhibiting outward—and let’s be honest, easily recognizable—signs that he is counting cards. Viewers can watch his lips move as he does all of his counting math in his head. And that is a big problem.
While card counting is no actually legal, casinos are private businesses that do have a say in who they will or will not serve. They can ask you to leave. Which is exactly what they will do if they catch a player counting cards. This is why all advice about blackjack and card counting says to practice, practice, practice until you can count through multiple decks with distractions around you.
Counting like Alan Garner in ‘The Hangover’ is not going to help you to win $80,000 plus. It is a good thing they planted Stu and Jade to be a distraction because otherwise it was likely that Alan would have gotten busted by the casino staff and tossed out.
The lesson here is to not do things that happen in ‘The Hangover.’ You do not want to pull your own tooth out and you certainly do not want to get booted from a casino because you a no-no for not practicing enough with your card counting. Practice!
Card counting, while not illegal, can get your thrown out of a casino. But it is quite useful when it comes to blackjack strategy. But to pull it off well you have to practice it, and even then you have to be careful when counting cards at the blackjack table so that the dealer or pit personnel are not tipped off as to what you are doing.
Typically this means keeping the spread of your wagering small, and perhaps now and then throwing in a variance in your wagering, such as betting less when you should bet more or vice versa. The point is that you would be using it as a distraction. But I heard of another distraction that was used to cover up card counting.
I heard the story of man who was playing blackjack in Vegas and counting cards. So was the other guy who was at the table with him. Naturally since they were both counting and they were the only ones at the table, they were keeping their spreads small. But then a pretty woman stumbled up to the table who appeared to know the other guy. What then ensued was the other player giving her some of his chips and inviting her to play with them. But she was a terrible and sloppy player; even if she had not been drinking it was doubtful that she would have done well.
The other player helper the woman with her blackjack playing as best he could. Then the dealer, taking pity, started to give her tips and try to help. Finally pit personnel wound up trying to give her pointers to help her. While all of this was going on the other guy and the guy who told this story had increased the spread of their wagering. As a result the other man wound up cashing out for $30,000.
This is a case of distraction at the blackjack table. The dealer and pit personnel were too focused on helping the tipsy woman with her poor blackjack playing that they did not notice the two men increasing their spreads and making more off of their card counting.
While many blackjack players will resort to some sort of distraction to keep casino staff from picking up that they are counting cards, I had not heard of such an elaborate distraction. And while some distractions work at the blackjack table, they are not meant to replace skill and practice in card counting.
There was one very lucky blackjack player last month at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. In a high stakes blackjack game, the player (who has not been named to protect him or her) won $5.8 million.
It is actually an unfortunately ironic story. Not unfortunate or ironic for the player though. He or she is probably quite happy right about now with their $5.8 million. But the Tropicana is not excessively happy. Do not get me wrong, the publicity that they had a nearly $6 million winner is going to do them some good. But they just had to pay out close to $6 million to one player.
Atlantic City has been suffering in the down turned economy. There has been a drop in visitors which further impacts the smaller and smaller turnouts. Profits are down and there is no end yet in sight for a solution. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has passed a few bills to help revitalize Atlantic City, but their impact has not yet been felt. As a result, the casinos are all trying different ways of drumming up business. The Tropicana’s method was to offer high stakes blackjack games. There was the potential to win a good chunk of money from players, and players would be lured in by the idea that they could win big.
But the Tropicana’s plan has backfired. Their high stakes gamble resulted in them having to pay out $5.8 million. One casino official summed it up as so: “We had the single-largest winner in our history. If it had not been for bad luck at the tables, we would have had a good month.” And when he says ‘bad luck’ he means bad luck for the Tropicana.
It just further proves that it is possible to make a decent turn of money playing blackjack.
Barona Resort and Casino was the first casino in the US to receive the Bad Beat Blackjack tables, produced by DEQ Systems Corp. And with the beginning of May they have installed nine more tables at the Barona Casino bringing the total number of Bad Beat Blackjack tables up to twenty. That is a lot of Bad Beat Blackjack.
And Bad Beat is the word. I am not a fan of side beats in blackjack. But here we are with a blackjack game with a progressive payout and a side bet. That is a recipe for the house to take your bankroll.
The way it works is that the actual game of blackjack is played the same as usual, but players can make a side bet ranging from $1 up to $5. If the dealer beats a player’s 20 with any 21—natural or hit to—the player gets to cash in on a portion of the progressive.
But for reasons unbeknownst to me, these Bad Beat Blackjack tables are doing well at the Barona. Vice President of Table Games, Michael Patterson, said, “DEQ has been a great partner and their G3 progressive bonusing system has transformed our table games experience at Barona. The progressive technology makes the games even more exciting for our players as they have more chances to win.”
I beg to differ. The likelihood of a player holding a 20 at the same time as the dealer to either be dealt a 21 or hit to 21 is slim. The odds are definitely against the player here. At least the side bets are limited in Bad Beat Blackjack to a maximum of $5.
After a trip to the local casino this past weekend I have one more thing to be thankful to online blackjack for: no third base.
No, I am not talking about the ‘bases’ guys have in regards to making it with girls. I am talking about the seventh seat at the blackjack table, the one on the dealer’s right hand side. It is how the player in this chair is treated that just gets under my skin.
It is widely believed—too widely if you ask me—that the third base player can make or break the dealer’s hand. Let me say this right now: This is a myth.
According to this myth, the third base player can either hit and take the card that would allow the dealer to win, even if it means sacrificing the player’s own hand. Or the player can stand and pass along the card that would bust the dealer, again at the cost of the player’s hand.
There is one problem with this blackjack myth: The dealer has a hole card, and no one knows what that hole card is. If no one knows what the hole card is, how could a player in the third base chair know whether or not the draw card will make or break the dealer? That is just it—there is no way of knowing.
But when the player in the third base chair does or does not take the dealer’s bust card–depending on what the situation called for—and players at the table who do believe this convoluted myth proceed to yell or exclaim a good deal over how the third base player did not sacrifice their hand to shut the dealer down.
And it is the reactions of these players who believe and take out their belief on the third base player that make me thankful for online blackjack. Online blackjack is played solo. No third base player. No mean other players to yell at the third base player. Just a nice peaceful playing experience when playing blackjack online.