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.

Is Blackjack Evolving Without People Realizing?

By Greta Jackson

BlackjackIf you take all the casino games that have been digitized since the online casino boom, blackjack is one game that has remained relatively similar to how it was in the pre-Internet days. Roulette games feature virtual wheels and animations, and slots are worlds apart from the machines that came before them. It seems that, while other offerings have evolved, blackjack has continued in the same way it always has. Or has it? 

The General Rules Remain The Same

A lot has changed in the way people play some modern casino games, such as slots. For example, the games found online today have multiple win lines, whereas the original models only paid out when three symbols matched on the middle row. There are also side games and bonus features in abundance in online slot game offerings. Hardly anything has changed about blackjack, though. Indeed, the simple and easy-to-learn rules that led to it becoming the most popular card game in the world are still there. Developers are, perhaps, worried to alter the game too much because of its success to this
date. It could also be argued that messing around with the rules of the game could change it entirely and it would lose its essence.

One Major Thing Has Changed

While the rules of blackjack may have remained fairly standard over the years, there was a major change that many people may not be aware of. Although the card game that requires players to get as close to 21 as possible and beat the dealer has existed for centuries, it hasn’t been known as blackjack for this long. That name first came about after the game had moved across the Atlantic and was gaining traction in the USA.

According to the legend, some of the gambling houses that adopted the game early started offering enhanced odds on a certain hand. Indeed, one of the bonuses that were said to be on offer initially was a ten-to-one payout to hands that consisted of the ace of spades and either of the blackjacks. This offering was designed as a way to entice people to play the game, and it quickly became known as blackjack.

Obviously, returns like this are not in the casino’s interest at all and there have been other ways to give the house an edge. The proprietors who were dishing out these jackpots quickly realized that it wasn’t sustainable, and reverted to playing the original odds. Although the hand was no longer any more valuable than a hand of 21 made through other means, the name stuck and is still used to this day. A more recent event is the development of 6:5 blackjack, which reduced payouts for players. While this is arguably only a smaller decrease for players in isolation, it would prove to be quite a saving for the casinos in Las Vegas. Naturally, players have more choice today and do not necessarily have to go to Las Vegas to play blackjack.

BlackjackNew Offerings Have Cropped Up

Despite the rules of the game remaining the same as they always have, there have been some modernized editions of blackjack that have crept up in recent times. Having a wide selection has been key to the popularity of online casinos, so it hasn’t been enough for sites to only offer one or two blackjack games.

The need for variety is highlighted by the range of games on show at major online casino sites like Royal Panda. There are 18 different games for players to choose to play here, with variations between each. These include regular blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, European Blackjack, and Blackjack Live. There are also some twists on the traditional game which include Blackjack Party and Speed Blackjack. There is something to suit every player’s needs here, but the general spirit of the game remains the same. These variations on the classic game walk a line between familiarity and innovation.

How Could Blackjack Evolve?

Perhaps the main reason why blackjack has evolved so little over the years is down to the fact that many people believe that any major changes would cause it to lose its original appeal. But would that really be the case? If you look at poker, there are numerous variants that all have similar rules at heart. For example, Texas Hold’em and 5-card stud are played in diverse ways, but they both value the hands in the same order.

There are other ways that blackjack could evolve without changing any of the rules, though. For example, developers may choose to take the same route that has proved to be so popular for slots. This would be to create themed versions of the game. In long lists of slots, themes have been an excellent way to get the attention of players. Considering the variations mentioned above, these subtle changes are already underway without players even realizing it. One other aspect to consider is streams and live dealers. This may potentially impact the game, but it’s hard to speculate due to how new this trend is.

Slot games tend to be based on films, television shows, and other recognizable things. Research has found that people are drawn to familiarity, and are more inclined to play a game with a theme they know about. If blackjack developers decided to follow suit, there could be themed blackjack games that involved popular characters from television as dealers, for example.

Blackjack hasn’t needed to evolve much to this point. But as technology develops, there may need to be some more advancements for the card game in the future if it is to remain relevant.

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How the Popularity of Online Casinos in Japan Continues to Grow

JapanBy Okumura Yuuki

If you happen to be in Japan and you’re hoping to find your way into a friendly casino where you can have some fun and play the tables, then I am sorry to say, hard luck. Japan, like many countries, has stringent laws that prohibit playing for money.

In fact, you will not find any traditional casinos in Japan and the closest thing you will find resembling a gambling venue is a Pachinko parlor.1)Pachinko (パチンコ) is a mixture of a slot machine and pinball. The player controls the speed of the many small steel balls that are thrown into the machine. Pachinko machines can be found in Pachinko parlors across the country of Japan.

Citizens are also legally permitted to bet on only four “public sports”, including horse riding, bicycle racing, motorbiking, and boat racing. The lottery is also popular in Japan, where only one Japanese online gambling portal, called “Toto”, is legally licensed.

The Rise of Online Casinos

With those restrictions in place and with the Japanese people’s known passion for gambling, offshore online casinos detected the enormous untapped market that has a massive revenue-generating potential. Needless to say, they seized the opportunity, and a vast industry was born.

