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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A Brief History of Blackjack & the Best Place to Play Online

AK of DiamondsBy Emma Woodshut

The history of blackjack is a bit fuzzy. But one thing that experts agree on is that it’s been around for a long time.

Most believe that blackjack started in French Casinos as long ago as the early 1700s. Vingt-et-un or twenty-one seems to be the original French name – obviously, the rules and game-play were slightly different, but it seems to be the closest relative, along with Pontoon. Other historical evidence points to Veintiuna was being played in Castile (Spain) at the very beginning of the 17th century, so 1600 … perhaps even the last couple of years of the 16th century as a short story by Don Quixote written way back in 1601 mentions the card game.

As the game developed over the years, it hit a fever-pitch in the 1930s when Vegas “opened” for business in 1931. Back then it was still called twenty-one in English and the Casino owners offered some pretty fantastic odds to entice players to sit at the tables. Enter the term blackjack. Certain casinos would give ten to one odds for pulling the Ace of Spades and either black Jack to land on 21. These exceptional odds didn’t last for very long, but the name stayed: Blackjack.

In the 1950s, blackjack became known as one of the few Casino games that with some practice and skill, could be nearly the same amount of advantage for the player as it does for the house. Card counting hit the scene. At the time, casinos were still running games with one deck. After Edward O. Thorp’s book, Beat the Dealer became a mainstream success in the early 1960s, the casinos had to figure out a way to combat the fairly easy systems invented to keep track of the cards left in the deck and remove the house’s edge. So, they simply added a deck. This made keeping track more difficult, but not difficult enough. So, they added two more decks and made most standard games, 4-deck blackjack. Using Thorp’s Ten-Count, instead of dealing with 16 tens and 36 non-tens in the single deck, card sharks had to deal with 64 tens and 144 non-tens in 4-decks. So, only the greatest minds could do it effectively. Nowadays, we have 8-deck games and casinos shuffle the shoe earlier to severely reduce the risk of effective counting and retain their edge.

In the early 1990s, we saw the first online blackjack and poker games. Then in 2006, we saw the advent of live online blackjack with live dealers. Back in the day, they would just throw a webcam over the table and what you got was a live dealer experience, but horrible resolution and a ton of lag. Nowadays, they do it all in a custom studio room, so you get a crystal clear image and an experience that is close to sitting at the actual table.

But where are the best blackjack sites?

When you review the best sportbooks, you find that they have a handful of different online blackjack games, including single-deck and double-deck games. They have high-quality live dealer tables – upwards of 36 at any given moment and most have $10 minimum and $500 max. But there are also $5 tables with $100 limits, $15 and $750, $25 tables with $1000 limits, and $100 tables with $2500 limits as well.


Bovada takes US players. It was previously difficult to find a reputable place to sit at an online table because of the taboo nature of online gambling in the United States. Now that the legalization of sports betting and games of skill and chance are getting favorable legislation and it’s becoming easier to play your favorite table game online. Depending on the state you are in, you may have more options than others.

For example, Oregon has moved to fully operational online gambling and sports betting, so there are plenty of options in such a state. Bovada, BetOnline, and Vegas Casino are all online options that are A-rated and trustworthy. You might be thinking that you can grab a game of blackjack at famous sites like PokerStars but unfortunately, traditional twenty-one has been removed from their product list.

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The Best Blackjack Books of All Time

By Michael Dalton

There are many good books that have been written about the game of blackjack. Here are my personal favorites for the best blackjack books of all time. These books have stood the test of time and provide outstanding advice on how to improve your blackjack skills. As a collection, these books cover everything you need to be successful at beating the casinos. Books are listed in order of the year they were first published. If you buy any of these books, be sure you get the latest edition. 1) Michael Dalton is author of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and editor/publisher of the Blackjack Review Network. Looking for other good blackjack books? Check out the product review section of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and the online book catalog on this site.

