A Little Effort Goes a Long Way

When I was a child my mother told me nothing comes for free in life. And really? The same could be said about your profits from casino games.

It seems the easier a casino game is, be it a casino game online or in a brick and mortar casino, the worse the odds are. This should tell you something.

Let’s take a look:

Slots: 2% to 15% depending on what the manufacturer has set its payout percentage at
Roulette: 2.70% for European and 5.26% for American

Those are two of the easiest types of casino games that can be found. Now we are going to look at the house edge on blackjack: 0.5% after basic strategy.

Compared to the 2% and up on slots and roulette, blackjack seems like quit a nice game to turn a profit on. But it is not as simple to work as slots or roulette. Meaning you have to do more than push “Spin” or choose a few numbers and watch the ball spin.

In order to make blackjack profitable you do need to use a strategy. Thankfully a novice blackjack player can grab a basic strategy chart and drop the house edge down to that 0.5%. They can do this because a basic strategy chart has the best statistical play for every hand against any dealer’s up card. All the player needs to do is make that play.

So really we should be moving blackjack onto that list of easy casino games. In fact, I think it is easier to play with a basic strategy chart than without one. Not only does basic strategy give you a play, it gives you the best play.

Okay, okay so with blackjack and basic strategy you have to check your hand against the chart to find out what the best play is. And, yes, that is a little more work than pushing ‘Spin’ or watching a ball fly around a wheel. But considering what checking that chart can do for you and how it can increase your profitability, that little bit of work is very much worth the effort.

Another thing my mother always told me: a little work never killed anyone.

Blackjack Odds vs. Other Casino Games

When it comes to playing online blackjack, it is one of the best online casino games to play. For one thing, online blackjack is easy. But in terms of making a profit from a casino game, online blackjack is the way to go considering that it offers you the best odds.

Seriously, it does. Let’s take a look shall we. I am going to list all of the online casino games that can be commonly found in online casinos and their house advantages. I am going to list them by game and in order of highest house edge to lowest.

Baccarat: Tie: 14.44%
Baccarat: Player: 1.24%
Baccarat: Dealer: 1.06$

Caribbean Stud Poker: 5.22%

Craps: Any 7: 16.67%
Craps: Any Craps: 11.1%
Craps: 4 and 10: 6.66%
Craps: Field: 5.55%
Craps: 5 and 9: 4.0%
Craps: 6 and 8: 1.51%
Craps: Pass/Don’t Pass: 1.41%
Craps: Come/Don’t Come: 1.41%

Keno: 25%-29%

Pai Gow Poker: 2.50%

Roulette: American: 5.26%
Roulette: European: 2.7%

Slots: $0.05: 15.20%
Slots: $0.25: 10.20%
Slots: $0.50: 9.10%
Slots: $1: 8.10%
Slots: $5: 5.50%
Slots: $25: 5.30%
Slots: $100: 3.90%

Video poker: 5.00%

Now that you have seen the odds on some of the most common online casino games we can talk about online blackjack odds. The house edge in online blackjack when playing with basic strategy is 0.5%. As you can see, none of the common online casino games comes close to the odds offered by online blackjack.

When you consider blackjack’s placement in comparison to othercasino games, it is easy to see why a large number of players prefer online blackjack. With the house edge being that low, a player’s odds of making a profit with online blackjack explains its profitability.

Seminole Compact Done and Signed

Happy Cinco de Mayo for blackjack in Florida!

Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed the state’s compact with the Seminole tribe, bringing the compact into law. The compact was signed by the House of Representatives and the Florida Senate within the last couple of weeks. Getting those two bodies to sign a compact was the hard part. Once they had signed it many considered the compact done because Crist was already in favor of the Seminoles. But as of this morning it’s now official.

It’s taken the better part of the last few years, since 2007 in fact, to get the Seminoles and Florida’s legislature to agree on the compact terms. And it was to the benefit of the state to work something out as it would have not been good to be on bad terms with a sovereign nation within their own state lines.

With this compact the Seminoles, who originally were aiming at exclusive blackjack in all seven of their casinos, will have their sought-after exclusivity on blackjack, but will only be allowed to have blackjack in only five of their casinos: three in Broward County, one in Immokalee and one in Tampa. The exclusivity will last for five years, at which point the Seminoles and the legislature will go head-to-head again to determine the exclusivity of blackjack in Florida…again.

