Who Wins More Hands in Online Blackjack

There is some speculation on who wins what percentage of hands in online blackjack. Some think that there is a difference in online blackjack to the point that it impacts the percentage of who wins hands in the game.

While there are some differences in online blackjack and blackjack played in a brick and mortar casino—such as card counting, which cannot be used in online blackjack—there are some things that do not change. The house edge is one such thing that does not change.

While players can still use basic strategy in online blackjack, there are not enough differences to impact winning. The house is still going to win roughly 48% of the hands that are dealt while the player is still only going to win 44% of the time.

The reason for this is still found in the basic structure of blackjack. For one thing the player still plays first. For another the dealer does not put up any wager to play a round.

On the other hand the dealer is not allowed to double down or split pairs. Those plays do give players an advantage but they need to take advantage of them when the opportunities come along. To help guide players there is basic strategy.

Basic strategy tells players when the most opportune moments are to double down and split pairs. This allows players to make the most of these hands which contributes to increasing their odds on winning those 44% of hands. If you are only going to win 44% of the time you want to make the most money off of them and that is where knowing when to double down and split pairs since players can win more money off of those hands than on a standard hand.

Florida Blackjack Player Fights $1.2 Million Gambling Debt

I am sure that when Jerome Powers took out his line of credit he thought that he would be doing some winning at the blackjack tables at the Mohegan Sun. And I am sure that the Mohegan Sun thought that Powers would not be a problem.

But two years later the Mohegan Sun is still trying to collect on the millionaire’s credit line with them. Did I mention that Powers is a millionaire? No? Well, he is. To give you an idea, he sold his Ocean Drive magazine for $33 million. And that was only one business deal. So with that kind of money floating around, why is he fighting a $1.2 million gambling debt?

Sure, it probably is not peanuts to his bank account, but he also made five year deal with Donald Trump for $20 million. So while it is not the same as a middle class person forking over $10, there really is no reason why Powers should be fighting the Mohegan Sun and their tribal lawyers for paying the debt.

Unless the money is not there.

The whole problem stemmed from the day in May 2009 when the Mohegan Sun extended Powers the $1.2 million credit line. When he went to write what would be six checks to cover the $1.2 million, his bank returned the checks saying his account was closed. Powers at that point walked out of the Mohegan Sun.

Enter the lawyers.

Powers and his lawyer say that the credit line was illegal since it was issued on tribal land where the state has no jurisdiction. The judge ruled in favor of the Mohegan, saying it was used for legal gambling therefore it was considered legal by the state of Connecticut.

Now Powers and his attorney have filled for an appeal as of last week. The Mohegan are being mum on the entire ordeal, not commenting or saying anything—just keeping their heads down. But that approach is probably best considering they want their money which means the appeals court has to rule in their favor. Mum is best in this case.

But I still do not get why Powers would be so willing to gamble away $1.2 million on blackjack if he never considered losing it all. And there is the lesson: never play blackjack unless you can afford to lose the money.

Seminole Blackjack Under Threat

Here we go again down in Florida. The Seminoles have had their exclusivity to blackjack for less than a year, and already it is being threatened. Although this time the threat is not coming from the pari-mutuels backed with Florida lawmakers.

Not this time. In fact, the pari-mutuels are on the same side as the Seminoles this time.

The threat to the Seminole’s blackjack is coming from a proposed bill that would bring, not three like it was originally thought to be, but five destination resort casinos to Florida. And in order for them to be fully fledged casinos they would need the table game spectrum including blackjack and Vegas style slot machines. And the Seminoles have a five year exclusivity on blackjack and a twenty year exclusivity on the slot machines.

Destination resort casinos would most certainly undermine the Seminole compact; and if that were to happen, the tribe would not have to continue to pay the increments that would give Florida $1 billion over five years.

“If the legislature wants to allow in new entities, it will have to decide if it is a good tradeoff. Are they going to make enough to make up for the assured payments from the tribe,” said Seminole tribal spokesman Gary Bitner.