The industry is booming so much that there are now more than 50 online casinos catering to the Japanese public’s needs. They provide numerous activities, such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Video Poker, Stud Poker, and many more.

Is That All Though?

Well, there are several other factors that pertain to the growth and sustenance of the industry:

  • Gambling and online casinos are receiving massive support from important stakeholders in the gaming ecosystem.
  • Legislators and policymakers in Japan are interested in using online gambling activities to promote travel and tourism and boost the entertainment industry.
  • There is growing offshore and onshore interest in investing in this booming industry.
  • Venus Point (An online payment processing system): This system definitely has a significant role in boosting Online casinos in Japan. It allows its clients to make their transactions using the point system. Players can make fast and easy deposits and withdrawals without the need for a credit card. There is no doubt that it is making it swift and effortless for prospective gamblers to get into the game and current ones to stay and play more.
  • Online Mobile casinos: Most of the Online casinos can be accessed via smartphones. The player can choose to play on the phone’s browser or download iOS or Android apps. The apps tend to be very user-friendly and fun to use. That, paired with the convenience of playing on-the-go, seems to fuel the already addictive tendencies of gambling. Online casinos are almost devilishly creative in attracting prospective gamblers, alluring them with many possibilities and perks, and getting them hooked.

The Pull of Online Casinos

With years of experience under their belt, it seems that online casinos have mastered the game of gaining and retaining clients. Their attraction for new players is quite unmatched in the Japanese market. Here’s what you can expect them to offer:

  • The widest variety of game choices.
  • 24/7 customer service that is easy to access and very attentive!
  • Loyalty and VIP programs that retain existing players.
  • Registration bonus
  • Other hefty promotional rewards and attractive bonuses

Different Online casinos offer different bonuses and perks. Some match the first deposit up to 100 %, and others match it up to $2,000. Free spin bonuses are also very common for slot games.

And of course, every casino wants to make their offer more attractive than the competition. For example, Vera and John casino offers a $35 sign-up bonus that doesn’t require any deposit from the player. It also offers a $1,000 deposit bonus on the first three deposits. These numbers just show how far casinos are willing to go to get new players on their virtual tables.

Final Words

We can’t talk about this without mentioning that Japan is looking into implementing a less restrictive gambling environment with plans for Osaka to emerge as a casino hub. The plans will make Osaka home to three resorts with integrated casino facilities.

And while the Osaka authorities have extended the date of the proposal submission, one can not help but wonder if these plans will create a threat to the growing Online casino market if they materialize. Will on-land casinos halt the growth of online ones or even shrink the industry?

Well, we will have to wait and see, but for now, all we can say is that the popularity of online casinos in Japan continues to grow at lightning speed.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1Pachinko (パチンコ) is a mixture of a slot machine and pinball. The player controls the speed of the many small steel balls that are thrown into the machine. Pachinko machines can be found in Pachinko parlors across the country of Japan.

Innovative Online Betting Games For Gamblers

ImageBy Isabella Goode

Online betting is now a multi-billion dollar strand of the gaming industry, having exploded in popularity over the past couple of years and established itself as the go-to preference for gamblers of all types and styles. The accessibility of taking the thrills and spills of wagering with you where you go is arguably the biggest fuel to the success of online betting, but there are also a whole host of innovative technologies and features that have been allowed to blossom on the digital stage and help the community develop its own identity.

The competition in the online betting industry is only growing more and more fiercer as it grows, and every single house or operator is looking for the latest innovations to help them stand out from the crowd. The likes of NetEnt, Playtech and Microgaming are amongst the leading lights for game operators in the industry.  Here are some of the most innovative games and features they have brought to the scene in recent times. 

3D Games

As technology continues to improve, the capabilities of what mobile and desktop games can present in terms of themes and visuals sky rockets. One of the great developments over the previous decade or so in the gaming industry is the greater refinement of 3D graphics being used primarily in the video slot community of games. 

3D visuals and the improved capabilities of games being able to host the likes of 720p and 1080p graphics has led to a whole new landscape in what makes a successful casino title. Examples such as the Age of Gods series are examples of how stunning and striking these games have the potential to be and, for many users, these types of games now offer the feeling of being engrossed in a story or an adventure just as much as they revolve around trying to line their pockets. 

Avalanche Reels 

A trend that first began with the innovative technologies over at NetEnt HQ through series such as Gonzo Quest’s Avalanche Reels are fast becoming one of the most innovative game designs to have shaped the modern generation of slot gaming. Much like the old retro Tetris games of old, games that are centered around their Avalanche Reels see items dropping down rather than being spun out of the game like in most traditional slot games, be they virtual or real world based. 

Winning lines cause explosions that drop more items into place, and this avalanche effect can often lead to some thrilling bursts of action as winning lines chain each other, lining players’ pockets more than most other games out there. 

The Impact Of Crypto Gaming

For those unaware, cryptocurrencies are open-source digital currencies that have emerged as one of the most hotly discussed versions in the new age of banking. Bitcoin is perhaps the most well known of these, having emerged onto the scene in 2009. Bitcoin is unique for transcending over the boundaries of nations’ borders and the regulations and fees imposed by banks.  Sites such as Esports betting experts Unikrn.com have really helped lead the way in introducing more crypto currency options into their casino games through flexible depositing options. 