Also with this compact the Seminoles will have a twenty year exclusivity on Vegas style slots games.

So what is the cost for all this exclusivity? The Seminoles will be paying the state of Florida $1.5 billion over five years. Each yearly payment will cover the blackjack and the Vegas style slots. But if the state allows pari-mutuels or any other group blackjack in less than five years, or Vegas style slots in less than twenty years, the respective portion of the Seminoles’ payment will cease while they continue to pay for the exclusivity on the other.

Originally the money from the Seminoles was to be allotted for education, but the legislature wouldn’t agree to that. They wanted the money to go into Florida’s general fund. While Crist was sad to see the money go elsewhere, as are the parents of the state’s children, an agreement needed to be reached. Florida needs the money too badly.

So it’s in Florida’s interest to let the Seminoles do their thing for the next five years and twenty years. Crist was a happy man indeed to have succeeded in helping to work out an agreement between the legislature and the Seminoles.

Florida House Signs Off on Seminole Compact

It looks like this compact with the Seminoles is going to happen. With a 74-39 vote, the compact passed through the House on Monday. The Florida Senate has already approved the compact with a 29-9 vote. Now all that’s left is for Governor Charlie Crist to sign off and then it’s off to the federal Department of Interior, who oversees all state-tribal gambling compacts in the U.S.

And the good news is that Crist has already said that he will sign the compact despite the fact that the Seminole’s payments will no longer go to education—something that Crist was strongly in favor of. To make the Legislature happy the money is now going into the state’s general revenue fund. This is disappointing because the education of Florida’s children should have come first.

In the next fiscal year this compact will put $435 million into the state’s budget, which is much in need of the money.

The compact will allow the Seminoles to have blackjack in their casinos. Originally the tribe wanted blackjack in all seven of their casinos, but they compromised with the deal that blackjack would be allowed at five of their casinos. The Seminoles will also have the full market on Vegas-style slot machines, except in Broward and Miami-Dade counties because voters in those counties had already approved those games.

But not everyone is happy to see the Seminoles get their blackjack.

The pari-mutuels are one such group. They feel that with the Seminoles having the only blackjack tables and the almost monopoly on the Vegas-style slots will leave the tracks unable to compete. However, the compact allows pari-mutuels to extended hours and offer higher poker limits.

Other opponents include the religious conservatives who worry about the morals of the citizens of Florida. Rep. Charles Van Zant is quoted saying that the compact “is evil and brings evil upon Floridians” and that “it damages our faith, our families and our freedoms.”

But what he is failing to see is that the allowance of blackjack and the Vegas-style slots will provide a boost to gambling tourism—and this is a state that doesn’t have a state income tax because of its tourism.

Florida also has extensive gambling offerings, proving that residents are okay with gambling. Florida is home to eight Indian casinos, a state Lottery with 13,000 retailers, gambling cruises and twenty seven pari-mutuels.

With all the gambling that is done in Florida it is about time that some of that money be returned to the state to support it, even if it isn’t going into education. The pari-mutuels and religious conservatives had better get prepared because it looks like blackjack is going to be legal in Florida.

Seminoles and Florida Take a Step Forward

The Florida Legislature and the Seminole Tribe have taken a step forward in reaching an agreement in regards to the Seminoles’ blackjack tables and slot machines. The deal isn’t finalized yet, it still has to pass the House, the Senate and the tribal council. But considering it was the tribe and the Legislature that have been butting heads from the beginning (the deals signed in 2007 and 2009 between the Seminoles and Governor Crist were rejected by the Legislature), the fact that they have a signed agreement is very encouraging.

In this signed deal the Seminoles would be paying Florida $1.5 billion over five years. This will give them exclusive operation rights for blackjack in their Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa casinos; there is also the option to add blackjack to the Seminole casino in Coconut Creek. It also gives them exclusivity over Vegas-style slot machines for twenty years.

