Category Archives: Blackjack

How to Choose a Real-Money Blackjack Casino

by Julia Beyers

Introduction

We have designed this ultimate guide for all blackjack lovers looking for trusted online websites to play this game for real money. It’s a difficult task to find the best one, so read through the following information to learn the basics of blackjack, and get valuable tips on choosing the casino of your dreams. We will also provide you with some of the most reliable casinos that we found on AllHighRollerCasinos.Com. So, sit back, relax, and let’s go!

The industry of online gambling is wide-reaching as it slowly yet effectively attracts more players from land based casinos. There are thousands of websites which offer various games from all-liked shiny slots to skill-demanding poker to luck-driven lotteries. Online casinos attract millions of users all over the world because of great convenience and comfort. Online players can enjoy favorite games without spending their bucks on trips to Las Vegas or Macau.

To understand the industry scale, let’s check the comprehensive study by Financial Times, which reveals intriguing data. According to it, there were 51% of the UK gamblers, who accessed casinos via mobile phones and tablets in 2018. At the same time, the UK Gambling Commission revealed that it had issued 888 licenses for online operators. And it’s only one country out of 193 UN members!

Things will look even brighter for web-based casinos, Juniper Research claims. In its recent report, the team predicts that there will be 61 million online gamblers who will bring casinos more than $1 trillion revenue in 2022. Without doubt, a solid portion of this money will come from blackjack tables.

Blackjack 101

Let’s start with the very basics. This section will be especially useful for newcomers who don’t know how to play blackjack or want to discover something new. Further, we want to guide you through the major rules of traditional blackjack versions and reveal some extra game variations available at online casino websites. It’s obvious that basic rules are similar for both brick and mortar and web-based gambling facilities but additional options may vary, so pay attention to games you choose. Without further ado, welcome the blackjack 101 course!

Key Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is a card game where gamblers confront a dealer. Basically, all players and a dealer blackjack get cards from the common deck (there can be from 1 to 8 combined decks), calculate their scores, and compare them. The main objective here is to get the total value of as close to 21 as possible. Hands with 21 always win, though you always lose if you exceed this amount. The game combines 50% of luck with 50% of strategy and math.

Ultimately, the classic version features three stages. During the first one, participants wager money, then they receive two cards each, and define scores. Gamblers can see only their hand cards and one dealer’s card while others are hidden. Finally, each player can make a move: to hit (take a card), to stand (do nothing), to double (double the bet and take one extra card), to split (separate cards to create two hands) or to surrender (return half of the bet and end the game). Knowing these rules is enough to start gambling, but we will cover more hints and strategies later.

Remember also the rules related to cards’ values:

● Aces can cost either 1 or 11 points depending on other cards
● All face cards cost 10 points
● Number cards cost as much as indicated on them

If you want to know more about specifics of blackjack casino games, check the related articles in Wikipedia or Dalton’s Encyclopedia of Blackjack. This huge encyclopedia covers everything from the origins of the described game to the least known exotic variations.

The Game’s Versions

Gambling websites list different variations of blackjack to meet the demands of different users. Some of them stem from the early brick and mortar casino offerings, while others are modern inventions. Usually, you will find from 2 to 10 versions on a single website. Below are the most popular ones (we mention only variations from the classic version). Note that the mentioned types are also available as live dealer games.

21 Caribbean

Aces count as 1 only, and the winning hand is slightly different as you have to build a three-card combo with an ace and two 10-valued cards.

21 Face Up / Double Exposure

In this variant, both of the dealer’s cards are exposed to gamblers. Some exotic versions require that all participants show their cards, as well.

21 Match Play

This game is played without 10-valued cards. Instead, you can make use of several bonus hands which vary across casinos.

21 Spanish

In addition to removing 10s, this variant has extra rules:
● Gamblers can surrender anytime
● Gamblers can surrender after double down
● Gamblers can increase bets at any hands
● Gambler’s 21 beats the dealer’s 21

21 Super Fun

Here, the player’s 21-valued hand also beats the dealer’s one. Plus, participants can split hands 4 times – the hand with 6 cards and the total value of 20 win automatically.

Five Hand

As the name suggests, this variation lets you have five hands simultaneously, instead of only one. Be aware that it’s a pretty challenging game though!

Free Bet

All bets placed during splitting or doubling down are protected. It means, you don’t have to wager additional money for these actions, but in the case of a win, you will get a double prize. However, the dealer’s 22-valued hand pushes all other hands except 21s here.

Perfect Pairs

This one introduces extra side bets. You can wager on getting a mixed pair (just numbers), a colored pair (numbers and colors) or a perfect pair (numbers and suits).

Single Deck

Obviously, the game features only one deck of 52 cards. It’s easier to count them and the game itself is more profitable as it has the lowest edge among all versions.

Switch

In Blackjack Switch, players get two hands and can exchange two upper cards within them freely. Similarly to Free Bet, the dealer’s 22 push other combos except for blackjacks.

Suggestions for Beginners

Extending our introductory section, we would like to give some general hints to newbie online gamblers. If you are a seasoned punter, feel free to skip this part and proceed to advanced strategies.

The very first hint is simple: don’t play for money if it’s your first blackjack run. There are hundreds of casinos which offer demo plays with virtual tokens, so try them to get the idea. Learn about the rules, terms, strategies, and features.

House edge is probably the most essential concept to be aware of. It defines how much money the casino gets from each bet on average. For instance, the game with a 5% edge means that the website wins $5 from each $100 bet. Despite the number is rounded and each particular bet can bring different return to a casino, we recommend choosing projects with the lowest edge to guarantee the maximum potential profit for you.

