Blackjack Strategy: Basic Strategy and Losses

Casinos and online casinos love to perpetuate the idea that blackjack is the one casino game in which the house can be beat. They will even admit that you need a blackjack strategy to beat the house. And they are more than willing to perpetuate the myth that blackjack strategy is the key to beating the house.

And they would be lying to you.

It is true that basic strategy is a major tool against the house in blackjack, but it will not beat the house on its own. Playing according to basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. But players must play it perfectly, otherwise that 0.5% is not achievable.

Even if you are playing perfect basic strategy there will be times that you lose a round. This is because you only have a 48% chance of winning (ignoring pushes) in blackjack, even if you are using basic strategy. Think about it—if you have lower the house edge to 0.5%, the house still has the edge.

But casinos and online casinos will happily allow and encourage players that they cannot lose with basic strategy. Some brick and mortar casinos will even give players a basic strategy chart for free.

What they are hoping to see are players who believe that they will win every hand with basic strategy who then lose a few rounds and toss the chart away. Once they taught the chart away they are playing without strategy, and that means more money for the casino.

It is possible to lose rounds of blackjack. It is possible to lose them in a row. In fact there is a 14% that you will lose three hands in a row. It is just how it is. And casinos are hoping to bank on that percentage and what players toss their basic strategy charts away.

The best thing that you can do for your blackjack strategy is to understand that you will not win every single hand. Even card counters who are skilled enough to gain an edge over the house will still lose some hands. Stick with basic strategy and hang on through the hands you lose.

Best Blackjack Strategy

Every single player out there wants to know what the best blackjack strategy is. This comes from blackjack’s reputation that it is the one casino game in which players can beat the house.

The truth is that only the players who are willing to put a lot of time, patience, research and practice into the blackjack playing and blackjack strategy will come to the point that they can beat the house. They also must be highly skilled card counters. And, in all truth, not many blackjack players are willing to put the time and effort in to building up their card counting skill.

So what can the rest of the blackjack players out there do? The ones who want to play for fun and who want to make some money on it—like a serious hobby in other words. What can they do?

The best that a blackjack player who is not aiming to be professional can do in terms of blackjack strategy is to play according to basic strategy.

Basic strategy is a chart with every single player hand running down the left side. This includes pairs and soft hands, not just hard hands. The inclusion of pairs and soft hands is one of the strong points of basic strategy because pairs and soft hands are often tricking for players to figure out how to play.

Running across the top of the chart are all of the dealer up cards. Where any line from a dealer up card intersects with a player hand is the best statistical play for that combination of player hand and dealer up card.

What players need to understand is that they will not win every single blackjack hand with basic strategy. They will win more hands because they are making the best statistical plays. And while basic strategy does not beat the house, it will lower the house edge to 0.5%, making blackjack the casino game with the smallest edge.

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.

Blackjack and Online Gambling Could be Effected by Florida Elections

Yesterday Florida hosted their primary elections for the upcoming November general election. Up for grabs in the general election will be a seat in the Senate and the governor’s chair. And the winners of both could have a big impact on the future of blackjack in the state of Florida and on online gambling for the nation.

Naturally the Republican and Democrat split can be also put like this: anti-gambling and pro-gambling.

The Republican candidate for governor is Rick Scott, who is not in favor of expanding the casino offerings in Florida. This could mean that when the five year blackjack exclusivity in the Seminole compact expires, Scott might not allow for further negotiations, possibly pulling blackjack out from under the Seminoles. He could also pull back the extended hours and higher limit on poker that pari-mutuels now have.

On the other side is Alex Sink, the Democrat candidate. Overall, the Democrats have a more liberal view of gambling within Florida, seeing it as a source of income and an addition to the tourist industry, which has been down—it seems that Disney is monetarily out of reach for some families and that Harry Potter is not drawing as much tourism as expected.

And there is a third governor candidate—Charlie Crist is running in the Independent party. And after his battle with state lawmakers over the Seminole compact we all know what his stance on blackjack and casinos in that state is. Maybe next time he will be able to definitely send the money to Education.