Beat the Dealer by Edward ThorpEdward Thorp’s Beat the Dealer (First published 1962)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This is the classic that changed the way we all view the game of twenty-one. This book presents, for the first time, a validated winning strategy (a ten-count) based on the results of computer simulation. The 1966 version has a practical point count (Hi-Lo) that was later revised by Julian Braun. Is this required reading for the aspiring card counter?  Probably not…. but if you are a history buff, it is a must read.

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Playing Blackjack as a Business by Lawrence Revere Lawrence Revere’s Playing Blackjack as a Business (First published 1969)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The classic text that many early card counters were taught by including myself. Contained nice color charts that made it easier to memorize basic strategy. Included four counting systems developed by Revere with computer simulation data from Julian Braun.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Playing Blackjack As A Business ]

Professional Blackjack by Stanford WongStanford Wong’s Professional Blackjack (First published 1975)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The best book to learn the very popular Hi-Lo card counting system. Be sure to get the 2011 (or later) version for updates and corrections to the count variation charts.  The Hi-Lo count is the most recommended count of all time.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Professional Blackjack ]

Theory of Blackjack by Peter GriffinPeter Griffin’s The Theory of Blackjack (First published 1979)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This book is considered the bible on the mathematics of blackjack. Probably not required reading unless you are really interested in math.  None the less, this book included ground breaking information on the game including the most complete basic strategy ever published.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: The Theory of Blackjack ]

 

World's Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance HumbleLance Humble & Carl Cooper’s The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book (First published 1980)

Why? Introduces the very popular Hi-Opt I and Hi-Opt II [glossary_exclude]card counting systems[/glossary_exclude].  The Hi-Opt counts did not assign a value to the Ace, thus requiring that they be side-counted.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: The World Greatest Blackjack Book ]

Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken UstonKen Uston’s Million Dollar Blackjack (First published 1981)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? At the time, this was one of the most complete books on advantage play blackjack ever published. Discussed everything from card counting to team play. Included the Uston Simple Plus/Minus, Uston Advanced Plus/Minus and Uston Advanced Point Count systems. Also, chapters on the art of single- and multiple-deck play, team methods, front-loading, spooking, cheating, getting barred and tournament blackjack.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Million Dollar Blackjack ]

Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold SnyderArnold Snyder’s Blackbelt in Blackjack (First published 1983)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? Introduced the easier unbalanced Red Seven count and the two-level Zen count. Topics included depth charging, money management, the true count, camouflage techniques, toking guidelines, hole card play, cheating, team play and the effect of table conditions. Written by the editor/publisher of the outstanding card counters resource, Blackjack Forum magazine.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackbelt in Blackjack : Playing 21 as a Martial Art ]

Blackjack For Blood by Bryce Carlson Bryce Carlson’s Blackjack For Blood (First published 1992)

Why? The best part of this book is Carlson’s insight into what I call the art of twenty-one. Introduced the advanced ace neutral two-level Omega II count.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack for Blood ]

Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuch Olaf Vancura & Ken Fuchs’ Knock-Out Blackjack (First published 1996)

Why? Introduced the very popular K-O unbalanced [glossary_exclude]card counting system[/glossary_exclude]. This count ranks as one of the top single-level counts available to players today. The K-O card counting system eliminates the mountain of mental arithmetic necessary to win at blackjack.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Knock-Out Blackjack ]

Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger Don Schlesinger’s Blackjack Attack (First published 1997)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? The ultimate blackjack reference book for professional players. Covered topics such as back-counting the shoe game, betting techniques and win rates, evaluating new rules and bonuses, statistical insights, the “Illustrious 18”, the “Floating Advantage”, team play, camouflage, risk of ruin, and more.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way ]

Burning the Tables in Las VegasIan Andersen’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas (First published 1999)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This was the long awaited sequel to one of the best-selling blackjack books ever written, Turning the Tables on Las Vegas. Included powerful camouflage strategies to avoid detection by casino staff while card counting.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Burning the Tables in Las Vegas ]

Blackjack BluePrint by Rick BlaineRick Blaine’s Blackjack BluePrint (First published 2006)