With most of these cryptocurrencies worth an absolute fortune to most casual players, wagering on/with them can be a tantalizing and innovative way of living the life of a true high roller. 

Licensed Games

Whilst the world of gambling is undoubtedly an already popular industry, bringing a new game to market with an audience of millions around the world already built in is always going to be helpful in taking the success of said game to the next level up. And that certainly seems to be the thinking in how much the rise of licensed games have begun to dominate the gambling industry in recent times.

The world of superheroes seems to have been the most tapped up market throughout this, with both Marvel and DC’s biggest mascots finding themselves ported into the casino world. The likes of Iron-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Batman and Superman have all had video slots themed around them, and helped bridge the gap between the gambling and entertainment worlds. 

As well as superhero and big blockbuster flicks being the center of themes, casinos have also begun to embrace other bits of media from the entertainment industry. From hugely successful series such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, to long running game shows such as Catchphrase, Deal or No Deal and Jeopardy have all been introduced by operators to casinos and are always amongst the most popular picks with players that visit them. 

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The Best Poker Books of All Time

Man Reading a Poker Book on BenchBy Giovanna Freire 

Just about every online poker site running today boasts a section of guides designed to help beginners and experienced players improve their card-playing skills. Most of these guides are incredibly useful, covering everything from poker hand values to when you should and shouldn’t bluff. 

But with all the goodwill in the world, these online poker sites can only go so far in helping players develop their poker-playing skills. Watching other players compete through TV programs, live tournaments on social media, and poker channels on streaming sites like Twitch can be a great resource to help players learn from others. Even then, there’s only so much you can learn from watching others play. 

For those that want to go much further and examine individual elements of the game, like the psychology of poker or individual strategies, the only option is to read some poker books.   Thankfully, many legendary poker players and learned academics have penned hundreds of pages of in-depth analysis about just about every area of poker. Here are some of the best.

Winning Low Limit Holdem by Lee JonesWinning Low Limit Hold’em

Released in 1994, Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones is one of the most straightforward books on poker that has ever been written. This simplicity doesn’t mean it lacks details or isn’t that useful. It’s just that Jones has done a fantastic job of breaking down all of the elements of the game into easy-to-understand chunks.

Winning Low Limit Hold’em is an excellent book for beginners who want to brush up on tactics they can use when playing free online poker with friends or taking part in free-rolls and other tournaments.  It’s also great for more seasoned players that want to give themselves a refresher and maybe even pick up a thing or two. 

Hold'em Poker For Advanced PlayersHold’em Poker for Advanced Players

Whereas Lee Jones’ book focused on the more basic poker elements, Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players sits at the opposite end of the spectrum.  One of the many books written by Mason Malmuth and first published in 1988, this book breaks down several different scenarios to help the reader better understand what strategies are best to deploy in those situations. 

Malmuth’s book is even credited with coining various poker terms, including the semi-bluff, where you don’t have a high-value hand but could get your opponent to fold. 

The Theory of Poker by David SklanskyThe Theory of Poker

David Sklansky has written more books about poker than almost any other author. His 1994 title, The Theory of Poker, looks at broad concepts that can be applied to just about every variant of the game, rather than focusing on Texas hold’em as most other books are. 

The opening chapters look at the object of poker, mathematical expectations, your hourly rate, and the fundamentals of poker theory. From here, Sklansky builds on these foundations with chapters that examine each element of the game in detail, including antes, pot odds, deception, implied odds, and defending against Malmuth’s semi-bluff. There’s even a whole chapter on applying game theory in poker and how you can use it to create the optimum bluffing strategy.  In 2019, Sklansky revised this book to include no-limit, as the first book only had limit poker in mind.

Super System by Doyle BrunsonSuper System

Doyle Brunson is a legendary name in poker.  His classic book Super System was probably one of the best selling poker books of all time and probably influenced the big increase in interest in the game.  He managed to get some of the leading experts in the field to write chapters in the book, including David Sklansky, Mike Caro, Chip Reese, Bobby Baldwin and of course Doyle Brunson himself. 

Chapters included every major no-limit game played at the time: seven-card stud, seven-card low stud (razz), and hold’em. At the time, this book was considered by many professionals as one of the best books on poker ever written.

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Bill Zender’s Newsletter & Understanding Blackjack Basic Strategy

Blackjack Basic StrategyThe Bill Zender Newsletter

UPDATE: January 29, 2021
January 19, 2021

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

For anyone interested in attending my virtual sessions on Casino Card Counting in Blackjack:

Casino Card Counting in Blackjack – Virtual session on Zoom Platform – January and February 2021

Casino Card Counting in Blackjack – Virtual session on Zoom Platform – January and February 2021
This virtual presentation is broken into one-hour (approximate) sessions that will be presented on different dates.  The next session is:

Session 3 – Betting Strategies with the Count – Thursday February 4th, 2021 at 3:00pm EST (Noon PST)

Explains the professional card counter’s strategy for betting necessary to achieve a long-term advantage as well as disguising the counter’s intention through varying bet spread.  Will examine bet spread strategies in six-deck and double deck games as well as examining a possible strategy with 6:5 single deck games and Spanish 21.  The session will utilize several Excel models based on Arnold Snyder’s “Beating the X deck(s) series.  Professional level card counter bet spread strategies will be discuss that balance some degree of camouflage with maximize counting earning value potential.  A fee of $100 will be charged at time of registration.

