All posts by Michael Dalton

Michael Dalton is the editor and publisher of the Blackjack Review Network and former editor of the quarterly newsletter Blackjack Review. As an authority on the game of twenty-one and a professional level card counter, he has appeared in public on very few occasions. "It is ironic", Dalton remarks, "that to be successful with one's book and writings you have to publicize yourself, which is contradictory to everything that a player must do to be allowed to win at this game."Michael Dalton is retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after 30 years working in Space Shuttle launch activites, avionics, software development and project management. He is a graduate of Florida Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Space Science and a Master of Science degree in Space Technology. Besides the space program, blackjack, and poker, his other interests include the martial arts, playing the Scottish bagpipes and managing the BlackjackReview.com web site. He can currently be found enjoying his semi-retirement...You can follow Michael Dalton on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bjrnet.

Five Ways That Casinos Trick You Into Losing At Blackjack

Casimba Casino BlackjackBy Joseph Johnson

When you visit a casino to play blackjack, you must understand that the dealer is not the only one you are up against. The combat measures for your loss begins even before you take a seat at the casino. It has been revealed that there is a game behind the blackjack game and it involves getting you to the table and ensuring you stay put. The fact is that your commitment to the idea of winning is increased while your chances of winning are reduced.

The dealers are just pawns and the casinos are the real foes you’re up against in your bid to win. The casinos are the ones who hire the dealers, train them, and monitor them. They just do the jobs for which they are paid, and must do it perfectly to avoid being fired although the dealers are always on the lookout for some fun and good tips in the process. Here are some measures put in place by casinos to ensure you’re disadvantaged once you’re at a table.

1. They Pretend To Be Your Friend

It’s a no-brainer that you’ll receive warm welcoming at a casino with your tips being received in a gracious manner. If you observe carefully, this treatment goes out of the window when it becomes obvious that you won’t be tipping. For the ones who decide to tip at a table, once you’re down and out, the friends vanish immediately. Dealers only become your acquaintances when you’re at the table, once you’re away from the table, you are on your own.  Tip:  Only tip if you are winning and at the end of a session.

2. The Fake Optimism Method

Dealers must create the impression that the casino has been designed to ensure that you win when you’re at a table. They give the impression that you have arrived at a happy place where your chance of leaving with some cool cash is realizable. 

Well, this is eventually not the case most times. Some online casinos offer more winnable options and are the go-to in recent times for casino gamers. As an example, try your hands at casimba.com for realistic winnable options that will be on offer. Regardless, the dealer at a land-based casino has been hired to welcome you, offer some small talk and give you hope that all things are possible with regards to winning.  You would do well not to fall for this on your next visit to a casino to play blackjack.

3. They’ll Keep the Drinks Coming

Do you take alcohol in the midst of a serious business conversation or when you’re involved in a major productive activity that involves your mental capacity? I guess your answer is No, and rightfully so. The liquid only serves to reduce the validity of your thoughts.

That is what the casino aims for when they keep offering you free drink after free drink to affect your judgment and decisions. This will increase the possibility of bad decisions from your end and sees you ending up on the losing side frequently. They really don’t need your money at the bar but at the table.  Tip: Don’t drink and gamble.

4. The Tip Whoring Method

Casinos want players, as your loss is their reward which helps them to keep running and cater to their staff. You unknowingly help them out in catering for their staff in the form of tips. You may ask how? Well, when you smash them with wins, they expect a share of the spoil, but when you end up losing, they suggest that you’ve not been a good tipper. Regardless, it’s all a ploy to reduce your chances of a successful night. Do the dealers tip you when they win big?

5. Hiding Bad Blackjack Rules

In recent years, casinos have been changing blackjack rules to the detriment of players.  The biggest change in rules has been the payoff for a natural – a ten valued card and an Ace on your first 2 cards.  This should be paid at 3 to 2, however, to increase casino profits many casinos have changed this payoff to 6 to 5.  To make matters worse, some casinos don’t even inform the customer of the change or they have the rules written in very small letters on the table.  Tip:  Don’t play at casinos that only pay 6 to 5 at blackjack.

Well, these aforementioned tips shouldn’t surprise you as both dealers and casinos are looking to make money. Therefore, it’s advisable for players to be on the lookout, know when to deal, and protect their money.

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Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 2)

AcesBy Yancy Howard 

In the last article we talked about choosing the right games at which to put your money at risk, discipline, good and bad players and how they affect your game, and thought processes that knowledgeable players use to maximize their expectation.

Game selection was the key factor discussed concerning your long term profits.  In the BJ example we talked about choosing a game that had the best rules, the deepest cut, the ability to get away with a large bet spread, and a fast robot, (that’s the dealer for those of you that didn’t read the last article) that hopefully makes a lot of mistakes. 

Now, say you find this game and start exploiting it.  Once you start taking a fair amount of checks from the dealers chip tray, what happens?  All of a sudden you seem to have taken on a burst of popularity.  The floorman comes over to your table.  First, he may introduce himself and ask you a few questions.  This usually depends on the size of your bets, but you can be sure that he will be particularly interested in your bet spread, and your reaction to his being there. 

In our poker example, if you remember, we were looking to get in a game with lots of technically weak, loose players that call a lot.  For the time being though, we are going to leave out the maniac who is constantly raising, sometimes with the “nuts” and sometimes with nothing.  We’ll deal with him later.

Again, you start amassing a lot of checks.  Do you think for a minute that the casino is going to send someone over to monitor your play?  Not unless they have a reason to believe you are cheating.  Because you are not in a position to hurt their bottom line, they have no reason to feel threatened.

“There aren’t many situations where
you are going to gain anything
by toking the poker Robot.”