Why? Think of this book as everything you need to know about team play that Ken Uston never told you. Anyone even considering joining a team must own this book. Revised and updated in 2014.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Blackjack Blueprint: How to Play Like a Pro … Part-Time ]

 

Modern Blackjack by Norm WattenbergerNorm Wattenberger’s Modern Blackjack (First published 2009)

Why? This two-volume book is massive. It was written by the author of the outstanding Casino Verite suite of blackjack software which he used to provide highly detailed information and analyses of every aspect of the game.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Modern Blackjack Second Edition Volume I ]
[ BUY ON AMAZON: Modern Blackjack Second Edition Volume II ]

Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved
Michael Dalton / Blackjack Review Network

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Footnotes

↑ 1. Michael Dalton is author of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and editor/publisher of the Blackjack Review Network. Looking for other good blackjack books? Check out the product review section of the Encyclopedia of Blackjack and the online book catalog on this site.

Best Online Card Games 2020

By Gytis Miliauskas

Live Dealer BlackjackThere will be many people playing inside online casinos during 2020. Many will be experienced and have played online before and many who are brand new to casino gaming and playing for the first time. We all have our own favorite games that we love to play, but many will also see the new year as a chance to make a few changes and try something new. Of course, it is human nature to stick with what we all know and love, but trying out new games can enhance your experience inside a casino. If you have a number of different games at your disposal, you can choose the game based on your mood or any opportunities you might find when you log on.

From slot games to card games, table games and video poker, there are dozens, if not hundreds of choices for players looking for something to play. While most games are simply a game of chance, some have an element of skill attached to them and it is those games that often attract great interest from players as they try to beat the casino.

YieldEDITOR NOTE: This article is written with the gambler in mind. If you enjoy gambling for the sake of gambling, online casinos have so much more variety and possibilities than the largest land based casino could ever have. Many online casinos are still not available to players in the United States and all players should investigate any new casino before depositing any monies.  Note that card counting is essentially impossible online but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for advantage players.

Card Games

Those looking to try and win over the casino and use skill while gaming will often turn to card games. These offer you the chance to make decisions that will directly impact whether you win or not. They are used by many players alongside other types of game, for example, if you want a challenge then play a card game. If you want to relax and not think too much then try a slot game.

What is the Best Online Card Game for 2020?

While it has been a big favorite with players for many years, blackjack remains the best online card game to play in 2020. The game offers you the chance to play something that combines skill with the luck of the draw when the cards are dealt.

The reason why many people love this game is that you are gaming and relaxing while playing it, but it also makes you think and work out what you are going to do next. The idea of the game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over, and it is your decisions that will set the target for the dealer to beat.

For those that want to try something new in 2020, adding blackjack to your online game portfolio and playing it alongside other titles is a great way of testing yourself. When you want to relax and enjoy gaming without having to think too much you can head to the slot titles you know and love, but when you want something different and you want to test yourself you can try out blackjack.


Example Online Blackjack Games From SmartCasinoGuide.com


A Blackjack Guide

The goal of blackjack is, of course, to beat the dealer. You do this by trying to get closer to 21 than the dealer. Ties push and you are paid extra for a natural blackjack, which is a ten valued card and an Ace. If you hit your hand (take another card) and go over 21 you automatically lose, even if the dealer subsequently busts and goes over 21.

The game of blackjack adds an element of skill because you need to decide when to stick with the hand you have and when to hit, double or split your hand to improve your odds. For example, if you have 15 you are 6 away from 21, is that enough for you to put pressure on the dealer and win, or do you need to hit and get another card, in the hope it is six or less.

Your decision will be heavily influenced by what the dealer’s up-card is.  That is where basic strategy comes in that will help improve your odds.  It is these decisions that you need to make on every hand and the big reason why this will remain the best online card game in 2020.

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The Art of Twenty-One

by Michael Dalton

The Art of BlackjackThe key to success for most blackjack card counters is the act.  It is the very essence to the art of twenty-one.  It is what distinguishes the average card counter who has trouble finding a good game and the blackjack expert who manages to make the game good.

