A Story of Card Counting Distraction

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.

$5.8 Million Won in Atlantic City Blackjack

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.

More Bad Beat Blackjack Tables Installed

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.

One More Good Thing About Online Blackjack

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.

6-5 Payouts are to Blackjack What a Smack is to the Face

It does not come any truer than that. Blackjack started out as a single deck game. That is what it was built on. Back in the day blackjack was played on a single deck with a 3-2 payout for a natural. Nowadays you can almost never find that. Nowadays if you see a single deck game it means a 6-5 payout.

And that 6-5 payout is like a smack in the face for blackjack players. Here the casinos are touting that this a revival of the good ol’ classic blackjack with a single deck, and at the same time they are trying to take players for their money with an increased house edge from that 6-5 payout.

Some players, more novice and still green in the casino, virtual or not, do not see what the big deal is. It is a single deck game after all, does that not even out the house edge hike from the payout? No way does it.

Here are the hits and ups to the house edge: A single deck will increase the player’s edge by 0.48%, but a 6-5 payout will decrease a player’s edge by 1.39%. That is a negative hit to the player’s edge of 0.91%. So players still are on the losing end of a single deck game if it is offering a 6-5 payout.

If you have a choice to play in a single deck game with a 6-5 payout or a multi-deck game with a 3-2 payout, take the multi-deck game. In terms of money, you will get a blackjack about once in twenty hands. If you were wagering $10 per hand, a 3-2 payout is $15 and a 6-5 payout is $12. That is a 25% loss to the house for playing in a single deck game.

Is that loss worth it? Giving up money to the house and essentially paying for the privilege of playing single deck blackjack? No. Stick to multi-deck blackjack games both online and in a brick and mortar casino.

Why Should Anyone Play 99 Cents Blackjack?

When asking people why they wanted to learn how to play blackjack, they tell me that they wanted to win money at the casino and they heard that they could win money playing blackjack.

Logical enough answer considering that blackjack has one of the lowest house edges in the casino. But if a player wants to win money, why play in an online blackjack tournament that only costs 99 cents to enter? Obviously the prize pool is not going to be all that high, so why bother?

Simply put, tournament play in blackjack is handled a bit different than when playing solo. What other players are doing is a big factor. The point is not to only beat the dealer, but to beat the players who are ahead of you. This often means being more aggressive in your blackjack playing. Wagering more then you normally would. In other times it means playing defensively if you are trying to keep on top.

Because of the high likelihood of playing in a different manner it means that practice is necessary. Unfortunately there is no free play mode to practice playing in a blackjack tournament. It means actually playing in a blackjack tournament again and again until you have your tournament feet under you.

This is where 99 cents blackjack tournaments come into play. True they do not offer much in terms of prize pools. But they do give players an inexpensive opportunity to practice playing in an online blackjack tournament.

Every online blackjack tournament gives players a tournament balance for paying their entry fee. It is the entry fee that is the investment. And if you are getting your feet wet in online blackjack tournament play paying 99 cents is better than investing $10 when you are still learning.

Several online casinos offer 99 cents blackjack tournaments, Online Vegas among them. The tournaments are found at several Vegas Technology powered online casinos.

Giving and Getting Advice at the Blackjack Table

Okay, I admit it, I hate when people give advice at the blackjack table. Most of the time. But most of the time when another player is giving advice to a less knowledgeable player it is usually done in a condescending or overly arrogant manner:

“You want to double down on that? Really? Well, you should not. Come on and just hit already.”

Now it could be that the aforementioned fiction less knowledgeable blackjack player is thinking to double down on a hand that he probably should not or that has better odds when refraining from doubling down and only hitting. But there is a heck of a lot nicer way to say it:

“You might not want to double down on that hand. I would not. The odds are better if you stick to hitting because that total on those two cards does not give you a good starting point for only receiving one more card. It is up to you, it is your hand, but I would not double down there.”

Sure, it takes longer to be polite and to actually explain why the less knowledgeable player why the blackjack play they are considering is not the best when it comes to odds or house edge; they might learn something about playing blackjack. But the result is that the player might actually take your advice as opposed to thinking you a rude pig.

Also rude people are thought to not actually know what they are talking about. Fewer people listen to a rude person as a result. That first player might have really been trying to help the less knowledgeable player make the right play and learn something about blackjack strategy, but being nasty does not get anyone anywhere. Especially at the blackjack table.