Now back to the Robot situation.  There are different types of Robots.  Good ones, bad ones, fast ones, slow ones, honest ones, dishonest ones, careless ones, and some that can be manipulated through tokes to cut off less cards, raising your overall expectation, as long as you don’t toke excessively. 

There aren’t many situations where you are going to gain anything by toking the poker Robot.  I don’t mean that you shouldn’t toke after winning a pot, because that’s expected. 

Having a good act is a very important part of your BJ playing technique.  If you are betting big money, you have to make them think that you are anything but a knowledgeable player.  This is of the utmost importance if you are playing in a single deck game.  The count goes up and down so quickly that your method of disguise, and how good it is, will determine your longevity. 

The act in the game of poker is not important as far as the casino is concerned, because again, you are no threat to them.  Any of your Oscar award winning performances are directed toward your opponents rather than the house.  If you are new to the poker scene, one bit of advice would be to always act in the same manner in each and every situation.  If you have to take a second or two to figure the odds of a drawing hand, do the same thing when you already have the NUTS.  Just don’t hold up the game.  Don’t reach for your chips until the person to your right has concluded his transaction.  If you are a smoker, you’d do well to light up when you are out of the pot, rather than when involved.  We’ll get into this later when we talk about TELLS.

“Don’t reach for your chips until
the person to your right
has concluded his transaction.”

In the first article I stated that you had to play BJ like a machine making all of the correct strategy decisions straight from memory.  After you have mastered the counting system that you have chosen, it is then time for you to add the refinements that will buy you playing time.  Remember, you can only win big money by betting big money.  Betting big money is going to draw attention.  How you act while your play is being scrutinized by the Floorman or the Pit Boss determines whether the welcome mat is withdrawn or not.

Here is a crazy act1)Editor note: The point of this example is that “acting” is a very desirable skill at blackjack and not quite as important in poker. that will buy you a lot of playing time at the BJ tables.  Buy yourself a pair of dark glasses and a cane.  Get your girlfriend or wife to accompany you to the casino as your guide.  Take hold of her arm and have her lead you to the shoe game of your choice where all the cards are dealt up.  Don’t be looking around.  Stare straight ahead.  After all, you’re BLIND!  Have her seat you at the center of an empty table so you can get some heads-up play.  Greet the Robot cordially and explain that you are blind and that your wife is going to help you play by telling you what your cards are.  Tell the Robot that you want all the same color chips, cause you won’t know the difference.  Now this is something that you have to practice at home, and put a lot of thought into.  You can’t be making mistakes like taking the cut card from the dealer when he offers it to cut the pack cause you can’t see him offering it.  You’re BLIND!  You must stare straight ahead at all times.

Blackjack Eye ChartAfter the hand is dealt, your wife tells you what your two card total is.  You of course can see everything that is going on, while keeping the count, making the proper strategy decisions, and sizing your bets.  Remember, don’t move your head when looking down to pick-up your chips for the next bet.  Feel for them a little.  Maybe knock a stack or two over,  It won’t matter, their all the same color, remember? 

What really makes this whole thing work is, your wife tells you what your cards are, the total only, but never tells you what the Robot’s UP card is!  You can, and should, from time to time ask what the UP card is.  If you get a snapper or take insurance requiring odd color chips, ask the Robot or your wife to put the odd colors in a separate stack to the side of the rest of your chips.  It works best if you ask the Robot for help rather than your wife.  Act like you are having a good time.  Be a sport and put out a small toke for the dealer if you’ve just won a big bet.  Remember, you can move your eyes all you want.  Just don’t move your head!  Let your wife take your winnings from the betting circle, but you make the bet.  Here is a good way to really jump your bet.  Say you just won a hand and the count is high, just slide another stack toward the betting circle.  Put it near the circle, not quite inside.  The Robot will move it inside for you and place it on top of your original bet plus what you’ve just won.  Remember, you’re BLIND! 

“Being blind or not, any good size
action is going to draw attention.”

Being blind or not, any good size action is going to draw attention.  Someone from the pit may come over to introduce themselves.  Welcome them!  Act happy.  Move your head in the direction toward where the voice is coming from.  They’ll tell you that they will be glad to assist you in any way.  Just say that your wife is your constant companion since you lost your sight from complications of diabetes.  If they compliment your game, tell them that you used to love to play BJ before you lost your sight and you are sorry for being a little slow.  Be humble, but very nice.  Tell them you appreciate how helpful the dealer is. 

Needless to say this won’t work in the poker room, but it will at the BJ tables.  After all, how many blind blackjack players do you know that can count?

[ Copyright © 1994 – 2020 All Rights Reserved ]
[ This article was originally published in the Summer 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 1)

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Editor note: The point of this example is that “acting” is a very desirable skill at blackjack and not quite as important in poker.

When do Online Casino Dealers Check for Blackjack?

By John Crawford

You might think that checking for blackjack is a largely universal process but, as a matter of fact, there are two ways that blackjack dealers can check for blackjack and offer insurance to their players. These rules aren’t just exclusive to land-based casinos either, they can be adopted by live dealer casinos too.

Blackjack - Pexels

Checking for blackjack is something that happens via high-definition (HD) live streams at slotscalendar.com blackjack casinos which also offer a string of live-streamed blackjack game variants, including Blackjack Surrender. These two scenarios for checking blackjacks are ingrained in the gameplay of all kinds of live blackjack, but all too often players are unaware with how their dealers are required to handle their own hole cards.