Check some of the blackjack features and how they affect payouts:

Extra splits. If you can split the already divided hands, you will decrease the house winnings.
A number of decks. The fewer of them are used, the lower the casino return will be.
Payouts. The 3:2 scheme is a safer choice, because 6:5 or even 1:1 options increase the edge.
Split aces. This one also boosts your revenue and reduces the casino’s one.
Surrender. This feature increases your payout significantly.

At the end of the day, choose games with a few decks, options for splitting aces and surrender. Combined, these features can increase your odds by a few percent. Respectively, avoid unfavorable payouts, side bets, and exotic rules, especially if you haven’t mastered the game yet.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Now, it’s time to look at more advanced blackjack strategy types. Undoubtedly, they will be useful for newcomers and experienced players alike, so we suggest that you check them carefully.
As was mentioned above, blackjack results depend on both luck and skill. You can’t control luck, but you can still improve skills. By mastering blackjack in land-based or Internet casinos, newbie gamblers evolve into real professionals. Still, mindless plays are destructive.

If you want to figure out when it’s better to hit and when – to surrender, explore the next sections.

Hands’ Types

Put simply, there are two categories of card combinations:

Hard hand. Generally, any pair of cards without an ace. Hard hands with aces occur only when these cards are counted as 1.
Soft hand. A combo of an ace and any other card. In this case, an ace can be counted as 1 or 11, so soft hands are more flexible than hard ones.

You can choose various strategic moves, which we will reveal a bit later. For instance, soft 19s and 20s require standing almost all the time. It’s better to receive a soft hand because you have more options with it but hard alternatives can also be beneficial as they have related moves, too.

Cheat Sheets

Experienced blackjack players know that there are cool things called cheat sheets. They highlight how you should move under a specific scenario. You can find multiple guides for different game versions but the structure is always the same. While cheat sheets are intuitive, we have prepared some instructions on how to read them.

In any cheat sheet, you will see the “Dealer” title with numbers under it. This row represents the dealer’s visible card, where 10 also stands for face cards. You will also see “Your Hand” with all possible combinations. Pairs mean two-card combos, while single numbers show sums. At the intersection of the dealer’s cards and your scores, there are suggested moves which include standard hit, stand, double, split, and surrender, as well as extra points like surrender or hit, split after a split or hit, and so on. In general, you should just compare hands and do what the table says.

If used appropriately, cheat sheets can boost your game results significantly. For classic versions, they can reduce the house profit by 4-5%. That’s a lot.

General Strategies

Here, we don’t want to dive in too complicated mind games, so we will list four popular strategies. They work fine for real money games.

1. Wait for the dealer’s hit if he/she has 4, 5 or 6. The mentioned cards are pretty risky because they leave enough space for an extra hit. Most of the dealers with soft hands will attack trying to get close to 21. Note that you can double at this moment and earn more in the case of the dealer’s bust.
2. Split aces and 8s, but don’t split 10s. There are no exceptions. Always split aces and 8s because they are great basic cards for winning combos. Instead, never split 10s because they work better together. And of course, follow your gut feeling and look at the dealer’s cards.
3. Stand in the case of your own hard 17. With it, winning chances are relatively low as you are far enough from 21. Nevertheless, it’s not worth risking and grabbing extra card because math layouts aren’t in your favor.
4. Never insure. Some blackjack versions support the insurance feature. It allows participants to protect their bet if the dealer has an ace. If the house wins with 21, all insured bets will be returned. However, stats reveal that such outcomes are rare and you will only lose the price of insurance.

Plus, more strategic moves like Hi-Lo or Hi-Opt can be found in pro cheat sheets available on gambling websites.

Money Management

Another advanced hint is related to bets. First and foremost, play when you are sober, calm, and positive-focused. As you play for money, you should realize the risks and know what to do exactly. Such an approach can protect from dangerous addictions or significant losses during the gambling rush.

Also, try to develop a solid plan and stick to it. For example, set a money-loss limit to stop gambling after reaching it or take breaks regularly. You can also choose more complex strategies: betting schemes called Martingale, Fibonacci or Paroli but be warned that these strategies will not give you an advantage and can be dangerous to your bankroll if used to the extreme. Their efficiency isn’t proven but they may help if you need some guides.

Choosing the Best Blackjack Casino

Blackjack is a simple game and it can be mastered quickly with enough practice and proper strategic plans. The critical question related to online gambling for money is built around platforms to use. The market is now jam-packed with web-based and mobile casinos, so it’s difficult to find the most suitable one or, at least, a reliable one. Remember about these three primary indicators and you will be able to spot the best online casinos.

Licenses

Read, reread, write down, bookmark, send to friends, print, and add to reminders the following info: you should gamble via licensed casinos only! It’s really important as gambling facilities without licenses or certificates can host rigged games and steal your money or credentials. Always check the footer of the main page or “About” section to find current licenses which are marks of trustworthiness.

Usually, famous casinos have certificates from:

● The United Kingdom
● Malta
● Gibraltar
● The Isle of Man
● Belgium
● Denmark
● Estonia
● Costa Rica
● Curacao

New Zealand
, Canada, the United States, and South Africa also have local commissions so you should check their rules.

In addition, there’s a global organization called eCOGRA. It issues certificates, which prove that the games and RNGs are unrigged. The combination of a national license and an eCOGRA paper is a solid proof of reliability.

