Networking and Online Blackjack

What do World of Warcraft and online blackjack have in common?

Initially they are two games in the online gaming world. But as of late they might have more in common than simply being games played online.

Yazino is a fairly recently launched social networking online casino. It is a site in which blackjack players can play online blackjack and other online casino games but are also playing with other players and networking through the site.

In other words, there are two types of online games, and every single online game can be fit into one of two categories: online gambling and social gaming.

Social gaming is like World of Warcraft—payers are able to play the game yet at the same time they are playing with other players around the world and networking within the game. Online gambling is just that—gambling through an online version of a favorite casino game, such as online blackjack.

But Yazino is looking to merge the two types of games into one site. Chief Executive Officer Hussein Chahine said:

“Gambling sites are perceived as dark and seedy while social gaming sites are seen as fun, friendly and engaging. Our ambition is to connect the two and bring simplicity and friendliness to the gaming market along with a social networking experience that sets us apart from the rest.”

In other words get ready to make new friends while collecting old ones and at the same time enjoying a few rounds of online blackjack or whatever online casino game is to your liking.

Actually the idea of playing with friends is part of what is behind the Yazino online casino: “We’ve approached this through the casino environment, which we believe embodies the best aspects of gaming, gathering friends around a table in a competitive and fun environment,” said Chahine.

But with social networking in the ground work of this new online casino, I am sure that Yazino will probably be recommending other blackjack players for you to friend as you play online blackjack.

On second thought, perhaps I should describe this as a mix of Facebook, World of Warcraft and online blackjack and other casino games—kind of all wrapped up together in playing with others like in World of Warcraft (without magic and weapons), yet you are friend collecting like on Facebook while playing online blackjack. Yes, I think that would be the right descriptive mix.

Payouts in Super Fun 21

Super Fun 21 is a blackjack game that is a variation of the original game form. There are a few different house rules—some good and some bad. But of all the variations, which I still do not recommend playing, Super Fun 21 is the one with the lowest house edge of all the different blackjack games.

First let’s take a look at the house rules that have changed a bit.

First off all player blackjack wins. There is no topping a player blackjack, not even for the dealer. Even if the dealer also has a natural blackjack, he will still lose to the player—not a push, but a full win.

However, to counter this nice happy house rule, blackjack will only pay even money, or a 1-1 payout. The only blackjack that pays differently is if both the Ace and the 10 value card are diamonds. Then the payout is 2-1.

You might be thinking that settling for even money payouts and the occasional 2-1 payout is a fair trade for having a blackjack that wins no matter what.

You would be thinking wrong, and you would be settling.

Of all of the blackjack that can happen in a game, only one in every sixteen blackjack will be made up of two cards that are both diamonds. That translates into 93.75% of those blackjacks not having diamonds, and a 93.75% chance that you will only be receiving even money for your blackjack.

Over time the amount of money lost in even money and the occasionally 2-1 payouts will add up. Let’s say that you have played enough $10 rounds to have 100 blackjacks. In a regular game of blackjack those $100 blackjack would have given you $1,500.

But according to Super Fun 21 rules, and rounding the 93.75% to 94% to simplify math, you would be making $940 in even money payouts and $120 in the Super Fun 21 diamond blackjack payouts; that brings you to a grand total of $1,060. That is a $440 difference that you lost from playing Super Fun 21. Imagine what you would lose if you were wagering more than $10 per round.

So despite that with a specialized basic strategy played perfectly that can reduce the house edge to 0.8%, the money lost is still just too much for this blackjack variation.

Blackjack Promotion at Virgin

This week is World Space Week. Virgin Casino is encouraging blackjack players to celebrate our world’s most awesome accomplishments by hosting a World Space Week promotion.

This online blackjack promotion is being shared with online roulette players. But we all know which casino game is better.

Up for grab is a prize pool of £5,432.10. Yes, for players who are a part of the winning team, they will win a share of that £5,432.10 prize pool.

In this World Space Week promotion there are four teams for players to choose from. Blackjack players can choose to root for in Virgin’s space race are the United States of America, Great Britain, China or Russia. Players can only choose one team.

