Do Blackjack Players Need Nannies?

Over in Victoria, Australia there is much debate on a casino expansion of blackjack tables. You have some that want it, saying that it’ll benefit their economy. And there are others who say, in short, that gambling is the root of all evil, and that more blackjack tables will increase addictive gambling. I beg to differ.

But before I continue, I wish to say that, yes, if allowed more opportunity, some individuals who lack self-control could develop a problem with gambling. I would never say that more opportunities couldn’t possibly create a few more addicts.
However, for a state government to step in and say that they know best for, well, everyone, I just can’t stand behind that. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to play blackjack. In regards to the debate and the state’s role in public interest, Victoria’s Premier John Brumby said it was not the government’s place to “be a nanny and get in everybody’s face and say what you can and can’t do.”

For a government to say that they are going to cut everyone off just to reign in a handful of people, it would be like a mother grounding a whole neighborhood of children just to keep her own in line. All those children will do is sneak out their bedroom windows when her back is turned. And likewise, those who wish to play blackjack will venture to another state’s economy to play if their own won’t let them.

And that is precisely what the state of Victoria could be giving up. It’s similar to what is happening in Florida between the state and the Seminole tribe. Here again, the state is wishing to limit the amount of tables the Seminoles are allowed to have. But what the state of Florida will be losing is more money for their education budget, as that’s where the taxes of the Seminole’s gambling profits will go.

If the state of Victoria were to allow the expansion of blackjack tables, at the risk of a handful of the population as compared to the thousands that live in Victoria, the state has the potential to create an income off the blackjack tables.

But income aside, is it really a state’s responsibility to dictate how their citizens choose to enjoy themselves? Are we sheep? Do we really require our state to shepard us? No, I refuse to accept that a handful of men and women know what’s best for thousands of people in regards to their recreation. It is each person’s choice to play blackjack or not. The vast majority of people will play for the fun of the game—can they beat the dealer? Will they be dealt blackjack this time? It is not the state’s decision to nanny its citizens. After all, they will crawl out their bedroom windows into another state’s economy if they wish to play blackjack.

Which Denomination to Play

Here’s the casinos’ Modus operandi: Move ‘em in, move ‘em out, move in more. In other words, what’s the fastest way possible to bring them in and take their money in order to bring in more?

I’m sure in wandering through a casino or while trolling online casinos for a blackjack game, you’ve seen that the minimum bet varies from table to table, virtual or not. Which is the best one to play at?

I know that a higher stakes table has the potential to give you a better payout. Let’s look at the payouts between a $100 table a $10 table. If you win with a blackjack at the first table, you’re payout is $300; at the latter table, the same win would give you a payout of $30. So those blackjack players who are looking to make money would think that the table to play is the $100 table.

No.

And no especially if you’re just beginning to play.

The reasoning behind this is simple: You don’t win every time. Seems obvious, but once you’re caught up in the razzle dazzle of a casino—traditional or online—you will think that nothing can stop you from winning. You’re going make it big. You’re going to walk out with a ton of money. And that’s exactly how a casino wants you to think. Because when you’re thinking that and you walk up to that $100 or $200 table, you just made your first mistake.

Casinos, online or land-based, make their money when players lose. If you’re a novice at playing blackjack you will want to start out small. Since you’re just getting used to the game and are still learning, you’re more likely to lose simply by making beginner mistakes. Casinos will bank on you and you will lose a good chunk, if not all, of your money by sitting down at a higher stakes table. By starting out at a smaller table, like the $10 tables, you stand a better chance of hanging on to your money. Sure, you won’t have as much of a gain in the beginning, but you won’t lose your money as fast.

Move up to higher stakes tables once you know your basic strategy and you’re winning on a fairly consistent basis. In other words when you feel confident, not because of bright lights and sounds, but because you know you’re a good blackjack player. Start small. It’s real easy to gamble away the $700 you brought with you at higher stakes tables than at small stakes tables.