To offer some clarity on the rules for checking blackjack with live casinos, we’ve gone into more detail on the two possible scenarios you could be faced with:

The “no peek” blackjack rule

The “no peek” blackjack ruling is synonymous with most European land-based and online casinos. If the dealer pulls an ace from the deck as their up card, they will immediately ask players at the table whether they would like to take insurance. However, they will continue to deal cards to all active players at the table, allowing them to make decisions on their hands such as splitting or doubling down before a dealer’s blackjack can be revealed. Lasvegasadvisor.com discussed this and revealed that the “no peek” rule results in the house having a greater edge over players worth 0.62%.1)Editor note: See comments.  The ENHC rule is worth 0.11% to the house. A rule that is still bad for the player.  The 0.62% is for the entire casino (house) edge over the player for this example. That’s because the house can take the player’s additional chips for splitting and doubling down, on top of their original bet, before a dealer’s blackjack is announced.

The US-style blackjack rule

Wherever possible, players should try to find live blackjack tables that abide by the US-style “peek” rule of checking blackjack. In most US online and land-based casinos, the dealer will peek at their face-down card before players are given any cards. If the dealer does have blackjack, they will display it to the table and immediately take all the original bets from the players. This can save you money and prevent you from committing to doubling down or splitting a hand in the no-win scenario of the dealer having blackjack.

Blackjack - Pixabay

It’s a similar case in live blackjack with surrender too. Some live casinos will allow players to surrender their hand if the dealer’s up card is an ace and their other card is drawn face down. In other cases, live casino dealers may only draw one card face down for themselves, with the other remaining in the deck until all players have decided how to play their hands. In this instance, players will be offered what is known as “late surrender”, crucially offered after the dealer has checked for a possible blackjack. The issue of surrender is a hot topic on quora.com among players, reinforcing the challenge of rules not being the same in one casino as the next.

Ultimately, the rules on live casino dealers checking for blackjack and offering insurance will depend on whether your chosen live casino adopts the European or US blackjack format. It’s a good idea to be mindful of this before you sit down at a live dealer table, so that you can plan for both eventualities.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Editor note: See comments.  The ENHC rule is worth 0.11% to the house. A rule that is still bad for the player.  The 0.62% is for the entire casino (house) edge over the player for this example.

Casino and Card Room Reopenings

The Bill Zender Newsletter

Bill Zender and Associates

June 3, 2020

Reopening!!!

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

It appears everyone in the industry is preparing to reopen their casinos and/or cardrooms.  One thing for sure, from the reopening procedures that I have seen, there really is not an established set of procedures that anyone is required to do.  Base on all my research in COVID-19 and my knowledge of casino and cardroom operations, the following procedures need to be the “core” procedures to reopen.

Customers:

  1. Temperature checked at the door before entering.
  2. Mandatory face masks wore while in the casino.
  3. Mandatory sanitizing/washing of hands upon entrance to the casino; sanitizing as they enter a table game.

Some casinos are not making the customers wearing of face masks mandatory, and they are going to have some problems keeping a safe environment for both customers and employees.  Of all the COVID procedures, wearing a face mask at all times is the most important.  Social distancing is important, but social distancing needs diminish if everyone wears a face mask.

Employees:

  1. Temperature checked when entering the building to work.
  2. Mandatory face mask wore while working on the casino floor and near other employees.
  3. Mandatory sanitizing/washing of hands before they enter a table game to deal, and then again when they leave the table (for break or game rotation).
  4. COVID RNA testing is important, but resources are limited.  This procedure can be treated as “optional” until test resources become available.

Fask Mask Policy

If management does not make the customers wear a face mask at the table, the dealers need to be assigned protective face shields, and it is highly recommended that the dealers be given N95 face masks.  This will keep the infection to the employees at a minimum.
Sanitizing surfaces and equipment:

  1. All surfaces need to be wiped down on a regular basis; when the customer leaves a game, and/or once an hour.
  2. Playing cards deal face-down to the customers need to be replaced every few hours, or as needed.
  3. Casino chips need to receive cleaning/sanitizing once a day (table and cage).

The CDC has stated that fomite transfer of the virus is minimal due to the nature of the virus and surfaces it can be transfer from (see link: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2020/05/19/cdc-virus-does-not-spread-easily-on-contaminated-surfaces/24356961/).  Even though, sanitation of surfaces and chips still have to be accomplished on a regular basis.

Following is an excellent article on how COVID-19 is infectious to the human body.  The article goes on to explain how COVID-19 is transferred from one person to another (primarily through aerosol droplets).  This article gives the reader a true understanding as what to fear and prepare for when dealing with safety issues in the casino/cardroom environment https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them.

If anyone has any questions about these casino/cardroom safety issues, please feel free to contact me, [email protected].  I have also attached the link to my article on protection strategies for dealing with COVID-19 in the casino/cardroom https://www.casinojournal.com/articles/93592-developing-a-coronavirus-protection-strategy-for-casinos-and-cardrooms.
Please stay safe out there.
 
Interesting Emails

Email

Over the past month I received mostly questions regarding table games and the effect that COVID, and game restrictions due to social distancing have to do with table game profitability and safety.  Following are a few of these emails.

Question #1:
Just wondering if you know of any safeguards being used or suggested for live poker play? Since everyone touches the cards and chips, how can a casino provide any protection for the players or dealers?  Thank you for your thoughts.

Reply:
The issue in live poker (hold’em, seven-card-stud, etc.) is not that the players touch the cards and chips, it is the number of players allowed at the table.  Under many of the jurisdictions’ reopening guidelines the game cannot have more than four players at the table (based on social distancing requirements).  Normally, games with 8 to 9 players are considered strong games, 6 to 7 players considered weak games, and 5 or less players will break down.  You might be able to spread five handed games for less rake/collection, but it might not be worth the space if you are also allowed slots and other table games.  I doubt you could keep a four handed game going regardless the rake/collection. I have advised several of my clients to hold off opening poker for now and wait until social distancing requirements have relaxed.

