Table Manners for Blackjack: Cards and Touching

Yes, blackjack has table manners. It is played at a table after all. Actually that is a more relaxed term for blackjack etiquette, and the things that make up blackjack etiquette are kind of like the unwritten rules for blackjack.

Fist off we are going to talk about the cards and touching.

In a face up game the cards are obviously dealt face up on the table by the dealer. He will then quickly calculate the totals. Player then make hand signals to show what play they would like to make: a two finger scratch on the felt for a hit; a palm-down wave over the cards to stand; doubling your amount of chips to signal a double down or a split depending on what cards you have. Hand signals are a part of blackjack etiquette and a tradition of the game. Oh, and they also can back you up if there is some discrepancy on what play you wanted to make since there is a camera above the table.

But above all in a face up blackjack game do NOT touch the cards.

Not touching cards in a face up game prevents players from cheating or marking the cards.

The only type of blackjack game in which you can touch the cards is a face down game. The dealer deals the cards face down and the player picks them up with one hand. Signals in a face down game are a bit different: to hit scrap the cards towards you on the felt to hit; to stand scoot your cards under your wagered chips; to double down or split, turn the cards face up and add the appropriate amount of chips to your wager.

Do NOT use more than one hand to handle your cards.

Handling the cards with one hand helps to cut down on switching or adding cards or marking them for cheating purposes.

You have the etiquette for how to handle your cards down now, and are all set to grab your clip-on tie and head to your favorite casino.

Gambling Addiction Signs

True to what I mentioned this morning, I will talk about gambling addiction.

While I honestly believe that the majority of gambling patrons can handle their money and their gambling responsibly, there are those who cannot, and it is important to be able to recognize if you or someone you know has a problem.

Financial Secrecy
When a person with a person has an addiction to gambling they will often become secretive about their finances. They will often insist on overseeing household finances by themselves, not because they feel that they can manage them better, but because it gives them direct access to money. They might also want to hide just how much money they have gambled.

Compulsive Gambling
Those with an addiction to gambling will often find it had to walk away when they have lost their allotted bankroll. Even though their gambling money is gone, they will often look for other sources of money. These could come in the form of credit cards, using money allotted for something else such as living expenses, or they could even steal it.

This need to find another source of money comes from the drive to win back the money they just lost. Winning back lost money is at the source of compulsive gambling. Addicted gamblers try to find more money to wager with to win back the money they already lost, and in the process lose that next batch of money.

Unnecessary Gambling
This happens when you do not have money to gamble but feel the urge to and do so anyway, finding money in the aforementioned sources. This is when gambling sits in an addicted player’s mind and is their constant companion. It builds into an urge that some addicts will fight while others do not, and it still leads to the casino or online casino.

If you notice these signs about you and your gambling habits, or if someone you know exhibits these signs, it is a good indicator that they have an addiction to gambling.

If you notice these signs about yourself, seek help. If you notice these signs in a friend or loved one, talk to them about their gambling, but be prepared to have your concern met harshly—addicts do not always like to admit that they have a problem.

However hard it is to admit that a person has a gambling addiction, it must be acknowledge so that help can be sought.

Online Blackjack News: Player Jailed in Ireland

How far will you go to play online blackjack? Seems some blackjack players will go to great lengths, but a lot of people cease calling them players and call them addicts.

Such is the case with Eamonn McGirr that I saw in my online blackjack news this morning. McGirr has been ordered to serve twenty months in prison and another twelve months on probation for his online blackjack and online gambling addiction.

Why prison? Are they that harsh about gambling in Ireland?

No, they are not as long as you are playing and gambling responsibly. That means not embezzling your employer for the U.S. equivalent of $500,000 over two years.

But the embezzled $500,000 is not all that McGirr has stacked up, although the embezzled money is his only illegal action. Everything else is just pure debt—and I do mean debt: overdrafts on his two bank accounts, a loan for the U.S, equivalent of $6,400 from a credit union, and finally maxing out five credit cards. All on gambling.

I have two responses to this: one about something the judge said and another on online gambling in general.

The judge of the McGirr case was concerned about how a person could gamble away such enormous amounts of money without being checked, and that online gambling companies should take a “look at how they did business.”

First off, it is not the online casinos’ fault that the man got himself jailed. They are a business. They are there to make money. If this judge is saying that online casinos should be called to task because players gamble away too much, then what about all of the designer fashions and expensive electronics and cars that people will put themselves into debt for?