The $1.5billion would be paid out in the following way:

$150 million for years one and two
$233 million for years three and four
$234 million for year five

But to balance out the benefits the Seminoles are getting for their blackjack and slots exclusivity, pari-mutuels would be allowed higher limits at their poker tables and extended hours. But pari-mutuels would also receive 350 video bingo machines and historic race machines—but those machines cannot operate like slot machines. If they do operate as such then the pari-mutuels would be stepping on the Seminoles’ toes.

At the end of five years the Legislature can allow the pari-mutuels to offer blackjack, but the Seminoles’ payment to the State would be lowered so that they are only paying for their exclusivity for slot machines. And if the Legislature allows for pari-mutuels to allow video lottery terminals outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties then the Seminole payments would cease.

Now my reasoning on this is that the Legislature is looking to make the most money for Florida. In light of that it would be wise in five years for the Legislature to make another deal with the Seminoles to keep their exclusivity for blackjack. The Seminole casinos will at that point be known as the place to go in Florida for blackjack; they can draw in the players which allows them to continue to make high payments to the State, which Florida needs.

Although we all know that the pari-mutuels will want more and more. But the thing to keep in mind is that the casinos are the Seminoles’ primary source of income for their tribe. Cutting of their exclusivity will hurt their relationship with Florida, and they could turn the Federal government to maintain their place in Florida.

But I have a funny feeling that in five years we’ll see another five years will see another long drawn out set of negotiations because the pari-mutuels will want more.

Seminoles Making a Deal?

It looks like the state of Florida and the Seminoles just might be reaching a deal that everyone can live with. Maybe.

This deal comes down to compromise.

From the looks of it the Seminoles would get to keep their exclusivity to blackjack and Vegas-style slots. But the pari-mutuels would get extended hours of operation, increased buy-ins at their poker tables and bingo style betting machines; there’s also the possibility that in the future pari-mutuels might get video lottery terminals as well.

Hopefully this would make everyone happy since the Seminoles would be getting their exclusivity. Having exclusivity is important to the Seminoles because the profits from their casinos are a very large chunk of the tribe’s livelihood.

The only hand up seems to be the video lottery terminals. The Seminoles want exclusive rights to those as well. But the pari-mutuels want them so that they have the feeling that they could compete with the Seminoles in terms of drawing a gambling crowd.

But a deal is going to have to be reached. The pari-mutuels are getting restless and the Seminoles are getting more and more irritated—both mostly from the three years it’s taken to even come close to a deal. And the state of Florida needs the income.

If this deal is agreed upon by the state and the Seminoles, it would put $450 million into the state’s budget. The money comes from licensing fees mostly. But Florida needs that money. Especially since the Seminoles’ contribution is allotted for education—and the money is badly needed for the state’s education programs and teachers’ salaries.

At this point we need to sit back, cross our fingers and hope that exclusivity to blackjack and slots is going to be enough for the Seminoles to agree.

How Not to Look Silly at the Blackjack Table

I heard tell of a guy who is planning a vacation to Vegas. He’s a slots player but for some reason feels compelled to play blackjack. He’s wondering how he can avoid looking silly while at the blackjack tables and just how different blackjack is from slot machines.

My first piece of advice to this man is to play at a low stakes blackjack table. If you’re new to the game or are learning you don’t want to put yourself in the position to lose a large chunk of money by playing a game you aren’t familiar with for high stakes.

Piece of advice number two: find a basic strategy chart. This is the easiest way to play blackjack without having to know any complex strategies and still have a decent shot at winning some money.

As to how blackjack differs from slots, well, there’s the obvious. Slots are played on a machine that you insert a player card in, push a button and wait to see what the outcome is. Whereas blackjack is a card game played at a table in which the player chooses how to play out his hand.

At the center of the difference is that slots are games of chance while blackjack is a game of skill. This means that in blackjack you can have an effect on the outcome of a round. This is why I recommend a basic strategy chart for a new blackjack player or for someone who just wants to give blackjack a shot.

Another difference: for the most part, slots are a losing game. Depending on the machine, it may take longer, but overall you will lose more money on a slot machine than what you win. In blackjack, because the player can choose how to play out his hand, he can apply strategy—even if it’s as simple as using a basic strategy chart—to lower the house edge and actually win some money.

If this man is looking to come home with more money than he started with, I’d recommend sticking to blackjack while on his Vegas vacation. Even playing with only basic strategy he will have better odds than what he will find at a slot machine.