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Secrets of Blackjack – Part Two

By: VictorVegas Vic” Royer

Blackjack makes money for the casino all the time. But it’s a game that makes money for the players, as well. Good players. Blackjack is the only casino game that can be beat – mathematically, with expert play, card-counting techniques, and other similar methods. All of this is perfectly legal. Expert players, such as card-counters for example, use only their minds, their knowledge, and their skills to play the game profitably, and within the rules of the game. Casinos know this, and they always try to stop such advantage players. But, sadly, those now running the casinos don’t seem to have learned much from history.

Back in the 1960’s, when the book “Beat the Dealer” was first published, casinos were so afraid that everyone will rush in and play Blackjack by counting cards that they started to mess with the rules of the game, so much so that they nearly destroyed the game altogether. Only after a very long time did it finally dawn on them that only very few people will actually have the ability to master such techniques. In fact, less than 1% of all Blackjack players can even be considered as “advantage”, or “knowledgably skilled” players. These are the players about whom books are written, and movies made. But they are far too few to be of any real threat to the corporations now running most casinos.

However, this still leaves the more than 99% of Blackjack players, those who may know something about the game, or perhaps play a reasonable basic strategy. Such players are still exposed to the house edge for this game, but not very much.

A Basic Strategy player can reduce the house edge on the game of Blackjack to only about 0.5%. A reasonably skilled Basic Strategy player who plays okay, but makes mistakes, can still play good enough to reduce the house edge to about 1%, or to about 1.8% if they’re not as good as they may think. And even a pretty bad Basic Strategy player can still reduce the house edge to about 3% to 5%. Most “casual” Blackjack players can play as good as about 6% house edge.

Casinos tend to prefer games where they have at least an 8% or more steady edge, and they don’t like games where smart players can cut this percentage. So, they always try to micro-manage each such game, to squeeze as much extra profit as possible. That’s bad for the players, but equally as bad for the casinos – although, sadly, they don’t seem to realize that. Or perhaps understand it, either.

In recent and modern times, the game of Blackjack has suffered many such rule changes. From using 6-deck shoes with only 50% penetration, to limits on double-down, splits and re-splits, to eliminating early surrender, or even late surrender, or eliminating surrender altogether, stopping double-down on soft hands or limiting them to only 8 or 9 (18 or 19 soft), and so on.

But the two biggest problems now facing modern Blackjack in the 21st century are these:

Paying 6:5 on Natural 21, as opposed to 3:2

Using shuffling machines, especially continuous shufflers

Both of these are about as bad as it can get. Paying 6:5 on naturals means you are giving up an extra $3 for each $10 wagered when you have 21, a Natural, known as Blackjack. At 3:2, which is the standard, if you bet $10 and get a natural 21, you will be paid 3-chips to every 2-chips wagered. So, wagering 2-red $5 chips ($10) you will received 3-red $5 chips for your win = $15. That’s 3:2.

But on Blackjack games that only pay 6:5, you get just $6 for every $5 wagered. So, for your 2-red $5 chips, you get $6 each, which means a win of only $12. That’s 6:5.

See the difference?

At 3:2, you pocket a win of $15.

At 6:5 you pocket a win of $12.

So, on a Blackjack table with a 6:5 payoff on a natural 21, you are giving the casino an extra $3 each time you win. That has the effect of adding anywhere from about 1.5% to about 6% extra house edge on the game – depending on how well you play the remaining hands, those that are not naturals.

The point is clear: Stay away from Blackjack tables paying only 6:5 on Naturals.

If you don’t, you are throwing your money away for nothing. Don’t do this. Ever. Send a clear message to the casinos that you are not stupid, and that you know you are being suckered.

Are all shuffling machines bad?

That’s the subject of Part Three of this series, Secrets of Blackjack.

Look for it on these pages, at

© Copyright 2012 Victor H Royer. All rights reserved