Golden Nugget’s New Online Blackjack

Seems that everyone is hoping on the social media band wagon.

Yesterday I talked about how Golden Nugget launched their very own Facebook game called Golden Nugget Vegas Casino with the help of Last Legion.

In this Facebook game players manage their own casino. They can install blackjack tables, slot machines and more. The y work to expand their casino offerings and their casinos themselves by ‘harvesting’ the profits of their chosen casino games.

But this is not just a ‘farming’ Facebook game. Golden Nugget has not gone to the trouble of creating a Facebook game simply for the enjoyment of Facebook members. Golden Nugget is trying to expand their brand name and increase awareness of their casino—both the brick and mortar casino and the online casino.

“The goal is to reach new eyeballs and get the brand in front of more people,” said Amy Chasey who is the Vice President of Marketing at Golden Nugget.

But building and managing your own casino is not where the real brand awareness is being plastered. Players can visit the casinos of their friends and play their favorite casino games with play money. In a way this is another form of playing blackjack online.

After clicking on a game, say the blackjack table, that you want to play online in your friend’s casino, the screen changes to a format similar to that of a regular online blackjack game. With the words ‘Golden Nugget’ splashed across the table of course.

In short, it is just another way of playing online blackjack. For free.

You can then wager $5, $25 or $100 per hand. The blackjack online in this casino Facebook game has standard house rules. But I am willing to wager that despite the fact that you are playing with fake money, the payout percentage is not all that great. Even playing with basic strategy you will find that you lose more often than you win. There is almost a feeling that the hands you normally win in ordinary online blackjack, you lose in this game.

Thankfully you are only playing with play money in this game. Golden Nugget has not created a real money option for their new game…yet.

Lastly, the avatars are a bit scary as they have big heads and kind of resemble those Bratz Dolls. But you do not see them while you are playing blackjack as the table fills the window.

Blackjack Games: Face Up 21

While blackjack is one of the most popular casino games both in online casinos and in brick and mortar casinos, sometimes you want something a little bit different. A little spice. A little variety. You like the game of blackjack but sometimes it just needs…something to shake the game up a bit. This is where blackjack variations came from.

Blackjack variations are still blackjack games, but they are blackjack games with a bit of a twist. In some form or another.

For the most part basic playing is the same and the objective is still the same: to beat the dealer without getting a hand total that tops 21. The spice, the twist, the variation comes in the form of some rule changes and a side bet.

Typically I am not a fan of blackjack games that are variations. This is because these variations have worse odds owing to changes in payout and the addition of side bets. By the way, a side bet is a second wager made on some aspect of the game; you can win the round of blackjack but lose a side bet and vice versa. Side bets are independent of the actual playing of a round of blackjack.

One such blackjack game that is a variation is Face Up 21. This variation can be found in brick and mortar casinos, but also in some online casinos as it is a fairly popular blackjack variation.

As for the game itself, all cards are dealt face up—including the dealer’s hole card. This revealed hole card is part of what makes this game such a draw. Players think that they have an edge on the dealer because his hole card is no secret.

But in truth the changes in the house rules on this game actually hurt your odds. And while seeing the dealer’s up card seems advantageous, it does not have an impact on your odds. It is just an illusion.

Now the house rule changes. In Face Up 21 all payouts are even money payouts, and this includes natural blackjacks; and pushes got to the dealer too. Your double down chances are limited to 9, 10 and 11. The even money payouts on blackjack knock 2.27% off your blackjack odds; and the limited double down knocks another 0.18% off your blackjack odds.

I understand that everyone needs a little variety from time to time, but when it comes to blackjack variations play should be limited to playing for fun in practice modes in online casinos. If you are playing blackjack games like Face Up 21 in brick and mortar casinos keep your wagers small to minimalize losses.

Blackjack and Casinos Meet Online in Facebook

Ever heard of Casinoville? Sounds a lot like that Farmville that is so popular on Facebook. If you like your blackjack and ever wondered what it would be like to own your own casino then this Facebook game is right up your alley.

Okay, I was half joking. There is no Facebook online game called Casinoville…although with all of the Ville online games on Facebook I am surprise there is not a Casinoville yet.

However if you want to get your blackjack and casino owning fun on there is a Facebook online game for you.