Let’s not forget the Senate race. This comes down to Marco Rubio, Republican, and Kendrick Meek, Democrat. And this race could have an impact on the future of legalizing online gambling and regulating it.

Rubio is strongly against online gambling. However, Meek, being a Democrat could vote in favor of Rep. Barney Frank’s bill to repeal UIGEA and set up a structure of regulating online gambling in the U.S. If Frank has to table his bill until next year, the Florida Senate seat will have an impact on what is looking like a close race to approve Frank’s bill.

Those in favor of online gambling and Floridian blackjack players will be keeping an eye on the upcoming November Florida general election.

Blackjack Fun Fact Friday—Part II

Fridays are fun days. So I am going to continue with this being Fun Fact Friday. Again, I will take no arguments.

Do you remember a few posts ago when I wrote about the history of blackjack? Well, if not a quick recap: blackjack is, as of right now, credited as coming from France, showing up in casinos there in the 1700s. End of recap.

However the Italians had a game similar to Vingt et Un, the French name for 21, which was the original name for blackjack. The Italian version of the game is called Seven and a Half. French and Italian blackjack aficionados still argue over which country should be credited as being the first to have blackjack.

And to further throw a wrench into that debate is Napoleon. In documentation of Napoleon’s life it was discovered that Napoleon was a big fan of blackjack. So it could be argued that, being that Napoleon was French, that he picked up blackjack from growing up in France.

However, Napoleon spent time a good chunk of his time in exile playing blackjack. He was exiled on the island known as Elba. The Italian island I might add. So it could be argues that he picked it up in Italy.

So we are left with a point in each country’s corner as to who can lay claim as to where blackjack came from.

Now, much to the annoyance of the French and the Italians, the Spanish can lay a claim to being the source of blackjack. After all they do have their own version of the game: Spanish 21. But thankfully the Spanish seem to be more laid back about the debate and are happy to just enjoy the game.

Regardless of where blackjack originally came from, it made its way to the United States in the 1800s. And after a ban in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been enjoying its popularity since 1939 when Nevada made blackjack legal.

Blackjack Fun Fact Friday

I have declared that today shall be Fun Fact Friday. There will be no arguing with me on this either.

But I promise to stick to blackjack facts.

To kick off this Fun Fact Friday I am going to start off with when blackjack first came to the United States.

Yes, we all know that it is one of the most popular casino games. Multiple tables can be found in brick and mortar casinos across the country, and more casinos are moving to legalize blackjack in their states so that they too can jump on the blackjack band wagon.

But it was not always this way for blackjack.

When this favored casino game first game ashore in the United States in the 1800s it was not popular. After all it was an unheard of card game, and with all the gentlemen in the clubs in the city and the cowboys out west hooked on poker, there was not a lot of space for a new card game.

In an effort to make blackjack more appealing, casino owners began adding rules and side bets. Some of the surviving side bets have no become the blackjack variations we have today. And while many professional blackjack players today do not advocate side bets, in the 1800s that was how the casinos lured in players.

In fact, that is how blackjack got its name. The game originated in France and was called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21. When the game came ashore in the 1800s it was simply called 21.

But through the various side bets and special payouts offered 21 was renamed blackjack. This is because one of the special payouts was a 10-1 payout given if the two card 21 was made up of the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs. Hence blackjack.

The 10-1 payout has long since been retired, but the name blackjack has stuck. Even when the special payouts and side bets became blackjack variations and the game was returned to what we know it is now, the name was stuck and blackjack’s rise to popularity was set.

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.

One More Time with Feeling: Online Blackjack and Card Counting

We have been down this road before. However, blackjack is one of the most popular casino games out there; and when it comes to card games, its popularity is second only to poker. But let’s face it—blackjack is easier to a play than poker. And the same applies to online blackjack.

And being one of the most popular online casino games for obvious reasons, it is no surprise that new players find their way to online blackjack.

What they might not know is that, while being highly similar, there are some difference between online blackjack and blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. The general house rules are the same, and most part of blackjack strategy will cross over. But there is a big one that does not cross over. And players who are new to online blackjack should be aware of it.