Upon registering for the World Space Week promotion, players choose one of the aforementioned teams. Then they must wager a minimum of £100 on any of Virgin’s online blackjack games or online roulette games. As long as the £100 is wagered on any of those types of casino games, players are then entered in the space race for the team they have chosen.

The World Space Week promotion began yesterday, October 4th, and will continue through Sunday, October 10th.

At the end of the promotion on October 10th which ever country’s team has made it to the moon first will win the World Space Week promotion. Players who chose the winning country when they registered will be awarded a share of the £5,432.10 prize pool.

This is one easy online blackjack promotion to play in. Choose a country and wager a minimum of £100 to receive a share of that £5,432.10 if your country wins. Too difficult at all and a fun way to celebrate our world’s space achievements.

Surrendering to Blackjack

Okay, this is more about a play used in blackjack rather than some romantical notion of giving in to desires hidden beneath the surface.

Players in blackjack have one of the most awesome ways to exit a round of blackjack in which the odds are just too high against them to win: surrender. Sometimes the underdog stays under. And if it looks like a round is just not in your favor, you need to get out.

With this blackjack rule, players can give up half of their original wager, keep the other half and exit the round. There is no other cost for exiting a round other than that half of your original wager.

Not too bad considering blackjack and poker are the only casino games that give players a way out of an unfavorable round—and poker players have to give up all of their wager. So, blackjack players, we have it pretty nice.

Surrender comes in two varieties: late and early.

Late surrender allows the player to surrender after the dealer has checked for blackjack. Only after he has checked can surrender be chosen. So if the dealer does have a natural blackjack you are just out of luck. But if you are able to make the play, it can increase your edge by 0.08%.

And while that 0.08% is not too bad, early surrender fives you an even bigger boost: 0.24%. The reason for the larger boost is because players can surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack. Once you surrender, even if the dealer does have a natural blackjack, you still have only lost half of your wager.

But there are only a few times in which surrender is meant to be used. This is not a play to be used like a petulant child does a temper tantrum. A basic strategy chart can tell you when the best times to surrender are.

In fact, that is your homework—find out when the best times to surrender are. The answers will be posted tomorrow morning.

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.

Online Blackjack Players Not Happy with Government

We owe it all to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Ace (UIGEA). When we used to log on to our favorite online casinos there was never a problem. Now our cards are being declined and we are being deprived of a form of entertainment that we enjoy. All because the U.S. government knows what is best for online blackjack players.

This is the prohibition of online gambling.

This is not just about what UIGEA has done to online blackjack players—it also effects online poker players, online slots players and anyone else who does some online gambling for entertainment.

UIGEA was squeaked in under the skirts of a port security bill rather than been discussed and voted on separately like it should have been. So that is the first strike against it. Then this poorly planned law to protect our morals from ourselves puts the burden of enforcement on financial institutions without any clear way of dealing with gambling transactions.

Not to mention overseas online casinos can probably find a way around it, making their transactions to and from players not obvious or linked to the online casinos. And European online casinos are very not happy resulting in the European Commission saying that UIGEA is working against our European Union trade agreements.

Players are frustrated at not being able to choose how they spend their time and money. They are also frustrated with Democrats who say they are working to overturn UIGEA, but cannot see those Democrats making any actual effort—other than Barney Frank, who is still sitting on his bill.

Players are also of the mind that some lawmakers are intentionally keeping UIGEA in place to protect their own interests in land-based casinos.

“If casino gambling was illegal in the U.S., then I would find it acceptable to make internet gambling illegal. But many of these lawmakers, especially Harry Reid, are just keeping prohibition in place to protect the interests of the land-based casinos in their states, and that’s where I have a problem,” player Ralph Butaro said.

Other than lawmakers who appear to be protecting interests, a good many people want UIGEA repealed—financial institutions, professional gamblers and even some of our own land-based casinos, not to mention the aforementioned European Commission.

Voters will make themselves heard in the upcoming mi-term elections, aiming their votes at lawmakers who will be aggressive in repealing UIGEA.