The bill, proposed by Senator Dennis Jones and Senator Maria Sachs, would have casino groups applying for gaming license and applying for state approval to be one of the five chosen. Like the money from the Seminoles, the refundable licensing fee and nonrefundable application fee would go mostly into the state’s general fund.

I do think that most of the state will not be in favor of bringing in five casinos. There is Florida’s reputation as a family vacation spot to be considered. Former state representative Dick Batchelor said, “You give up so much of the reputation you have built up, which I do not think can be replaced with the money make.”

Between the guaranteed money from the Seminoles as they pay for their blackjack and with Florida’s reputation to be considered, I do not think the bill will do through. However I have no doubt that Jones and Sachs will fight for its approval.

What Makes Blackjack Simple

I know that poker is one the most popular casino games. It does not matter if we are talking about poker online or poker in a brick and mortar casino, it is still the most renowned of all casino games.

But that does not make it the simplest to play. In fact ‘simple’ was one of the reasons I chose blackjack as my casino game of choice. Blackjack has the simplest rules of play in any card game. Except maybe War, but really? War? Not much a game if you ask me.

Now poker, that is a hard card game. All of this remembering what amount of cards and which types of cards make up the various hands. Pairs—I can understand those. But blackjack has pairs and they are easier to play with.

In blackjack figuring out which hand is strongest is easy: which hand has the highest total that is not more than 21. Easy. My 19 beats your 16, that sort of thing.

And by ‘your’ I mean the dealer, as that is another simple aspect of blackjack: no having to worry about what any of the other players are doing. There is no trying to figure out if the guy sitting next to you has a stronger hand than you. It does not matter. Whatever hand total he is holding has no bearing on your hand.

Blackjack is only about what you are holding and what the dealer is holding—whose hand total is greater. It is like those simple grade school greater-than-or-equal-to math problems. You do not even have to add up your hand total if you do not want to—the dealer will do it for you.

It does not matter if we are talking about online blackjack or brick and mortar casino blackjack, between the game being determined by whose hand is greater and not having to worry about what the other players at the table are doing with their hands, blackjack clearly becomes the simplest card game in the casino. So much more simple than poker.

Automated Blackjack Tables

I have been doing some more thinking about those automated blackjack tables that PokerTek has created. My mind keeps coming back to the idea that PokerTek believes that these automated blackjack tables will increase the social interaction between players at the table.

The whole reason for their belief in increased social interaction is because of the main screen. This central, main screen will have players all looking at the same place on the table. Players then use the controls in front of them to choose how to play out their hands, kind of like how you click on the appropriate button in a game of online blackjack.

But here is the thing that keeps tripping my mind. Blackjack is a one-on-one game, just you and the dealer. The other players’ plays do not impact your own game against the dealer. It is not like poker in where what the other players do matters. And it is not a social game for the most part. Sure, some people will talk at the table but it is not like craps where everyone is all excited and jumping around and all talking at once. At least that is how craps seems to me.

While I am sure that PokerTek has good intentions—meaning, they are trying to create a unique product and drive their business—I do not think that they can really change the essence of blackjack. And while I have no doubt that players will still play at automated blackjack tables, I doubt those players are going to have more “social interaction” than players at regular blackjack tables. It is just in the nature of blackjack—it is a one-on-one kind of game—and no automated blackjack tables are going to change that.

Understanding the Objective of Blackjack and How to Play

It is okay to admit that you once upon a time did not truly understand the objective of blackjack. Not understanding the objective actually has an impact on how to play blackjack.

I will admit it. There once was a time that I did not know how to play blackjack correctly because I did not know the true objective of blackjack. Granted, this was a long time ago, but there was such a time. I was eleven years old waiting for classes to start in the morning; my friends and I would play blackjack thinking all we had to do was get 21.

Most often brand new players or non-regular players will hear that blackjack is all about getting a hand of 21.

This, however, is not the true objective of blackjack. The true objective is to beat the dealer without getting a card total of more than 21. And it is important to know the difference as these two objectives require two different playing and strategy mindsets.

