Changes in Blackjack in Nevada

Blackjack payout or a dancer, which would you pick?

It seems that while the older generation of blackjack players would like a nice table off to the side where they can concentrate on their strategies and the game, the younger generation of blackjack players seem to prefer other things.

Like dancers.

In the last several months party pits have begun to pop up in brick and mortar casinos around Nevada. In these party pits there can be found blackjack tables that are positioned so that they are facing towards a stage. And on such stages are dancers.

On the surface casinos may appear to be whining about the increased cost of employing dancers, but I do not believe that this is the true case that lies beneath the surface.

Because of the increased cost of dancers, casinos are having to decrease the amount of their blackjack payouts. This is one of the explanations for the recent increase in the 6-5 payouts that are replacing the standard 3-2 payouts.

The reason I do not think the casinos mind this increased cost of dancers is because they can use that as a mask to cover the reason behind decreasing the payout. Because we all know that casinos are always looking for a way to drag a little more money out of a player.

Think about it. Imagine a young man approaching the blackjack tables in one of these party pits. His eyes keep coming back to the dancers. He probably will not really read over the house rules on the felt, which means that he will miss the 6-5 payout on the felt. Those same dancers will also cause him to focus less on his strategy—if he remembers to use it at all—which will cause him to make errors in his playing, costing him even more money.

No, the casinos are making more money from their dancers than they are letting one thanks to the distraction they provide. What I do not get is why any blackjack player would want the distraction. The idea is to play your best and to try to lower the house edge as best as possible. Why willingly throw money away to watch a dancer? I thought the point was to try to make money on blackjack.

Blackjack Odds of Winning and Losing

What makes blackjack one of the most popular casino games out there?

Simply put, it is the myth that blackjack is the one casino game in which the player can gain the edge and beat the house.

Truthfully that can happen. But it does not happen just from sitting down at the blackjack table or by logging in to your favorite online casino to play a few rounds. To beat the house at blackjack you must study the game, its rules and its strategies. It takes practice. And it also takes card counting.

So truth be told, online blackjack cannot be beat because a player cannot count cards. This is because the game functions similarly to a blackjack table with a CSM in a brick and mortar casino. A CSM is a Continuous Shuffle Machine, and it prevents any cards from being discarded because at the end of a round all the just-used cards are put in the little machine, the entire deck reshuffled and then the next round dealt.

So you must be playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino—at a table without a CSM I might add—so that you can count cards. You also need to be playing according to basic strategy. Basic strategy drops the house edge to 0.5%. A skilled and practiced card counter can overcome the remaining 0.5% that is against them and then begin to tip the odds up to 1% in their favor.

So, yes, blackjack is a beatable casino game.

However, the majority of blackjack players will not spend the time to gain the necessary skill in card counting that is needed to overcome that last bit of the house’s edge. And still many others will not play according to basic strategy.

And while casinos to not want to seem like they are handing out money for free, they do not seem to mind the continued myth that blackjack is the beatable casino game. For them, it draws more and more new blackjack players that they wind up taking money from.

Even knowing that, players who want to become skilled at blackjack should still work and practice their blackjack strategy. Strategy is meant to improve blackjack odds. So even if you do not beat the house, you will lose less money with a sound blackjack strategy than if you did not have a blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Fun Fact Friday—Part II

Fridays are fun days. So I am going to continue with this being Fun Fact Friday. Again, I will take no arguments.

Do you remember a few posts ago when I wrote about the history of blackjack? Well, if not a quick recap: blackjack is, as of right now, credited as coming from France, showing up in casinos there in the 1700s. End of recap.

However the Italians had a game similar to Vingt et Un, the French name for 21, which was the original name for blackjack. The Italian version of the game is called Seven and a Half. French and Italian blackjack aficionados still argue over which country should be credited as being the first to have blackjack.

And to further throw a wrench into that debate is Napoleon. In documentation of Napoleon’s life it was discovered that Napoleon was a big fan of blackjack. So it could be argued that, being that Napoleon was French, that he picked up blackjack from growing up in France.

However, Napoleon spent time a good chunk of his time in exile playing blackjack. He was exiled on the island known as Elba. The Italian island I might add. So it could be argues that he picked it up in Italy.