If the judge’s concern is people being wooed into spending more than they reasonably should because of how a company advertises and does business, then all the companies that lure people into racking up debt on credit cards should be put out of business. Shame on them for offering products that cost more than what we are paid. Let’s go back to farming and trading chickens and wearing loincloths—perhaps that is living within our means.

Then there is my response to online gambling. Obviously not every single player puts themselves into debt to play online blackjack and other online casino games.

But there are players who do become addicted to online gambling, and it can be a very serious problem. As McGirr showed us it is possible to hide the problem until someone else catches on that a friend or loved one is addicted. Sometimes the player him or herself knows they are addicted.

This afternoon I will talk about addiction to online gambling.

Microgaming Creates New Online Blackjack Tournaments

Microgaming is known as one of the industry leaders when it comes to online gaming software. They are constantly creating new games and revamping their older games to improve them.

To be honest there is not a lot that can be done to online blackjack games. The game itself does not change. It is not like a slots game that allows for the same type of game to be repackaged in a new colorful package. Online blackjack is online blackjack.

But that does not stop Microgaming from working with this game to give it something new to entire old and new players alike. This time Microgaming has revamped their online blackjack tournaments. There are now four types of online blackjack tournaments for players to play in at Microgaming powered online casinos:

One-Shot:
The name says it all on this one. Players must play their best as they have only one chance to get the highest score. There are no add-ons or rebuys for this tournament either. It is literally a one shot chance to get the highest score and win.

Extender:
This type of online blackjack tournament will allow players add-ons and rebuys as the point is to play again and again to build their scores. As always, the highest score wins. These tournaments will have long time periods to play out to encourage players to play more and more.

Reloader:
This one is a sort of combination of one-shot and extender. Players have one shot to get as high a score as they can, and there are no add-ons or rebuys. But if a player is not satisfied with their score they can play again starting their score over at 0 to try for a higher score.

Survivor:
This is an elimination type of tournament. At the end of each round a number of the players are eliminated from the tournament. This happens at the end of each round until the last round in which the player with the highest score ends.

When Microgaming makes changes to their games, be it new games or revamping an older game, they usually hit their mark and delight players at Microgaming powered online casinos. The new online blackjack tournaments are sure to be a hit.

Blackjack Odds with a Dealer 5 or 6

Okay this one is something of a blackjack myth, but it does have an impact on your blackjack odds.

Players tend to believe that when the dealer deals himself a 5 or 6 up that they are sure to win. They know that 5s and 6s are the weakest up cards for the dealer to have in blackjack. So they will automatically begin counting up the money they are sure is coming their way.

However, those 5s and 6s are not quite as much of a sure thing as you might think they are. In fact the dealer has less than a 50% chance of busting with those up cards. With a 5 showing the dealer only has a 41.8% chance of busting. And with a 6 up he only stands a 42.3% chance of busting.

So how does this translate to blackjack odds?

Well the dealer has to play until he can stand on a hard 17 and higher or until he busts. He will not finish with a 16 or below like a player can. So there are chances for him to win:

5 up:
12.2% on 17
12.2% on 18
11.8% on 19
11.2% on 20
10.8% on 21

6 up:
16.6% on 17
10.6% on 18
10.6% on 19
10.2% on 20
9.7% on 21

Any one of those other outcomes could happen. And they all mean that you could lose, giving the dealer a 58.2% or 57.7% chance of winning respectively.

Typically when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 the player is holding a stiff hand. In those cases we are hoping for the dealer to bust. But as you can see, he has a better shot of winning in total than he does in losing. Which means that your blackjack odds of winning are not as high as this blackjack myth leads players to believe.

This does not mean that players should feel any less for a 5 or 6 up card. It still remains that the dealer has the highest chance of busting in blackjack with a 5 or 6 showing. This only means that players’ blackjack odds are not as solid as they might think, and to not count their money before they have it.

Basic Blackjack Card Counting

There are any number of blackjack card counting systems out there, ranging from complex to simple. Obviously if you have decided to begin learning card counting it makes sense to start with an easy system. Then, once you have become skilled at using that system, learn a newer more complex one if you would like.

The easiest blackjack card counting system is also one of the most common. It is called the Hi Lo system, and it is the one that the majority of beginning counters start with. It is a basic counting system whose only demand on your math skills is to add and subtract a positive one and a negative one.

