Blackjack Players Up in Arms Over Arrest of Chinese Artist and Activist

On April 3rd Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei was arrested in China, and his current whereabouts are unknown. While there are the usual activists who are upset about WeiWei’s arrest, there is a surprising group of people who are very upset at the arrest and disappearance of WeiWei: US blackjack players.

This is because WeiWei was not only an artist and activist; he was also a first rate blackjack player. This is a guy who had full ‘comps’ at just about all of the Atlantic City casinos where he played a few days each week. He was so well regarded by the Atlantic City casinos that a limo was sent to his Lower East Side unfurnished apartment where he lived in the 1980s to pick him up and bring him to Atlantic City a few days a week.

Another show of how well regarded WeiWei was is the news several casino insiders who are considering putting together several blackjack and poker tournaments to raise money to lobby US lawmakers. What are they going to lobby for? That the government impose trade restrictions against China until WeiWei is released from Chinese prison, where he is assumed to be held. That is how well regarded WeiWei is among blackjack players—they are willing to put up trade restrictions against the largest country in the world for this man. Very touching. I mean that.

What made WeiWei so popular and well regarded among blackjack players? He was not a high rolling playing who kept to himself. Instead he was very open, talking with his fellow players and giving them tips and pointers on blackjack strategy.

One such blackjack player is Vinnie “Snake Eyes.” He recalls the time he met WeiWei: “I came here to Atlantic City now to unwind a bit at the blackjack table. It was here I met him some twenty five years ago. I was playing and losing bad, and then this Asian guy with a beard right out of the Kung Fu movies, playing next to me, starts telling me when to hit, split or stay. I don’t listen to nobody but every time I didn’t listen to him, I’d lose the hand. So I start listening. I was up a few grand that night. I always listened when he explained smart strategies. He is the best.”

It is actions and time such as that spent with blackjack players that made WeiWei such a popular man in the blackjack community. It is easy to see why blackjack players are so upset about his arrest and disappearance. Here’s to WeiWei and the blackjack community; I hope they get him released.

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.

For a Good Blackjack Experience Do Not…

While anyone could learn the game of blackjack, it doesn’t mean that they’re good to go at the tables. The rules are easy enough to learn—add up your card total, hit to raise your total, stand to keep what you’ve been dealt. But there are some other aspects of blackjack that novice players—and even some who have been playing for years—need to be aware of and follow.

I’m talking about blackjack etiquette.

While these aren’t actual rules of the game, they are certain behaviors that are applied when sitting down at the blackjack table. Think of them as unofficial rules.

For starters, if you are playing in a face up game, meaning the cards are dealt face up on the table, do not touch them. A face up game generally happens for games with four or more decks. There are two reasons for this. First, the dealer can better manage the cards by calling out hand totals and moving the game along. The other reason is security. By not allowing players to touch the cards it prevents cards from being marked or tampered with, and from card switching.

On the other hand, if you’re playing blackjack at a table with only one or two decks players are allowed to touch the cards. But you may only touch them with one hand. Two hands aren’t allowed for the same reasons that players can’t touch their cards in a face up game—to prevent marking and switching.

To also go along with using only one hand to handle your cards in a face down game, always keep your cards on the table. Never remove them from the table or hold them in your lap. This is also to prevent cheating and for security—your cards must stay in view of the dealer and the security cameras.

Regardless of which type of blackjack game you’re playing you must always use hand signals to let the dealer know what play you want to make. In a face up game to hit you tap the table, and to stand you wave your hands over your cards in a ‘no, thank you’ gesture. In a face down game to hit you scrape your cards on the table towards yourself, and to stand you slide them face down under your chips. Do not say ‘hit’ or ‘stand.’ The security cameras can’t record what was said, so hand signals are a must in case there is a dispute.

Following blackjack etiquette will help to have a more enjoyable game. You won’t irritate the other players by not following etiquette. And you will not have to suffer through the dealer explaining how to play as if you were completely new to the game.

No Mid-Shoe Entry Signs

When cruising the casino floor in search of a blackjack table to play at, you are eventually going to see a sign on a table that says ‘No Mid-Shoe Entry.’ This means that you can’t join that table until the current players have played through the shoe. The entire shoe.

This is one of those player contrived ideas that they feel will help their blackjack game. Blackjack players who request such a sign at their table believe that there is an order to the cards. They also believe that when a new blackjack player joins the game, they are disrupting the flow of the cards. And disrupting the flow of the cards will ruin the blackjack odds of the players already sitting at that table.

This is by the way completely not true.

There is no order to the cards in a blackjack game. And since there is no order to the card there can be no disruption.

The truth is that the flow of the cards doesn’t have an impact on a blackjack player’s odds. This is why you won’t see any blackjack strategy tips or hints that refer to the order of the cards. The couple that you might find with some digging can actually sound a bit paranoid.