So we are left with a point in each country’s corner as to who can lay claim as to where blackjack came from.

Now, much to the annoyance of the French and the Italians, the Spanish can lay a claim to being the source of blackjack. After all they do have their own version of the game: Spanish 21. But thankfully the Spanish seem to be more laid back about the debate and are happy to just enjoy the game.

Regardless of where blackjack originally came from, it made its way to the United States in the 1800s. And after a ban in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been enjoying its popularity since 1939 when Nevada made blackjack legal.

Blackjack Fun Fact Friday

I have declared that today shall be Fun Fact Friday. There will be no arguing with me on this either.

But I promise to stick to blackjack facts.

To kick off this Fun Fact Friday I am going to start off with when blackjack first came to the United States.

Yes, we all know that it is one of the most popular casino games. Multiple tables can be found in brick and mortar casinos across the country, and more casinos are moving to legalize blackjack in their states so that they too can jump on the blackjack band wagon.

But it was not always this way for blackjack.

When this favored casino game first game ashore in the United States in the 1800s it was not popular. After all it was an unheard of card game, and with all the gentlemen in the clubs in the city and the cowboys out west hooked on poker, there was not a lot of space for a new card game.

In an effort to make blackjack more appealing, casino owners began adding rules and side bets. Some of the surviving side bets have no become the blackjack variations we have today. And while many professional blackjack players today do not advocate side bets, in the 1800s that was how the casinos lured in players.

In fact, that is how blackjack got its name. The game originated in France and was called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21. When the game came ashore in the 1800s it was simply called 21.

But through the various side bets and special payouts offered 21 was renamed blackjack. This is because one of the special payouts was a 10-1 payout given if the two card 21 was made up of the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs. Hence blackjack.

The 10-1 payout has long since been retired, but the name blackjack has stuck. Even when the special payouts and side bets became blackjack variations and the game was returned to what we know it is now, the name was stuck and blackjack’s rise to popularity was set.

Florida Casino to Open $5 Blackjack Tables…Finally

For as long as there has been blackjack in the state of Florida, $5 blackjack tables have not been a common find. But then we are talking pre-legal, compact approved blackjack within the state. Now that there is a compact between the Seminole tribe and the state of Florida giving the Seminoles a five year exclusivity to blackjack, the layout of the blackjack landscape is changing. For the better.

This coming Friday, August 20th, the first twenty four hour, seven days per week $5 blackjack tables will open at the Seminole Casino Hollywood.

The Seminole Casino Hollywood is not a new casino. It has been around for the last thirty years. But this is the first big event for this casino in several years. And it is all thanks to the exclusivity on blackjack that the Seminoles now enjoy, which went into effect this past July.

The opening of the new twenty four hour, seven days per week $5 blackjack tables will begin with speeches made by Seminole Gaming CEO, Jim Allen. There will also be speeches made by Seminole leaders. Once the speeches are done with, Seminole Casino Hollywood General Manager Adrian Fox will then say the magic words to get the gambling underway: “Guests place your bets.”

And speaking of guests there are several notable VIPs of the eighty four that will be present to break in the new blackjack tables this coming Friday. Among them is former NFL star Zach Thomas, Jimmie Walker and Alfonso Ribeiro, as well as other local media personalities. And naturally Seminole Tribal Council members will also be at the tables to play the first hand at these twelve new $5 blackjack tables.

Blackjack Origins

Every now and then it is good to take a step back and appreciate where something came from. Like a birthday—you celebrate where you came from once a year.

This is not a birthday post for blackjack, but more of an appreciation. Kind of like when you go to a museum or paid attention in history class to a lesson that you liked. Not everyone knows where blackjack game from, what its history is. Studying a casino game is one thing, but true appreciation comes from knowing the game. And that includes its history. So today we are going to take a look at the history of blackjack.

I know that Captain Jack Sparrow liked to blame things on the French. But in this case blaming the French for blackjack is a nice thing indeed.

While blackjack has a bit of a murky past—seems no one really kept track of things like we do today—but the most agree that blackjack originated in France from a couple of other card games: Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.

