Casinos Taking 6-5 Games Too Far

I’ve said it before. Any blackjack game that pays a 6-5 payout should be avoided.

Now I’m going to say it absolutely must be avoided.

Casinos are getting greedy and desperate it seems down in Vegas. Overall, the gaming revenue at Vegas casinos is declining. And like any smart business, owners and managers are looking for ways to try to boost revenue. And while I can understand this and condone the need to do something to increase a business’s revenue, I do not condone players being taken advantage of.

Several years ago the 6-5 payout blackjack game was introduced. Yes, the payout is terrible. It still is. And the same applies to the house edge. But the carrot that casinos dangled in front of us was that these 6-5 payout games were single deck games.

Now with the need for revenue, casinos are seeing how much more they can squeeze out of players. What have they done? They are now ‘offering’ 6-5 payouts on multi-deck games.

Why is this worse than a single deck 6-5 payout blackjack game?

For one thing the payout is still terrible, and you won’t make the money you could playing in a 3-2 payout game. For every $10 bet you would only win $12 instead of $15.

But the biggie is what changing the payout on a multi-deck game from 3-2 to 6-5 does to the house edge. Just by changing the payout to 6-5, the house edge just jumped by around 2%. Now, before basic strategy and card counting, most 3-2 blackjack games carry a house edge of 2% to 5%. A 6-5 blackjack game will carry a house edge ranging from 4% to 7%, making it worse than some slots games. This throws of the skill play for blackjack. Basic strategy will not be as effective here and it will take longer to play for the house edge to be lowered because you’re starting with a higher house edge.

Casinos will be watching to see if players take to these 6-5 multi-deck games. And if they see that players are still playing them, then we can expect that the 6-5 games will be sticking around, if not growing in number. Do yourself and all your fellow blackjack players a favor and avoid these games.

Casinos Pouting About Card Counting Players

If you follow gambling news then you’ve probably already heard of this Thomas P. Donovan and the Grand Victoria Casino. If you haven’t, let me give you a quick recap:

In 2006 the Grand Victoria threw Donovan out of their casino in Rising Sun, Indiana for card counting. He sued and lost. So he went to the Indiana Court of Appeals where he won, the appeals court saying that it wasn’t a good enough reason to kick Donovan out.

This comes down to casinos not liking card counters. Online casino operators are thankful that they don’t have to deal with this issue since you can’t count card online. But for land based casinos this, according to them, is a major thorn in their sides. Why? Because they might lose.

Oh my, oh my, a casino might lose a fraction of their money to a player.

And that, blackjack fans, is the problem. Casinos basically expect players to walk in the door and give over their money; they also expect that they shouldn’t have to pay them back…except for the occasional big win that looks good for business and will draw players.

If we wanted to give our money away without the chance of any monetary return, we could just as easily donate our money to the church. The reason this is gambling is because we are putting our money out there on the chance that we can win money back. It’s a chance. A gamble.

And casinos need to except that their business is a gamble. If you’re going to go into business where players are putting their money on the line, then they need to except that they will have to pay players who win.

While most of the games in casinos are games of chance, blackjack is a game of skill. Like with any game, players are going to try to find a strategy, try to win. This is the case with card counting. All card counting is is a strategy that blackjack players use to try to even up the odds.

Casinos start with the edge already. And they think that it’s unfair for players to use mental processes, such as remembering what cards have been played out of the decks and calculating an approximate chance that they’ll hit for a high card—card counting. They feel that it’s unfair for players to try to do something to win.

If that’s how they feel, they should be lobbying for a ban on mental processes or, if they’re that afraid of losing to players, then they should stick to slots, roulette and keno, and stop fussing about card counting blackjack players.

Card Counting For the Win!

Card counters out there, rejoice! We have scored a legal victory! Well, we have in Indiana, but you have to start somewhere.

I’m sorry to interrupt The Misplayed Blackjack Hands series that I was doing, but I came across this news piece, and as it made me happy, I wanted to share.

With the recent news about Kris Zutis’s blackjack card counting detection program, card counters have needed a boost to their morale. And that boost comes with the name of Tom Donovan.

Donovan favors the Grand Victoria riverboat casino’s blackjack tables in Rising Sun, Indiana. And he’s a card counter. His skills came to the attention of the then blackjack pit boss Patrick Banefield. Banefield told Donovan to limit his betting to $25 a hand and he would continue to let him play.

Nice to know there’s a cool pit boss.

But this all changed in June of 2006 when Sonny Duquette replaced Banefield. Here ends the happy part of the story.

Duquette barred Donovan from the Grand Victoria’s blackjack tables. Then he threw him out of the casino. In return, Donovan sued for breach of implied contract, which he says he had with Banefield.

Last Friday the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Donovan…sort of.

They upheld the dismissal of Donovan’s claim of implied contract. However, the Indiana Court of Appeals also rejected the Grand Victoria’s argument. See, the Grand Victorian said they had a common law right to exclude any patron for any reason or no reason at all.

The Indiana Court of Appeals said, “Grand Victoria may not simply take refuge in the common law right of exclusion, inasmuch as it is the public policy of this State that gambling is subject to ‘strict regulation,’ and the [Indiana Casino Control] Commission has been given exclusive authority to set rules of riverboat casino games.”