Note: In addition, anyone registering and paying for sessions 3 or 4 will automatically receive a handout and post-session review link to the presentation.  This will be made available a short time after the session is completed.  If you register and cannot make the session, you can view it any time afterwards.

The Zoom platform utilizes PayPal.  Those who do not have a PayPal account will need to establish one at time of registering.  I am told the process is very simple.  Be sure to register in advance of the session.  Zoom Registration link and information: 

You are invited to a Zoom webinar. 
When: Feb 4, 2021 01:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) 
Topic: Betting Strategies with the Count

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eLaQv2D4TfGVISzrAbt3jw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Last session on Card Counting:

Session 4 – Detecting and Confirming Card Counting – Thursday February 11th, 2021 at 3:00pm EST (Noon PST)

Strategies casino executives can use to detect professional card counters more effectively and efficiently, and what steps need to be taken to successfully confirm or reject that the suspected player is a professional card counter.  Information provided will increase detection of professional level counters as well as provide tools to confirm a player is a long-term bankroll threat with complete confidence.
 
Note: I will charge a fee of $100 for session 4 as well.  You will be required to pay the fee at time of registration.  

Information about the virtual attendance

  1. Anyone wishing to attend will be provided with a Zoom link to the presentation.
  2. When clicking into the Zoom link, you will be required to register (quick process) and sign up for free Zoom (if you are not already signed up).  You need to sign up for Zoom as added session security to prevent intrusions.  If you already have Zoom, I believe you will be asked to sign in first.
  3. To prevent confusion, you can only sign up for next session that is scheduled. 
  4. The session will run approximately 60-minutes.  You will be able to ask questions via a Q&A icon.
  5. All attendees will have the option to request handouts; with paid sessions the attendees will be provided with a link to view a recording of the session.
  6. I plan to limit the number of attendees to 50.

I will send out an additional eBlast one week prior to session 4.  The eBlast will contain the Zoom link and additional information for that upcoming session.  The Zoom links will change from session to session.  I recommend viewing the presentation on your laptop or desktop computers.  For more information, please contact me at [email protected].

Session 1 – Understanding Blackjack Basic Strategy – January 21st, 2021 at 3:00pm EST (Noon PST)

Discusses the finer points of “Basic Strategy” and the cost related to error costs by not following basic strategy, explains the calculation behind a blackjack games “Basic House Advantage”, discusses the concept of “Common Strategy”, and how the errors created by not using perfect basic strategy increases the house mathematical edge.

Link to registration only for Session 1 – Understanding Blackjack Basic Strategy is: 
When: Jan 21, 2021 01:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada) 
Topic: Basic Strategy in Blackjack

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rDJ6RfetQsmZtiV8xig1Jg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.  If you have any questions, contact me at: [email protected]

Note: Information about the virtual attendance

  1. Anyone wishing to attend will be provided with a Zoom link to the presentation (above).
  2. Please register no less 15 minutes before the start of the session (3:00PM EST/11:00AM PST)
  3. When clicking into the Zoom link, you will be required to register (quick process) and sign up for free Zoom (if you are not already signed up).  You need to sign up for Zoom as added session security to prevent intrusions.  If you already have Zoom, I believe you will be asked to sign in first.
  4. The session will run approximately 60-minutes.  You will be able to ask questions via a Q&A icon.
  5. All attendees will have the option to request handouts; in addition, with paid sessions (3 & 4) the attendees will be provided with a link to view a recording of the session.
  6. I plan to limit the number of attendees to the first 50.
  7. BTW, I am still trying to iron out all the “bugs” with my Zoom presentations so please be patient.

Sessions 2 thru 4 will be:

Session 2 – Basics of Card Counting in Blackjack– January 28th, 2021 at 3:00pm EST (Noon PST)
Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_v6GTCqxwQVqS9i_p3-eG0A

Session 3 – Betting Strategies with the Count – February 4th, 2021 TBD

Session 4 – Detecting and Confirming Card Counting – February 11th, 2021 TBD

Note: Session 2 will also be offered as a “Free” session.  This session is designed to build a foundation background of card counting for casino floor, management, and surveillance.  Sessions 3 and 4 are more advanced and will help the attendees better identify actual card counters who are a threat to the casino.  I will charge a fee for each of these sessions (TBD), and it will be quite reasonable when considering the information provided.

Important: I will send out an additional eBlast one week prior to each virtual session.  The eBlast will contain the Zoom link and additional information for that upcoming session.  The Zoom links will change from session to session.  I recommend viewing the presentation on your laptop or desktop computers, but I believe smart phones can be used as well.  For more information, please contact me at [email protected].

Cheers, good luck, and stay safe!
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
[email protected]
702-423-5734

Copyright © 2021 Bill Zender and Associates, All rights reserved.

