Posts Tagged ‘casino blackjack’

Blackjack + exotic dancers = lower payouts

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

There is a recent trend in casino blackjack and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is in the eye of the beholder. The trend is combining table games with table dancing. Many brick and mortar casinos have started providing exotic dancers in “party pits” in the middle of blackjack areas. The thinking is that players will spend more time at the blackjack table if they get to watch half-naked women dancing on a pole while they do it.

Since my wife doesn’t read this blog, I can say that it would work for me. The hard part would be having enough concentration to stick to blackjack basic strategy. If you’re a card counter then I doubt you’d be able to do it with a hot girl table dancing right in front of you. So maybe that’s another reason for the trend: exotic dancers as card counting deterrents.

Some big-name casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City have turned to exotic dancers to provide entertainment to the blackjack players. Harrah’s, Mandalay Bay and Hard Rock (pictured above) are three examples of casinos that have added some skin to the scenery.

So is the trend a good thing? If you’re offended by exotic dancers (usually non-nude), then no, it’s not. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, then… maybe. Another recent trend at the casinos is lower payouts for the blackjack games. On average, those same casinos are dropping their blackjack payouts by 20% by dropping the payout ratio for a natural blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5.

The casinos say that the decreased payouts are necessary in order to pay for the entertainment of the dancers. Instead, it just seems like a convenient excuse. I understand that such entertainment comes at a cost and I can see there being a tradeoff if you’re basically paying extra to watch the dancers, but the problem is that not all of the blackjack players want to watch them. Some just want to play blackjack and when you play blackjack, you expect a 3:2 payout.

I imagine that the lower payouts will anger blackjack purists, who will take their games elsewhere, but the party pits will bring younger customers to the casino who may not have otherwise had any desire to play blackjack. If so, it could end up cancelling out and the casino doesn’t lose any money. So do I support the idea of exotic dancers performing in party pits while customers play blackjack? I guess so, as long as the casino keeps the payout at 3:2. If it’s 6:5, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not really blackjack. I’ll go to a strip club if I just want to pay to watch a girl dance.

$1 blackjack tables helping Atlantic City casinos

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I have written before about how raising the minimum bet limits for blackjack tables can cause a drop in revenue for the casinos rather than an increase. Casino games, like any other product, good or service, is governed by the rules of supply and demand. Or at least they should be. The casinos charge a price to play the game that the players consider the games to be worth. If the casino charges too little money, they risk not making enough to justify carrying the game (or so they say). If they charge too much, players may opt to not play.

The casino industry is hurting thanks to the recession and they are looking for ways to increase revenue. Some casinos, such as those in Colorado, have made $10 tables the cheapest, but they risk losing some blackjack novices who don’t want to wager that price.  Some Atlantic City casinos are now taking the opposite route in an attempt to lure more players. The casino will make less money on each hand, but hopefully have more players.

The Trump Marina Hotel Casino, owned by that guy who fires people on TV, has introduced $1 blackjack tables in an attempt to boost business. As a result, they are seeing the best business they have had in years. Back in the 1990’s, $2 tables were common in Atlantic City, but those were gradually phased out in favor of $5 and even $10 tables as the cheapest.

With the resurgence in popularity for blackjack tables at the Trump Marina, here’s hoping that the $1 blackjack table trend will catch on. It’s the perfect way for gamblers with smaller incomes or novice gamblers to have fun at the casino without worrying too much about their cash.

Of course, at online casinos there are even more opportunities for low-minimum blackjack tables. It is common to find $1 and $2 blackjack tables online if you look hard enough. In addition, some online casinos hold blackjack tournaments, where you can buy in for a low price or maybe for no entry fee at all, if it’s a free blackjack tournament.

Online Blackjack Casinos: InterCasino

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

My online blackjack blog is constantly evolving as I add new things to cover and discuss. I routinely write about blackjack news, strategy, and different types of blackjack games. Those blackjack blogs often refer to both brick and mortar casinos and online casinos. I’ve never really gone into too much detail about the different online casinos out there, though.

For that reason, I decided to start a new series where I outline where I play, what you can find there and why I recommend them. First of all, I will never recommend an online casino that I’m not certain is safe and fair. But what else should you look for? Read on and see.

The first online casino that I want to highlight is InterCasino, which is a great casino to play some online blackjack. InterCasino has a variety of blackjack games, so even if you play at this casino exclusively there will still be plenty of different games from which to choose. The many online blackjack variations they have includes Atlantic City Blackjack, Double-Deck Blackjack, Progressive Blackjack, Single-Deck Blackjack, Vegas Blackjack, European Blackjack, Pontoon, Super Fun 21 and Video Blackjack.