House Rules to Avoid Part IV: The Payout That Really Isn’t Much of a Payout

If there is one thing that will make me turn my back on blackjack game, it’s a bad payout. This goes back to the idea of playing blackjack for money. Of course I want to win. But since you can’t win every single blackjack game, I don’t want to lose any more money than I have to. And you don’t either. That’s why regardless of rules, there are some tables or online blackjack games I will not play. A table or online blackjack game could have they best combination or rules possible and I will still walk away. The reason behind this? The pay out.

Most blackjack games have a payout of 3-2, which is fine. I’ll take that if I’m dealt a natural. I’ll even take double my bet if I win. But that’s with a 3-2 payout. The payout I’ll walk away from is the 6-5 payout. That alone costs a player 1.4%. And I’m not willing to pay that.

Unfortunately for all of us blackjack players, it’s becoming more popular in Las Vegas for casinos to have single deck games…but they come with a 6-5 payout. You might find it here and there online, but if you are a land-based casino player, beware.

Here’s what the breakdown is;

Let’s say you’re at a $20 table with 3-2 payout. If you win with a blackjack you’ll be paid $30. That’s fine. That’s a $10 gain every time you win with a blackjack.

Now let’s say you’re at one of these new games. It’s another $20 table but the payout is 6-5 this time. If you win with a blackjack you’re only going to be paid $24 instead of $30. And that’s only a gain of $4.

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot. Let’s do some more math. Let’s say you play sixty hands in an hour. This particular night you are exceedingly lucky and are dealt blackjack every single hand. Yes, I know, that will never happen. You’ll get kicked out of the casino before the hour half way over. But for this scenario, you’ve just won sixty hands of blackjack in an hour. If you were playing at a $20 table with a 3-2 payout, you’ve been paid $1800 over the course of the hour; that’s a gain of $600. If you made the mistake of playing at 6-5 table, you will have received $1440 in payouts, which is a gain of $240. Which is the better payout?

House Rules to Look Out for Part III: Restrictions on Splitting

Splitting is fantastic. We like splitting pairs. And we love resplitting. For one thing is increases our chance at winning. But it also reduces the house’s edge, and who doesn’t love that? Unfortunately for us not all casinos, both land-based and online, don’t feel the same way that we do about splitting pairs in blackjack.

Whenever you aren’t allowed to double down on a split a pair it hurts you by a tenth of a percent. It also hurts you when you can’t resplit by another tenth of a percent. Add that to the normal half of a percent house edge in blackjack. Not a good number is it?

If you draw a pair you want to be able to split it and increase your chances of winning. And if you can find a blackjack game that will let you resplit pairs, pull up a seat, especially if they will let you double down when splitting. I’d sit at that table or play that table online. If you’re a game that will allow you to resplit aces, you just gained 0.08 on the house. So if you find a game of blackjack that allows for resplitting aces, that’s a game you want.

Don’t allow the house to prevent you from increasing your chance to win at blackjack. Avoid games that won’t let you resplit or double down after splitting. You want to look at for blackjack games that will give you a chance at increasing your odds if you’re a skilled enough player to do so.

Keep an Eye Out For: House Rules to Avoid Part IV: The Payout That Really Isn’t Much of a Payout

House Rules to Look Out for Part II: Restrictions on Doubling Down

We all know to keep an eye out for blackjack games that allow us to double down on any pair. This is a player friendly rule, allowing you to double your bet when it looks like you just might beat the dealer. So why would you avoid a table that still allows you to double down even if you can’t double down on any two cards?

The answer comes down to the math on the odds. In a typical blackjack game, the house odds are around .5%. You might think that even being allowed to double down only on cards totaling 10 or 11 is still a pretty good deal. But really it’s not. In the blackjack games that only allow you to double on 10 and 11 totals is a game that is increasing the house edge. The edge will jump from around .5 to around .75. Defiantly not in your favor.

The reason this favors the house more is because you have more of a chance of busting on those hands. Imagine doubling on a total of 11. There are only twenty four cards out of fifty two that won’t bust you—and all twenty four cards may not be available for play either having already been played or are in other players hands. So you double down on your total of 11 and are dealt an 8. You just gave the dealer, ergo the casino, more money than is necessary!

