Which Blackjack Table to Play at—Part II

When I left you this morning you had just stepped onto the casino floor and were faced with the choosing which blackjack table is the best to play at. Yes, real casinos will have more than four blackjack tables, but in this instance there are only four. Think of it as a really, really small casino.

So which blackjack table did you decide was the best to play at?

If you chose table 2 then you chose correctly.

Table 2 had the two guys playing a quiet game through a streak of low cards.

So why this blackjack table and not any of the others? It comes down to the cards.

Well, the guys at table 1 are experiencing a run of high cards. The problem with this table is that jumping in now would mean that you do not get to play through the entire high card streak, causing you to lose out on some profit opportunities.

Table 3 would be the table to join if you were new to the game of blackjack. But if you are an experienced player, the rounds would go very slowly and no doubt wear on your patience. And if only one or two of the ladies is winning in each round, it means that a streak is not happening with which to judge the table with. Table 3 is a table for novices. If you are not a novice, this is not the table for you.

A large pile of chips is not an indicator of how good a blackjack table is. Those players at table 4 could easily have started with larger bankrolls rather than won all those chips. The indicator is that the cards at that table are mixed, indicating that there are no streaks present—like at table 3.

The low streak at table 2 means that the low cards are passing out of play and that high cards are likely to be on their way. Judge how good a blackjack table is by the cards. Always, always look at the cards. And remember that a table with a low card streak is a good table to jump in on if possible.

Which Blackjack Table to Play at

Casinos are exciting places to visit. Lights, sounds, just the general atmosphere pulls you in and surrounds you creating a one of a kind feeling. With all the excitement it can be rather hard to choose which blackjack table is best to play at.

Wait, am I saying that there is a way to choose which blackjack table is best to play at?

Why, yes, I am.

We are going to pretend that you just walked out onto the casino floor and are looking to play blackjack. You head to where the balckajck tables are and find that you have a few options. I am going to give a few different types of tables and see if you can guess which table is the best blackjack table to play at.

Table 1: The table has six of its seven seats filled by some rather rowdy guys. They are rowdy because they have been winning fairly often. They are also all friends and have been drinking some as well.

Table 2: This table only has a couple of people at it. They are playing quietly, rarely speaking and communicating their plays to the dealer in hand signals. You notice that they keep getting more low cards than high, and the dealer is winning more. You attribute this to the reason why the two players are being so serious.

Table 3: At the third table the dealer appears to be offering help to a group of ladies who do not seem to really understand the game. The dealer is being very nice about helping them, and at least one or two of the ladies beats him each round.

Table 4: The final table is only half full and each player has a large pile of chips in front them. The cards are mixed, with no real leaning on high or low cards.

Those are your four blackjack tables to choose from. Imagine that you are standing on the casino floor and have to choose one. Which blackjack table is the best to play at.?

Check back this afternoon and I will tell you which blackjack table is the best to play at and why.

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.

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.

Two Hands in Blackjack, the Downside

There is a blackjack myth that says that you can change the flow of the cards by playing two hands. You will see this happen at a blackjack table when a player suddenly switches from one hand to two, or two hands to one—they are trying to shake things up a bit for the deck.

In truth the number of hands you play in a round of blackjack does not do a thing to the order of the cards…mostly because there is no order to the cards. Card order and card flow are blackjack myths.

Playing with two hands has an upside and a downside. That is because there is an effective way to play two hands per round and an ineffective way. It is kind of like having an upside and a downside. First we will look at the downside.

The downside is that you are wagering twice as much per round. Say you are wagering $10 on a hand, and switch to wagering two hands per round. An ineffective player will wager $10 on each hand for a total of $20 per round.

The problem with this is that you are putting yourself and your bankroll at twice the risk. If the dealer has a strong hand, you stand to lose $20 rather than your original $10.

This means that you have the potential of running through your bankroll twice as fast.

Sure, you can take the positive outlook and say that you are going to win twice as much when the dealer has a poor hand. But blackjack odds are against you. You only have 48% chance of winning and a 52% chance of losing.

So if the odds are still against you to lose, why wager double what you normally would just to have two hands to shake up the card flow when there is no such thing as card flow?

That is the ineffective way of playing two hands per round—to simple double the amount you are wagering per round in total. There is an effective way to play two hands in blackjack which I will discuss this afternoon.

Card Counting Devices in Blackjack

While I am sure that just about every blackjack player out in the world would love to have the advantages that card counting provides, the truth is that the majority of blackjack players will not take the time nor make the effort to gain the skill.

And there are companies out there that will try to turn a profit off of those blackjack players looking for an easy way to have the benefits of card counting without putting in the time. Such companies will create card counting devices and put them up for sale.

These little devices often are the size and resemble those little devices that you hang on your keychain to control your car alarm. In short, these little card counting devices—through the manufacturer’s technology—will do the counting for the blackjack player.

Now, while casinos consider card counting cheating, blackjack players think a little bit differently.

Card counting is not cheating. It is a skill that requires time, effort and practice in order for it to be of any use. Casinos do not like card counting because it can give players an edge, and how dare players find a way to even the odds or beat them.

But blackjack players do consider card counting devices as a way of cheating only because such devices take the skill out of card counting and take away from the skill’s prestige.

One more thing of note: while getting caught at card counting can get you thrown out of a casino, getting caught with a card counting device can potentially get charges filed against you. This is because the device proves you were cheating, while card counting as a skill cannot be proven as its evidence is really only circumstantial.

The point here, blackjack players, is that card counting devices should never, ever be used. They are riskier and pose grater consequences if you are caught with one. Just take the time and make the effort to learn to card count properly.

General Tips for Playing Soft Hands

Aces are the best cards in a game of blackjack. Your first thought as to why might be that an Ace is the best card because it is necessary to having a natural blackjack.

But if that were true, then why are cards worth 10 not considered the best?

Simply put, Aces are the best cards in blackjack because of their flexibility. Hands with Aces, called soft hands, do not bust like hard hands—hands without Aces—do. This is because Aces in blackjack start with a value of 11, but their value can be reduced to 1 if the player hits their hand too high.

For example, if you had a hard 16 versus a dealer up card of 5, you would not hit your hand because the chances of busting are too high. But with a soft 16 (an Ace with a five) you would hit against a dealer’s 5. If you receive a six or higher, the value of the Ace comes down from 11 to 1. So if you were to hit a soft 16 and receive an 8, your hand total would be 14 instead of 24, allowing you to still stay in the round.

But once an Ace is reduced to a 1 the hand then becomes a hard hand.

The general rule of thumb with a soft hand is that a soft 17 or lower should be hit, while a soft 18 or higher should stand—the hand value for a soft 18 and higher is too valuable to risk hitting and losing.

But the best way to play a soft hand in blackjack can be found on a basic strategy chart which is a chart with how to play every hand—soft, hard or pairs—in blackjack with the most advantageous play. But soft hand strategy should be studied so that opportunities to win money are not lost from misplaying those hands.