A player once told me that he gave up card counting because every time he raised his bet the dealer would shuffle up on him and intimidate him by trying to deal faster.  If this player had used some common sense and not acted so obviously like a card counter he probably would have been left alone.  A good card counter should be able to keep up with the fastest dealer, however, if you are having issues with this, here is a tip:  Just play your hand slower and think about every decision.  Don’t let the dealer dictate the speed of the game!  To be successful at twenty-one you not only have to be able to count cards you must develop a unique style of play that is different from what the casinos are looking for.

CARD COUNTERS DON’T DRINK

All books recommend that players not drink.  All casinos realize that drinking affects judgment and card counting and drinking don’t mix.  Therefore, players who drink are not a threat to the casino and more likely than not they are preferred to your average player.

I also recommend that you don’t drink when you play but no one ever said you couldn’t pretend to drink.  I will often order a Heineken or dark bottle beer only to empty 95% of its contents out and refill it with water.  This completes my full gambler/tourist act.  It doesn’t cost much since you can always refill your beer bottle with water.  Just don’t try carrying your beer bottle from casino to casino.  You might get arrested!

EARLY MORNING PLAY

Many card counters prefer to play early in the morning (3-6AM) because they tend to get better games and there are less crowds.  However, most casinos also realize this.  If your schedule calls for early morning play, try not grooming yourself when you wake up.  In other words, don’t shave or shower.  From the casino’s point of view, you will appear to be a player that has stayed up all night and thus less of a threat.  Some players push this to an extreme!  I once ran into an fellow card counter1)Yes, a card counter can usually identify another card counter in the casino.  I remember the first time this happened to me many years ago.  I was at the Silver City Casino in Las Vegas playing a $1 minimum single deck game.  It only took about 15 minutes.  I didn’t like the fact that this player was practically mirroring my bets.  I later discovered after talking to him that he was using one of Lawrence Revere’s Point Count Systems.  Recently, I found a fellow counter playing much higher stakes on a cruise ship.  He was betting $50 to $500 or so.  I watched him for a few days and after being convinced he was accurately keeping the count, I would occasionally jump into his game betting my maximum bet whenever he had $500 or more on the table. who attempted to block seats while smoking, drinking and essentially acting like an idiot.  

NEVER STARE

One give-away that you may be a counter is that you sit quietly and stare at the cards.  You need to get over this!  A glance is all that should be necessary to accurately pick up the count. You should be counting cards as efficiently as possible – counting cards in groups of 2, 3 or more and canceling cards out.  For minus counts, never think “minus X”.  Always think “my X” or something simpler.  It is shorter and more efficient.  If you get distracted for some reason, have a method to “lock in” the count.  Using chips or a chip location has worked for me. 

ALWAYS BE FRIENDLY

Probably the best advice I can give to increase longevity in the casino is the ability to talk with other players, the dealer and pit personnel while accurately keeping the count and playing perfectly.  For more ideas on putting on the perfect “act” be sure to read The Blackjack Player’s Guide to Idiot Camouflage and Ian Andersen’s book below.

Burning the Tables in Las VegasIan Andersen’s Burning the Tables in Las Vegas (First published 1999)Blackjack Hall of Fame

Why? This was the long awaited sequel to one of the best-selling blackjack books ever written, Turning the Tables on Las Vegas. Included powerful camouflage strategies to avoid detection by casino staff while card counting.

[ BUY ON AMAZON: Burning the Tables in Las Vegas ]


Copyright © 1992 – 2020 All Rights Reserved
Originally published (in part) in the Summer 1992 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine

BLOG MENU 2)The Art of Twenty-One: Blackjack and Smoking Cigars Background image courtesy of Michael Godard, the “Rockstar of the Art World”.

