Table Manners for Blackjack: Cards and Touching

Yes, blackjack has table manners. It is played at a table after all. Actually that is a more relaxed term for blackjack etiquette, and the things that make up blackjack etiquette are kind of like the unwritten rules for blackjack.

Fist off we are going to talk about the cards and touching.

In a face up game the cards are obviously dealt face up on the table by the dealer. He will then quickly calculate the totals. Player then make hand signals to show what play they would like to make: a two finger scratch on the felt for a hit; a palm-down wave over the cards to stand; doubling your amount of chips to signal a double down or a split depending on what cards you have. Hand signals are a part of blackjack etiquette and a tradition of the game. Oh, and they also can back you up if there is some discrepancy on what play you wanted to make since there is a camera above the table.

But above all in a face up blackjack game do NOT touch the cards.

Not touching cards in a face up game prevents players from cheating or marking the cards.

The only type of blackjack game in which you can touch the cards is a face down game. The dealer deals the cards face down and the player picks them up with one hand. Signals in a face down game are a bit different: to hit scrap the cards towards you on the felt to hit; to stand scoot your cards under your wagered chips; to double down or split, turn the cards face up and add the appropriate amount of chips to your wager.

Do NOT use more than one hand to handle your cards.

Handling the cards with one hand helps to cut down on switching or adding cards or marking them for cheating purposes.

You have the etiquette for how to handle your cards down now, and are all set to grab your clip-on tie and head to your favorite casino.

Single Deck Blackjack Games

Would you believe that there are still single deck blackjack games out there?

I am not talking about blackjack variations that use a single deck or about single deck games that offer a 6-5 payout. I am talking about good old fashioned single deck blackjack.

It is true, such games are not easy to find since they are not a common occurrence. But they are out there.

Casinos will use classic single deck blackjack games as a way to compete with their neighbors to try to steal blackjack players from a competitor and bring them into their casino. Sometimes they will offer single deck games as part of a special promotion.

It is a rule of thumb that the fewer decks being used in a game of blackjack that better the player’s odds are. So obviously a blackjack game that uses the maximum of eight decks offers no benefit for players. This is probably why eight decks are commonly used.

Next up are six deck games. They increase a player’s blackjack odds by only 0.02%. And five decks only increase blackjack odds by 0.03%. And four decks? The odds increase is only 0.06%.

It is not until we get down to two decks that there is a decent increase to a player’s blackjack odds as a result of the number decks. A two deck game will give player’s odds an increase of 0.19%.

But we are concerned with the single deck classic blackjack game. If you can find a single deck game of blackjack that offers standard house rules and a payout of 3-2 (no 6-5 payouts now) you had better sit down and play because the player’s blackjack odds increase by 0.48%.

So with that nice 0.48% boost to your blackjack odds, you can see how single deck classic blackjack games are worth playing in.

Online Blackjack Variation to Avoid: 5 Diamond Blackjack

Recently I came across an online blackjack variation that I had not looked into before. I wish I had so that I could have passed onto players that this is not a good blackjack variation to play. But really there is no variation of online blackjack that is good to play.

The variation I found is called 5 Diamond Blackjack.

A round begins with the player placing a wager of $1, $2, $5 or $10. It is always in increments like that or similar to that since this is an online game. The player then clicks Play. Five two card hands and one dealer hand appear on the screen. The player can then click on a hand one at a time or click Scratch All to reveal the total of each hand.

The objective of this game is to beat the dealer with one of those five hands without going over 21. Without doing anything more than ‘scratching’ each hand to reveal its total.

That is it. There is no hitting or standing or any other play for that matter.

Players will win if one hand beats the dealer’s total. Revealing a blackjack causes the prize to be doubled.

This is not a true blackjack game. This is actually a scratch card online game and is a game of chance since the player has no control over the outcome of the game.

A true game of blackjack or online blackjack allows a player to hit, stand or make other plays. It allows the player to have some degree of control over the outcome of the round.

But this scratch card game masquerading as an online blackjack variation does not allow players to make any playing decisions. Because of that fact this is one so-called online blackjack variation that should be avoided.

While I do not recommend any variations with side bets or the like, at least those other variations allow players to choose how to play out their hands.

Blackjack Worth it in Pennsylvania

Build it and they will come. Or rather, add them and they will come.

There were many people in Pennsylvania that were either skeptical or downright opposed adding blackjack tables to the casinos found in their state. The objections and disbelief ranged from ‘Could that really give the state revenue?’ to ‘Gambling will corrupt our society and communities.’