BTW, infection from touching cards and chips is quite low (known as fomite transfer). The big infection vehicle is droplets released from an infected customer’s nose and mouth during sneezes, coughs, and even through normal conversation.  If you make it mandatory that the customers wear a mask at all times, and that they have to wash/sanitize their hands on a regular bases (as well as employees), then you still will be safe to change the decks once every couple of hours, and sanitizing the chips used once a day.  If wearing a mask while in the casino is not mandatory, then you’re asking for trouble, and your employees and customers will be in an unsafe environment.

Question #2:
Thanks for the update and I hope you’re well.  Following up on your risk factors I have a question.  In an effort to reduce as many touch points as we can, I would like to offer UTH as a face up game where the guests don’t touch the cards at all.  I’ve looked online to see if there’s anything on how much of the house edge we would be giving up and haven’t found anything official other than some comments on reddit and other blogs.  If the game were dealt in this manner would it become beatable?  I’m sure you’re getting inundated with emails/messages with all the casinos closed but if you have time for an opinion, I’d appreciate it.

Reply (first time):
If you have been intending to make a game change to face-up UTH, then go ahead, but don’t make this change because of COVID.  Right now you will have too many issues on your plate to make a game change.  A game change is something you don’t want on your plate right now.

I would conduct a risk assessment on your geographic area.  If the number of infections cased to population in your area are low, I would deal the games as normal with the exception of social distancing of one player every other seat (like the other games).  If your risk is high because there is an elevated infection level in your area, I might not open alternative “touch” games at all (or any touch games).  Remember, playing cards and casino chips have the same issue.  If you find it’s too dangerous to touch the cards, it’s too dangerous to touch the chips.  Doing your geographical and demographic risk assessment is the first step.

By doing a risk assessment you will be in a better position to know what you have to do to keep the customers and staff save.  The important step in the next month is to reopen as safely as possible, and then expand from there.  It won’t be like it used to be, not for many months, possibly never again.

Reply (second time):
I wanted to follow up on your questions.  I’m hearing that regulators in some jurisdictions will not allow card games where the players touch any of the cards.  To answer your original questions; the games you mentioned, UTH, should be fine to deal the player’s original cards (hole-cards) face-up.  The rule of thumb when looking for possible customer card information collusion is to gain knowledge of a total of 35 or more cards before making a decision.  For example; Caribbean Stud Poker is open to collusion since a 7-spot game allows the “advantage players” in collusion to know the value of 35 cards plus the dealer’s exposed card (total 36 card information).  Even if you allowed players to wager on all possible table spots, UTH would not provide enough card information knowledge to give up an advantage.  Just be sure to keep the dealer’s cards unexposed (and protected) until they need to be exposed.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Question #3:
I was hoping you could answer a question or point me in a direction of resources.  We are debating on whether to open with table games.  We are looking at 3 spots per table.  What would be the minimum bet at each game type to make profitable?  We currently have class II and class III games.  Class III is only blackjack.  Class II is blackjack and carnival with a house take of the drop.  Appreciate any information you can provide.

Reply:
I hope you are staying safe.  The question you ask is somewhat complex.  Attached is a spreadsheet I designed for BNP’s Cutting Edge presentation in LV.  The spreadsheet is used to illustrate what minimum bets are needed to cover the cost of a dealer and a portion of the floorman’s cost.  There are several yellow cells where you can change the variables.  These variables include average wager, number of hands wagered, house advantage (H/A%), rounds dealt per hour, and labor cost.  By changing some of the variables, you will be able to develop a good idea what the revenue, related labor costs, and whether the game can produce a positive gross profit.  Remember, this gross profit will later be reduced by equipment costs, promotional cost (think comps), and other operational costs related to that table game.

The H/A% to the right of the model are estimated H/A% for the different games you offer.  The estimated H/A% takes into consideration any side bet.  The average bet per customer would then take into consideration any amount wagered on side bets.  Also, remember to use only the amount of money that is on the layout at the time the dealer starts dealing the game.  Do not include any additional funds used to place call bets or other bets placed after the round begins and before a decision is made.  I didn’t include side bet affect in BJ since the side bets vary and the amount/frequency varies greatly as well.
Play with the model a little bit, and if you have any questions afterwards, feel free to email me and ask.  Good luck with your project and casino reopening.
 
I even received an email from a casino executive who had something other than a COVID-19 related question:

Question#4:
Recently at one of our casinos poker rooms a dealer was stealing chips from the pot at a 9 handed NL game. What he would do is while making change during the course of action he would shortchange the pot to the eventual winner by $1. He would make the incorrect change and leave the stolen dollar in his chip tray. Once he accumulated $25 worth of stolen chips, he would remove the $25 chip by palming it and placing it in his sock. Eventually a player at his table noticed and notified our poker manager. Which I believe is what we are hoping for, the players to monitor the amount they receive when winning a pot. I was wondering if you knew of any additional steps, we can implement to stop this from happening again? Our dealers do not bring their own chip tray to the table. 

Reply:
Stealing in poker usually happens by shorting the pot during the process of making change (I imagine changing a $5 chip and spraying only four $1 chips back into the pot), or by collecting the pot rake and jackpot amount, and stealing a dollar or two as the collection and jackpot amount is dropped.  In the first example, the dollar comes from the player winning the pot, and in the second example the dollar comes from the house.  Since your dealer was converting 25 dollar chips to a green check, he was probably working on the theft collection for over an hour.