Footnotes

↑ 1.Yes, a card counter can usually identify another card counter in the casino.  I remember the first time this happened to me many years ago.  I was at the Silver City Casino in Las Vegas playing a $1 minimum single deck game.  It only took about 15 minutes.  I didn’t like the fact that this player was practically mirroring my bets.  I later discovered after talking to him that he was using one of Lawrence Revere’s Point Count Systems.  Recently, I found a fellow counter playing much higher stakes on a cruise ship.  He was betting $50 to $500 or so.  I watched him for a few days and after being convinced he was accurately keeping the count, I would occasionally jump into his game betting my maximum bet whenever he had $500 or more on the table.
↑ 2.The Art of Twenty-One: Blackjack and Smoking Cigars Background image courtesy of Michael Godard, the “Rockstar of the Art World”.

How to Maximize Daily Expected Value in Blackjack

By Sebastian Mat

Cigars and Playing CardsBlackjack is as much a game of skill as it is of chance, and this is one of the reasons why it has consistently remained so popular. From measuring your bet to calculating the odds and far more, the elements which make up a good strategy are wide and varied.

In this article, we want to look at how you as a player might balance all of the available factors so you can maximize the daily expected value you can get from the game. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a better gaming experience.

Defining Value

Before we can even think about helping you pursue the best value, we first need to be able to define exactly what, in your mind, counts the most. For some players, value is all about being able to place a wide range of bets, from small bets to huge investments. For others, the value lies in being able to enjoy the experience for as long as possible, regardless of the winnings on the table.

In order to move on, you need to decide what counts as your value. Some of these tips might not apply for your game style, or in other instances, they all might be equally important.

EDITOR NOTE: Expected value (EV), as defined in Dalton’s Encyclopedia of Blackjack, is the theoretical outcome per wager and a measure of how much the player (or casino) can expect to lose (or win) in a particular game.  For a basic strategy player, your EV is usually negative.  Card counters and advantage players strive for positive EV when playing.  This article looks at an alternate definition of EV from the gambler’s perspective.  For the gambler, EV can be a combination of how much one enjoys playing, the ability to play longer, the quality of bonuses and comps given, etc.  To someone who is not an advantage player (AP), expected value has nothing to do with a theoretical return on investment.

Bang for Your Buck

For players who wish to spend a long time at the tables, it can be difficult to track down the experience which is best catered to you. Even in the cases where you can find a table which enables low bets to be placed, not all are created equal.

Take a regular brick and mortar casino for example. For these locations, you’ll be playing with your money all day, and this can limit even the most contained spenders. Compare this to the online betting opportunities available which often come with enormous bonuses. These bonuses like deposit matches are found on many websites and can keep you engaged on the service’s dime far longer than any older casino could manage.

If you’re in it for the long-haul, note that online casinos will always have the edge in this regard.

Learn Your System

Chips and CardsWhile we can’t recommend turning to card counting as a way to get ahead, at least in this instance, we absolutely recommend becoming familiar enough with your systems that they become second nature. Every player has their own tendencies, but those who wish to really make their mark are those who understand the statistical realities of the game.

There are a lot of different strategies you can use here for multi-deck, double-deck and single-deck. Players already intimately familiar with the game will undoubtedly already have their preference for game type picked out, but even in this case, it can be a good idea to widen your horizons.

In some places, your preferential type of blackjack might not be available, so being able to rely on a strategic fall-back can ensure a more sustained level of play.

If you do use blackjack strategy cards, then we understand it can be annoying to have to consult them every time, but after just a short while these concepts and numbers will easily become second-nature.

The Miscellaneous

The final component we need to look at is the surrounding environment of where you choose to play. Our environment often affects our mental state, so uncomfortable or frustrating surroundings can cause us to lose focus, or otherwise growing tired prematurely.

It’s not just decoration and noise which needs to be taken into account either, as food availability, comfort, and fellow players also need to be considered. Some players out there might be lucky enough to live in areas with a lot of options from which to choose, which can be great for these random elements.

For the rest of us, it can be useful to instead create our own little corner haven for online play. Remember, live casino games are also available online for those after a more visual experience.

Only by examining all of these aspects together should you be able to generate some idea of how you might get the best daily value out of your blackjack experience. If you’re not yet sure or haven’t experienced all that this world has to offer, then it might be a good idea to go and see some of these options for yourself.