Blackjack for a Grill

Silver Dollar is fast becoming one of the most popular places to play online blackjack at. The game lineup is good and there are promotions constantly being offered. Some promotions are cash prizes while others are useful in other ways, such as this month’s promotional prize: a Primo Kamado Ceramic smoker.

With spring here and summer not far on its heels people will be lighting up the grill and breaking out the ground beef. Or soy burgers if you are into that. This is what makes the promotional sweepstakes at Silver Dollar heat up this month.

Players can enter the grill sweepstakes by turning in some of their loyalty points for a ticket; 500 loyalty points will equal one ticket. Loyalty points are earned by real money players at Silver Dollar for playing their favorite online casino games. This means that online blackjack players can accumulate points to turn in for tickets to enter into the grill drawing.

Naturally there are details for this sweepstakes in regards to timing and shipping (because they cannot very well deposit a grill into your player account). The drawing for the grill will happen on May 30th so there is still plenty of time to choose to redeem loyalty points for grill sweepstakes tickets. If the winning player lives in the US then the grill will be shipped to them without the player paying for any shipping. But if the winning player lives outside of the US, sorry but no grill for you. Instead if the winning player resides outside of the US, he or she will receive the cash value of the grill deposited into their player account.

Again, players can earn loyalty points for playing online blackjack for real money. No special codes necessary, just sign up for the Silver Dollar loyalty program for free and watch the loyalty points build. Then you can turn them in for a shot at winning the grill.

Dealer with an Ace, How Likely is it They Will Have a 10 Too?

One of the worst bets in blackjack is insurance. The exception to the aforementioned statement is side bets. Those surpass even insurance. But insurance in blackjack is based on scaring a player into protecting their wager.

It works like this: You are in a casino and playing some blackjack. The dealer’s up card is an Ace. There is a collective intake of breath from the other players at the table. If the hole card is a 10 it means the dealer has a natural blackjack and everyone loses. Except for those with a natural blackjack themselves, in which case they push and only get to keep their wager as opposed to receiving a 3-2 payout. It is a crappy situation all around. Once the dealer sees he has an Ace he will offer all the players insurance.

Insurance in blackjack is a separate wager that is equal to half the amount of your original wager. So if you wagered $50 your insurance wager is $25. If the dealer does indeed have a natural blackjack you would lose your original wager, but collect 1-1 on the insurance wager so that you would wind up with the amount of your original wager; but you will have still lost $50 and only received $25 from the house so that you are still out a negative net of $25. If the dealer does not have a natural blackjack the dealer will then collect your insurance wager. It all hinges on whether the dealer has a 10 for a hole card.

But what are the odds? Do the odds favor taking insurance or not?

There are only four cards with a value of 10 in blackjack. Four cards out of thirteen. That means there is only a 31% chance that the hole card will be a 10. The remaining 69% of the time the hole card will be worth something else. So based on that taking insurance is not worth the wager because the odds in blackjack are against the dealer having a 10 for the hole card.

75 Year Old Armenian Woman Cuts Country Off from Online Blackjack

No joke, this is a true story. A little less than a month ago online blackjack players in Armenia were suddenly without online blackjack. The connection, the internet, the games—and even an online blackjack tournament—were all interrupted when 75 year old Aishtan Shakarian cut through an international fiber optic backbone cable, known as the West-East cable, that connected Armenia to the rest of the world’s internet.

The elderly woman had been out gathering scrap metal to sell when she found a steel wrapped cable. Thinking to bring what she could carry with her to sell, the grandmother of eight began to chop away at the cable. After about ten hours of hacking at the cable Shakarian was able to pull free a twenty meter section of the steel casing. In doing so she damaged the fiber optic internet cable to the point that the majority of the country lost its internet connection for around twelve hours.

Online blackjack is the second most popular online casino game in all of Armenia, hence all of the upset when the cable was damaged and internet service lost. At the time the cable was damaged an online blackjack tournament was taking place. Players in this particular tournament were highly upset due to the fact that entry fees into the tournament were unrefundable, and after twelve hours of no internet, there was no one winning that tournament.

At the time Shakarian was arrested and admitted to damaging the cable while digging. When commenting on the situation, Zurab Gvenetadze, a police spokesman, said, ‘Her age is a mitigating factor. I am not expecting the prosecution to push for a strict punishment.” It is likely she will face a fine, some time doing community service and potentially a year in prison. It is unclear if she knew what the cable was for and if she knew she was cutting her country off from the Internet. There has also been no word on whether the online blackjack tournament players received a refund owing to the exceptional circumstances.