The best way to catch this type of stealing is to have someone in surveillance conduct special operations of each dealer once every one or two months.  The surveillance operator watches the dealer over a period of several downs to see if they are stealing.  Once your operator gets some experience looking for these steal moves, they become easy to spot.  You really need to catch three or more incidents before acting, which means termination.

When I was working as a consultant at a Southern California cardroom, I had surveillance run a sweep of all the poker dealers every three or four months.  Then when we caught a dealer stealing, we made a big deal about it so the other poker dealers would see we were watching.  The other dealers would be “good boys and girls” for several months.  Then several months later, we would run another surveillance sweep until we caught someone else.
 
Scheduled Seminars and Workshop

World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas – Tropicana – October 5th thru – 8th

Bill Zender at World Game Protection Conference 2020

The WGPC 2020 might have been pushed back to fall, but it will still be a great conference. The theme this year is a look back over the past twenty years. Willy Allison and I will be collaborating in a two-hour session that will look at the most sophisticated twenty casino scams that occurred in the last twenty years.  The World Game Protection Conference is always a casino game protection “eye opener” so do not miss it!

There is a vast list of great speakers, and the schedule of events is absolutely incredible! Willy and Jo Allison always put on a terrific show. There is plenty of time to register. If you contact WGPC, ask for Jo!  She is great to work with.

For more information on the World Game Protection Conference please go to; http://www.worldgameprotection.com/

Table Games Cutting Edge Conference in Las Vegas November 16th thru 18th

How Does Table Game Mathematics Work for Me?

Monday November 16th, 2020 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada

I will be presenting on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference.  I like to present at this conference.  This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented over the last several years, including mathematics on electronic Table Games (ETGs).  I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games.  The theme this year is “How Does Table Game Mathematics Work for Me?”  During the first portion I expose several situations where the knowledge of table game math would have saved the uninformed casino executives thousands of dollars! 
The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 16th through 18th.  For more information please go to the website www.tablegamesconf.com/ .  I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.

On the Move

On the move

Since I’m sheltering in place right now, I’m not on the move.  No one’s on the move.  I will have plenty of time starting in June or july to conduct work.  Call or email me! 702-423-5734and [email protected].
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate to contact me through email.  I answer emails about gaming every day[email protected]I really am here to help.
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
[email protected]
702-423-5734

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Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 1)

Blackjack Versus PokerBy Yancy Howard

Anyone knowledgeable of casino games knows that the two games that can be beaten consistently are blackjack and poker. The reason being, that if you play other games that have a negative expectation, you will go broke in the long run. This is not to say you can’t have a short run of luck and make a profit at any game where the house has an edge. Notice the key word here is luck, and luck is what you’ll need to make a score no matter how large or small, if the house has an edge.

Although these two games theoretically can show long term profits, careful game selection techniques must be adhered to in either case. Just because you are good card counter, doesn’t mean you are going to have that 1% to 1.5% advantage in all blackjack games. Neither does it mean you will come out ahead in any poker game just because you are a good poker player. There are many factors that come into play that control winning and losing and the most control you have is choosing the proper game to put your money at risk! No matter what you gain from this article, that last sentence is the most important.

There are many factors that come into play
that control winning and losing and the most
control you have is choosing the proper
game to put your money at risk!

Aside from having to put on a good act while playing blackjack for high stakes, if you are good enough to win, you have to play the game like a machine. You are essentially a robot while keeping the count, making the proper strategy decisions, sizing your bets correctly and ensuring the payoff is correct.

Poker, on the other hand, is not played like a machine. Yes, you have to be able to keep track of the cards that have been folded and the ones that are still out, so you know what your hand is worth. In blackjack you know at all times what your hand is worth. All you have to do is look in the betting circle. It’s worth either 1/2, even money, 1 1/2 times, double, or nothing if you lose, and you still have what is in the circle if you push. With a poker hand, you either lose what you have invested in the pot, possibly split some percentage of it or win it all.

Now, winning the entire pot is much different because the contents of the pot is going to be worth what you are able to sell your hand for. You are collecting money from all of the players that are in the pot after all the cards are turned over. In blackjack you are playing against the dealer, thus, you take no money from the other players. It makes no difference how good or bad the other players are.

Both (games) take a lot of time to master,
and one of the problems is that you
can waste much of your time by studying
the wrong material, and lose a lot of money
before you get your hands on the right material.

Unlike blackjack, one of the problems in poker is that it takes so long to become proficient at any one game because many of them are so complex, and if you are playing in a dealers choice home game, you have to be proficient in more than one game. Once you know the game of blackjack, your decisions are cut and dry for the type of counting system you use. Poker requires much more thought. In many cases, deep thought! You may know your counting system well enough to joke with the other players at the table, chat with the dealer, and still make the proper decisions at the blackjack table. In a poker hand, figuring pot odds, effective odds, implied odds, whether to check, call, bet, fold, check raise, raise or re-raise isn’t found on some chart in any book for all situations.

Discipline is one of the keys in both games. Knowing when, and how much, or how little to bet is a drastic decision. By little, I sometimes mean, no bet at all. For instance, say you are in a poker game with a few weak players and you have a poor hand. Would you try to steal the pot by raising? Of course not, no more than you would make a big bet at the blackjack table in a high negative count. Now, the blackjack example is concrete. (Barring the possibility that you were an excellent shuffle tracker and were coming up on a large clump of 10-value cards.)

Poker requires much more thought.
In many cases, deep thought!