Bill Zender and Associates

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BLACKJACK REVIEW GIVEAWAY #11

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Playing Blackjack From Home Guide

BlackjackBy Gareth McGray

While Blackjack is a classic card game and hobby it is also an excellent option for anyone who enjoys casino games. Blackjack is easy to understand and you can play the game at the new flashy casino around the corner or join millions of enthusiasts online.  Here is a quick blackjack guide to help you transition from a rookie to an experienced online player. 

In the United States for example, online casino sites such as Bet-Colorado.com are beginning to provide access to sports betting opportunities.  If online sports betting goes without incident, Colorado lawmakers may consider adding legal online casinos. Currently, you can’t play blackjack online in Colorado, but there are a large number of retail locations for bettors to visit. 

Introduction to Blackjack

Blackjack is a common online casino game also known as 21, thanks to its nature. It promises thrilling game-play and the rules are quite simple, giving you a chance for strategic play. In fact, adept players who have mastered the art of playing a mathematically perfect game can count cards and sometimes put the odds in their favor.

Even for casual players, Blackjack’s casino odds are great for anyone who can play a relatively good game.  But playing a relatively good game means mastering a basic strategy at a minimum.  This makes Blackjack among the most attractive casino games since the 1700s. Today, the game is available in every American casino, with the house as the dealer and bank. That’s why you need to beat the dealer to win the game.

How Blackjack Works

Blackjack uses a traditional deck of 52 cards, although most casinos shuffle several decks together to improve competitiveness. For this reason, players need a solid understanding of Blackjack’s basic rules and the best strategy to increase their winning odds. 

How to Beat the Dealer

  • Get a hand with a higher value than the dealer.
  • Draw a hand with a value of 21 with your first two cards before the dealer1)All blackjack games are not created equal and it is advisable to find a game with the best rules for the player.  In particular, avoid games that only pay 6 to 5 on Blackjack.  The traditional payoff for a Blackjack is 3 to 2.
  • Double your bet on hands that favor the player and basic strategy advises it.
  • Split your pairs on favorable hands and when basic strategy advises it.
  • Surrender your hand to reduce your loss when basic strategy advises it.
  • Never take the insurance bet unless you are counting cards.
  • Have the dealer get a hand that exceeds 21, i.e., “let the dealer bust”.

How to Lose to the Dealer

  • Drawing cards to your hand that go over 21, i.e., “bust your hand”.
  • Get a hand lower than what the dealer has at the end of each round.

Please note that other player’s hands don’t affect whether you win a Blackjack game or not, unlike in games like poker. Only the dealer’s hand can affect your chances of winning, but that doesn’t make it a team sport.  So ignore how other players play and focus on your own play.

Finding a Hand’s Total Value

While Blackjack uses a traditional deck of cards, the suits don’t matter in determining your hand’s value. Numbers 2-10 are taken by their face value, while face cards J, K, and Q count as 10. The Ace counts as either 1 or 11, depending on the value that’s most useful to your hand.

How to Play Blackjack Online

Blackjack is available in many variations with a different number of decks, although the most common use six or eight decks. Fortunately, you can enjoy the game online in a few steps:

  • Investigate and find a reputable online casino that offers a good blackjack game.
  • Create an online casino account and deposit your stake.
  • Buy chips to bet.
  • Place your wager.
  • Wait for the dealer to give out the cards to the players.
  • Decide how to play your hand. You can decide to stand with your first two cards, hit for more cards, double down, split if you have a pair of identical cards or surrender your hand.
  • Please wait for the dealer to play his hand.
  • Enjoy the payouts if the dealer busts or your hand has a better value than his.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1All blackjack games are not created equal and it is advisable to find a game with the best rules for the player.  In particular, avoid games that only pay 6 to 5 on Blackjack.  The traditional payoff for a Blackjack is 3 to 2.

Blackjack Variants From Around the World

By Bruna Freire

Queen of Spades

History

Blackjack is but the latest popular variant in a long line of games that are typically referred to as Twenty-One, due to this being the best hand total a player can get in the game. The earliest existing reference to a direct ancestor of blackjack comes from Spain during the late renaissance period. Referred to as Ventiuno, literally Twenty-One, the game was played on a Castilian deck of 48 cards that took influence from Arabic decks that were then arriving in Europe along the silk road trade route. The game made its way across Europe, appearing in France, then Britain, under the French name Vingt-Un. 

Development

It was this version that crossed the Atlantic and took root in the United States, where it became known as Blackjack among prospectors of the Klondike gold rush. Over time, Blackjack became the most popular form worldwide. It is said that 75% of all table games played in Las Vegas casinos are blackjack. Around the world, you’ll find countless variations in play style and rule-sets for this classic parlour game.1)Editor note:  According to the University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research:  In 1985, 77% of casino games were blackjack. In 2019, just under 50% were. In 1985, the game accounted for over half of all table game revenues: in 2019, it accounted for 11% of table win.

Below are just a couple for you to explore.