My thought, online blackjack players, is look to history. What happened when the government banned alcohol in the 1920s? History shows that the first Prohibition was not a success. I do not foresee this one being a rousing success either. Americans will find away like they did in the 1920s.

Odds on Insurance

Insurance is a common debate in blackjack regardless of whether you play online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. There are some that say insurance is a sure thing and to take it when offered. Then there are those who say insurance is the devil, that it will hurt your odds and to avoid taking it. Then there are so who are uncertain because they are not really sure what insurance truly is.

So we will start there. Insurance is offered when the dealer is showing an Ace, one of the cards that is key to having a natural blackjack and beating all other hands. Players can take insurance for half the cost of their original wager. If the dealer’s hole card creates a blackjack for the dealer, the player receives a 2-1 payout on their insurance wager, which is equal to their original wager which they just lost to that natural blackjack.

Insurance is really a side wager on whether or not the dealer’s hole card is a 10. If it is you lose your original wager but are paid insurance for a total negative net. Because the player is putting himself in a position to lose more money, it increases the house’s edge and lowers the players blackjack odds.

But really the odds on the dealer having a 10 are small. There are thirteen cards that the hole card could be. Of those thirteen, only four are worth 10. So there is only a 30% chance that the hole card is worth 10. The other 70% of the odds are on it not being worth 10.

Knowing that that odds are against the hole card being worth 10 and knowing that insurance decreases your blackjack odds because of the opportunity to lose money faster should be enough to keep you away from insurance.

West Virginia Blackjack a Success

August saw the first full month that the Chares Town Hollywood Casino had their blackjack and other table game set up.

While the debate on whether or not to allow blackjack and other table games in the state, the hope was that the addition of table games would boost revenue for the state who is in need of the money.

For those that were supportive of the table games’ addition, you were so very right.

In its first full month of operation, Charles Town Hollywood pulled $9.75 million from their table games. And of that $9.75 million, $2.23 million was from blackjack alone. Of the total $5.88 million that West Virginia received in “privileged taxes” from the five casinos, $3.4 million came from the Charles Town Hollywood.

How is that for generating revenue?

As for the other three casinos in West Virginia, their table game revenue looked like this:

$3 million at the Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino
$1.8 million at Nitro’s Mardi Gras Casino
$1.46 million at Wheeling Island
$776,318 at the Greenbrier Resort Casino

Even with the other four casino revenues combined, the Charles Town Hollywood still pulled in 58% of the August’s table game revenue. And that was with only half of their tables open.

There seems to be a shortage of licensed dealers in the West Virginia area, and as a result, the Charles Town Hollywood cannot open all 85 of their blackjack and other table games. Which is a shame considering how much revenue they generated with only half of their tables open. Imagine how much West Virginia could make if all 85 tables were open. So the table game additions were a definite positive idea.

Blackjack Things That Do Not Work with Card Counting

Since we seem to be on a bit of a card counting trend this week, I feel that it is fair to not only discuss the good things that card counting can do for your blackjack strategy and blackjack odds, but to also discuss the things that do not work with card counting.

The biggest thing about card counting that does not work is combining it with online blackjack. It is like trying to combine oil and water—no matter how hard you try, the two will always separate.

The reason card counting does not work with online blackjack is because of how the actual game functioning of online blackjack works. When software developers create a game of online blackjack, they take all possible combinations of starting hands and dealer up cards and feed them into the game Random Number Generator (RNG).

When playing a round of online blackjack, as soon as you click Deal, the game’s RNG pulls one of those combinations. When the next round begins it pulls from all possible combinations again. And again. In online blackjack the RNG will always pull from all possibilities. Because of this, the effect is similar to when playing at a table with a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM) since it is like no cards are ever discarded.

And speaking of CSMs, let’s talk about those.

CSMs are a shuffling device that dealers feed all the cards from the round that just finished into. The CSM then proceeds to shuffle all of the decks before the dealer is allowed to deal the next round. This means that not only are all the cards for that table still in play, but there the order from the previous round is gone. Even if you tried counting and the count from one hand said that the cards were moving to be in your favor, the shuffle between rounds would completely throw it off.

So card counting is only effective when played at a table without a CSM and when not playing online blackjack.