The poker example, however, is not concrete. If you were in a very tight game with good solid players, certainly there would be times that you would attempt to steal the pot. Everyone knows that you just don’t try to bluff poor players in a poker game, as some of them will surely call you. As you can see, poker lends itself to a lot more maneuvering by the solid player. The blackjack dealer is nothing more than a mechanized dealing device, as he is bound by a given set of rules, so it’s robot vs robot.

In selecting a blackjack game you look for the best rules, the deepest cut, the fastest dealer that makes mistakes, and the largest bet spread you can get away with. In poker you look for a game with lots of weak, loose players that play like maniacs and call lots of bets. There are many other things that you look for in both games, that we will get into in another article.

I thoroughly enjoy both games, and have found each to be very rewarding. Both take a lot of time to master, and one of the problems is that you can waste much of your time by studying the wrong material, and lose a lot of money before you get your hands on the right material.

Any text or article written by the following authors in their respective fields was the best information you could purchase in the 1990s. Today, there are many more new rising stars which I will leave you to discover.

POKER

  • Sklansky
  • Malmuth
  • Caro
  • Brunson
  • Zee

BLACKJACK

  • Wong
  • Thorp
  • Griffin
  • Snyder
  • Uston
  • Malmuth
  • Roginski
  • Revere
  • Dalton
  • Braun
  • Schlesinger
  • Sklansky
  • Chambliss
  • Wilson

[ Copyright © 1994 – 2020 All Rights Reserved ]
[ This article was originally published in the Spring 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 2)

Some Ideal Gifts for the Blackjack Fan in Your Life

Blackjack

by Kayleigh Alexandra

Buying a gift can be stressful – how much should you spend?… what should you get?… where can you find it?… will it be something that goes down well? If you know what the person you’re buying for likes then that’s part of the battle, but you still need to decide exactly what to get. That is where I come in. I’m going to give you four great ideas for gifts and explain why the blackjack fan in your life will adore each of them.

#1 A trip to a casino they’ve never visited

I don’t blame you if you decide against this gift (it’s even the priciest one on this list of some gambling gifts) but I say start big and start bold – get the blackjack fan a trip to a swish casino, so they can test their skills out in a new environment.

The appeal of a casino trip is pretty straightforward – there’s no purer form of gambling than in a real casino; the sights, sounds, smells, and stress simply isn’t the same online. And taking your blackjack fan to a new casino is both exciting and challenging.

#2 Buy them one of the best blackjack books of all time

While blackjack is first and foremost about having fun, it’s not a lot of fun if you’re not making any progress in your game play. The only way the fan in your life will improve is by studying and the perfect way of doing this is to read a great book.

The list of best blackjack books of all time is very long and diverse. Picking the right book depends entirely on the type of person you’re buying it for. However, if you’re looking for one that will appeal to most people then I recommend Beat the Dealer by Dr. Ed Thorp – it’s a game-changer.

#3 Get them a really great blackjack film

Few simple pleasures are more enjoyable (for me at least) than settling down to watch a great film. You can ease yourself into your favorite chair, gobble-down mouthfuls of popcorn, and let your TV do the rest. With all this in mind, a blackjack film is an ideal gift.

Now, you may have your own ideas about exactly which blackjack film to get the fan in your life – there are lots of great ideas on this list. However, I’m here to advise you and my advice is that you opt for Swingers, a brilliant 1996 comedy with some exceptional gambling scenes.

#4 Invest in a money clip to help keep their winnings safe

As I mentioned earlier in this article, casino gambling is the peak of gambling – it’s where you really find out how good you are. Skill isn’t everything, but chances are that if you’re good at blackjack you’ll when some money. When you do make some wins you’ll earn some cash and you need a place to put it – step forward the blackjack money clip.

A money clip is a device that you put cash in to keep it safe and secure – much as you’d expect it to be. While this may sound like a dull gift, it’s one of the most useful presents you can get your blackjack fan. Why? Because it takes away the stress of having wads of cash loose on the table.

Whether you opt for a casino trip, book, film, or money clip you can be sure that you’ll be getting the blackjack fan in your life a great gift. All that’s left up to you now is decide which one to get and then buy it!

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The 24th Annual Blackjack Ball (2020)

Blackjack Ball 2020 CakeBy Michael Dalton

On February 22, 2020, the 24th Blackjack Ball was held in Las Vegas. I was privileged and honored to be one of the approximately 100 attendees. This is the one big yearly event that professional blackjack players, experts and authors gather to reconnect, renew old relationships and create new ones. It is an honor to be invited!

The very first Blackjack Ball was held in 1997, by casino executive and advantage player Max Rubin, who called it “… a double secret party that pits the world’s most dangerous blackjack players in a battle for the coveted ‘Blackjack Cup’ “. Each guest is required to bring one chilled bottle of premium champagne to get past the security at the door and starting in 2019, each guest must also pony up $100 to seed what is called the “Calcutta” and provide funds for future Blackjack Balls and the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Beginning in 2017, long-time advantage player Richard Munchkin began co-hosting the event.

The Blackjack Ball begins with two hours of cocktails and mingling. Then, a dinner is served and betting is done on who thinks will win the coveted Grosjean Cup and title of the “World’s Greatest Blackjack Player“. Voting is done for nominees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame and finally, an incredibly hard 21-question test is performed to determine the five finalists who compete in a skills competition on a blackjack table. This year, Arnold Snyder, former publisher of Blackjack Forum magazine, snagged the Grosjean Cup award and the owner of his team won $14,030!

Well, they also have a secondary prize for the runner-up. They call it the Munchkin Award (after Richard Munchkin of course). This year, an individual that goes by the name Dunbar won it. Actually, Dunbar is the author of Dunbar’s Risk Analyzer for Blackjack.