Pontoon

Pontoon is a British card game that shares the same ancestry as Blackjack. It is believed that its novel name is in fact a corruption or mis-translation of the French word Vingt-Un. The game was taken up through co-mingling on the continent and quickly became a favored pastime of the British, who brought it back to their shores.

One clear difference you’ll notice is that a hand of five cards that do not bust is the second most valuable hand in the game, unlike in Blackjack. This is referred to as the Five Card Trick, and it’ll catch you out if you’re coming to Pontoon cold. Another core difference to get used to is the concealment of the dealer’s cards, which remain face down throughout. This affects your ability to strategize, as you’ll be working with less information. 

Siebzehn und Vier

This is a German relative of Blackjack that first began to take shape as a distinct game in the lands of Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire by the 1850s. The name translates as Seventeen and Four, hinting at its Twenty-One heritage.

This variant is traditionally played on German spielkarten, which features smaller decks numbering between 32 and 36 cards. Additionally, while the suit of hearts remains, diamonds, clubs and spades give way to leaves, acorns and bells. Siebzehn and Vier, like its French ancestor, also does not allow splitting the hand. This makes more a slower rate of play with less dynamism when compared to the variants below.

Spanish 21

Fast forward to the modern day, and Blackjack’s popularity has led to many new variants and subtle rule changes that affect the pace and nature of play. Among the most popular of these is Spanish 21, a licensed game more broadly based on older Twenty-One variants that developed in the Spanish speaking world.

One of the key distinctions in this variant is a side bet commonly referred to as Match the Dealer. In order to win this side bet, the player is required to match the dealer’s up card with one or both of the cards in their initial hand. If the player succeeds, they are entitled to a larger payout on completion of the hand.

Super Fun 21

Another well loved modern variant for you to try, this one’s DNA is that of true Blackjack. Super Fun 21 was patented as a distinct rule-set in the latter years of the 20th century.

What distinguishes it from other play styles is that Super Fun 21 forgoes the traditional payout of 3-to-2 in favor of 6-to-5. The player may also split a hand up to a maximum of 4 times and automatically secures a winning hand if they have six or more cards with a total of 20. This makes for a more flexible and dynamic play style in comparison to traditional blackjack and is a popular variant in modern casinos.

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BLACKJACK REVIEW GIVEAWAY #11

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1Editor note:  According to the University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research:  In 1985, 77% of casino games were blackjack. In 2019, just under 50% were. In 1985, the game accounted for over half of all table game revenues: in 2019, it accounted for 11% of table win.

How blackjack has changed throughout the years

Blackjack HistoryBy James Daniels

Blackjack is one of the most thrilling card games to play around the world. Many people love the simplicity of the game that still delivers a lot of tension as a card is flipped over. Here’s a look at how the much-loved game was first created and how it’s changed over the years.

What it looks like now

Before we look back at how it’s changed over the years, it’s important to look at how big a game blackjack has become. No longer do you need to gather around a group of friends to play at home. You merely need to load up the game on your laptop or phone and you can play against the computer. You don’t even have to visit a casino hall to be able to play for cash. Websites like SBOBET allow you to play a wide range of games, like blackjack, online for the same cash prizes as you’d expect to be winning in some of the biggest casino halls in the world.

The power of the internet has increased the popularity of this game massively. This is because you no longer have to seek out a game. Instead, even the most novice of players can enjoy a game thanks to the power of technology. There are many online games and software tools that will teach you step by step how to play and can advise you of all the possibilities of your next move, meaning you can learn how to become an expert gamer in no time. 

Where it started

Of course, when blackjack was first invented, things were a lot different to how they are today. Nobody is quite sure when the first game of blackjack was played. The first time it was widely recognized as a game was in France during the 1700s. It’s believed the game (which they called Vingt-et-Un) became so popular in France during this time that during the reign of King Louis XV many of the royal family enjoyed playing it as a way of unwinding from their duties. Other people believe that the first game of blackjack was actually played by the Romans. Instead of the traditional playing cards, it’s thought that the game was played with pieces of wood with different numbers painted on them. No matter which explanation you believe, it’s clear that the game we all know and love is probably over 300 years old.

How it developed

One of the surprising things about blackjack is that for many years it wasn’t actually called blackjack. Many people knew the game by a different name, 21, or a regional variation or translation of that same name. Instead the name was a result of a promotion that casino halls put on when the game came to America in the early 1900s.

Many halls would offer an extra prize if the player managed to make 21 by using either the jack of spades or the jack of clubs, i.e. the two black jacks in the pack. It’s believed that the nickname then stuck with the game until this present day.

Blackjacks pay 3 to 2

One of the biggest changes to today’s game is the unfortunate proliferation of games paying only 6 to 5.  Prior to 1999, all regular blackjack games paid a natural 21 (a ten valued card and an Ace) at 3 to 2 odds.  For more information on the history of blackjack be sure to check out BlackjackHistory.com.

About the author

James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.

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10 Things You Can Learn from Blackjack Players in Movies

From the movie By Isabella Goode

Blackjack is a simple, yet dramatic game. The combined elements of a game of chance and strategic betting make it a captivating game to play and watch – whether in a brick and mortar casino or on the big screen.