Card counting does not work in online blackjack.

Yes, there is a reason. There are no discarded cards in online blackjack. This is because of the Random Number Generator that runs the game.

When a game of online blackjack is first created by the developers, every possible two player cards and dealer up card combination is programmed into the game’s RNG. This means that it is pulling from all of the cards so to speak. As soon as a player clicks Deal, the RNG will select a two card and dealer up card combination.

Because the RNG pulls from all possibilities it means that no cards are ever discarded. This can be compare to playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino at a table with a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM). And blackjack players know that card counting is impossible with a CSM.

So when players come to play blackjack online they should know not to try to count cards.

Blackjack Origins

Every now and then it is good to take a step back and appreciate where something came from. Like a birthday—you celebrate where you came from once a year.

This is not a birthday post for blackjack, but more of an appreciation. Kind of like when you go to a museum or paid attention in history class to a lesson that you liked. Not everyone knows where blackjack game from, what its history is. Studying a casino game is one thing, but true appreciation comes from knowing the game. And that includes its history. So today we are going to take a look at the history of blackjack.

I know that Captain Jack Sparrow liked to blame things on the French. But in this case blaming the French for blackjack is a nice thing indeed.

While blackjack has a bit of a murky past—seems no one really kept track of things like we do today—but the most agree that blackjack originated in France from a couple of other card games: Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.

Wherever and however it actually came about, we do know that I was showing up in French casinos in the 1700s. At least that is when it was first documented as being somewhere. In the French casinos it was then called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21.

At some point 21 crossed the Atlantic and made it to the United States in the 1800s as that is when it was first document as being played here. In the western U.S. gambling—and blackjack—was legal between the 1850s and 1910.

In 1910 casino games and gambling were declared felonies. But in 1931 Nevada had a change of heart and made gambling and casino games legal again. And that is when blackjack began to reign as one of the most popular casino games.

The 1980s brought blackjack to Atlantic City. And it has continued to spread from there. Twenty states now have legalized gambling with more doing so as they are drawn to the money that could be made from taxes to fill in their budget holes. In addition there are seventy Native American casinos spread out around the United States as well.

Blackjack has come a long way since it first showed up in French casinos in the 1700s.

Blackjack Games: Blackjack Switch

Oh goody! It is time for more talk about blackjack games and blackjack variations. This morning I have chosen Blackjack Switch as my variation to compare to good ol’ blackjack.

This blackjack variation can be found scattered throughout brick and mortar casinos, and it is beginning to show its face in some online casinos.

Switch works a little bit differently from other blackjack games. For one thing you are not playing one hand per round, you are playing two. There is no way out of this. If you want to play Switch then you have to play with two hands per round.

The reason players have two hands to play is because they can switch the top two cards.

In fact that is the first playing decision a player makes—to switch or not to switch. When it is time to play out his hand he can switch the top two cards of his hands. This has the benefit of giving players the opportunity to improve their hands.

Let’s say that you are playing Switch and you are dealt a 4/10 on one hand and a 10/6 on the second. When your turn to play comes you can switch the 10 from the first hand with the 6 from the second because they are the top two cards. Once the switch is made you then have a 4/6 and a 10/10, both of which are good hands as you can double down on the 4/6, and the 10/10 is a strong hand to stand on.

While that example is the ideal for what you want to happen in a round of Switch, it does not always happen that way. Sometimes switching the top two cards only improves one hand. Or maybe you only switch them for a shot at minimizing your losses.

But while switching your top two cards seems like an advantage—and it is—there are, like in any blackjack variation, some major down sides.

The most obvious is that if you are playing with two hands per round, you are wagering twice as much per round. On top of the extra wagering, blackjacks on pay even money in this game, which is a 2.27% hit to your blackjack odds.

And for extra fun the dealer does not bust at 22 like he would in any other blackjack game. Instead it becomes a push. So you are not losing money, but you certainly are not winning anything extra.

So once again we have another blackjack game—yet another variation—that on the surface seems like it could be advantageous but really is not. Like with Face Up 21, Switch should be played for very low stakes or just for fun if you are playing online.