Posts Tagged ‘online casino’

Blackjack tips: stay away from side bets

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On this blog I have covered a number of popular blackjack variations, including perfect pairs, double exposure and more. Many of the blackjack variations are different because of a side bet that is offered. While many people like playing these games and enjoy the extra risk and challenge of the side bets, there is something you should remember: Side bets always have a higher house edge than the regular game. By sticking to blackjack basic strategy, the regular game of blackjack has a house edge of 0.5%. The side bets in any blackjack variant are going to be considerably higher than that. Therefore, the best strategy for your bankroll is to avoid side bets and stick to the regular game. Some other blackjack experts take that a step farther and say that side bets are “sucker bets.” I’ll be nicer and say that they don’t have good odds.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at two of the more popular blackjack side bets – perfect pairs and triple sevens – as examples. Perfect Pairs is a popular blackjack variation where at any time a player can bet that their first two cards will be a pair. If they bet on a pair and get one, they can earn a payout anywhere from 5 to 1 to 30 to 1, depending on the type of pair. You can have a mixed pair, a colored pair or a perfect pair in this side bet.

While those payouts may be enticing, the odds are not on your side. While the regular blackjack game has a 0.5% house edge with basic strategy, the perfect pairs side bet has a house edge from 3.37% to 7.95% with 8 decks. If it is a 2-deck game, the side bet has a house edge up to a ridiculous 26.2%. In case you’re thinking you can gain an advantage in this side bet by counting cards, keep in mind that in order to gain an advantage you would have to at least eliminate every card of one rank. That means keeping 13 different counts. Maybe Rain Man could do that, but can you? Also, if you’re playing online blackjack, card counting doesn’t work.

Lucky Sevens is another popular side bet, where you are paid 5 to 1 if your first card is a seven, 25 to 1 if your first two cards are unsuited sevens, 50 to 1 if your first two cards are suited sevens, 250 to 1 if your first 3 cards are unsuited sevens, 1000 to 1 if your first 3 cards are suited sevens and 41,227 to 1 if your first 3 cards are all diamond sevens. That side bet can be enticing because of those rather large payouts, but just like with the lottery, keno, roulette and more, the bigger the potential payout, the less likely an event is to happen. Those bets have a low probability of coming through for you. Even the most likely bet, getting a seven on your first card, has only a 7.1% chance of happening. Those two unsuited sevens only have a .04% chance of happening. The two suited sevens? That has a 0.11% probability.

What all of this means is that the experts are right. Side bets are not wise bets. Of course, neither is playing the lottery, and millions of people do that every day. If you happen to win it will be one of the greatest decisions of your life, but it’s definitely not the wise bet because you are most likely to be throwing your money away.

Playing blackjack with soft hands

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Soft hands are great when it comes to women and blackjack. Aside from a pair of aces, which actually is also a soft hand, there is nothing I’d rather have in blackjack than a soft hand. Well, that’s not true, either. I’d rather have a blackjack or a 20. Still, soft hands are powerful hands that give you a lot of room to improve your hand without the risk of busting.

I have covered blackjack basic strategy for soft hands before, telling you what to do when you have a soft hand. This time, I want to go more into your mindset. In my mind, when you have a soft hand you are then the one with the advantage. You are the aggressor and should play accordingly. Too often I’ll see someone stand with a soft 17, probably because they think their hand is already pretty good, but it’s not. Since a dealer will draw to a 17, that hand will only win if the dealer busts. That means it’s not much better than standing on a soft 13 and no one would do that, right?

Still, from time to time you’ll see someone look at their soft 17, look at the dealer’s five up card and stand. And then the rest of the blackjack table groans and rolls their eyes. Not only should you not stand in that situation, but you should actually double down. Why? Because the dealer is likely to bust, so why not double your wager? After all, with a stiff hand you cannot bust.

Stiff hands allow you to be more aggressive in your play. If you have a good hand you can take a hit and try to make it into a great hand. If you draw a card too high, all that does is turn your ace into a 1 and you have a hard hand, but you can draw again.

In that situation, often times other players at the table and even the dealer will advise the player to hit. Usually they won’t listen. I can understand that, because the other players might not know basic strategy and the dealer, well, isn’t he the bad guy? The player is skeptical of the advice, much like I feel whenever a homeless person tells me a sob story about how his family was evicted and needs money for food yet rejects my idea to buy him a slice of pizza.