If you were to play blackjack according to the idea that all you have to do is get a hand total of 21, it would not matter what the dealer had since all you have to worry about is getting 21. This difference in objectives becomes most evident in the hard hands.

About half of the hard hands in the game you stand on in hopes that the dealer will bust. But if you are not worried about the dealer, then a good many of those hard hands you would not stand on since the potential to get 21 is all the exists in this particular idea of the game.

But when taking the dealer into account it becomes evident how the game changes. Beating the dealer does not mean getting 21. It means getting a strong hand or playing defensively on a rough hand and hoping the dealer busts.

There are more hitting options in a game based only on getting 21. But there is more strategy involved in when you are playing a game in which you are trying to beat the dealer—in a game of blackjack. Knowing the true objective does have an impact on how to play blackjack. It is important to know the objective if you want to learn how to play blackjack right.

Incorrect Blackjack Dealer Payouts

Blackjack dealers are human just like the rest of us. While they have been trained and have practice in dealing the cards and making payouts, every now and then a mistake happens and the payout is incorrect.

By incorrect I mean that perhaps a player is paid for a push. Or the player might have lost and be paid anyway. Or the incorrect amount for a blackjack or win might be paid.

When such a thing happens novice players wonder what they should do about it and whether or not it is legal in the game.

First off, if you receive a payout that is more money than you are supposed to receive or receive one when you are not supposed to be paid it is not illegal in the casino. It is not considered cheating in blackjack. This is a mistake on the dealer’s part.

In such an instance you have a couple of choices open to you. Which one you choose depends on your own morals and ethics. Remember, you have done nothing wrong. You can keep the money. It was given to you and you are not obligated to return it. Or you can snag the dealer’s attention, make him aware of the mistake and give the payout back.

Now if you did win the round and were not given your payout, stop the dealer before he takes your cards away. If he removes them before you can draw attention to the fact that he did not pay you, stop him immediately before he deals the next round. Explain what happened in a calm voice.

When dealers pick up the cards to discard at the end of a round, they are collected very carefully and in a way that will allow them to be re-laid on the table to show a previous round. Dealers are taught this manner of collection for the purpose of setting debates. Ask the dealer in a calm voice to lay the cards back out to show him that you should have been paid.

Whenever you are trying to fix a dealer’s mistake, speak in a calm voice. No yelling. Everyone at the table will appreciate your calmness more than anger. Remember, it is just a mistake and can be corrected, but you get more accomplished by being nice.

As it stands mistakes can and will happen. You will probably encounter a payout mistake at some point when playing blackjack. Just remain calm and call the dealer’s attention to it. And if you received a payout by mistake remember that you have done nothing illegal, and that it is your choice to return the payout or not.

Blackjack Dealer Charged with Fraud

So it came up in the casino and blackjack news that a dealer in Minnesota was arrested and charged for committing fraud at the Mystic Lake casino he worked at.

Over the course of two weeks at the end of July and the beginning of August more than $18,500 was paid out to three people involved in the scam.

The dealer in question, Jacob Edwin Christensen, was paying those three players, his friend from high school, his landlord’s daughter and a woman he thought was ‘good looking,’ money on hands that they lost at the blackjack table, and did not collect their wagers when they lost.

His blackjack fraud was noticed on August 2nd. Casino staff noticed that Christensen was paying lost hands and not collecting wagers. That day alone $3,875 was made in the scam. When casino staff had reviewed the security tape and confirmed what they had suspected they called the police in.

Police and staff removed the errant blackjack dealer and his accomplice, which turned out to be the friend from high school, from the floor.

Police and casino staff reviewed security tapes from the previous two weeks featuring Christensen. Between the statement of the dealer’s friend and the tapes, it was learned that Christensen’s other two accomplices were his landlord’s daughter and the woman he thought was ‘good looking.’

Of all of the money taken from the casino in the scam, $9,500 was received by the land lord’s daughter over multiple days. The ‘good-looking’ woman received $5,075.

Now the former blackjack dealer’s high school friend had received $3,875 by the time he was caught along with the dealer. However, he paid back $1,825 in chips when he realized the scam was wrong. He also identified who the other two accomplices were.