Last Legion has created and released a Facebook game called Golden Nugget Vegas Casino. In this Facebook game players can build their very own casino to manage. Online. Yes, I know, you would be online building a brick and mortar casino to play in online. This is kind of like one of those mirror in a mirror things.

But not only do players of Golden Nugget get to build and manage their own casinos—like those Ville Facebook games—they can play in them too. You can play blackjack, video poker and roulette. To win chips to do more things to your casino.

It seems the chips are the key to the game. Players can play in their own casino for chips, or they can visit their friends’ casinos and play there for chips.

Part of managing your own casino in this game is to draw in non-player patrons and win their money off of them. Talk about the shoe being on the other foot. But if you get bored of playing the house you can always roam the floor of your own casino and play blackjack all you want.

And unlike all of those Ville games, Golden Nugget is played entirely with fake money—those chips I spoke of. The chips are in game money that do not cost a single penny of your real money. So Last Legion and Golden Nugget are not angling for your cash…for now.

CEO of Last Legion, Seth Gearson, says, “It’s pretty satisfying to actually generate in-game money in a way other than the classic social game format.” Translation: You do not have to harvest crops to earn money—you merely win it off of your friends…which is in the true spirit of gambling.

I suppose you could think of it as a garage game of blackjack in which you take your friends chips. Only this is all on Facebook where you can make a cute little casino avatar of yourself.

Oh, and since this is your own casino you can have all of the blackjack tables you want.

Free Online Blackjack

Sometimes you are in the mood to play blackjack, but you either do not have the extra money in the bank account or you just do not feel like wagering any money. If you played blackjack in a brick and mortar casino you would be out of luck. But if you play blackjack online there is a way to get it for free.

And who would not want some free blackjack?

Thankfully online casinos understand that players sometimes just want to play, and unlike their brick and mortar counterparts, many online casinos will offer a free play or play for fun version of their games.

If the online casino that you play online blackjack at offers a free play mode, it is easy to access. The free play modes can be accessed regards of whether you play with the casino software downloaded on your computer or whether you play in the flash version.

To get your free blackjack on, sign in to your player account. The next screen that pops up should be one that asks if you want to play for free or play for real. Simply click on play for free and you will be all set to go.

Online blackjack players are at an advantage with free blackjack online.

Not every single online casino game is offered in free play modes. But thanks to blackjack being one of the most popular online casino games, just about every free play mode will offer it. Unlike slots—not every single slots game makes it to the free play mode.

Free blackjack allows players to practice their strategies and practice playing without putting any money on the line. This is another perk as you would not have this option in a brick and mortar casino.

Clearly free online blackjack allows players advantages that brick and mortar casinos just cannot offer. So take some time and enjoy blackjack or practice your blackjack strategy without worrying about money.

True Odds in Insurance

When it comes to odds in casino games, many are actually quite accurate, or true. I know, surprising considering how the casino like to take money. However, at least in most games the odds are true. One of the exceptions though is an insurance bet in blackjack.

First off, what are true odds?

True odds are quite simple. Odds are true when they are even with the payout. Meaning the payout has to be the same as the odds of landing that payout. Take roulette for example. In a game of roulette there are thirty six numbers. If you were to make a wager on one of those numbers and won that round you would receive a 36-1 payout. And that matches the odds of landing one number, which is naturally thirty six to one.

Now let’s take a look at insurance in blackjack.

If you were to win an insurance wager you would receive a 2-1 payout. However true odds on insurance are not two to one.

As an example we are going to assume that you are not holding any ten value cards; obviously the dealer has an Ace and you do not know what his other card is. We are going to look a single deck game to make the math easier to see.

In a single deck game there are sixteen ten value cards, which means that there are thirty three cards that have other values. This means that there is a 33-16 chance of the dealer having a card worth 10 for his hole card. Reduce 33-16 and you have 2.0625 to 1.

And that means that you should be paid $2.06 for every $1 of your insurance bet. On a $10 insurance bet you should be paid a total of $20.63. Instead you receive $20. Since you do not receive $20.63 the odds on an insurance bet are not fair, which further makes insurance a bad bet in blackjack.

Oh, and the amount that you should be paid goes up the larger your insurance wager is. So the larger your insurance bet is in blackjack, the more unbalanced the odds are.

Yet More Blackjack in Pennsylvania

Have you heard that phrase ‘When it rains, it pours?’