All of this is sponsored by the Barona Casino in San Diego. Yes, a casino sponsors the event. The reason is that each player who attends the ball agree to never play blackjack in their casino for life. Also, the Barona offers a “lifetime comp” consisting of free room, meals and beverage to all inductees into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, as long as they agree to never play blackjack at Barona.

This year we had the honor of the following Blackjack Hall of Fame inductees in attendance:

Voting also occurred for the Blackjack Hall of Fame. The nominees were, Mark Billings, Anthony Curtis, Richard Dougherty, Cat Hulbert, Blair Hull, Lance Humble, Maria “The Greek”, Mike Michalek and Norm Wattenberger. When voting was completed, Anthony Curtis won overwhelmingly. Anthony Curtis is the editor/publisher of Huntington PressLas Vegas Advisor newsletter.

For more information and to see who won each year be sure to check out the Blackjack Ball section of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack on BlackjackReview.com. Also, be sure to check out Henry Tamburin’s articles on past Blackjack Balls for a more in-depth review including example test questions.

2020 Grosjean Cup
The 2020 Grosjean Cup Award for the World’s Greatest Blackjack Player was won by Arnold Snyder. The Munchkin Award was won by “Dunbar”.

 

OTHER REPORTS ON THE 24th BALL
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Gambling With An Edge

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What it Takes to Pull off the Blackjack Lifestyle

By Mark Gant

The casino scene has long been lauded of one of glitz and glamour, with many of the biggest and most famous casinos in the world becoming millionaires’ playgrounds. Of all of the forms of casino players, however, few are held in such high prestige as the blackjack player.

Poker players can be scruffy and play against fellow poker players, those on the slot machines sit and wait for jackpots, and roulette and craps are all about the thrills of luck. Blackjack, however, is one person taking on the casino directly, using skill and strategy to come out on top.

Thanks to movies like 21 and the James Bond movie Licence to Kill, we know that blackjack players dress well, are intelligent people, and are incredibly suave. Licence to Kill may be rated as one of the worst James Bond movies, but it still showcased the legendary agent flexing his intellect at the blackjack table for the first time in the movie franchise.

So, we’re going to break down how you can pull off the blackjack style: from attire and persona to becoming the peoples’ champion at the table.

Appearances matter a great deal in blackjack

Blackjack Appearances

As we all know, the right fashion sense can take you a long way. Luckily for blackjack players, the classy casino scene all-but demands that its attendees dress well. When it comes to men’s fashion, the suit is often the epitome of hot looks, which helps anyone trying to achieve that blackjack lifestyle as the suit is the go-to getup for blackjack players.

Wearing a nice-fitting suit automatically gives you a confidence boost, as does wearing your best dress for such an occasion, which is needed for a blackjack player. The persona of someone who frequents glamorous venues is that of confidence, being somewhat smug in your superior ability of the card game, and, of course, being as suave as humanly possible.

Nail all of this, and you’ll almost be ready to hit the tables, look the croupier right in the eye, and set about taking on the casino. There’s just one more key skill-set that you need to hone: your blackjack skill.

You need to be able to walk the walk

Playing Blackjack


As you would assume, a key part of living the blackjack lifestyle is sitting at the table and taking on the casino. You can look and act like a legendary blackjack player as much as you’d like: but if you can’t play the game, you can’t pull off the lifestyle. 1)Of course, if you are a proficient card counter you don’t really want to look like a legendary blackjack player. 🙂

For most novice players looking to hone their skills and then live the blackjack lifestyle, going into a big or even a small casino can be daunting. You’re effectively putting your reputation on the line early without knowing the ins and outs of the game. This is why so many people turn to online blackjack Canada online as there are many different games, bonuses to use for additional game time, and all the games can be played from your phone or computer.

A lot of one’s blackjack ability comes from experience and practice, which is very easy to gain now that blackjack is such a prominent online game. Playing blackjack online in games with varying deck counts in the shoe works as good preparation for the in-person experience.

If you want to experience the glitz and glamour of the blackjack lifestyle, you need to nail the look, the persona, and, most importantly, the card game itself.

Photo 1 Source: Pixabay
Photo 2 Source: Pixabay

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Of course, if you are a proficient card counter you don’t really want to look like a legendary blackjack player. 🙂

Blackjack: Still the Most Played Table Game at Scandinavian Online Casinos

Playing BlackjackBy Mark Gant

Blackjack has been one of the most enduring casino games ever invented. Instead of being overshadowed by high-tech games in the online casino era, it has continued to reign supreme. Blackjack is popular because it is easy to learn, but players can gain a level of mastery which can improve their chances of winning. Scandinavia is a growing sector for the gambling industry, with a lot of developers targeting players there. The fact that blackjack is still the most played table game at their online casinos suggests that the classic card game will carry on going strong for many years.

There are various casino portals in Scandinavia which recommend the best sites to play at in terms of bonuses and what games are on offer. Comparison sites such as these tend to advertise what the majority of players are looking for, and the fact that there is a heavy focus on blackjack shows how popular the game is in the region. Some review sites put people’s enduring love for the game down to its simplicity. The rules of the game are described by norgecasino.com in 9 steps, outlining just how easy it is for anyone to play the game with minimal knowledge.

Online casinos in Scandinavia aim to attract players by offering deposit match bonuses. This free money can be used to play table games, with blackjack being one of the most commonly played offerings. Judging by some of the other bonuses, slots are also hugely popular in the region. Many of the sites that aim to bring in Scandinavian players have free spins bonuses along with the deposit matches.