While it’s okay to listen to the advice of others, it’s best to know strategy yourself. That is why I always advise that players learn basic strategy before playing at any blackjack tables. If you don’t have it memorized, use a strategy chart while you play. The good thing about online blackjack is that you can take as much time as you need. You can look over a chart, look online and even call your friend the gambling expert and ask for advice. Just don’t do that in a Vegas casino.

Shocking casino bonus at InterCasino

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Online blackjack can be a very rewarding game if you stick to basic strategy. While the house still has a 0.5% edge, you can easily have a successful session where you make money, especially if you get on a hot streak. If you’re playing blackjack at InterCasino, though, you can be rewarded in another way.

InterCasino is telling all of their customers to “prepare to be shocked.” Don’t worry; they mean that in a good way. Their Shock Bonus is a random bonus awarded to anyone at any time, as long as their playing one of the games at the online casino. Sound simple? It is.

At random times throughout the day, the online casino will randomly select a player from all of the players who are wagering at that time. That player will receive a surprise bonus as well as an additional surprise offer that is “tailor-made especially for you.” I’m guessing that the supplemental surprise offer will be different depending on what game you normally play, so if you play blackjack it would be different from if you’re a slot player. I’m just guessing, though, because the details on this bonus promotion are intentionally vague. That makes it more of a secret and more of shock. How much is the bonus? I don’t know. How often will they give out the Shock Bonus? Can’t tell. Are you intrigued? I am.

One of the few things that I do know is that there is no limit to the number of times a player can be picked. The odds may be against you winning it more than once, but if you play at the casino a lot, it’s definitely possible. Since the winners are chosen at random from those who are wagering, the more time you spend at the online casino, the better your chances of being picked.

To be eligible, you don’t have to make a deposit, enter a coupon code or opt in. All you have to do is wager on your favorite casino games, including online blackjack. To have a chance at being selected for the Shock Bonus, visit InterCasino.

Perfect Pairs Blackjack tournament at InterCasino

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

InterCasino has a Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament going on right now and it’s a good opportunity to take a shot at prizes without risking much of your own money. The blackjack tournament only has a $250 prize pool, but the stakes are low – the entry fee is only $10.

If you only play the traditional blackjack game and are unfamiliar with the different blackjack variants, perfect pairs is a common variation with a side bet where the player earns extra money if their first two cards happen to be a pair. The payouts depend on the type of pair. A “perfect pair” is two identical cards, such as two aces of spades. Another type of pair is a “colored pair,” which is two cards that match in rank and color. An example would be a three of spades and a three of clubs, since both suits are black. The third type of pair is a “mixed pair,” which is a pair that matches in rank but is an opposite color.

InterCasino’s Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament is running now and ends Sunday, August 29. Until it ends, you can enter at any time. You just have to pony up the $10 buy-in. When you enter the tournament, the online casino gives you $500 worth of tournament chips with which to play. Your tournament lasts 30 minutes and you want to make as much tournament money as you can.

At the end, only the top six players in the blackjack tournament will win prizes. The tournament winner will earn a $100 prize. The second-place finisher will win a $50 prize. The players who finish in third through sixth place will win prizes worth $25 each.

To take part in the Perfect Pairs Blackjack Tournament, visit InterCasino before it ends on August 29.

Blackjack odds: Drawing a natural blackjack

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

A natural blackjack is the best hand in the game. Players search for those ace-ten combinations. They love the prospect of a 3:2 payout and a guaranteed win (unless the dealer also has a natural blackjack). It’s the reason card counters keep track of the number of tens that have been played. It’s the reason we get excited by getting dealt an ace and worried when the dealer shows an ace. But how likely are you to draw a natural blackjack?

The likelihood of drawing a natural blackjack depends on the number of decks in play. Assuming an infinite number of decks, you or the dealer have a 4.73% chance of drawing a natural blackjack, which is once every 21 hands. If you’re worried about your blackjack being spoiled by the dealer also drawing a blackjack, which would lead to a push, that only happens 0.22% of the time, or once out of 450 hands.

If you or the dealer already have an ace, there is a 30.77% chance – or four out of 13 – of turning it into a natural blackjack. If you or the dealer already have a ten, there is a 7.69% chance – one out of 13 – of turning it into a blackjack.

