Blackjack on North Carolina Gambling Boats

Remember when Pennsylvania and Florida and other states wanted to add casinos or add table games like blackjack to casinos already in existence? Well, it is now trickling down to a city level.

Similar to several states, now cities are eyeing gambling as a source to alleviate the strain on their budgets. North Charleston is one of the most recent.

Mayor Keith Summey’s desire to authorize casino cruises will take a step forward when his proposal goes to the city’s Planning Commission next week. And it appears that the City Council will support Summey’s proposal. Seems they see the need for more revenue and do not mind it coming from blackjack, slots and other casino games.

If the proposal is approved these casino cruise boats will offer patrons blackjack, slots and other casino games. And of course there will be dining available—you do not want to put people on a boat without food.

To help earn the proposal’s approval, Summey has stated in his proposal that these casino cruise boats will dock only in industrial areas and away from areas that are “in close proximity to educational or religious uses.”

For those not familiar with the North Charleston area, this puts the casino cruise boats near the area south of Riverfront Park on the Cooper River.

As for the desired revenue, Summey’s proposal offers two options.

The first is to have owners of the cruise boats pay the equivalent of 10% of the face amount of each ticket sold to patrons along with 5% of the proceeds of each trip.

The other option proposed is to just charge a $7 surcharge to the patrons.

Either way the revenue is coming from the money that patrons put into the boats through tickets and wagers made on blackjack, slots and other casino games.

But before blackjack sees itself sailing on the Cooper River a few amendments need to be made the city’s business licensing. Mainly there needs to be coverage for gambling boats in the licensing. There also has to be a repeal of the 1999 ordinance that bans gambling devices.

But with the favor already shown by the City Council it looks likely that Summey will see the reality of his gambling cruise proposal, and blackjack will be floating the waters around North Charleston.

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.

Blackjack Odds: Face Up Games

Blackjack games, in general, come in two varieties. Forget house rules and blackjack variations for the moment. I am talking about run of the mill, general casino blackjack.

When you walk into a brick and mortar casino and amble your way over to the blackjack tables you will see two types of games right off the bat. In some games the players will be holding their cards and at other tables the players are not even touching their cards, let alone holding them.

What is the deal with this?

When only or two decks are being used the players will be allowed to hold the cards—but they can only use one hand. One hand with cards and the other nowhere near the hand holding the cards. These are known as face down blackjack games, and their rate of play is slower than face up games.

Face up games are blackjack games in which four or more decks are being used, and the cards are dealt from a show. In a face up game the players are not allowed to touch the cards at all. Think of it as hands-free blackjack.

The reason for this is that the dealer can quickly give the hand totals without the players taking time to do the math on their own. This also prevents players from marking cards or even switching them. It is all in your best interest is how the casinos present face up games.

However, blackjack dealers are quick with the cards, and the rate of play is sped up when playing in a face up game. This means that you are playing more rounds per hour, which means that you have an increased chance of losing more per hour.

Unfortunately the majority of blackjack games are played with four or more decks. And since there is nothing you can do about the odds you get from the increased rate of play at a face up table, the best you can do is look for a blackjack table with the most players. After all the more players there are, the more you the rate of play drops. And that means that your blackjack odds can go back up a little.

Online Blackjack vs. Casino Blackjack

First off, what exactly is casino blackjack? Casino blackjack is a way of differentiating between blackjack that is played online and blackjack that is played in a brick and mortar casino. Without having to say blackjack in a brick and mortar casino every time.

So now that we have that established, what is the difference between?

First off, when you play blackjack online you are playing alone. It is not like some of those online poker rooms in which you are playing at the same table with other people that could be anywhere in the world. Online blackjack is one on one play between you and the dealer.

This does not sound like a big deal but it actually has quite an impact on your blackjack odds.

In blackjack, even with basic strategy, you are playing with less than 50% chance of winning a round. This means that you have a greater chance of losing than winning a round. And the more rounds you play per hour, the larger the chances of losing more money. This is why online blackjack players are cautioned to slow their rate of play.

When playing at a full table, like you can do with casino blackjack, you might only have fifty five rounds in an hour. But playing one on one in online blackjack you could wind up playing upwards of two hundred rounds in a single hour.

So one of the differences between online blackjack and casino blackjack is the change in the rate of play simply because you can only play one on one in online blackjack.

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 Insurance—How Does it Work Again?

I am going to call the basic rules and plays of blackjack Blackjack 101. This includes the objective, hitting and standing. Double downs and splitting pairs goes into Blackjack 102. Then there is the leap into Blackjack 103, better known as ‘first discovering basic strategy.’

But once a new player gets Blackjack 103 under their belts they begin to move into the murkier waters. Bring on Blackjack 104: Casino Tricks and Insurance.