In other words, the Indiana Casino Control Commission makes the rules, not the Grand Victoria. The court ruled that he was thrown out of the casino for his mental prowess during a Commission-regulated game, so the Grand Victoria’s decision to throw him out is not protected by the common law.

We may find over the next several months or couple years more and more consumer-friendly decisions being made since more and more states are legalizing casino gambling. The States want us to play because they get a portion of the casinos’ profits in the form of gambling taxes. And with the U.S. economy being in the state that it’s in, more and more states are looking to other sources for funding their budgets—take Florida and the Seminole Tribe casinos. The taxes from the Seminole Tribe casinos help fund education in Florida.

To: The State of Florida, From: Blackjack Fans

This has been going on for awhile now. In the state of Florida the Seminole Tribe and state law makers are still in a stalemate about whether the Tribe should be allowed to have table games, including blackjack, in all seven of their casinos. I started following this closely. And then a little less closely. And a little less closely. Then it was just a part of my routine. The same things were being said over and over again.

Let me sum it up: In 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist stuck a compact with the Seminoles that allowed them to have table games. State law makers weren’t happy with Tribe casinos having what they viewed as a monopoly on table games within the state. Now, two years later, they’re still fighting over it. Like a tennis match. Back and forth. Specifically House Speaker Larry Cretul says that the governor had no such power to make such a deal with the Tribe. The Tribe says that the Supreme Court okay’s the compact and that they are operating within it. Florida says no, and the Seminoles say yes.

This morning I came across a news notice that Cretul wants the Tribe casinos shut down, saying that they are violating state law by continuing to operate without a compact. Again, the Tribe says that they are still operating within the 2007 compact. But what got me was here is this man, this House Speaker, that wants to cut off a source of much needed income for the state of Florida, money that can fund schools, money that can help to educate the state’s children.

He’s not alone either. Owners of dog racing tracks don’t want the Tribe operating either. They’re worried about losing business to the casinos because the Seminole casinos will have popular table games like blackjack and their race tracks won’t. What these dog track owners need to realize that while they might lose their customers that are at the tracks specifically to gamble, they will hold onto their fans who love to watch dogs run around a track. It seems like tracks owners don’t want to worry about competition. It’s almost like they want to be the only ones to offer gambling—which would give tracks the monopoly on gambling in Florida—this coming from track owners who believe that monopolies are bad.

Dog tracks are not Wal-Marts—they are not going to be able to offer every form of gambling avenue possible to gambling and blackjack fans. They can keep their dog races, which have their own following, and the Seminoles can have their table games like blackjack, which have a different following.

What everyone—Seminoles included—is that this state needs the money. Schools are suffering: teachers are being laid off, books are becoming out-dated, and schools are closing. Children are not receiving the knowledge they need to be productive members of society in a few years time. What these law makers, track owners and, yes, even the Seminoles need to be concerned about is the state’s children and their education, and not worry about how can line their pockets more.

I’m all for heading out to a casino and playing blackjack face to face with a dealer—sometimes you just need a break from online blackjack. But really what’s more important—profit or smarts? I’ll go with smarts, thanks. And while money for education comes from multiple sources, the Seminoles are willing to pay a couple million down to have the games and to keep contributing a good chunk of their profits from blackjack and other table games—and they designate that money to be put towards education. But the children’s interests first, guys and ladies.

I say if they’re willing to pay, let the Seminoles pay. Who are the state and track owners to say what is best for Florida gamblers? If we want to play, let us play. If the money I lose is going towards a teacher’s salary, show me to the blackjack tables! Let us play!

How to play effective blackjack

What’s the difference between playing blackjack and playing effective blackjack? It’s simple answer, one you may have even come across here and there. But in the lure of flashing lights and bright colors perhaps the answer was forgotten. The best way to play effective blackjack is practice.

Yes, I said practice. By now you’ve read about basic strategy and card counting, and you’re psyched that this is the game you can win. Blackjack will make you money. But in order to make that money you have to play blackjack effectively.

To do so means practice. You know there’s a basic strategy chart for blackjack—in fact, there’s two charts for: one for soft hands and one for hard hands. But are you really going to take those to the table with you?

Imagine you sit down with six other people, probably seasoned players. You’re dealt your cards. The dealer has a 7 and you have a hard 16. The first three people make their decisions. It’s your turn. What do you do? You whip out your blackjack charts. The other six people sigh—they’re playing with a beginner. One or two of them offer you advice. Maybe someone else mutters how the game is being held up. You get flustered. You stand. Next player’s turn. You take a peek at your chart. Oops, you should’ve hit. Not effective play.

How to avoid that? Play effectively! Practice first! Study the basic strategy charts, focus on hard hands first. Then visit an online casino, one that will let you play free blackjack online (most reputable sites have this option). Leave the chart face down on your desk. Try to remember what it advises. Play your hand, then check your chart, see if you played effectively. This way you aren’t faced with slowing down the game and upsetting other players—after all you’re in your own home, nobody can see you. Keep practicing until you don’t need check the chart to see if you played effectively—you know you did. This is how practice makes for playing an effective blackjack game.