Software

The second thing you should consider relates to games. The chosen casino has to list at least one variation of blackjack with certain platform compatibility. Usually, there are three options:

1. Desktop. Install the casino’s client with a set of games to enjoy them from PC.
2. Instant play. Access games directly using Flash, Java or HTML5.
3. Mobile. Get games downloaded on your phone/tablet.

Make sure to choose the best gameplay mode. Also, pay attention to the types of games as not all casinos list the same versions, so you can be disappointed with the lack of your favourite Switch or 21 Spanish. Finally, check the quality of software to know that blackjack rooms are stable and you will not face a painful disconnect at the pure 21.

Banking Methods

Last but not least, if you want to play real money games, you need to know how deposits and withdrawals work. These options vary across countries and casinos, so check the allowed money systems on official gambling websites. The most popular ones are:

● Bank cards
● Global transfers via the likes of American Express
● E-wallets
● Cheques
● Cryptocurrency

For different banking methods, casinos set different deposit/withdrawal limits – per transaction, per day, per month, etc. Be ready to pay fees, which also vary with the chosen method. Usually, the fastest options feature the highest fees and vice versa.

Insights into Blackjack Bonuses

Bonuses are a convenient tool, which casinos utilize to attract players. For example, you can multiply money with the deposit bonus, and get some free cash or free entries to tournaments. At first, it seems that bonuses are great for newcomers, who don’t have enough money to play big. Let’s say, you can deposit $50 and get a 100% bonus with an extra $50 for free. Some sites even reward new users with totally free money.

Still, all bonuses have a catch called ‘rollover’. After agreeing to the offer, you will have to bet significantly more money to be able to complete a withdrawal. Thus, the mentioned free $50 with a 40x rollover would require that you wager $2,000 before cashing out. Moreover, blackjack has a low edge, so casinos impose even stricter requirements.

We recommend checking the bonus privacy policy and the terms & conditions on the official sites.

Examples of the Leading Casinos

Finally, we are ready to introduce the best places to gamble online in 2019 where you can enjoy real money blackjack. The section is divided into two parts dedicated to desktop casinos and mobile applications. You might have already heard about one of the most popular blackjack casinos – Bovada Casino. If you are a newbie, it is worth checking it first. Here, we will list other big brands and give some characteristics.

Top-Rated Online Websites

Without further ado, enjoy the list of trusted casinos for desktops! They provide both classic and live blackjack games.

1. Betway Casino

A number of blackjack games: 68.
Maximum starting bonus: $1,300.

2. Jackpot City

A number of blackjack games: 31.
Maximum starting bonus: $1,600.

3. King Billy

A number of blackjack games: 56.
Maximum starting bonus: $1,130 + 200 free spins.

4. Mr Green Casino

A number of blackjack games: 13.
Maximum starting bonus: $115 + 200 free spins.

5. TonyBet Casino

A number of blackjack games: 49.
Maximum starting bonus: $10 without a deposit.

Mobile Applications

Additionally, you may be interested in mobile blackjack apps, so check them now! Some of these projects offer sports betting, too.

1. 888 Casino

A number of blackjack games: 5.
Maximum starting bonus: $100 without a deposit.

2. Casino.com

A number of blackjack games: 15.
Maximum starting bonus: $400 + 200 free spins.

3. LeoVegas

A number of blackjack games: 26.
Maximum starting bonus: $800.

4. Royal Panda

A number of blackjack games: 5.
Maximum starting bonus: $115 + 10 free spins.

5. William Hill Casino

A number of blackjack games: 14.
Maximum starting bonus: $400.

Running Your First Game

After you have chosen the best casino for online blackjack, you can actually start playing. Good research will point you towards reputable online gambling platforms with quality games, so make sure that you have spent enough time on it. Here’s a quick reminder on the key steps for running your first game.

Register and Set Preferences

Find a tab called “Register” or “Create Profile” to become a new user. Enter contact information in the required fields, set banking methods, and check available bonuses. During this step, check the data several times because typos may lead to issues with withdrawals later. If possible, turn on 2FA to increase safety and be sure that your account is protected.

Deposit Money

Unless the casino has provided free money as a bonus, you will have to deposit some money to start playing. Go to your profile and find a section dedicated to transfers or deposits. Here, you can link bank cards/accounts or wallets, set permissions, and perform first transactions. Extra confirmations for money deals are desired, too.

Choose the Game

To start playing blackjack, simply find this game on the website. Check which types are available and which ones are your favorites. Normally, blackjack rooms are located in “Card Games” or “Table Games” category where you will find various versions from Classic Blackjack to multiple 21 variations.

Get Winnings

Ideally, you will end up with some winnings. While it’s possible to leave the money in your casino account and continue playing blackjack, a lot of gamblers prefer to cash out a certain portion. For this, return to your profile and open the tab with money transfers. If previously connected banking methods support withdrawals, just make a transaction. Otherwise, you will need to add another option for cash-outs exclusively.

Other Noteworthy Hint

Check some useful hints to succeed in blackjack games:

● Look at the dealer’s card to understand how to act.
● Avoid first seats as there you will have the least time for thinking.
● Start with small bets to check how the game is going today.
● Don’t analyze other players’ actions as you don’t compete with them.
● Set time and money limits to avoid huge losses.
● Never gamble when overwhelmed with emotions or drunk.

A Word About Responsible Gambling

For the final section, we have prepared some info related to responsible gambling and, particularly, responsible blackjack plays. Most likely, you already know that the gambling industry is full of scammers, fraudulent websites, and rigged games which allow underage gamblers and insolvent users. These casinos have spoiled the reputation of the whole industry, so we beg to avoid them.