If the point of blackjack is for you to make money, don’t give it away by playing games in which you can not double down on any two cards. You do not want to give the house an even bigger edge, and increase your chances of losing money. Follow basic strategy when playing blackjack including its rules for doubling down. Avoid blackjack games that restrict your doubling down despite the illusion they are doing you a favor by allowing you to still double on totals of 10 or 11.

Keep an Eye Out for: House Rules to Look Out for Part III: Restrictions on Splitting

House Rules to Look Out for Part I: Dealer Hits on Soft Seventeen

Whether you’re playing blackjack online or are out there in a casino, there are some house rules that are not player friendly. Yes, I know you expect that when playing blackjack. But there are some, especially if you’re just starting out, that you will want to keep an eye out for—and avoid.

When learning to play blackjack the first strategy you learn is basic strategy. These are the ‘moves’ for blackjack players. This is how we choose how to play our hands—to hit or stand, or split, or double. And the casinos—both online and off—know this. So if a half of a percent house edge wasn’t enough, the casinos will try to take any advantage from us that they can. And in some places blackjack’s basic strategy can be used against you.
Take for example that the dealer has an Ace-6. Dealers always stand on a soft seventeen—they stand on all seventeens, hard or soft. However. There are some casinos who’s house rules allow for the dealer to hit on a soft seventeen. That’s a two-tenths of a percent increase in favor of the house.

Doesn’t sound like much right? Think again. Add that two-tenths of a percent to the regular half of a percent. See the difference now? Yeah, a blackjack game in which a dealer can hit on a soft seventeen is not your friend. You do not want to give the house anymore favor over you.

You like your money, yes? And you want to win more money, yes? Bearing in mind that you won’t win every single time, why lower your odds of winning even more? Avoid blackjack games in which the dealer can hit on a soft seventeen. Look for blackjack games in which the dealer has to stand on all seventeens.

Keep an Eye Out for: House Rules to Look Out for Part II: Restrictions on Doubling Down

Where did the World Series of Blackjack go?

I was thinking the other day about how much I miss sitting down and watching the World Series of Blackjack. What happened? It seems that the World Series of Blackjack has disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. The last season premiered on June 4, 2007. Alice Walker was the winner and went home with her $500,000. And one would think that in 2008, Series 5 would begin. No. It didn’t.

So what happened? Their site still lists the current tournament as the 2007 Series 4 tournament. And visiting GSN, who televises the event, only revealed that the show isn’t even listed on its site anymore. So what do we, the people who love blackjack and wish to watch it on TV, do?

We can speculate.

Perhaps it just wasn’t popular enough. In which case it should have been promoted more. They could have promoted it themselves. GSN, who created the series and televised it, could have promoted it more—I mean, it was their idea yes? AOL could have promoted it more, considering it was through AOL Games that six lucky contestants could win their way into the tournament series.

Or perhaps there just weren’t enough people to play. It is an invitation only series (the exception being the AOL win-ins). Maybe that was the problem. Maybe those of us that did know about the series just wanted a chance to play too. After all the World Series of Poker allows for entrants to win their way in through various satellite tournaments that anyone can enter. But the World Series of Blackjack is invite only…except for the AOL win-ins of course. So perhaps being invite only is what caused to disappear. I mean, who likes being excluded?

Again, one can only speculate. You can try looking for the answer. I have yet to find it. So maybe it was lack of promotion, or lack of interest due to its closed nature…or maybe it did disappear in the Bermuda Triangle. But I hope you miss it as much as I do.

Blackjack Strategy They Don’t Tell You in Books

Chances are, when you were learning to play Blackjack, you read about it in a book or two, and probably online as well. What did you read about? You were given the rules, how the table is set up, the progression of play, and strategies. Focus on that one for a moment. What Blackjack strategies were you given? Basic strategy and card counting; in most places it was also explained to you how those two effected your betting strategy. And then you’re ready to play yes?

Maybe.

Mostly yes, but there might be one more thing to consider.

What about your opponents? True, you’ve read that in Blackjack it’s you versus the dealer, and it’s also the other players against the dealer. But they aren’t against you are they? They can’t be, I mean why would someone play the dealer one on one if the other players were necessary? And everything you’ve read about Blackjack says that it’s player versus the dealer. Not quite.