Blackjack has enjoyed a healthy level of popularity in cinema. While the casino game that first comes to mind for many of us may be poker, the element of chance and inherent drama that we see in blackjack often lends itself to the cinema screen.

  1. Learn the odds

The 1996 film Swingers follows a group of friends on a trip to Las Vegas where they’re shown in a casino playing blackjack.

Two of the friends debate between themselves whether to double down on 11 whenever they get the opportunity. While the scene is undeniably funny it also highlights the importance of knowing the odds when playing blackjack.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of winning is to always go into a game with a plan. Doing some work beforehand and learning odds and strategy can be the difference between winning big and going home empty handed.

  1. Keep calm

James Bond is the ultimate cool, collected player. In 1989’s Licence to Kill we see Bond sit down for a game of blackjack. Take your cue from Bond when playing blackjack and make sure to keep a cool head. Don’t rush your decision making and make sure you look at your next move from all angles.

The casino elements of James Bond are perhaps the most well known casino scenes in cinema. It’s hard not to want to try your hand at blackjack once you’ve seen the suave James Bond playing with a beautiful woman by his side. If blackjack appeals to you then you can check out this blog post to find out more about how to find the best places to play online. Online play is the best way to play the game at your own pace, making keeping a cool head all the more achievable.

  1. Don’t always listen to the dealer’s advice

This may seem counter intuitive, however, remember that the dealer in blackjack is always playing for the house – they are not on your side. It is in the dealer’s interest to keep you playing trying to keep you from too big of a win.

A great example of this can be found in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery as Number Two, played by Robert Wagner, ignores the dealer’s advice and ends up winning big. It is important to note though that the average player won’t have an x-ray eye to see the next card!

  1. Not Everyone In A Casino Is As Successful As They Claim

In the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, we see that not everyone in a casino is as successful at gambling as they claim to be, so you should take advice only from those you trust.

Someone might look like a wealthy high-roller, but it could turn out that they simply got lucky once and wear a nice suit.

So, if someone comes over and offers you gaming tips, take their advice with a pinch of salt. If you know for a fact that they regularly win at blackjack, or that they have played a lot of games, then you might consider taking their advice. However, if you’re unsure, then test out their advice before you commit a large bet to it. 

  1. High Risk, High Reward

As with many games, you get out of blackjack what you put in. This can be a double edged sword with the ability to win big but also the risk of losing entirely. While Number Two wins big at the blackjack table in Austin Powers, Austin Powers himself is not so lucky. Though, of course, Austin Powers also didn’t have the advantage of an x-ray eye.

  1. Keep To A Budget

Make sure you always keep a budget of what you can afford to gamble. One running theme in any film involving blackjack or any other kind of gambling is that there is a line to walk between the thrill of the wager and falling into the trap of investing too much too quickly.

  1. Practice Theory

Just as with learning odds and strategy, if you’re particularly mathematically minded you can delve even deeper into the theory behind card counting. The movie 21 is a 2008 film based on the real life team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who used math and card counting to attempt to beat the casino at its own game.

This kind of game play comes with its own risks and ethical questions. Many casinos will ban players known to count cards so be aware that it is a practice the industry and some other players frown upon. If you do want to level up your game, reading up on the theory can be enough to give you an edge while not crossing the ethical line.1)Editor note:  Card counting simply involves using your brain while playing.  Unethical?  Hardly!!!! Cheating, however, is a line you won’t want to cross.

  1. Enjoy Yourself

Blackjack is about having a fun time and enjoying the thrill of the game. The message of the movie 21 shows that while blackjack can be lucrative it can also have some serious negative impacts on your life if you take it too far.

Casino games are meant to be an enjoyable way to relax after a long week – they are not supposed to take over your life. Make sure that you stop when the fun stops.

  1. Confidence Is Key

Almost all of the successful gamblers you will see in film, from James Bond to Rain Man, show that being confident is key to success.

Second guessing yourself can be a fatal flaw while playing blackjack. Instead relax and trust in your game plan.

  1. Gamble responsibly

While James Bond and Rain Man may highlight the huge rewards of blackjack it is always important to remember that there are big risks involved at the same time.

Never let competition with other players and an imperfect understanding of the rules of the game be your downfall.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1Editor note:  Card counting simply involves using your brain while playing.  Unethical?  Hardly!!!! Cheating, however, is a line you won’t want to cross.

Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 3)

Image by David Mark from PixabayBy Yancy Howard

In the past two articles we have addressed poker and blackjack as the two games are played in the casino.  Just as Caddy Blackjack differs from the way it’s played in the casino, so can the home game of poker.

The home or private game of poker is usually played as a “dealers choice” game where each player, in his turn to deal, may play whatever game he chooses.  There may be a couple of dozen games to choose from that are played in any given home game. 

There are distinct differences such as how the games are structured for betting purposes and for resolving who wins the pot.  In casino poker hands are resolved under the “cards speak” rule.  After all cards have been dealt and bets made, players merely turn their hand over and the dealer announces the winner or winners in the case of a split pot.