Play via trusted websites or use reliable applications. Remember about social responsibility. Just think how difficult it is to earn real money online and how easily illegal gambling platforms can steal it! It doesn’t take a lot of time to check licenses and read users’ reviews, but it can protect you and your close ones from potential huge losses and even addiction. Consider gambling as a hobby to enjoy it without harm.

Conclusion

Phew! It’s a pretty comprehensive guide, isn’t it? Feel free to bookmark it and return later to reread major takeaways. Firstly, make sure that you know the rules and have enough experience to gamble for money online. Then, choose a reputable casino with licenses and suitable banking methods. Lastly, remember about bonuses, their requirements, and gambling algorithms. Following these simple rules, you will be able to enjoy blackjack and earn money without issues. Good luck!

Bill Zender Newsletter – August 2018

By Bill Zender and Associates

(Reprinted with permission)

August 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends and Business Associates,

Just so everyone is clear, UNR/OSU cancelled the table game track of their presentation in Tulsa, and I won’t be traveling to Oklahoma to teach.  Instead, I have enrolled in the 11thAnnual Las Vegas Anti-Money Laundering Conference and Expo.  The conference and expo, presented by Casino Essentials, will be held the week of August 13that the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino.  I plan on attending a majority of the meetings Tuesday through Thursday, including all of the events put on by Dowling Advisor Group (DAG).   Jim Dowling and his company are working closely with Artichoke Joe’s Casino in order to upgrade our casino’s BSA/AML program.  All of Artichoke Joe’s key executives will be attending this conference.  From what I understand, this Casino Essentials event in Las Vegas is considered the “Superbowl” of casino industry BSA/AML conferences.  For more information on the conference, please go to http://www.casinoessentials.com/events/title-31-las-vegas/.

Answers to Important Emails

Correcting a loop-hole in their manual multiple deck shuffle

EmailBelow is the follow up to an email I received two months ago.  The casino executive contacting me had been watching a BJ customer punishing him with occasional large bets in the casino’s multiple deck shoe game.  The game was a higher limit table, and was hand shuffled.  Base on the original email I noted that the shuffle they used did not incorporate a deck “strip” in the shuffle procedure.  When questioning this oversight, I was told that any shuffle, or change to the shuffle, had to be approved by the gaming regulator.  I advised the casino executive that it was imperative that the casino insert a deck strip during each card grab selection where the cards are riffle shuffled.  I received the following reply the middle of July;

Reply by the casino executive:

I just wanted to drop you a quick follow up…

We obtained approval to change the shuffle procedure to incorporate a more standard riffle, riffle, strip riffle for all cards during the shuffle, and…

Our most recent suspected AP and associate returned, checked into a comped room, bought in for a large amount, observed the shuffle, played utilizing a minimal bet spread redeeming all the match plays available to him, retired to his room with his associate cashed out a short time later checked out of his room and left property in an Uber.  I can’t thank you enough for your insight and recommendations.

Additional comment on this subject:
Regulators need to understand that for the most part, they do not possess the knowledge needed to judge and dictate various procedures required to make their casino providers’ games safe from scams and advantage play.  I appreciate the job done by regulators, and I respect their watch-dog position for protecting the industry, however many regulators need to lose their egotistic attitudes, admit they don’t know the best method for conducting certain tasks and procedures, and seek outside expertise.

No commission Pai Gow Poker Variations

Email from a Director of Casino Games:
Have you ever seen a commission free PG that offered player banking?  I can’t think of anything that would vary the math away from the house and that would be different from a standard commission game.  In the game in question a Q High Pai Gow for the Banker results in a push of all Pai Gow hands.  We would just simply add a rule that states if a player is banking and the dealer’s hand is a Q high Pai Gow the “Banker’s” hand would then always push with the dealer.   Have you even seen a casino do this?  
Thanks for any input.  Also thanks for your input a few month ago about Baccarat.  Our game is up and running now and doing quite well.  Hope this finds you and yours well. 

My Reply:
There are versions of “Pai Gow Poker” where the game is dealt without charging the customer a commission on winning “player” bets.  I have attached a PDF of a slide I use in my math presentations.  It show three forms of PGP where commission is not charged on the customer’s winning player bets.  Remember, the banking customer is either prohibited from banking or still charged a 5%commission on winning banking results.  These games are based on a joker being used wild for straights/flushes, and as an Ace otherwise.

  1. You can change the standard PGP game to commission-less, however it reduces the H/A% from 2.7% down to 1.23%.  All customers banking results are still charged 5%, and are subject to the standard H/A% of 0.12%.
     
  2. In “Commission Free” PGP the bank pushes ALL bets with a 9 high (or less) low hand (based on house way).  Because a “9-high” low hand can be manipulated, customers are not allowed to take the bank.  House H/A% of 2.5%.
     
  3. In “EZ Pai Gow Poker” the bank pushes ALL bets with a Queen high (or less), and the customers can still bank, but are charged a 5% commission on all winning bank outcomes.  House H/A% of 2.47% on the player hands, and I’m not sure about how the customer bank is handled.  

 
That should help answer that question.  I do believe that the Commission Free PGP and EZ PGP games are both proprietary (if the patents are still good), and you will have to contact with the vendors.