Each blackjack game has different rules, which you can easily find on the website. In addition to the regular games, InterCasino also sometimes holds blackjack tournaments. Players who are new to InterCasino can take advantage of a welcome bonus that matches your initial deposit 100% up to $225. In addition, as you play games you accumulate points and earn money in the My Cash Rewards bonus, which is given out monthly. The My Cash Rewards bonus rewards players for wagering and playing games, which is something you would do anyway. Players can also join the Cashback Club in order to get additional bonus money.

Perhaps the best thing about InterCasino right now, though, is a specific contest that you probably won’t win. It’s well worth it if you do, though. I’m taking about the Space Race promotion. The Space Race contest is kind of like a raffle. Simply by joining you have one point in the contest, but you earn more for accomplishing certain things, such as making deposits and playing games at the online casino. At the end of the promotion, some lucky player will be randomly drawn from the contest pool to win a trip into space.

Yes, you read that right. InterCasino is sending people into space by partnering with the company Space Adventures. I can’t think of a more exciting grand prize in an online casino promotion. There are other prizes as well, though, including trips to the Super Bowl, Grand Prix and an African safari. There are also cash prizes of up to $100,000 in the promotion.

So yeah, by playing online blackjack at InterCasino, you have a chance to get sent into space. I can’t think of a better reason to play there than that.

To join InterCasino, click here.

Seminoles Agree to Blackjack Deal?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

If you’ve been following blackjack news, then you probably know that for some time the Seminole tribe of Florida has been trying to work out a deal in that state to allow blackjack tables at their casinos. On two separate occasions, the tribe reached an agreement with Governor Charlie Crist, but on both occasions the state House rejected the deals, bringing the negotiations back to square one.

This year, for the first time the state lawmakers have been directly involved in the negotiations with the tribe. There have been several points of contention during the negotiation, but the main thing is that the Seminole always wanted exclusive rights to offer blackjack and other table games and it seems like they have finally struck a deal that includes that and still keeps the state lawmakers happy.

Representative Bill Galvano, a Republican representing Bradenton, has been the lead negotiator in the process and he announced on Friday that he had reached a deal with the Seminole tribe. That deal gives the Seminole tribe exclusive rights to blackjack tables in their two casinos in Broward County as well as in their casinos in Tampa and Immokalee. Their other casinos would continue to offer slot machines only. In exchange, the state of Florida will make $1.5 billion in the deal over five years. To balance out the advantage of that exclusivity, the pari-mutuels in the state will be given extended hours of operation, higher betting limits and additional bingo tables.

This is far from a done deal, though. As I reported earlier, though, because this deal doesn’t include every Seminole casino (they own 7 Hard Rock and Coconut Creek casinos in the state of Florida), it will have to be approved by the Seminole tribal council, which includes representatives from every reservation in the tribe. In addition, the bill would have to be approved by the state House and Senate and then signed by Governor Crist. It is believed that Crist is onboard, since he has twice tried to pass a similar agreement. The major question is whether it will get through the full Florida legislature.

Blackjack Myths: What Size Blackjack Table to Play

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Gamblers are a superstitious bunch and are a group of people who are always looking for an edge. That’s why there are so many ideas out there of how to increase your odds of winning. Every time someone finds a strategy, tries it and has success, they think that validates the strategy, rather than being a coincidence. Since they think the strategy works, they stick with it and tell everyone they know about it. Those other people hear about the strategy and have a testimonial that it works. Therefore, they try it themselves. If it works for them, the cycle continues. This is why betting systems and other useless strategies last forever.

Today I want to look at the blackjack table size and how it affects your odds. I have heard many people say that you want to play at a small table or a table with a lot of empty seats. Some “experts” even put a specific number on it, saying something like “don’t play at a table with more than 3 people.” The truth is, the size of the table does nothing to improve your odds.

The odds in blackjack are constant. Whenever you or anyone else (including the dealer) take a card, it has the same odds of being a 10, ace, 4 or whatever based on which cards have been played in the deck. If there was a limit to the number of cards that are dealt, then having more players could affect your odds because those players could take the cards you want. However, at a blackjack table once the cards are all dealt, a newly shuffled deck is used. Ta-dah! The cards are back!

Regardless of the number of people at the table, each card appears in the same ratio. There are 4 ten-value cards for every 13 cards and that doesn’t change no matter how many decks there are or how many people are playing at the table. Since the ratio of cards is the same, your odds of receiving certain cards are the same. For that reason, your odds are the same.

One thing that is different, though, is that the fewer people there are at the table, the faster the game will go. Fewer people means more hands played each hour. If you’re winning money, more hands is a good thing. If you’re losing, more hands is a bad thing. Since blackjack has a house edge even when you play perfect basic strategy, in the long run, playing more hands causes you to lose more money. For that reason, you could make the argument that you should pick a table with more people. That’s how I like it.

