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.

Ultraviolet or Microchipped: What is Your Blackjack Chip Choice

With the fairly recent approval of table games for casinos in Pennsylvania, the latest debate is about what kind of casino chips to use at the blackjack tables. Casino managers voice their concerns about the security of chips at their blackjack tables.

Earlier this week I discussed how the Meadows in western Pennsylvania has already decided to use casino chips with micro chips embedded in them. They are meant to make for quick adding up of wagers made and for quick cash outs at the casino’s cage. But their primary focus is on reducing the chances of counterfeit chips finding their way onto the blackjack tables and into players’ hands.

But other western Pennsylvania casinos have decided against microchipped casino chips to help prevent counterfeit chips. Kevin Ryan, the director of table games at the Presque Isle Downs casino, says that the Presque Isle Downs is going to be using chips with an ultraviolet image embedded onto the chip at their blackjack tables. In regards to players trying to pass off counterfeit chips Ryan says, “It’s going to be next to impossible. It is not going to be worth their effort.”

While both casinos have players’ security at the forefront there is also their ever present concern of card counters and finding them.

The smart chips, the casino chips with microchips, will make it possible for smart casino staff to recognize card counters. An antenna will be under the felt at each position of the table that will add up the value of chips placed in the betting spaces. Staff will be able to more easily tell and track how a player is betting.

However, casinos that are using the ultraviolet chips will be more card counter friendly, not that any casino wants that, but that is how the technology works. The ultraviolet image will be good at helping to eliminate counterfeit chips, but since they are not embedded with a way for casino staff to track players’ wagers, it should not change what happens at the tables.

In short, the ultraviolet technology will be useful at the cage but will not really change anything at the blackjack tables.

If you are a blackjack player in the western Pennsylvania area and are a card counter, you might want to check out the casinos using the ultraviolet chips as the technology does not change how things happen at the blackjack tables.