Wherever and however it actually came about, we do know that I was showing up in French casinos in the 1700s. At least that is when it was first documented as being somewhere. In the French casinos it was then called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21.

At some point 21 crossed the Atlantic and made it to the United States in the 1800s as that is when it was first document as being played here. In the western U.S. gambling—and blackjack—was legal between the 1850s and 1910.

In 1910 casino games and gambling were declared felonies. But in 1931 Nevada had a change of heart and made gambling and casino games legal again. And that is when blackjack began to reign as one of the most popular casino games.

The 1980s brought blackjack to Atlantic City. And it has continued to spread from there. Twenty states now have legalized gambling with more doing so as they are drawn to the money that could be made from taxes to fill in their budget holes. In addition there are seventy Native American casinos spread out around the United States as well.

Blackjack has come a long way since it first showed up in French casinos in the 1700s.

Blackjack Games: Blackjack Switch

Oh goody! It is time for more talk about blackjack games and blackjack variations. This morning I have chosen Blackjack Switch as my variation to compare to good ol’ blackjack.

This blackjack variation can be found scattered throughout brick and mortar casinos, and it is beginning to show its face in some online casinos.

Switch works a little bit differently from other blackjack games. For one thing you are not playing one hand per round, you are playing two. There is no way out of this. If you want to play Switch then you have to play with two hands per round.

The reason players have two hands to play is because they can switch the top two cards.

In fact that is the first playing decision a player makes—to switch or not to switch. When it is time to play out his hand he can switch the top two cards of his hands. This has the benefit of giving players the opportunity to improve their hands.

Let’s say that you are playing Switch and you are dealt a 4/10 on one hand and a 10/6 on the second. When your turn to play comes you can switch the 10 from the first hand with the 6 from the second because they are the top two cards. Once the switch is made you then have a 4/6 and a 10/10, both of which are good hands as you can double down on the 4/6, and the 10/10 is a strong hand to stand on.

While that example is the ideal for what you want to happen in a round of Switch, it does not always happen that way. Sometimes switching the top two cards only improves one hand. Or maybe you only switch them for a shot at minimizing your losses.

But while switching your top two cards seems like an advantage—and it is—there are, like in any blackjack variation, some major down sides.

The most obvious is that if you are playing with two hands per round, you are wagering twice as much per round. On top of the extra wagering, blackjacks on pay even money in this game, which is a 2.27% hit to your blackjack odds.

And for extra fun the dealer does not bust at 22 like he would in any other blackjack game. Instead it becomes a push. So you are not losing money, but you certainly are not winning anything extra.

So once again we have another blackjack game—yet another variation—that on the surface seems like it could be advantageous but really is not. Like with Face Up 21, Switch should be played for very low stakes or just for fun if you are playing online.

Golden Nugget’s New Online Blackjack

Seems that everyone is hoping on the social media band wagon.

Yesterday I talked about how Golden Nugget launched their very own Facebook game called Golden Nugget Vegas Casino with the help of Last Legion.

In this Facebook game players manage their own casino. They can install blackjack tables, slot machines and more. The y work to expand their casino offerings and their casinos themselves by ‘harvesting’ the profits of their chosen casino games.

But this is not just a ‘farming’ Facebook game. Golden Nugget has not gone to the trouble of creating a Facebook game simply for the enjoyment of Facebook members. Golden Nugget is trying to expand their brand name and increase awareness of their casino—both the brick and mortar casino and the online casino.

“The goal is to reach new eyeballs and get the brand in front of more people,” said Amy Chasey who is the Vice President of Marketing at Golden Nugget.

But building and managing your own casino is not where the real brand awareness is being plastered. Players can visit the casinos of their friends and play their favorite casino games with play money. In a way this is another form of playing blackjack online.

After clicking on a game, say the blackjack table, that you want to play online in your friend’s casino, the screen changes to a format similar to that of a regular online blackjack game. With the words ‘Golden Nugget’ splashed across the table of course.

In short, it is just another way of playing online blackjack. For free.

You can then wager $5, $25 or $100 per hand. The blackjack online in this casino Facebook game has standard house rules. But I am willing to wager that despite the fact that you are playing with fake money, the payout percentage is not all that great. Even playing with basic strategy you will find that you lose more often than you win. There is almost a feeling that the hands you normally win in ordinary online blackjack, you lose in this game.