The downside to the misconceived logic is that if one of these order believing blackjack players puts up one of those no mid-shoe entry signs and winds up with what they see as a bad run of cards, they are now stuck with playing out that shoe. Adding another player might just change the flow of the cards. But we’ll never know since they are that hard-core in believing in the order of the cards.

So you can see how this is an ill-conceived blackjack philosophy. Forget no mid-show entry signs and play blackjack to the best of your strategy abilities. It’s the best you can do for yourself. And if you don’t like how the cards are going find another table or wait it out.

What to do with a Hot Dealer

In blackjack you will hear players refer to a dealer as being ‘hot.’ But what does that mean? No, it has nothing to do with how they look I promise.

A dealer is said to be hot in one of two instances. His last several winning hands have been made up of four or five cards. Or the blackjack player keeps losing to him.

There are some blackjack players that will act out in a passive aggressive manner and switch tables. This apparently means that a hot dealer no longer stands in their way. Because they truly believe that that’s how you deal with a hot dealer. Get up and leave. A tad on the petulant side really.

But in reality you shouldn’t leave that blackjack table.

Let’s break this down a bit. When a dealer is said to be hot it means that he’s getting all those low cards that favor him. Hence the strong hands made up of four and five cards, and more blackjack players losing. But can you tell me what the key to this is?

The key is the low cards. A dealer is hot when there is a run of low cards. But a run won’t continue indefinitely. Eventually the cards will turn. And what happens after a run of low cards?

That’s right, a run of high cards, the ones that favor the blackjack players. And that is why you don’t want to leave that blackjack table because you want to be there when those high cards start flowing.

So when you encounter a hot dealer, reduce your wager and wait the cards out. Eventually the run will end and the high cards will come. And this is why you need to apply some logic and break down self-proclaimed blackjack philosophies made by players.

Picking a Good Blackjack Table

Do you know how to pick a good blackjack table?

Imagine walking into your favorite casino and onto the floor. You head to the blackjack tables. Games are going at all the tables and all the tables have at least one empty seat. You begin cruising the floor trying to determine which table to take a seat at.

You see one table with only a couple of people playing. There’s another one where everyone playing is laughing and carrying on. At that table over there the players all seem to have lots of chips in front of them. So which one do you pick?

The truth is that you use none of those indicators to choose a blackjack table.

The number of people at a table means nothing. It could be that there were more players who left shortly before you came. Or that the casino staff opened another blackjack table because it seems to be a little busier tonight.

As for the guys having a good time, they could all be friends who are out celebrating something unrelated to blackjack or gambling. Maybe it’s a bachelor’s party and they’re all excited and heckling the soon-to-be-married guy.

Those people with lots of chips in front of them? They could have started with large bankrolls or be playing low stakes and are slowly using their chips. Do you see how those things you first noticed aren’t really relevant to choosing a table?

Look at the cards. Watch a blackjack table for a few rounds and see how the cards are flowing. If you see a few rounds with a good number of low cards (2-6) take a seat at that table.

Yes, I know, low cards tend to favor the dealer, but after a flux of low cards there will logically be a run of high cards. And high cards are good for players and good for blackjacks.

Yes, this way of picking a blackjack table requires a little more time and patience, but if it puts you in the position to play through a run of high cards your time and patience will pay off.

The Good in Online Blackjack

While nothing can quite compare to the actual casino experience, online blackjack definitely offers players more convenience.

For one thing you don’t have to leave your house. You can sit at home in your PJs and your hair a mess and turn a few hands of blackjack. You can play whenever you want without having to make travel plans and worry about accommodations or when you have to leave to return home. All you do is sit down and sign on to your favorite online casino.

Casino environment aside you aren’t missing anything. I repeat, you are not missing anything. Blackjack is a game in which it is you versus the dealer. It’s not like poker. A downside to online poker is that you can’t see who you’re playing against—you can’t see if they’re bluffing. Thankfully blackjack is not the type of game in which you have to worry about the other players. So you can easily play blackjack online without fear that you’re at a disadvantage.

Another advantage is that you can play for free. Yes, for free. And while playing for free won’t make you any money, it does allow you to practice without the fear of losing any money.

See, if you were to practice in a casino you would probably be playing in a low-stakes game. But you can still lose money there. And the point of practice is to get better at your blackjack skills, not lose money. Online casinos have play-for-free versions of their software that you can use to improve your blackjack skills.

It’s also easier to use basic strategy. There is no pressure to ‘hurry up’ with whatever play you’re going to make. You can look over the chart without everyone staring at you, waiting and making jabs at you to move it. Blackjack online allows you to play at your own pace.

Blackjack being available online is a boon to players because of the easy access and improved playing conditions—not to mention being able to play for free when you need to.