Questions about “Down Under Blackjack”

There has been a lot of interest in the past several years for different versions of blackjack.  The most popular by far is “Spanish 21” which is a copy of Australian Pontoon.  The next popular variations is the BJ series of “push 22” designed and patented by Geoff Hall.  More lately, is the Dave Wisler creation of Down Under Blackjack. For those who are unfamiliar with the game concept, Wisler has developed a hole-card peeking system that actually informs the player about the approximate value of the dealer’s hole-card on every hand.  This information is broken into three different categories of “Blue” (low 2-5), “Red” (medium 6-9), and “Gold” (high T & A).  The information is helpful to a point, but it still presents the player with a number of hole-card value possibilities that the player has to consider before reaching a hand play decision.  Following is my Q&A with this executive.

Executives Email:
I am sure you know Dave Wisler from Masque Publishing.  He just got “Down Under Blackjack” approved in this State.  I remember looking at the game last fall at G2E.  Please share your opinion when you have time. 

My Reply:
In reality, it’s another BJ variation in the same fashion as Geoff Hall’s “22 push” series of BJ games.  The H/A% will be the same as your standard BJ games give or take a small percentage, but it will cater mostly to lower limit players (and the occasional high limit player who is temporarily curious).  You should also get a high degree of side betting action on the Match the Dealer which should raise the return high enough to easily offset the proprietary fee.  To my knowledge, DUBJ does not pose any new game protection issues, however the game does require the floor/surveillance to understand three different basic strategy charts correlating to the three hole-card categories of small hole-card, medium hole-card, and high hole-card.  That is my two cents on the game.  I hope to see you at one of the conferences this fall.

Note: DUBJ strategy charts can be found at: https://wizardofodds.com/games/down-under-blackjack/
 

Knowledge SharingScheduled Seminars and Workshop
University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies: Table Game Management – September 17ththru 20th, 2018 – Reno Nevada

I always enjoy presenting at the UNR Extended Studies Gaming program regarding table games management.  The students are from different gaming regions throughout North American, and occasionally, from around the world. I will be covering the topics of Casino Mathematics and Table Game Management on September 19thand 20th.  Following are the topics covered during my two-day portion of the four-day program: 

  • Hold-percentage analysis as a management tool
  • Game probability and profitability factors
  • Game selection, location, mix and pricing
  • Marketing strategies and customer development
  • Customer service strategies and applications
  • Maximizing department profitability and efficiency
  • Casino database management for table games

As I mentioned previously, these are the days I will be presenting; however, to attend you need to sign up for the entire week’s program.  I truly believe that price and time spent in this University of Nevada Extended Studies program is well worth it.

See the Gaming Management Series overview for a full schedule of upcoming courses.  Email gaming@unr.edu, call 1-800-233-8928 or visit the website for information about gaming management education from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Bill ZenderTable Game Cutting Edge – November

Cutting Edge Table Game Seminar – Monday,
November 5th, 2018 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada

I will be presenting once again on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference.  This is another conference at which I like to present. This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented last year, however I have included mathematics on electronic Table Games (ETGs)  I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games.   Following is an outline of this year’s session and the times:

  • Table Games Mathematics (including ETGs) – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM
  • The Cost of Table Game Promotions – 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM

The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 5ththrough 7th.  For more information please go to their website www.tablegamesconf.com/.  I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.

On the Move
I don’t have any travel plans other than in the northern California area and home to New Mexico.  I will keep everyone informed when that changes.  Following are a few of my obligations for the summer and fall of 2018:
 
August– 
The 11thAnnual Las Vegas Anti-Money Laundering Conference and Expo (I’m only attending).
 
September
UNR Extended Studies: Table Game Management, Reno Nevada
 
November– 
Table Game Cutting Edge Seminar in Las Vegas
 
Don’t forget the World Game Protection Conference in February/March 2019 in Las Vegas.
 
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate to contact me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen emails on gaming every day wzender@aol.com. 
 
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates

What is correct basic strategy for blackjack?

By Michael Dalton

Example Basic Strategy ChartThere is only one correct basic strategy for blackjack given a set of established rules. However, since all casinos don’t offer the same rules the basic strategy can be slightly different from game to game. Also, the number of decks used affects the basic strategy slightly. Peter Griffin’s Theory of Blackjack and Stanford Wong’s Basic Blackjack are the player’s best resources for the “correct” basic strategy for any number of decks and rules. Basic strategy charts can also be found in Michael Dalton’s online book The Encyclopedia of Blackjack (Twenty-One)

The example card shown on the right reflects a correct basic strategy for multi-deck blackjack games with double after splits not allowed and dealer stands on soft 17.

CORRECT BASIC STRATEGY 1)This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed.  Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games.  When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.

SURRENDER

Surrender hard 16 (but not 88 pair) vs dealer 9, 10 or Ace.
Surrender hard 15 vs dealer 10.

SPLIT

Always split Aces and 8s.
Never split 10s and 5s.
Split 2s and 3s vs dealer 4-7.
Split 4s vs dealer 5-6.
Split 6s vs dealer 2-6.
Split 7s vs dealer 2-7.
Split 9s vs dealer 2-6 and 8-9.

DOUBLE DOWN

Double hard 9 vs dealer 3-6.
Double hard 10 vs dealer 2-9.
Double hard 11 vs dealer 2-10.
Double soft 13 or 14 vs dealer 5-6.
Double soft 15 or 16 vs dealer 4-6.
Double soft 17 or 18 vs dealer 3-6.

HIT OR STAND

Stand on hard 12 vs dealer 4-6.
Stand on hard 13-16 vs dealer 2-6.
Stand on hard 17 or more.
Stand on soft 19 (A8) or more.
Hit hard 11 or less.
Hit soft 17 (A6) or less.
Hit soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 9, 10 and Ace.