The chances of these events happening whether at an online casino or land-based differs depending on the number of decks. In an eight-deck game, which is the most common at casino blackjack tables, there is a slightly higher chance of drawing a natural blackjack: 4.745%. In a six-deck blackjack game, you have a 4.749% chance of drawing a natural blackjack. There is a 4.756% chance of getting a blackjack in a four-deck game and in a single-deck game, the odds are raised to 4.83%. As you might have noticed, the odds increase as the number of decks decrease.

It is good to keep in mind the odds of drawing a blackjack, particularly when either you or the dealer have an ace or a ten card. Knowing your odds is key to successfully executing blackjack basic strategy.

Blackjack: Early surrender v. late surrender

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Though the move should be done sparingly, in certain situations surrendering is a wise decision in the game of blackjack. Forfeiting half of your bet automatically is usually not the best option, but in certain circumstances, basic blackjack strategy says to cut your losses. It is important to keep separate the two types of surrender, though: early surrender and late surrender.

First of all, whether you’re playing at an online casino or at a brick and mortar casino, you need to know that not all blackjack tables offer surrender as an option. It is usually available because the house counts on players using the surrender option when they shouldn’t, which amounts to throwing money away. Sometimes you cannot surrender, though. When you can, the blackjack table is only going to offer one of the two types of surrender. Therefore, it’s important to know which type is allowed.

Some people think that with a late surrender, you can surrender late in the hand, like right before you get to that card that would bust you or right before the dealer draws his last card. That’s not the case. It’s really quite simple. If the blackjack table has an early surrender, you choose whether or not to surrender before the dealer checks his hole card. With a late surrender, you decide after he checks. Let’s put it into a scenario.

The dealer gives you your cards and then deals himself a hole card and a ten card. If early surrender is allowed, you would then be asked if you want to surrender. If you do, it doesn’t matter what he has as a hole card. Even if it turns out he has a natural blackjack, you still only lose half of your bet. If the blackjack table has a late surrender, though, the dealer will check his hole card to see if he has a blackjack first. If he does, you lose. If he does not have a natural blackjack, he will then ask if you want to surrender.

For that reason, an early surrender is more beneficial to players. An early surrender allows players to save themselves from a natural blackjack whereas with a late surrender, the dealer checks for one first. For that reason, proper usage (according to basic strategy) of a late surrender only trims 0.08% off of the house edge. However, proper usage of early surrender reduces the house edge by 0.6%.

Blackjack bonus at Lucky Red Casino

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

On the weekends, I normally don’t spend much time on the computer. Therefore, I usually don’t visit any online casinos at that time. I am busy off doing something fun with my wife, whether it’s going to the beach, hiking, visiting a park or whatever. A lot of people feel the same way and for that reason, online casino attendance drops during the weekend. One way of combating that is by offering good casino bonuses during the weekend. Lucky Red Casino has a good blackjack bonus this weekend and it might be enough to convince me to play there.

Sure, I’ll still spend quality time with my wife, but it won’t hurt to spend an hour online. If you’re a fan of online blackjack and want to play some games this weekend, Lucky Red Casino has a bonus that will reward you for doing so. The online casino is offering a 75% match bonus on your deposits. The bonus has a maximum limit of $750. However, you can collect up to 5 coupons for this bonus, meaning you can actually collect $3,750 in bonuses.

To redeem the 75% blackjack bonus, you need to enter the correct coupon code. The codes for the five bonuses you can collect, in order, are BIGWIN1, BIGWIN2, BIGWIN3, BIGWIN4 and (you guessed it) BIGWIN5. The bonus money must be wagered at least 50 times before being withdrawn.

If you are all blackjacked out and want to try a different game, like slots or keno, there is another offer. Lucky Red Casino is giving away a 150% match bonus on deposits, with a $1,000 limit. The bonus for those games is higher than for blackjack because, as I’m sure you know, those games have a drastically higher house edge. Unlike the skilled game of blackjack, keno and slots are games of luck where the casino is going to take a big chunk of your money.

To take advantage of the weekend blackjack bonus, visit Lucky Red Casino.

BC online casino loses player’s money

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

By now, most of us have heard of the problem British Columbia had with their online casino. On July 15, the Canadian province launched a casino on their Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow.com website and it was only up for a few hours before the British Columbia shut it down.