Who is Hollywood Dave?

Ladies who play blackjack, you should all know who Hollywood Dave is. Doesn’t matter if you play blackjack online or not. You should know who this guy is.

This guy is not only “The Undisputed Bad Boy of Blackjack,” he would also qualify for entry in a Hot Dudes of Blackjack blog post series.

When he was younger he realized that he wasn’t the jock-type and turned his interests to artistic pursuits. This included acting. After attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre, Dave moved to Los Angeles. Once there he worked those boring mundane jobs that all actors seem to get stuck with so that they can make a living and still be in the area to try to make it on the screen.

But Dave got smart. And he got into blackjack. Pursuing an income from playing blackjack, Dave got the income he wanted and the flexible schedule he needed for acting. And thus Hollywood Dave entered the blackjack scene.

But something happened. He wasn’t just good at blackjack—this guy had talent! Especially when it came to card counting. And while local casinos didn’t like him, the blackjack world would come to love him.

Hollywood Dave eventually wound up on the 2004 World Series of Blackjack where his fan base began to grow. And no wonder he has a fan base—this is a hot blackjack player who can play the cards!

But it didn’t end with the World Series of Blackjack. Oh, no. Hollywood Dave on Celebrity Blackjack as well.

But what makes him worthy of a potential Hot Dudes of Blackjack blog post series? Cute face, blue eyes, black or blond messy spiked hair. And he does have that bad boy style going on with his clothes—wrist bands, cuffs, loose jeans, dark attire. His fun and funky style makes him a favorite among the ladies of blackjack and his fans. And we could never forget about his talent with card counting and blackjack!

Economy Hits Blackjack

No surprise, the economy has hit blackjack.

It seems that seems that blackjack revenue has fallen 20% since last year. And it had already fallen 12% in 2008.

Normally blackjack brings in around $1 billion in Nevada. But last year it fell to the income level it had in the late 1990’s: around $996 million.

So why is that?

This should be a very popular casino game. After all it is one of two games of skill offered in casinos, meaning that, through strategy use, players can impact their odds. A blackjack player that uses basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%

So if players can impact this casino game so much, why is blackjack revenue on a downward swing?

It’s simple. The casinos got greedy. Knowing that blackjack is one of their most popular games and that players can impact the odds (read: win more from the casino) they started changing the rules.

They began implementing 6:5 payout games. They tried to lure in blackjack players by making these single deck games. But the smaller payout increases the house edge. Blackjack players are not stupid. Once they figured out what the casinos were up to, they quit playing those games.

Another attempt on the casinos’ parts to squeeze more money out of players was to offer more blackjack variations with side bets. And side bets we all know cause the casino to take your money faster. Again, blackjack players have figured this one out, and have begun avoiding those tables.

There is also the increase in playing blackjack online. Those who play online don’t have to worry about travel and accommodation expenses. They can sit in the PJs at home and play.

Payouts in online blackjack tend to be higher since online casinos don’t have the overhead to worry about paying. Online casinos don’t require as great of a profit to keep themselves running. With smaller expenses they can payout more and more often. Blackjack players have figured this out too. And many are now playing blackjack online it has hit land-based casinos even harder.

But blackjack players aren’t stupid. We want to win. And when we know that The Man is trying to pull more of our money out of our pockets (money that’s already more dear to us), we will take our money and patronage elsewhere.

Again with those Blackjack Players

There are some people who should not be handing out advice to novice blackjack players.

It’s always good to see what other blackjack players are saying, see if what’s being said is in fact true or not. And while a good portion of what you read is just fine and accurate, there is a portion that just isn’t right.

I read this line the morning, “Since your success at the table is determined not only by your own skill but by the other players’ abilities to hit or stay when necessary in order to maximize everyone’s chances of winning.”

As I have said in the past, this is entirely not true.

Another player is not going to make or break your play. You are in control of your game. No one else at the table is. You have no idea if the card the player next you get is better for your hand than the one you actually get.

You can relate this to that idea that the blackjack player at the third base position can make or break the dealer. There is no way of knowing which card is better. And this also applies to player to player.

Remember that the basic principle of blackjack is that it is you versus the dealer. You could be playing blackjack online by yourself and the computer’s dealer or you could be playing with six other people.

It does not matter because blackjack is about what plays you choose to make with the cards that you have against what the dealer has. The other players do not have an impact on your game.

This is also why if you are playing according to basic strategy and the person sitting next to you is playing randomly, you have the better odds since you have stuck with basic strategy and he hasn’t.

You will have lowered the house edge to around 0.05% while he has most likely increased the house edge against him. As you can see your good playing has had no affect on your neighbor, and his bad playing hasn’t affected yours.

Just remember that you are in control of your blackjack destiny, not the person sitting next to you.