Wherever you settle, there are no wrong answers. Do what is right for you, and your experience will be all the more valuable for it.

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Blackjack Player’s Guide to Idiot Camouflage

. by Michael Dalton

This article originally started out (in the 1990s) as an Internet discussion group topic called “What New (Blackjack) Players Do.”  I would like to thank Grimy Fellow for posting the topic and Max Von Count, JW, Curious Amateur, BJ, Grinder, Slick, and Don Schlesinger for contributing items and ideas.

“…the less you ‘look’ like a counter the longer your play will be welcome.”

The point of this topic was to come up with ideas to improve a card counter’s cover at the table.  When you get to a comfortable level of proficiency in card counting you often forget that your play may be monitored.  The last thing you want is for a casino to suspect that you are good enough to beat its game simply because you act and look like a good player.   Although it is almost impossible to count cards indefinitely without being detected the less you “look” like a counter the longer your play will be welcome.

Obviously, not all of the plays below can be incorporated in a player’s camouflage repertoire but many of them can with little or no loss in expectation:

    • Making a few (or a lot) of playing errors. (This can get costly – See update below!)
    • Over-tipping or just tipping in general. (This can get costly – See update below!)
    • Telling the dealer you want to double down when you really want to split a pair. (You don’t want to do this with a pair of 5s.)
    • Having consultations with friends or other players about how to play your hand.
    • Putting an insurance bet out equal to your first bet.
    • Doubling down by betting twice the amount of your first bet.
    • Going WILD over winning a $5 hand! (Or at least getting overly excited when you get a blackjack — even with a small bet.)
    • Referring to a basic strategy card. (usually a bad one)
    • Doubling down for less. (usually because they have run out of money)
    • Placing medium to big bets off the top of the deck or shoe. (This can get costly – See update below!)
    • Pressing your bets when you win.
    • Chasing your losses.
    • Always (or usually) taking even money. (This can get costly – See update below!)
    • Running over to the slots for one lucky pull.
    • Attempting to shake the dealer’s hand.
    • Drinking too much while playing. (You can act can’t you?)
    • Splitting tens. (I’d be careful about this one!)
    • Trying to “hand” the dealer cash when you want chips.
    • Having a cup full of slot tokens on the table.
    • Touching the cards to split them in a face up game. (a definite no-no!).
    • Placing money on “top” of your original bet when doubling down. (You can only get away with this once per casino!)
    • Asking what insurance is “after” the dealer asks “Insurance anyone?”
    • Asking what surrender is. (if sign mentions surrender is available).
    • Asking if there is a bonus for a 5-card 21.
    • Asking if the dealer wins ties.
    • Not paying attention to the game when distracted by the cocktail waitress, friends, or by the noise of someone who just won a slot jackpot.
    • Getting upset when third base takes the dealer’s bust card. (An indication that a player is not really new to the game, however, is superstitious.)
    • Stacking chips in the betting circle in no apparent order (e.g., green on top, red on bottom, etc.)
    • Not using hand signals or incorrectly using hand signals.
    • Not using correct terminology at the table. (Like bust, hit, stand, felt, insurance, tokes)
    • Taking too much time to play a hand.

Here are a few “new player” habits that are applicable only in hand-held games:

    • Picking up the cards with two hands.
    • Leaning too far back with the cards, thereby removing them from above the felt — a definite no-no!
    • Failing to tuck your original cards under your bet, in the circle, when you stand. (The usual move is to simply drop the cards in front of your pile of chips, thus annoying the hell out of the dealer who has to pick them up and give instructions on “tucking”!)
    • Failing to turn over your blackjacks.
    • Turning over your cards when you hit to 21. (thinking that this is the same as a natural)
    • Bending the cards when you look at them.
    • Peeking under the cards as if it were a poker hand.