But the table games were approved this past spring and were installed in nine brick and mortar casinos around Pennsylvania:

Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, Hollywood Casino Penn National, The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Mount Airy Casino Resort, Parx Casino, Presque Isle Downs, Rivers Casino and Sands Casino Resort.

August was the first whole month in which all nine brick and mortar casinos had their blackjack and other table games open for business. While the table games were all installed in July, they were not all installed at the same time. So August is the first month in which revenue could be compared.

For the month of August those nine casinos brought in from the table games alone $34.6 million. Of that $34.6 million, $4.8 million will go to the state of Pennsylvania in taxes, while another $691,000 will to municipalities.

So that is $4.8 million that did not have to come out of citizens’ pockets in the form of raised taxes, so I would call the installation of blackjack, poker, roulette and craps tables a success.

Shawn McCloud, an analyst for Spectrum Gaming Group, agreed:

“It is an impressive start for Pennsylvania…Obviously, Pennsylvania is going to be a formidable competitor in the table games market.”

Here is the breakdown in revenue generated by the new blackjack and other table games:

Parx Casino: $6,338,617
Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack: $5,918,137
Sands Casino Resort: $4,297,070
Rivers Casino: $4,162,280
Mohegan Sun: $3,533,765
Mount Airy Casino Resort: $3,360,361
Hollywood Casino Penn National: $2,658,762
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino: $2,395,124
Presque Isle Downs: $1,891,056

Blackjack Payouts and Blackjack Odds

Have you ever thought about the payouts you receive in a game of blackjack?

Oh I am sure you have thought about it in terms of money. You know not to play in a game of blackjack if the payout for a natural is 6-5 because it means you will receive less money.

But have you thought about blackjack payouts in terms?

Probably not.

Another reason not to play in a 6-5 payout blackjack game is what that payout does to your blackjack odds. That so-called payout takes 1.39% off of your blackjack odds. In fact, the only payout worse than a 6-5 is an even money—that knocks 2.27% off.

The reason for the hit to the odds is because a smaller payout is an opportunity to make less when winning. Blackjack odds are based on opportunities for the player to make money. If a house rule or payout provides the player with an opportunity to make more than the standard amount given simply for beating the dealer, then that house rule or payout increases the player’s odd.

On the other hand if the house rule or payout takes away from the opportunity to make money, that house rule or payout decrease the player’s chances.

So is there are a few payouts that decrease a player’s blackjack odds—not to mention money. Are they are payouts that increase the player’s odds?

There is. A 2-1 payout for a natural blackjack increases a player’s blackjack odds and money.

For a 3-2 payout a player receives $1.50 for every dollar that they wager. For a 2-1 payout a player receives $2 for every dollar wagered. It does not sound like much but in terms of a standard $10 wager, you would receive $20 instead of $15.

As for odds, a 2-1 payout increases a player’s blackjack odds by 2.27%, which is quite a nice increase.

So if you can find a game with a 2-1 payout play in that game since that blackjack payout will increase your blackjack odds.

Blackjack Strategy—the Little Extras

Every now and then when you are wandering around the casino floor of a brick and mortar casino somewhere you might notice some extra little blackjack house rules. Most players see addition house rules as a threat from the house: ‘Oh no! They are coming to take more of my money!’

Sure there are house rules that are aimed at taking your money faster. But they are often found in blackjack variations along with the side bets—which you should be staying away from, by the way.

What needs to be done when an out of the ordinary house rule is spotted is to check it out, see what it is and then think about whether it is to your benefit or theirs. If it is for theirs, keep walking. If it is for yours then sit down and play a few rounds.

One such rule is doubling down on three or more cards. It is not a common house rule, but every now and then it will pop up in casinos.

This house rules does not require a lot of thought as to whether it is good for you blackjack strategy or not.

In general, the double down play is in the player’s favor. For those players who do not do their blackjack strategy homework, doubling down at advantageous times will knock 1.6% off of the house edge. And that is only when you can double on your first two cards.

So logically it follows that if you can double on three or more cards that your opportunities to double down increase. So your odds of making more off the house increase because your opportunities increase.

Those extra opportunities to double down knock 0.2% off the house edge, which makes it a nice addition to your blackjack strategy. It does not knock as much off as a standard double down, but that is because there are not an excessive hands of three or more cards in which it is advantageous to double down on.

But I say that every little bit helps. Think about whether or not these extra house rules will help your blackjack strategy. If they do help, sit and play a few.

Microgaming Creates New Online Blackjack Tournaments

Microgaming is known as one of the industry leaders when it comes to online gaming software. They are constantly creating new games and revamping their older games to improve them.

To be honest there is not a lot that can be done to online blackjack games. The game itself does not change. It is not like a slots game that allows for the same type of game to be repackaged in a new colorful package. Online blackjack is online blackjack.