When a novice blackjack player first encounters insurance they are usually a bit confused. Here they are trying to bet the house and the house is offering them a way to save their bet in case the dealer has a natural blackjack. Is that not oh so considerate of them?

But even then the little warning bells go off in the player’s mind: Why is the house trying to help me when they want me to lose?

The truth is quite simple. The house is helping you. They are helping you to turn your money over to them faster.

And really that is all it is. Think first about what insurance is. The dealer has an Ace showing, the less common of the two cards necessary for a natural blackjack. He then offers you insurance just in case he does have a natural blackjack, which means that hole card needs to be a 10. In all reality you are placing a side wager on whether that hole card is a 10 or not.

Insurance is a side bet made for half the amount of your original wager. If you have bet $10 on the round, insurance would be $5 for you. You are wagering more money on a round than is ordinary.

So rather than standing to lose $10 in a round, you could lose $15. And it is possible to lose both bets. Let’s say that you have a hard 19 and the dealer has an Ace. You take insurance and the hole card is a 9, giving the dealer a soft 20 that he can stand on. His 20 beats your 19, and since the hole card was not a 10, you lose the insurance bet too.

What novice blackjack players have to understand is that insurance does not offer them any true benefits, and that it is best not to take insurance when playing 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 Odds of Winning and Losing

What makes blackjack one of the most popular casino games out there?

Simply put, it is the myth that blackjack is the one casino game in which the player can gain the edge and beat the house.

Truthfully that can happen. But it does not happen just from sitting down at the blackjack table or by logging in to your favorite online casino to play a few rounds. To beat the house at blackjack you must study the game, its rules and its strategies. It takes practice. And it also takes card counting.

So truth be told, online blackjack cannot be beat because a player cannot count cards. This is because the game functions similarly to a blackjack table with a CSM in a brick and mortar casino. A CSM is a Continuous Shuffle Machine, and it prevents any cards from being discarded because at the end of a round all the just-used cards are put in the little machine, the entire deck reshuffled and then the next round dealt.

So you must be playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino—at a table without a CSM I might add—so that you can count cards. You also need to be playing according to basic strategy. Basic strategy drops the house edge to 0.5%. A skilled and practiced card counter can overcome the remaining 0.5% that is against them and then begin to tip the odds up to 1% in their favor.

So, yes, blackjack is a beatable casino game.

However, the majority of blackjack players will not spend the time to gain the necessary skill in card counting that is needed to overcome that last bit of the house’s edge. And still many others will not play according to basic strategy.

And while casinos to not want to seem like they are handing out money for free, they do not seem to mind the continued myth that blackjack is the beatable casino game. For them, it draws more and more new blackjack players that they wind up taking money from.

Even knowing that, players who want to become skilled at blackjack should still work and practice their blackjack strategy. Strategy is meant to improve blackjack odds. So even if you do not beat the house, you will lose less money with a sound blackjack strategy than if you did not have a blackjack strategy.

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.

Creating the Perfect Blackjack Card Counting Skill

Like any amazing dish, what goes in definitely comes out. The better quality the ingredients are the better the food. Also like good food, some things take time to make.

How does this relate to blackjack? Card counting. It relates to card counting.

This is one blackjack skill that can have a big impact on a player’s blackjack strategy, and therefore on a player’s blackjack odds. Similar to good food, card counting is a quality skill that requires time. The more time and practice that a player puts into to their card counting the better the skill is.

So what can a blackjack player do to cultivate their card counting skills?

First off take the time to practice. Equate practicing card counting to not rushing through the preparations on a nice dinner you are making. The practice required for any good skill requires time.

A skill is not developed instantaneously. Be prepared to spend a good many hours counting your way through card decks. And that is the best way to practice when you are still learning the skill—count your way through card decks.

Practicing you counting skill is like following a recipe. Go step by step.

Learn the ‘rules’ of the card counting system that you want to become skilled at. Then start out by slowly counting your way through a single deck out loud. Once you can count through the deck quickly and without pauses, begin counting silently in your head until you can count silently without pauses. Then begin adding decks repeating those first two steps. Once you have a few decks down to where you can count silently in your head without pauses, throw in some distractions—music, the TV, or maybe both at the same time. This prepares you for card counting in a noisy casino.

We have covered time and steps, now on to quality.

Do not cheat yourself when practicing. This means no cutting corners. If you really cannot count through one deck silently without pauses, do not move on to multiple decks yet. If you cut corners you are not developing the skill completely and that could leave you vulnerable.

Vulnerable to what? Well, let’s say a pit boss who finds out you are counting cards and has your thrown out of the casino.

Just keep in mind when you are working on your card counting or any other skill in your blackjack strategy arsenal that you need to devote the time and quality necessary to developing the skill. Follow the steps and give yourself time. Or you might have a scary pit boss breathing down your neck.