IF DEALER HITS SOFT 17

Surrender 15, 88 and 17 vs dealer Ace.
Double 11 vs dealer Ace.
Double soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 2.
Double soft 19 (A8) vs dealer 6.

The correct basic strategy is a proven winning system for the game of twenty-one. It is a strategy which maximizes the player’s expectation given only knowledge of the player’s hand and the dealer’s up-card. In the good old days when single deck was plentiful and rules were great basic strategy could actually give the player a small advantage. Today, casino managers are aware of the power of basic strategy and generally do not offer games that can be beaten off the top of the deck. However, players should keep their eyes open for promotional games which do surface from time to time!

Basic strategy is powerful! All card counters must master it before moving on to the fine art of card counting. Basic strategy is not difficult! A person with average intelligence can memorize it in just a few hours. Basic strategy is the way to play! Every time you make a play on a hunch or intuition and ignore the “correct” basic strategy play you increase the casino advantage against you.

For example, a pit boss witnessing a player standing on an A-7 versus a ten valued dealer up-card would generally consider this player a novice or an idiot. If you stand on this hand you will win it about 41% of the time. If you hit the hand you increase your chances to 43%. Why would anyone not hit this hand? You can’t bust (at least not initially) and you stand a good chance of improving it. But every time I play this game I witness players standing on A-7 vs 10 with the hope that the dealer doesn’t have a nine or ten in the hole. Don’t be an idiot! Trust in basic strategy and play it perfectly. Your bankroll will thank you for it.

For more information read Michael Dalton’s complete article on “Basic Strategy” in the Summer 1995 issue of Blackjack Review magazine.

For more information on the correct basic strategy and complete charts for blackjack, check out the basic strategy section in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack (Twenty-One). Also, check out the basic strategy app at the bottom of this page.

 

Copyright © 1994 – 2018 All Rights Reserved
FAQ 3: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 4 of Blackjack Review Magazine

RETURN | NEXT FAQ

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed.  Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games.  When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.

Blackjack: The Best Casino Game to Play Online?

What Makes Blackjack the Best Casino Game to Play Online?

by Nick White

Blackjack is one of the most well-known casino games enjoyed in land-based casinos across the globe. Most every casino offers the game because players want to enjoy the thrill of beating the dealer with 21. When it comes to online casino game play, blackjack is one of the best gaming options you can choose from. Offering great odds, big payouts and 24/7 action, there are many reasons why players choose blackjack when visiting their favorite online casino.

Blackjack: The Best Casino Game to Play Online?

Play Anytime from Anywhere

One of the main advantages to playing blackjack online is that you can play anytime from anywhere. Games run 24/7, meaning you can wake up and play in the morning or enjoy a quick game before bed, as long as you have an internet connection. With mobile gaming options available, players can access blackjack games on the go, so the game can be enjoyed while on vacation or even commuting to work. The ease of access makes the game so appealing when logging on to your favorite online casino.

Tons of Variations to Try Out

When visiting a land-based casino, you are limited to the number of blackjack games available. There will be limited variations of the game as well as betting limits. With online blackjack, the options are virtually endless! You will find online casinos that offer live dealer blackjack, traditional formats, odd variations and more. Betting limits will run the gamut, from small wagers like $1 to $500, $2500 and more. 

Simply log on to your favorite online casino and see what blackjack options they offer. You should find a search bar where you can look for blackjack variations or you can search under Table Games or the Other categories.

Odds to Win Long-Term Much Better with Proper Strategy

By using the right blackjack strategy for online game play, you can increase the odds of winning and making a profit in the long term. First, consider the house edge of games offered. The blackjack games provided will vary based on the online casino you choose. Take for example Blackjack Switch. This variant offers a 0.17% house edge. Blackjack Surrender has a higher house edge of 0.38%. Choosing the lower house edge variant will help you to have better odds of winning.

You should also know the game you are playing. Most blackjack variants will have different rules so applying a strategy will vary. You will need to know how much the game pays, how many decks are used, can you split the hand, etc. Knowing the game will help you to choose a quality strategy to help you win.

Blackjack strategy calculators can be found online that are also helpful during online game play. Use a calculator to find out what move you should make based on the cards you are dealt. The calculator can help you to determine if you should fold, hit, stand or split.

Counting Cards

Many blackjack players like to count cards when visiting a local casino. Counting cards provides the player with an advantage that will hopefully result in wagers won.

Counting cards is NOT POSSIBLE with online blackjack.

However, if you choose to play an online live casino version it may be possible. Live dealer blackjack games are offered at online casinos, with the games taking place in real time. Streamed footage is provided to the player in their home, as the game takes place. With the live stream, players can use their card counting skills to gain an advantage and hopefully earn a few big payouts.

Should You Play Blackjack Online?

These are just a few reasons why blackjack is a great game to choose when it comes to playing online. You can play on your own time, where ever there is an internet connection; even from your mobile device! The odds of making a profit are much better in blackjack than most other casino games offered. It is a great game to play if you want to have fun, or if you are looking for a challenge.

Blackjack truly is the game of games when it comes to playing at online casinos. Go ahead and give it a try, and you will be hooked on how entertaining it is.

Live Dealer Blackjack

Live Dealer Blackjack: A Great Game for Casino Enthusiasts

By Nick White

Live Dealer Blackjack


If you enjoy online casino games, live dealer blackjack is a great game you should consider trying. Live dealer games are one of the most popular genres available today in online casino gaming, offering players the experience of a land-based casino from the comfort of home. There are many advantages to playing live dealer blackjack, when compared to the traditional online version of the game. If you are a fan of standard online casino blackjack or are looking to try something new, give live dealer blackjack a try.