If you’re counting cards, though, you may want to play at a smaller table. While your odds are still the same, it is easier to count when there are fewer people. When counting cards, you don’t only count your own; you count every card that is dealt to every player. Therefore, for some people it would be easier with fewer people playing. On the other hand, a table with fewer people plays faster, so if you’re counting you might rather have a full table because it gives you more time to count. In addition, looking for a more talkative table, where the players are joking with each other and having fun, would be a good idea because, again, it slows down the game.

Whether you are counting cards or not, the blackjack table size does not affect your odds. Your odds of being dealt a certain card are the same and playing the correct strategy gives you the same odds of winning.

Blackjack Betting Limits

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

So you’ve memorized blackjack basic strategy and want to put your knowledge to the test at the tables. How do you choose which table to play, though? In brick and mortar and online casinos, there are normally several variations of the game at the blackjack tables. One thing that separates the tables is the number of decks (though this does not apply to online blackjack). Many casinos will have different tables that range from one deck to eight. Remember that the more decks there are, the more the odds favor the house. However, single-deck games often only pay 6:5 for blackjack, in which case the lower deck number is not better.

The other major variation in blackjack tables is the betting limit. Blackjack tables typically have two limits: a lower limit and an upper limit. Both need to be taken into consideration. The lower limits can be as low as $1 per bet and as high as over $100, though it is becoming increasingly hard to find blackjack tables in a casino with a limit lower than $5. The lower your bet, the less money you risk losing on each hand. The downside, of course, is that you win less money when you win the hand, so it’s a trade-off. If you’re new to the game of blackjack, I recommend playing at the table with the lowest minimum bet and betting that minimum amount on each hand.

The casino’s reason for putting lower limits on the betting is obvious: They make more money when you bet more money. But why are there upper limits? The main reason casinos place upper limits on their games is to thwart the Martingale betting system, where players double their bet after each loss. Players, in theory, could be guaranteed to make money if they had an unlimited bankroll because even if they have  a losing streak, the money they make once they win again would make up for it. Most players who try the Martingale system simply run out of money. For those with a large enough bankroll, though, the upper betting limit does essentially the same thing. It makes it so that the players eventually get to a point where they can no longer double their bet.

If you’re new to blackjack, the upper betting limits don’t matter. After all, betting the minimum is the wisest strategy for you, anyway. I also recommend flat betting, where you bet the same amount on each hand, in which case the upper betting limit doesn’t matter, either.

What it all comes down to is fiscal responsibility. You should never gamble money that you can’t afford to lose. Therefore, before you ever begin playing blackjack you should decide how much money you want to spend and how long you want to play. Based on that information, you should determine how much money you want to bet on each hand and find a table that suits that need.

Colorado Allowed to Have 6:5 Blackjack Tables

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Hurting for cash, Colorado casinos petitioned the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission for a rule change that would tilt the game’s odds more in their favor. Their idea was to make more money by paying out 6:5 for a natural blackjack rather than the standard 3:2. Changing the payout required approval from the Commission, though, since the state already has strict rules about the payouts in place.

Yesterday, the Commission approved the rule change, allowing the casinos to pay blackjack players at a 6-to-5 ratio for a blackjack. To get an idea of how this would change things, consider a $10 bet. With the standard 3:2 odds, a player wins $15 on that bet if they have a blackjack. With the 6:5 odds, though, they only make $12. Played out over the long term, that is a large difference in money.

Many casinos have started using 6:5 payouts for single-deck games. Players like the odds of single-deck games and the lower blackjack payout evens things out. However, this rule change in Colorado does not say that the 6:5 tables have to be single-deck games. It is likely that the casinos will only make some of their tables 6:5 games, but in theory they could lower the payout for every table and keep them all multi-deck tables.

I understand that the economy is rough and people need to make money, but this move could backfire for the Colorado casinos. As I reported earlier this week, blackjack revenue has dropped in Las Vegas, in part due to a tightening of the rules and lowered payouts. Many players will avoid playing at the 6:5 blackjack tables, and I can’t blame them. I would never play at those tables myself. Vegas found that trying to squeeze more money out of players has actually resulted in making less money. Colorado should take note.

Budgeting for Blackjack

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The story sounds familiar. You hit the blackjack table full of confidence, placing $10 bets on each hand, but early on are losing. Knowing that your luck is about to turn around, you decide to double your bet in order to make your money back. By the time you realize this is a mistake, you’re out of money and the night is still young.

Or maybe this story rings a little more true to you. You’re doing well at the blackjack table and have made lots of money. In order to increase your winnings, you start placing larger bets. At first, that strategy works and your pile of chips is getting larger and larger, but then you start losing and the pile begins shrinking. Determined to make that money back, you increase the wager again and soon enough are out of chips. After a quick stop at the cashier, you have more money, eager to get back on that winning streak. Before you realize what you’ve done wrong, you are calling your wife to explain why you have to cancel your anniversary trip.