In the private game, however, lots of players tend to use the simultaneous declaration method to determine the winners of the hand.  That is, each player places his hands on the table.  on the count of three, everyone opens one hand.  If you show a chip in your hand this signifies you are going for the high half of the pot.  If you are going low, you open an empty hand.  If you choose to go both ways, you open both hands.  Now, there are other ways of declaring… this is just one example.  There are also several ways of resolving ties in the case of a player going both ways.  In some games you loose everything if you are tied or beaten either way, and others allow you to tie and three quarter an opponent.1)A very good discussion of these rules can be found in the High-Low Split chapter of Doyle Brunson’s Super System written by David Sklansky.

“Just as ‘Caddy Blackjack’ differs
from the way it’s played in the
casino, so can the home game of poker.”

Casino poker is played in a poker room where one specific game is played at each table.  The players at the table can’t choose to play a different game than the one being spread.  For instance if you are sitting at a table where 7 card stud is being dealt, and you wish to play some Omaha hi-lo 8 or better, you will have to find a table where that game is being spread. 

As you can see, once you seat yourself at the game of your choice in the casino you are going to play that game until you change tables.  In the private game you are going to be faced with playing different games every hand.  In my opinion you must be a much more rounded player than in the casino game if you expect to be a steady winner and supplement your income from poker.   There are many other things that you must concentrate on in the private game.  Some people play that 6,4,3,2,A2)Also known as a 6-4 low. is the best low and on the very next hand the dealer may announce 5,4,3,2,A3)Also known as the “wheel”. is the best low.

Now, many people will establish strict rules as far as what is the best low.  I say let them announce whatever they wish!  I can make a lot more money from players mistakes, because between hands as the dealer is announcing his game there are always people talking with one another or just not paying attention.  They are playing a hand thinking 6,4,3,2,A is the best when a wheel has been announced as the best low.  Instead of winning only the high side, I can scoop the whole pot by declaring both ways. 

I approach a poker game in a different manner than a lot of other folks do.  I hear people say they are there for a night out and a good time cause they like to play poker.  If they win fine.  I like that type of attitude, it’s just one that I don’t share.  To me, poker is hard work, as I try to play my best game at all times.  I am always looking to collect as many chips as I can squeeze out of each hand I am involved in.  I am always up to the challenge when I sit down in any game.  I’m there to make the money.  If I have a good time in the process, all the better!

I do play poker in casinos, but I prefer to play in private games because I usually play in games where I know everyone and their style of play.  I can find a game every night of the week if I want to play, and never have to drive more than 10 miles.

I play in a game every week that has been going on since 1981.  Except for myself and one other person, the faces at the table have changed many times.  To play in this game a person has to be recommended by one of the other players.  He is told before he comes to play that we are not looking for a one time player.  He has to be committed to setting that night aside each week to play the game.  He or she is also told of the financial risk involved so they aren’t surprised by coming with a short bankroll.  After the first night of play that person is voted in or out of the game by all of the other players.  This game won’t even accept a replacement if a person is ill.  They just play short handed.  It takes too much time to explain all the rules, etc., for the game to run smooth.

The game runs from 6pm to midnight.  No one comes late or leaves early.  Your bankroll is at risk for 6 hours in this game.  We start the deal with the same person each week, and at midnight we end with the person seated to the right of the person who dealt the first hand, so everyone deals the same number of hands. 

I don’t know why, but most people that play poker, men especially, tend to have big egos.  Most men think they are good poker players.  Just ask them!  I’ve seen new players in the game try to run over a couple of our female players only to be sucked-in, outwitted and trounced by superior play.  Some of the people in this game play three or four days a week, and have years of experience.

One play comes to mind.  The game is 5 card stud hi-low declare with one re-buy.  The game is 8 handed.  Six people call the first bet.  Cards are dealt, betting and raising brings it to 5 handed.  Again the cards are dealt.  A player with a queen showing bets and is raised by Mr. Ego, who shows a K,10,7 and is re-raised by our Lady who shows A,4,7.  Everyone calls.  On the last up card the player with the queen catches a blank.  Ditto for Mr. Ego, and the other two.  Our lady who is dealing catches another Ace.  She bets, everyone folds except Mr. Ego.  Now its time for the re-buy. He buys, throws away the 7 and catches another blank.  She throws her chips in for the re-buy, tosses one of the Aces and draws a 6!  He starts raving about why she threw a sure winner for half the pot away.  They declare.  They both declare high!  Mr. Ego turns over a king for a pair, as our Lady turns over an Ace, scoops the pot, and says “I’d much rather win the whole pot than half of it!!”  That’s right, she threw trips away.

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

About Yancy Howard

Yancy Howard is the pseudonym for Dick Buechler – a successful poker player and blackjack card counter originally from Salem, New Jersey.  He comments that he learned about advantage play in the United States Marines where he was a Gunnery Sergeant during the Vietnam war era.  A former professional Heliarc (TIG) Welder and instructor, he now enjoys traveling the world in his retirement. 

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 1)
BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 2)

Footnotes

Footnotes
1A very good discussion of these rules can be found in the High-Low Split chapter of Doyle Brunson’s Super System written by David Sklansky.
2Also known as a 6-4 low.
3Also known as the “wheel”.