Why Live Dealer Gaming Might Be Best For You

With traditional online blackjack, the game takes place via software and animations. There are top quality blackjack variants on offer in today’s top-rated casinos, but the games are still missing the action and excitement of live game play. With live dealer gaming, players can experience the game as it is meant to be played, in live form!

Make DecisionThere is a familiarity there with live dealer blackjack as the game takes place on a real table with a real dealer. If you are familiar with land-based play, then you will be comfortable playing the live dealer tables. A dealer studio provides the streaming of a live blackjack game as it happens, and you bet on the hand in real time, interacting with the dealer as you like. The dealers are attractive and friendly, as well as knowledgeable of the game. A bonus to live dealer gaming is you get to choose your blackjack dealer, so pick a lady or guy who you want to see deal the cards!

Advantages to Playing Blackjack with a Real Dealer

There are plenty of advantages that you will find when playing live dealer blackjack.

Real Casino Experience from Home: To begin, players can trust the realism and dealing of the game. Seeing as the blackjack game is taking place in real time, you are watching as the deal takes place. You are not relying on software for the experience or for the outcome of the game. You watch as the cards are shuffled in real time and are dealt, hoping for that winning hand. You know there is no issue with the game, as you watched it progress from the deal to the end result.

The realism of the game is something you can expect and look forward to. Live casino games have become popular over the past few years due to the overall experience. Players enjoy taking part in a live game but without the need to travel to a casino to achieve it.

Totally Interactive (Can Even Chat with the Dealer!): Another advantage to live dealer blackjack is the interactive features. Players can chat with the dealer at all times and sometimes, depending on the online casino, with other online players. This provides a social element, something that would be seen in land-based play.

Why You Should Give Live Dealer Blackjack a Shot

Live dealer blackjack is a game that every casino enthusiast should try. Whether you are a regular visitor to a local land-based gaming venue or enjoy online casino options, this is a game you don’t want to miss. The thrill of playing with other players, trying to beat the house is something only brick-and-mortar casinos offered, until the live dealer experience appeared.

Blackjack offers the players higher odds of winning, when using the right strategy, than any other casino game. You also get the chance of playing as a beautiful person deals the cards.

EDITOR NOTE:  Whether you play with a live online blackjack dealer or play with online blackjack software you will find it hard, if not impossible, to play with an advantage using a card counting strategy.  Basic strategy is the usually the best you can hope for in these games.

 

Words to Die By!

Words and phrases to avoid at the blackjack table

 by Michael Dalton
Copyright 1996 – 2018
Originally published in the Summer 1996 issue of Blackjack Review

AAARGH!Words can indeed be our own worst enemy!  What we say and how we react to others can often mirror our intelligence, and reflect on our experience and knowledge.  At the blackjack table, card counters1)Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game! don’t want to appear too bright or they run the risk of arising suspicion in the dealer and/or floor person’s eye. What’s the result of this intelligent behavior?  As a minimum, you may receive heat and gross intellectual prowess may call for unwanted counter-measures.   The heat you receive may include being closely monitored or even harassed.  Counter-measures can include everything from the dealer giving you a hard time,  moving the cut-card to provide worse penetration,  shuffling up on you when you increase your bet, to backing off your play and asking you to leave.

“…blackjack is a cat
and
mouse game…
and you are the mouse!”

Imagine a player asking a dealer, “Is double-after-splitting allowed here?” Although the question is innocent enough it announces to the pit that you are a reasonably intelligent player who is aware of the value of this rule.  Even before this player has sat down, he has given the pit reason to be suspicious.  Casinos don’t like card counters and if you are suspected of being one you will have a tough time gaining any advantage over them.  Just remember, dealers can easily communicate information about you to their superiors.  And once you are tagged it is often a long time before you can show your face without similar results.

Unlike poker where expert players are often revered by the casino and other players alike,  blackjack is a cat and mouse game… and you are the mouse!  To survive,  you have to conceal your true identity and blend in (as much as possible) with the rest of the losers casinos see every day.

The following table lists many commonly known words and phrases that experienced and knowledgeable blackjack players use.  Although some novices may also know these words, it should be your goal to avoid as many of them as possible when you are in a casino.   Rather, use the words listed on the right column… or make up your own!  If a novice term is not listed I highly recommend that you don’t even think about saying it in a casino.

 PROPER TERMINOLOGY NOVICE TERMINOLOGY
Ace-Card  (e.g., Ace-Five)Treat as hard hand (e.g., 6 or 16)
Basic strategyBlackjack strategy
Blackjacks only pay 6 to 5?Damn… this casino sucks!
Blackjack Review or the name of any blackjack publicationThem experts…
BustDamn… I went over 21
Card countingMemorizing them cards
ChecksPoker chips
Counter-measure —
Cut cardJoker
Cutoffs —
Discard trayUsed cards
Double after split —
Double ExposureFace up blackjack
Ed Thorp or the name of any blackjack expert or authorityThem experts…
Face cardTen valued card
First, second or third baseFirst, middle or last seat
Floorman (floor person)Employee (or dealer’s boss)
Hard handHand
Heat —
Hole-cardUnder the dealer’s card
Indices —
InsuranceExcuse me?
Las VegasVegas… Vegas Baby!
Location (i.e., of aces) —
LayoutGreen felt
Natural or Twenty-OneBlackjack
PackDeck
Penetration (e.g., 75% pen) —
PitBlackjack area
Pit bossDealer’s boss (or manager)
Preferential shuffleDamn… this casino sucks!
Re-split aces —
ShoeBox
Shuffle (any type)Shuffle
Shuffle upTime to take a break
Soft handHand with an Ace
SurrenderI give up!
TokeTip
True or running count —
Up-cardDealer’s card
Zone —

Any suggestions?  Leave a comment below.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game!