There are countless other scenarios I could bring up, but they all amount to the same thing: poor budgeting leading to you losing money you never intended to spend. Anytime you go out for a night on the town, a vacation, or any other trip that isn’t free (and what trips are?), you should always make a budget ahead of time.

Before you ever sit down at a blackjack table (or log onto one if you’re playing online blackjack), you should decide how much money you want to spend at the casino. Think of it as an outing like any other and one that requires money to have a good time. How much money are you willing to spend? Always consider that any money you wager you might lose. In fact, statistically you are more likely to lose than win each bet. Therefore, you should never wager money that you can’t afford to lose.

A good idea is to determine a specific dollar amount that you are willing to spend, cash in that amount for chips (or deposit it in an online casino) and do not spend anything else, no matter what happens at the blackjack table. In addition, any winnings should be kept separate. Put that money aside instead of adding it to the money for you to wager. That way, you can’t lose any of your winnings and you are guaranteed of having at least something to show for your time at the table, even if you still had a net loss.

Once you decide how much you’re willing to spend at the blackjack table, you need to decide how much you’re willing to bet on each hand. Obviously, those two amounts are related. To come up with the amount you want to wager, you need to take into account the total amount you are willing to spend and the amount of hands you plan to play. The easiest way to do that is to first decide how long you plan to play blackjack at the casino. Though the speed differs for each table, as a general rule at a full blackjack table you can play approximately 55 hands in one hour.

Using simple math then, you can decide how much money you are willing to spend on each hand. You should then bet that amount (or less) and bet the same on each hand. There are a lot of betting strategies out there, such as the martingale strategy, that claim to give you better odds, but statistics show that you are better off with flat betting. Once you decide on an amount per bet and the total amount that you are willing to spend, you are ready to have a good time playing blackjack at the casino. Best of all, you don’t have to come up with any excuses for how you lost money that you needed.

Blackjack Etiquette

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

If you are reading this blog, you most likely either want to learn how to play blackjack or you want to become a better player. Some of you may only want to play online blackjack, but many will eventually take their skills to a brick and mortar casino. If you do, you need to be able to sit at the table and play your game of choice without being “that guy.”

You know who I mean. That player that makes everyone roll their eyes and mutter obscenities under their breath. That guy always sits near me at football games and often finds his way to my blackjack table as well. That guy can completely ruin your experience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and have never experienced this phenomenon, then congratulations! You’re that guy.

One thing that you need to know is the hand signal for each decision. These signals were covered in an earlier blog post. The important thing to remember is that the hand signals make it clear to the “eye in the sky” what decision you made, thus minimizing any disputes.

Another thing to remember is that it’s your job to know blackjack basic strategy, not the dealer’s. Yes, the dealer knows what you should do, but why should he tell you? And why should all of the other players wait around while you get advice? Don’t bother the dealer by asking for advice. Make your own decisions based on your understanding of basic strategy.

That brings me to another thing. If you don’t have basic strategy memorized, it’s okay to bring a basic strategy chart with you. Some casinos even hand them out. However, just because you have a chart to look out doesn’t mean it’s okay to spend all day staring at it while trying to make a decision. The chart shouldn’t be consulted before every decision. You should glance at it if you need help every now and then. If your knowledge of blackjack strategy is so weak that you need to look at the chart more often than that, then you need to pick a table where you’re by yourself or practice at home.

As a common courtesy, if you are just watching other people play, give them space. Don’t look over their shoulder or crowd them. Players don’t like having people too close to them or distracting them in any other way. For the same reason, keep your talking to a minimum. A blackjack table isn’t like a barbershop, or even a poker table, where there is more chitchat. Players at a blackjack table are there to play and don’t want to be distracted.

At some blackjack tables, your cards are dealt face up, whereas at others they are dealt face down. If your cards are dealt face up, you are not allowed touch the cards. Leave them on the table and don’t touch them. If the cards are dealt face down, you are allowed to touch the cards to look at them. It is never acceptable to touch chips that are not yours or to touch other players, unless of course they’re on fire or something.

And one final thing that many novices don’t think of is tipping the dealer. It is expected that if you play at a table for long enough you should tip the dealer, especially if you’re winning. It’s understandable to not want to give the dealer extra money if he’s taking all of it from you anyway. To tip the dealer, simply place a chip above the betting circle (closer to the dealer) after your hand. Or if you want to be cool, you can place a bet on the dealer’s behalf by placing an additional bet outside your betting circle, toward the dealer.

If you listen to all of these suggestions, everyone at your table will appreciate it. Maybe you’ll even make some new friends at the table, rather than having people cursing your name after you leave. I know I like it better that way.