But that does not stop Microgaming from working with this game to give it something new to entire old and new players alike. This time Microgaming has revamped their online blackjack tournaments. There are now four types of online blackjack tournaments for players to play in at Microgaming powered online casinos:

One-Shot:
The name says it all on this one. Players must play their best as they have only one chance to get the highest score. There are no add-ons or rebuys for this tournament either. It is literally a one shot chance to get the highest score and win.

Extender:
This type of online blackjack tournament will allow players add-ons and rebuys as the point is to play again and again to build their scores. As always, the highest score wins. These tournaments will have long time periods to play out to encourage players to play more and more.

Reloader:
This one is a sort of combination of one-shot and extender. Players have one shot to get as high a score as they can, and there are no add-ons or rebuys. But if a player is not satisfied with their score they can play again starting their score over at 0 to try for a higher score.

Survivor:
This is an elimination type of tournament. At the end of each round a number of the players are eliminated from the tournament. This happens at the end of each round until the last round in which the player with the highest score ends.

When Microgaming makes changes to their games, be it new games or revamping an older game, they usually hit their mark and delight players at Microgaming powered online casinos. The new online blackjack tournaments are sure to be a hit.

Good and Bad Blackjack Tips: Card Counting Online

When looking at online casinos many of them have little sections on their sites with information about their casino games and casino games in general. Not always, but fairly often casinos will actually give players tips on how to play, say, blackjack and tips for blackjack strategy.

Now what is funny to me is that there are some players out there who blindly follow those tips on how to play blackjack and for blackjack strategy. Stop and think about that. You want to follow the tips on how to play better—as in win money—from the online casino—which wants to take your money? Yeah, that is what I thought too.

So I went out to see what some of these tips are. Some of it was as I expected and other times I was surprised. There are actually online casinos out there that will offer genuinely good blackjack playing tips.

Here is some of what I found and some blackjack tips about what I what I found.

I did find online casinos that encouraged players to use card counting. This is very dubious to me. Card counting is very much frowned upon in brick and mortar casinos. So first off why would an online casino encourage players to use it in online blackjack?

The answer is simple. Because card counting is ineffective in online blackjack. Because of the game’s RNG no card is ever discarded and all are still in the deck, so to speak since we are talking about a virtual game. On top of that, again because of the RNG, it is like all of the cards are shuffled before each round because the RNG randomly pulls a combination for the beginning of each round.

So online casinos will encourage card counting for online blackjack because it will not actually work and it actually can hurt a player’s online blackjack odds by trying to use it. Players could increase their wagers, thinking that they are getting the jump on the house and a run of high cards, when there are not any discards to back up that run.

Really all this so called blackjack tip is doing is encouraging players to use a blackjack strategy that does not work online in order to create erratic betting, which causes a gain in money for the online casino. So understand card counting does not work online, even if the online casino’s tips say it does.

Oh, and think twice about an online casino that is encouraging you to use card counting when playing online blackjack.

Silver Dollar Blackjack Tournament

There is nothing that boosts the excitement of online blackjack more than playing in a blackjack tournament. Well, winning with a natural off of a good sized wager is great high too. But it is not the same as the unknown thrill of tournament play—will you win or lose?

Thankfully there are some fun online blackjack tournaments to play in. And while I do enjoy the little $0.99 tournaments that Go Casino hosts, it is not the same as a full-fledged big money blackjack tournament. The $0.99 tournaments are good as practice for the experienced player, and good for the novice tournament player to begin getting their feet wet with.

But sometimes experienced online blackjack players want more.

And Silver Dollar is certainly offering more.

Every Friday Silver Dollar hosts their Weekend Blackjack Classic. As you can well guess, this online blackjack tournament spans the course of a whole weekend, starting on a Friday and ending on a Sunday.

Now when I was talking about a full-fledged big money online blackjack tournament I was referring to tournaments that do not offer the winning player a portion of the pot, but a cash prize instead. And that is exactly what Silver Dollar is offering their players.

The Weekend Blackjack Classic has a prize pool of $5,000. Yes, the winning player will get the biggest chunk of that $5,000 cash prize. And that is a lot more than what a player could win from a low-key Play for the Pot type of online blackjack tournament.

Silver Dollar is using the US Blackjack created by Vegas Technology variation of the game for these tournaments. This means that there are no side bets—other than insurance—and that the dealer does not check for blackjack at the beginning of the round.

For players who are interested the entry fee for the Weekend Blackjack Classic tournament at Silver Dollar is only $10. Think about it–$10 for a chance to win a piece of that $5,000 prize pool.

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.