Let’s go back to the beginning, to what playing Blackjack is about. It’s not only about enjoying yourself and having fun. It’s about winning, about making money. And every single person who is sitting at that table with you or who is playing Blackjack online with you is intent on winning too. So, yes, Blackjack is player versus player.

Your Blackjack strategy for this is to watch your opponents. Look to see if someone is showing signs of excitement, giving away that they have a good hand, maybe even Blackjack. I can here you saying that this is beginning to sound more like Poker. Don’t worry, it’s not, it’s still Blackjack.

Blackjack isn’t anymore complicated than before. The point of watching your opponents is to try to gauge whether they have a good hand or a not so good hand. Say you see that guy who’s cheek just twitched with a bit of a smile, and you caught it. Chances are he’s got a good hand. And maybe your hand is so-so. Don’t bet as much.

As for your Blackjack strategy think of it in this order. Count the cards, remember what’s out on the table, what’s in your hand, and what has yet to be played. Hit or stand based on what basic strategy dictates. Watch your opponents to see if they give away any clues as to the type of hands they have. Taking all of those Blackjack strategies into mind, make your bets accordingly.

Mommy is a Blackjack Player?!

What do you think of when you think of Blackjack players? Do you think of broad shouldered man with slicked back hair? A guy in a suit with a drink in his hand and a cigarette sticking out the corner of his mouth? Or maybe a woman with a cocktail dress on, a martini in hand, and styled hair? But you think someone with that casino sort of look or at least someone with style and some sophistication.

What about a mother?

Yes, that’s right, I said a mother.

I recently read an article about a woman who has made Blackjack her living. And she’s a mother on top of it. Makes you think about how those people really are when you get into a Blackjack game. For some people this isn’t just a game for fun. For some this is income, their livelihood. The woman in the article spoke of how much more committed you are to mastering Blackjack when it’s your living. She goes on to say how important it is practice and to memorize the strategies—you have to have a detailed and precise know-how to play Blackjack for a living. If you’re not committed you won’t make a living and, even worse, you’ll lose your money as opposed to making it.

And then how will you buy your bread, butter, and eggs?

What I liked about this woman’s story is that she’s just a regular person, a mom. She’s not some dolled up woman in a tight fighting cocktail dress and heels. She probably gets up in the money, makes breakfast, packs lunches, and sends her kids off to school. Maybe she does a little housework. And then she practices her Blackjack strategies for the coming weekend when she goes to a nearby casino to make her living. Quite the lifestyle. But what she shows us is that anyone can learn to play Blackjack and anyone with the commitment and drive to master the game can. Blackjack games aren’t limited to high rollers and swanky people. Blackjack can be played by you or me or moms.

Good Blackjack Strategy

What makes for a good Blackjack strategy?

Basic strategy is a good place to start, but is it enough to win?

Realistically, you’re going to need a combination of basic strategy and card counting. Initially you need to be comfortable enough with basic strategy so as not to need to constantly reference a chart—that’s that first thing for an effective blackjack game. Once you’ve got that down, throw a little card counting into your blackjack strategy.

No, that doesn’t mean memorizing the whole deck and the odds of a single deck versus multiple decks. Although you certainly can learn and employ a card counting strategy and, with enough practice, increase the power of your overall Blackjack strategy. Honestly, when you’re first beginning to play, that’s a lot of math and numbers to keep straight on top of remembering which basic strategy option to use for which card combinations. Keep the card counting portion of your strategy simple when first beginning to play Balckjack . This plays into your betting strategy as well

You know you want ten cards and aces. Think of how many tens and aces are in play based on how many decks your playing with. How many have already played? And how many are left? If there’s not a lot of tens and aces left keep your bets down. If you there’s still a decent amount left then your chances of receiving one is better, so raise your bet. That’s how to use simplistic card counting to guide your Blackjack betting strategy.

So at this point your Blackjack strategy is comprised of having the basic strategy charts memorized and using simple card counting to influence your betting strategy. This makes for a good Blackjack strategy for the average player. Keeping those in mind should help decrease the house’s favor, which should increase your chances of winning.