The problem was a glitch in the software that triggered a security breach, one that caused some players to be logged onto the accounts of other players, giving them access to sensitive information. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation originally said that the online casino was down because of too much traffic to the website, but later admitted to the security issue.

Once the problem was learned and it was revealed that some players wagered with someone else’s money and won or lost with that money, the BCLC assured everyone that the money would be attributed to the correct person. But who is that? If Person A wagers $10 of Person B’s money and then wins $100, surely $10 of that still belongs to Person B, but what about the other $90? I’m not sure.

Now another problem has come up. At least one player has reported that the online casino lost his money. Mike Reid, a retired banker, says that he won a few hundred dollars at blackjack on the PlayNow.com site and then transferred $100 of the winnings to his bank account. After the website was shut down due to the security breach, Reid checked his bank account and found that the $100 wasn’t there. When he contacted the Lottery Corporation, they said that the money was basically in limbo and that all transactions would go through once the online casino re-launches, whenever that may be.

But how could they have taken the money from his personal bank account? And why would they do that? After making an issue out of it, Reid eventually received a $100 check from the Lottery Corporation, but that is of little reassurance to other players. Does the BCLC think it’s okay to take money out of your personal bank account?

The more time passes since the launch of North America’s first online casino, the more unpleasant the questions get. This is a reason that, while I support legalizing online gambling in jurisdictions where it is banned, I am not in favor of governments running the online casinos. I certainly can’t recommend that blackjack players go to PlayNow.com once it reopens. I’d rather point people toward InterCasino or Pure Vegas, which are much safer options.

Blackjack Tips: Cards Face Up or Face Down?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

If you have been to enough casinos, you have noticed that the tables have cards dealt in one of two ways. They are either dealt face up or face down. In this blog, I will give you blackjack tips on which table to use.

First, you need to know that blackjack is a game of etiquette and there are different rules depending on how the cards are dealt. If the cards are dealt to players face up, you’re not allowed to touch the cards, including your own. Since they are facing up, there is no need to touch them. You can see them just fine already. By not letting the players touch the cards, the casino protects themselves against players marking the cards, swapping cards or engaging in other forms of cheating.

In blackjack games where the cards are dealt face down, it is a handheld game. In these games, you pick up the cards and hold them, but there are also specific rules for the handling of those cards. For one thing, you are only allowed to touch the cards with one hand. Again, this is to minimize the possibility of sleight of hand tricks. The cards must also be held over the table at all times. This is to avoid you hiding the cards below the table and making a switch.

You might be wondering which version of the blackjack game is better to play. If you are a card counter, my blackjack tip is to play at a game where the cards are dealt face up. That way, you can see what cards the other players have and it makes it easier to count cards and determine how many tens are in play. If the cards are dealt face down, you can only track your own cards and the dealer’s cards, making card counting more difficult.

If you are not a card counter and rely solely on blackjack basic strategy, it really doesn’t matter which game you play. I prefer face up games but that is only my personal preference. They also are more traditional. In both forms of blackjack, basic strategy can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.5%.

Free welcome bonus at Silver Dollar Casino

Monday, July 19th, 2010

People say you can’t get something for nothing, but sometimes you can. Such is the case right now at Silver Dollar Casino. If you join, you get a free $5. Sure, that’s not a lot of money, but considering you didn’t have to do anything to get it, that’s pretty good.

Okay, you could argue that you didn’t get it for nothing; you got it for joining the online casino. That’s true, but it’s a no-deposit bonus, so you don’t have to spend any of your own money to get it. Once you play that $5 away, though, you’re going to want some more. The good news is that there is another bonus you can get once you do make a deposit.

On your first deposit, the online casino will match you 100% up to $550. That’s some good spending money that, if you stick to blackjack basic strategy, can last you a while. The good deals don’t stop there, though. There are a number of good promotions going on at Silver Dollar Casino. For example, players start out as Level One players, where you get 5% cash back on all of your deposits, for a bonus of up to $100 per month. Players can eventually work their way up to Platinum status, where you get a 10% rebate on your net losses, 25% match bonus on Mondays, 50% deposit bonus on Wednesdays and 100% match bonus on Fridays. All other days, Platinum members get a 30% match bonus on deposits.

Silver Dollar Casino has a good variety of blackjack games and more. If you’re in the mood for slots or poker, the casino has you covered there as well.

More information can be found on the promotions page of Silver Dollar Casino.