Once again, be aware that some of the above plays may not be suitable or cost effective as cover.  You obviously don’t want to over-tip the dealer and you obviously don’t want to make costly playing errors.  But not all playing errors are costly!   A good source of information on this topic is Don Schlesinger’s article entitled “How ‘Dumb’ Can You Afford to Appear?” in the September 1993 issue of Blackjack Forum.   One of the conclusions of this article was that appearing very “dumb” at the outset of play may remove any potential heat after just a few hours.  Schlesinger wrote “Pit bosses often formulate ‘first impressions’ that last for the duration of the tripSo you might not have to continue to make ‘mistakes’ all the way through.”  Schlesinger presents charts of every basic strategy play possible with hand frequencies and conditional and absolute penalties for deviating from basic strategy.   According to Schlesinger study, of the 254 plays on the chart almost 100 of them carry penalties of less than one cent per $100.

In the 1990s, I integrated many of the above ideas, including an occasional playing error from time to time,  into my overall blackjack strategy.   If you want a long playing career, you should give the above ideas serious consideration!  Good luck!

Yield2019 UPDATE:  Playing errors can be costly!  I no longer recommend making playing errors for the sake of camouflage.  Most pit personnel probably won’t even know a “playing error” from an appropriate card counter’s “play deviation” anyway.  Oh…. and be careful with tipping!  If you tip at all, I suggest tipping at the “end” of a session only, which also suggests that you only tip if you won.

Copyright © 1997 – 2020 All Rights Reserved
Originally published (in part) in the Summer 1997 issue of Blackjack Review Magazine

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What Does Playing Blackjack Have in Common with Playing Football?

Playing Blackjack in a CasinoBy Robert Bell

It isn’t entirely unknown for a football player to become a professional card player when they retire from the game. Evan Mathis, Calais Campbell, and Antoine Winfield are a few of the former players who started playing poker seriously.

There are fewer obvious examples of NFL players turning to blackjack. Yet, there are some very good reasons why they could find plenty of similarities between the games.  

Ability to Memorize Plays

One of the things that most impress some sports fans is how football players can remember so many complicated plays. It isn’t just about remembering the plays, though. They also need to recall them instantly in the heat of the moment and in a highly pressurized situation.

Of course, something similar occurs at the blackjack table. When your hand is dealt, you need to instantly decide whether to hit or stand. If you can memorize all of the different possibilities and recall them during the game, then you have a far greater chance of winning regularly.

Determination to Win

Everyone who reaches a good level in a sport as demanding as football has to show an intense will to win. There is simply no way to achieve success in this game without having the determination to keep going even when the odds are stacked against you.

Blackjack may seem like a laid-back game to outsiders. However, the best players have that same, fierce desire to win every hand. They will also feel bitterly disappointed with themselves if they make a mistake that causes them to lose.

Football Fans Can Play Blackjack Too

It isn’t just the guys out on the field who have got an advantage when it comes to playing blackjack. Just by watching NFL games, you could be picking up some valuable tips that help you at the card table later on.

For instance, if you work out the best football odds to place a bet then you are used to considering the possibilities of different outcomes and how much to wager on them. You will also be used to mentally working out figures quickly and accurately. All of this can really help when you play blackjack.

High Level of Self-Control and Discipline

Football players need to take care of their bodies if they are going to enjoy a long, successful career at the top of the sport. Young athletes who gain a football scholarship in the USA can expect to practice with their team for up to 30 hours each week. Away from the action, they need to live as healthy a life as possible.

Blackjack players also need to put in the hours to learn the game. Once the cards are dealt, they will need to show self-control and discipline in order to stick to their game plan even when something unexpected happens.  

Knowing When to Take Risks

If we look at some of the greatest plays in the history of football, some of them involved taking risks. Often, when a team is trailing and time is short, something out of the ordinary is called for. However, a great player knows when to take a risk and when to stick to the plan.

Equally, a lot of blackjack playing is about sticking to a pre-planned strategy. Yet, there may be times when an experienced card player realizes that it is worth taking a risk for the chance of the rewards it could bring.

To sum up, while they look very different at first glance, it is clear that there are some interesting similarities between football and blackjack. Perhaps it is the ideal combination of games for certain people, since they both involve wise techniques and approaches.

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