Christensen was charged with theft by swindle and gambling fraud. Both are felonies

The lesson here, blackjack players, is that while accepting a pay out that the dealer mistakenly paid you is one thing. Accepting multiple mistaken payouts is another entirely, and that can get you in trouble with the law. If a blackjack dealer keeps giving you payouts you know you are not supposed to receive, give the wager back and point out the mistake to the dealer. If he continues to keep paying you wrong, notify the pit boss. See, there are game lessons even in blackjack news.

21 Blackjack Party

For those of you who have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and who love to play blackjack on the go, you will be quite pleased with what Spin3 is doing with their 21 Blackjack Party app.

Back in February of this year Spin3 was launched, and 21 Blackjack Party was their first game to be sold in the Apple App Store. Spin3 itself is actually a division of Spiral Solutions who is known for being a leader in eGaming services and managing those services.

The Spin3 21 Blackjack Party app has been a hit with those who like to play blackjack on the go, not to mention that this particular blackjack app is free.

But Spin3 was looking to take the abilities of the 21 Blackjack Party app further, make it even more well-known. And recently they found out just how to spread the word about their darling blackjack app: Facebook.

Yes, we are back to talking about Facebook again. But the social networking site is worming its way into everything in some form or another. I remember when people asked if businesses had a company website; now they ask if they have a Facebook page.

I digress.

So how is 21 Blackjack Party opening its little programmed heart to the social networking giant? It is quite simple really. Players who are playing can post their progress to their Facebook pages so that their friends can see just how awesome—or not awesome—they are doing with blackjack. At least that is the surface of this app’s integration with Facebook, but it is never as simple as what is on the surface anymore.

The Head of Spin3, Matti Zinder, said, “Our social lives and our digital lives are becoming more and more connected with more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices globally.”

But Zinder also says, “It is crucial that Spin3 is active at the heart of new consumer trends and technologies. The ability to link our casino-style games into players’ digital lives represents a new level of integration and a huge opportunity for the mobile casino industry.”

Now I do not know about you, but to me it seems that under the surface Spin3 is using Facebook and 21 Blackjack Party as a bridge to try to increase their own customer base. Let current players post their blackjack progress and hope their friends will want to play too.

But those of you who are already playing 21 Blackjack Party, Spin3’s decision to link its app to Facebook should be a nice addition, especially if you want your friends to know just how good of a blackjack player you are.

Beating the Edge Using Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack players, you are in luck. You are the players of the one casino game in which players have the best shot at meeting, it not over-coming, the house edge.

Congratulations to you and your blackjack strategy.

The reason for this is because this is the one casino game whose strategy can truly fight the house edge. In fact, there are two main pieces of strategy that players can use to bring that house edge down: basic strategy and card counting.

Basic strategy can be used in casino blackjack and online blackjack. This piece of strategy comes to players in the form of a chart with the all of the dealer’s up card possibilities across the top, and all possible player hands running down the left side. All a player needs to do is find his hand and then follow that line across the chart until it intersects with the line of the up card the dealer is showing. Where those lines intersect players will find the most advantageous play for that situation, including for stiff hands.

Basic strategy took four men a couple of years of calculating to figure out what the best statistical play to make for each hand against each dealer up card. While players will not win every single round, basic strategy gives them the best possible play.

For the player who plays every hand according to basic strategy, he can lower the house edge to 0.5%.

Unfortunately basic strategy is the best that online blackjack players can do in terms of strategy. But those who are playing in casinos there is another skill that can break even with the house edge and sometimes even get a 0.5% to 1.5% gain over the house edge. That skill is card counting.

Card counting is a system that players use to track the cards that have been played. The counting system tells them if a majority of low cards have already been played, meaning that the remaining unplayed cards are richer in high cards that favor the player. When a count reveals that the remaining cards are in the players’ favor, they will begin to raise their wagers to take advantage of the opportunity to win more.

Both basic strategy and card counting are skills, and both require practice. But with practice players can use those to make up their blackjack strategy and work towards beating the house edge.

Congratulations indeed.