That could be said about blackjack in Pennsylvania. It is raining blackjack in Pennsylvania.

Already six casinos have received, set up, tested and opened blackjack tables. Those six casinos would be the Meadows, the Rivers, the Presque Isle Downs in western Pennsylvania and the Mohegan Sun, Mount Airy and Hollywood casinos in eastern Pennsylvania.

Now blackjack, and other table games like craps and roulette, will be coming to the Philadelphia area. Thankfully it is not another three casinos; this time it is only two: the Parx Casino and Harrah’s. Parx is located in Bensalem and Harrah’s in Chester.

Both casinos will be working their table games test today and hope to open said table games at 6 am on Sunday morning.

Ever since table games were approved earlier this year it seems that every brick and mortar casino in Pennsylvania is jumping up to install table games.

The funny thing about the sudden downpour of blackjack and other table games is that table games is not where the money is in casinos games of late. Vegas can attest that money comes from the slots machines. Popularity seems to be with the slots too.

So why the mad dash to install, staff and offer table games?

The only guess that I can offer is that casinos are hoping to draw more traffic, pulling it away from Atlantic City, by offering more gambling options to patrons. Yes, offering table games is could bring in more money but here is a little secret: with the offering of table games, these casinos have also been allowed to increase the number of slot machines to help accommodate an increased number of casino patrons.

So in short the table games were a means to an end. Not that blackjack players in Pennsylvania will care. They are just happy to not have to drive a long distance to play their favorite game.

Be Mindful

One of the fun things about playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino is the free drinks. You will see waitresses going from table to table bringing drinks to players.

The casino’s surface intent of these free drinks is to make your playing experience all the more enjoyable with drinks brought right to you so that you do not have to leave your game, and on top of that your drinks are free! This would be one of the advantages blackjack in a brick and mortar casino has over online blackjack…if you like to drink while playing.

But the real reason that casinos like to offer their players free drinks is in hopes that players will become somewhat inebriated, but not fully intoxicated. For the most part when players become inebriated they lose their focus and do not usually stick with their blackjack strategies, tossing aside their basic strategy charts, and making foolish plays or wagers. Casinos make money here.

But they do not want players to be drunk as it ruins the experience for other players. That, and there is the possibility that a player will behave very badly.

I read this morning about a man who was playing blackjack at one of the Meadows’ new blackjack tables. Security was going table to table around 2:30 am telling the players ‘Last Call’ when this man became very angry and aggressive. He wound up being tasered by a state trooper who was called in and hauled off to jail. Not how you want to end a night of blackjack.

Not only should you want to avoid being tasered, your main reason for watching how many of those free drinks you have has more to do with your playing and your blackjack strategy.

Remember that part where I mentioned that getting drunk at the blackjack tables will cause players to play recklessly, and that casinos like when this happens? You do not want to play recklessly because it will cause you to lose your money faster. You might as well hand it over to the cashier and be done with it if you want to be drunk and throw your money away.

Blackjack offers players the chance to make money. Getting tipsy and reckless with your playing will not only reduce your chances of making money, it will increase your chances of paying out through your nose.

More Blackjack for Pennsylvania

On Thursday of last week three brick and mortar casinos in western Pennsylvania opened the blackjack tables, drawing patrons away from the long haul drive to Atlantic City to enjoy some blackjack.

Unfortunately for Atlantic City the run of Pennsylvania casinos is not at an end yet. This past Tuesday, July 13th, saw the opening of blackjack tables in three eastern Pennsylvania casinos.

Blackjack players all over Pennsylvania are very excited with the addition of their favorite casino game in six casinos. This follows months of back and forth political arguments earlier this year about whether or not the State would allow table games like blackjack, roulette and craps to be added to their game offerings. But the demand was there and the income to the State in gaming taxes was needed. Everyone wins. Well, except for Atlantic City.

For decades Atlantic City was the mecca of East Coast gambling in the United States. But with the down turn in the economy and a lack of funds trickling down the government hill, states began looking at other ways to bring in money.

Pennsylvania is not the only state to look to gambling. Florida recently settled a long standing dispute with the Seminole tribe about blackjack there. Florida will be making $1.5 billion over the next five years from their deal with the Seminoles.