Thankfully you are only playing with play money in this game. Golden Nugget has not created a real money option for their new game…yet.

Lastly, the avatars are a bit scary as they have big heads and kind of resemble those Bratz Dolls. But you do not see them while you are playing blackjack as the table fills the window.

Blackjack Games: Face Up 21

While blackjack is one of the most popular casino games both in online casinos and in brick and mortar casinos, sometimes you want something a little bit different. A little spice. A little variety. You like the game of blackjack but sometimes it just needs…something to shake the game up a bit. This is where blackjack variations came from.

Blackjack variations are still blackjack games, but they are blackjack games with a bit of a twist. In some form or another.

For the most part basic playing is the same and the objective is still the same: to beat the dealer without getting a hand total that tops 21. The spice, the twist, the variation comes in the form of some rule changes and a side bet.

Typically I am not a fan of blackjack games that are variations. This is because these variations have worse odds owing to changes in payout and the addition of side bets. By the way, a side bet is a second wager made on some aspect of the game; you can win the round of blackjack but lose a side bet and vice versa. Side bets are independent of the actual playing of a round of blackjack.

One such blackjack game that is a variation is Face Up 21. This variation can be found in brick and mortar casinos, but also in some online casinos as it is a fairly popular blackjack variation.

As for the game itself, all cards are dealt face up—including the dealer’s hole card. This revealed hole card is part of what makes this game such a draw. Players think that they have an edge on the dealer because his hole card is no secret.

But in truth the changes in the house rules on this game actually hurt your odds. And while seeing the dealer’s up card seems advantageous, it does not have an impact on your odds. It is just an illusion.

Now the house rule changes. In Face Up 21 all payouts are even money payouts, and this includes natural blackjacks; and pushes got to the dealer too. Your double down chances are limited to 9, 10 and 11. The even money payouts on blackjack knock 2.27% off your blackjack odds; and the limited double down knocks another 0.18% off your blackjack odds.

I understand that everyone needs a little variety from time to time, but when it comes to blackjack variations play should be limited to playing for fun in practice modes in online casinos. If you are playing blackjack games like Face Up 21 in brick and mortar casinos keep your wagers small to minimalize losses.

Blackjack and Casinos Meet Online in Facebook

Ever heard of Casinoville? Sounds a lot like that Farmville that is so popular on Facebook. If you like your blackjack and ever wondered what it would be like to own your own casino then this Facebook game is right up your alley.

Okay, I was half joking. There is no Facebook online game called Casinoville…although with all of the Ville online games on Facebook I am surprise there is not a Casinoville yet.

However if you want to get your blackjack and casino owning fun on there is a Facebook online game for you.

Last Legion has created and released a Facebook game called Golden Nugget Vegas Casino. In this Facebook game players can build their very own casino to manage. Online. Yes, I know, you would be online building a brick and mortar casino to play in online. This is kind of like one of those mirror in a mirror things.

But not only do players of Golden Nugget get to build and manage their own casinos—like those Ville Facebook games—they can play in them too. You can play blackjack, video poker and roulette. To win chips to do more things to your casino.

It seems the chips are the key to the game. Players can play in their own casino for chips, or they can visit their friends’ casinos and play there for chips.

Part of managing your own casino in this game is to draw in non-player patrons and win their money off of them. Talk about the shoe being on the other foot. But if you get bored of playing the house you can always roam the floor of your own casino and play blackjack all you want.

And unlike all of those Ville games, Golden Nugget is played entirely with fake money—those chips I spoke of. The chips are in game money that do not cost a single penny of your real money. So Last Legion and Golden Nugget are not angling for your cash…for now.

CEO of Last Legion, Seth Gearson, says, “It’s pretty satisfying to actually generate in-game money in a way other than the classic social game format.” Translation: You do not have to harvest crops to earn money—you merely win it off of your friends…which is in the true spirit of gambling.

I suppose you could think of it as a garage game of blackjack in which you take your friends chips. Only this is all on Facebook where you can make a cute little casino avatar of yourself.

Oh, and since this is your own casino you can have all of the blackjack tables you want.