Almost all of the cards have a positive or negative counting value assigned to them. The only cards that do not are 7, 8 and 9. Those three are considered neutral and have no value in this counting system. The other cards are assigned like so:

2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are all +1
10, J, Q, K, Ace are all -1

The way this system works is that the player will add up the values of the cards that are on the table, including the dealer’s face up and hole card.

So say that you are playing with one other person. You have a 5/6 and you double for 9. The other player has 2/6/5 and stands. The dealer has a 10 with a hole card of 6 and hits for 7 and busts. Adding up the value of cards played, starting with your hand and ending with the dealer, would look like this:

1 + 1 + 0 + 1 + 1 + 1 + -1 + 1 + 0 = 5

Your count ends with a positive number. This means that more low cards were played than high cards, and so the remaining deck is richer in high cards.

You keep adding to you count with the next round. In the case of our example you pick up with 5 at the beginning of the next round.

A positive count means the remaining deck is rich in high cards, while a negative count means that more high cards have been played leaving the remainder of the deck rich with low cards. Blackjack card counters will raise their wagers with a positive count, and lower them with a negative count.

As the simplest blackjack card counting system, it is easy to see why so many beginning blackjack card counters start with this system.

Online Blackjack vs. Casino Blackjack

First off, what exactly is casino blackjack? Casino blackjack is a way of differentiating between blackjack that is played online and blackjack that is played in a brick and mortar casino. Without having to say blackjack in a brick and mortar casino every time.

So now that we have that established, what is the difference between?

First off, when you play blackjack online you are playing alone. It is not like some of those online poker rooms in which you are playing at the same table with other people that could be anywhere in the world. Online blackjack is one on one play between you and the dealer.

This does not sound like a big deal but it actually has quite an impact on your blackjack odds.

In blackjack, even with basic strategy, you are playing with less than 50% chance of winning a round. This means that you have a greater chance of losing than winning a round. And the more rounds you play per hour, the larger the chances of losing more money. This is why online blackjack players are cautioned to slow their rate of play.

When playing at a full table, like you can do with casino blackjack, you might only have fifty five rounds in an hour. But playing one on one in online blackjack you could wind up playing upwards of two hundred rounds in a single hour.

So one of the differences between online blackjack and casino blackjack is the change in the rate of play simply because you can only play one on one in online blackjack.

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.

Best Worst Blackjack Betting System

I have got to say that there is no better birthday present than stumbling across a blackjack betting system written about by someone who knows nothing of the game. Yet this betting system they are writing about is the big secret key to blackjack. Oh it makes me laugh.

So this is my blackjack birthday present to me: presenting and poking holes in the latest blackjack betting system.

This blackjack betting system is called the Labouchere. And its writer claims that it is the most precise way to “consistently winning big money.” This Labouchere betting system is a negative progression system. This however is incorrect as the progression is based on winning, meaning you only progress to the next step if you win the round.

Winning is positive. Losing is negative. So, yes, a negative progression system based on winning. Hmm, what does that tell you right there?

In the opening description about this betting system, the writer claims that you have to win all bets, meaning that you have to win every round. Yes, this is a realistic betting system because you win every single round of blackjack you ever play. If you did win every round, you would not need a betting strategy or system, and the casinos would not offer blackjack.

The Labouchere begins by the player righting down a series of number. These numbers can be any number and the series can be any numbers in length as the amount of numbers needed is not stated. For explanation purposes here is a string of random numbers 4, 6, 3, 7, 2, 1, 9.

We then add the first and last number together for our first wager. Based on the above string we are betting 15chips. What value of chips is up to you, but it must be 15 chips. If you win, you cross the first and last numbers out and then add up the next two. So our next water is 6+1=7 chips.

This continues as long as you win. But if you lose you have to start all over with the beginning first and last numbers. But as long as you win, because remember that you win every round of blackjack, you are done playing when you have combined that last two numbers.

So if we were playing blackjack with this betting system and were winning every round, we would bet like this:

4+9=15
6+1=7
3+2=5
7+ uh oh, I do not have a second number. Hmm, guess the writer of this betting system should have mentioned that your random length of random numbers needs to be even in total.

The problems with this betting system are very obvious. The numbers used to determine wagers are random, and random does not work in strategies. The number of numbers needed is random as well. This betting system is based on the idea that the player wins every round of blackjack, which does not happen.

Clearly, the creator of this betting system does not understand the first thing about blackjack. And you can see why betting systems should be avoided when playing blackjack.

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.