But with the addition of blackjack to the casino games at the Rivers, Meadows and Presque Isle Downs casinos in western Pennsylvania and the Mohegan Sun, Mount Airy and Hollywood casinos in eastern Pennsylvania could spell even more trouble for Atlantic City.

Not only will the time-honored East Coast gambling destination be competing with these six improved casinos next door, they might also be competing against online gambling. New Jersey is looking at legalizing online gambling for New Jersey residents that would make the competition even greater for Atlantic City.

While Pennsylvania blackjack players are quite happy with the new table games in six of their casinos, we shall have to see how Atlantic City fares over the next few years. Will it be able to keep itself afloat or will it sink in the ocean that is the gambling industry.

On Card Counting and Blackjack

While basic strategy offers players a wonderful, easy and legal way to lower the house edge it only takes you so far. As far as 0.5% still being in the house’s favor. And while that house edge is not as great at the 8% to 12% that players are up against at a slots machine, the casino is accepting for two reasons:

1. Not every single blackjack player will play according to basic strategy, nor will they play every hand according to it, deviating and thus keeping the house edge above 0.5%.

2. And the house still has the edge. As long as they have some kind of an edge they are a happy casino.

But then along comes those wily card counting blackjack players.

Casinos very much do not like card counting blackjack players. This is more about money than anything. On the surface card counting evens out the house edge and can even, for the skilled card counter, tip the edge in favor of the player.

If these card counting blackjack players were playing for fun or for fake money the casino would not care at all if the house edge slipped in favor of the player. But when money is involved, well that is another story.

When the house edge is in favor of the house, they stand a greater chance of making money off of the players. But when the edge goes to the player, the casino winds up paying more money to the player—something that they do not want to do on a regular basis. A slots jackpot here, and an honest 3-2 payout on a high-end wager to a non-card counting player, sure they are okay with. But a player who is taking regular advantage, no.

That is why if you are going to be a regular card counting blackjack player there is another skill you need to acquire: appearing that you are not counting cards.

Pit bosses, when they suspect that a player is counting cards or that something funny is going on, will come over to the table and strike up conversation with players. And often players will talk with the other players at the table or even with the dealer.

It is the player who with the bets going form $5 up to $50 suddenly that is not talking that will catch their attention. So the other skill you need to teach yourself to go hand-in-hand with card counting is the ability to keep an eye on the cards, keep your count and still interact with the other players, the dealer and even the pit boss if he stops by.

The point here is to be social and to appear that you are not counting cards when you really are. If you can interact with the others while playing blackjack the casino staff will not think that your mind is focused on counting. But then they assume that card counting blackjack players are not smart enough to do two things at once.

Blackjack is ‘Transformational’

Last week blackjack tables in three western Pennsylvania casinos opened:Rivers, Meadows and Presque. They ran the blackjack table test on July 6th and then opened completely on July 8th, much to the pleasure of local residents.

The addition of blackjack tables and other table game such as roulette, craps and mini baccarat are now pulling patrons away from the slot machines in favor of casino games they feel more in control of, especially blackjack.

Staff noticed a difference in the noise, energy and excitement of the casinos’ patrons when the table games were opened. They truly feel that the addition of blackjack and other casino table games is the reason.

“Primarily, they [table games] are the most exciting part of the gaming floor – the noise and action there dominates the rest of the casino,” said gaming expert David G. Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz is the director of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research.

So what makes for the change in the dynamic at these western Pennsylvania casinos? Can the addition of blackjack and other table games really have that big of an impact? And can they really push slot machines off to the side?

Yes, table games can change the dynamic of a casino floor, but this is because table games, like blackjack, offer a different playing experience. Table games offer players more camaraderie while playing. Even though blackjack is a player vs. dealer sort of game, having other players at the same table boosts the feeling of ‘we are in this together,’ whereas slots are a more individual game.

Because of the single player feeling and the actual design of the machines themselves, slots can literally be pushed off to the sides of a casino, against the walls and to line walkways.

Patrons seem to be quite happy with the addition of blackjack. Bill Shuba, who is a blackjack player, says that he probably will not be back to the casino in West Virginia he patronized before the addition of the blackjack tables to the western Pennsylvania casinos. In his words, “[They] probably won’t see me anymore.” This was said before he sat down at a $25 minimum blackjack table at the Meadows on the blackjack tables’ debut.