NetEnt is one of the biggest developers in the business, and the dominant studio is from Sweden. The rise of the company which creates online casino software has helped draw more attention to the growing market in the region. The company, which has developed technology for the industry since 1996, has recently stated that one of its main focuses moving forward in 2020 will be to improve its live casino offerings. This includes live links to blackjack games with real dealers, which are designed to bring the real-world casino experience to players in their own homes.

Sweden has been ahead of the times in Scandinavia when it comes to legislation, and has been the most open of the countries in the region when it comes to gambling online. But in Norway and Finland, the legalities surrounding online gaming have been slightly stricter. Laws are becoming less stringent, though, as the governments have realized that a large section of the population want to play at online casinos. This is another reason why developers are targeting players in the region with their offerings.

The fact that live casino developments are the main focus for casino software developers shows just how popular blackjack is in Scandinavia. With there being few actual land-based casinos, players need to get their fix by playing online. Blackjack is the most popular table game due to its simplicity, but also because it is one of the most exciting offerings to play.

Photo Source: Pexels

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The Mind in Card Games

Why Blackjack and Poker are More Similar Than You Know


by Sam Williams

Stu Ungar 1997 WSOPWhile blackjack and poker may look like two completely different games, there are many similarities between the two. Not only are both games grounded in mathematics and odds, but they also require players to learn on the job through experience. They can both be highly exhilarating, and some players would even attest that the attributes picked up in either game can be transferred to the other.

A number of famous blackjack players, including members of the MIT team from Bringing Down the House, have gone on to achieve success in poker. Well known poker players, such as Stu Ungar and Andy Bloch, have also been renowned for their blackjack skills.


Hossein Ensan played his pocket Kings well to win the 2019 WSOP Main Event

High Level of Competition

To succeed in either blackjack or poker, players need to have a competitive edge and a strong desire to win. In blackjack, players only face off against a dealer. But when the stakes are high and the casino employee is the one person standing in the way of victory, players need to use their will and determination to bring that person down. This could be compared to heads-up play in poker, which comes about at the end of a tournament when everyone else has been eliminated.

In a huge poker competition like the World Series of Poker, a player would have to get the better of hundreds of others to make it to the final table against the remaining survivors. In 2019 when Hossein Ensan won the Main Event, there were 8,569 entrants to start with. Obviously, the Iranian-German player didn’t need to beat every single one of these people, but he did need to stay in the game while the numbers were whittled down.

When it got to the final stages of the competition, Ensan’s experience became more like a blackjack game. The tournament, which tests players’ endurance as well as their poker skills, came down to Ensan against Dario Sammartino in the final stages. This type of heads-up game will appeal to blackjack players who are used to taking on a single opponent in a battle of wits.

There are some differences, however. In blackjack, players must get the best hand in order to win. But in heads-up poker, players usually try to bet big and steal the huge blinds in each hand, regardless of what cards they are holding. Indeed, in this type of play, it rarely comes down to a flop. In the final hand, Sammartino admitted that his bluff didn’t pay off and that Ensan had outplayed him. The 2019 champion had a pair of kings while the Italian was left with a busted straight. Sammartino took a chance and failed, similar to a blackjack player opting to hit and then going bust.

Basic Skills are the same in Both Games

When you think about poker and blackjack on a basic level, a lot of the same skills are required in both games. To be able to play either, at least a rudimentary knowledge of numeracy is essential. In blackjack, it is crucial as players are constantly calculating their hand’s total value and working out which card would bust them. In poker, advanced players need to calculate their pot odds to determine whether to call or bet. They can also use mathematics to count their outs. This refers to the cards they need to potentially make a winning hand.

Interpersonal skills are quite important in blackjack, as players need to interact with dealers regularly. They are even more essential in poker, as conversation can often be used as a way to garner information about someone’s hand. Players need to be expert socializers who can spot small psychological cues such as a slight change in the tone of an opponent’s voice. Daniel Negreanu is well known for being highly adept at this.

Another common attribute for poker and blackjack players is discipline. They need to be able to endure runs of bad luck without changing their strategy. For example, a blackjack player may be sweating as they play a Martingale technique or keep losing in a high plus count and keep losing. The stakes are getting higher each time, but they need to remember that if they do eventually win, their losses will be cancelled out. In poker, bad beats often cause players to go on tilt. Less experienced players can let this sort of emotion lead them into bad decisions going forward.

Stu Ungar was highly gifted at poker, blackjack, and gin rummy

Players can Train for Both Games by Limiting Active Learning

In both blackjack and poker, there is a vast difference between a beginner player and an expert. The best players in the business possess a number of abilities that they have refined over time in order to maximize their chances of winning. If the games were simply about luck, how could you explain why Ungar was considered to be among the best in the world during his time as a player? In addition to being highly capable in those card games, the three-time WSOP winner was also the greatest gin-rummy player in the world.

It is true that players can train their brains in order to be better than average at card games. But, according to poker psychologist Jared Tendler, Texas Hold’em and Omaha players shouldn’t act as though they are cramming for a test by filling their heads with more information that they can use. Poker mental strategy is about reviewing hands and concepts that you already know and being clear about what you want to improve on. This is referred to as limiting active learning, making sure that you work directly on the essentials. This advice can also be applied to blackjack.

In blackjack and poker, players are able to learn from the mistakes they have made in the past. By failing in one game, they can assess what went wrong and work on ways to do it differently in the next game. So, training for games shouldn’t be about cramming with as much knowledge as possible, but about reviewing and analyzing past experiences.

Blackjack players who want to improve their skills and get beyond basic strategy could try their hand at poker and may find that they are already quite good at it. The endurance and competitiveness that dominates Texas Hold’em could then be transferable to the blackjack table.

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