Bill Zender Newsletter – January 2018

Bill Zender and Associates Newsletter

January 9, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season, and is looking forward to a prosperous year in 2018.  I have planned to kick off the first quart of this year with a seminar on “Optimal Defensive Card Counting”, February 6th and 7th at the Tuscany Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I usually get really “pumped” about a new seminar topic, but I’m especially charged up about this program.  Participants in this two-day session will come away with enough information and understanding to successfully defend any size casino property from attacks by the professional level card counter.

I feel the four most important points in this seminar are; (1) the myths, history, and mathematics portion which will provide the participant with an understanding of how card counting works, and why this threat is both limited to a specific educated player (successful attacks anyway), and in most cases, “revenue loss” not from the card counters, but from unnecessary prevention procedures every casino still employs.

Information gleaned during this seminar will also, (2) greatly improve your floor and surveillance staff’s ability to detect a situation of card counting, and the information on “charting” will allow any casino, regardless of its size and technical ability, to (3) confirm a suspect is counting cards (or not) with a high degree of accuracy.  Finally, the session will examine (4) different casino strategies for mitigating the effect of the card counter once that person has been confirmed as a long-term threat (notice I did not say “feel” they are counting).  For more information, please scroll down to the third section of this eBlast titled, “Scheduled Seminars and Workshops”.

Cheers to you all, and I hope everyone has a wonderful and “lucky” New Year.

laptopEmails I have received

Following are several email questions I have received over the past month that I felt were important enough to pass along to friends/associates. 

Question:

Note: I received a text message from a casino executive who had not used a continual shuffling machine (CSM) previously.  Although I answered his text message regarding game effect of using a CSM, I felt he needed to know some more important information regarding using a CSM for the first time.  Following is my reply through email.  My thumbs are too fat for texting any quantity of information.

Answer:

It appears that you haven’t used One2Six shuffling machines (CSMs) before.  Following are some things you need to know when using an One2Six shufflers:

  • Be sure the dealers are “trained” to pick up the cards and place the cards face up in the machine.  If the dealers aren’t trained correctly, the game will slow to nothing while the floor supervisor has to remove the “upside-down” cards from the interior wheel of the machine.  I learned about this the hard way.
  • You need to stay on the dealers about maintaining an adequate game pace.  For some unknown reason, the dealers will slow their game pace on CSMs.  I think it has something to do with the removal of the deck manual shuffle or transfer time when using batch shuffling machines.
  • Don’t allow the dealers to keep several previous hands in the discard holder before placing them into the machine.  CSM machines can’t be traditionally counted; however holding out groups of cards can make it a countable game.  I would remove all discard holders from the CSM table, and force the dealer to insert each round that has been dealt immediately into the CSM.
  • This is really important: The lip of the One2Six shuffling machine is quite high as compared to most dealing shoes.  Some dealers will have a tendency to stick their thumb of their left hand (dealing hand) under the drawn hole-card.  If the dealer does this, the hole-card can be lifted and exposed accidentally to a customer sitting at third base.  Make sure all dealers remove their hole-card while the thumb of their left hand is away from the edge of the card.

 
I would imagine you know most of this, but since you haven’t used CSMs machines before (to my knowledge), I would feel bad if something happened and I hadn’t mentioned it.  Have a great holiday season my friend.
 
Question:

My question is for a player’s average bet on Ultimate Texas Holdem. Should the “play wager” be counted in a player’s average bet?

Answer:

With UTH, the average bet is the amount of the ante plus the blind, i.e., the amount of money on the layout when the first hand is dealt.  Any additional wagering is optional, and is not included.  In addition, the H/A% for UTH in most player tracking systems is usually wrong.  The game has a 2.2% H/A [applied using the ante/blind wager] if the player uses optimal computer strategy.  No one uses optimal strategy, so the true H/A% is probably around 3.5%.  Note that I didn’t include any UTH side bets.  They differ, are optional, and the average bet wagered in the side bets varys.  It’s better to leave their existence out of the player “average bet” rating equation.  BTW, the 3.5% suggested also includes a gain in H/A% from any side bet/jackpot bet H/A% influence.
 
Question:

Good afternoon Bill, what is the more effective/profitable to have a table of 6 players compared to 2 tables with 3 players in terms of hands per hour?

Answer:

Good question.  It would be better for gaining more bet decisions if more tables were open and less players were on each game.  This is a problem for brick and mortar casinos, though.  You have limited space, and the increased cost of personnel and equipment need to be considered as well.
There is some table game yield management information out there on the Internet that recommends 3 to 4 player hands per table (check Tangam Gaming http://tangamgaming.com/).  You would need to do your own cost analysis before making an educated decision whether this is better for you at your casino or not.  Personally, I would open enough games to allow for a couple of unoccupied betting circles per table average.
Once it starts to get really busy, the 3 to 4 player hands per table advantage goes out the window, and then the strategy is to open games to accommodate players.  At this point you may also consider raising minimum limits in order to maximize revenue potential.  I guess that is table game yield management in a nut shell.
 
Counting Cards Isn't Illegal - It's frowned upon!Scheduled Seminars and Workshop

Optimal Defensive Card Counting Seminar – February 6th and 7th, Las Vegas – Tuscany Suite Hotel

I will be offering a two-day seminar Optimal “Defensive” Card Counting in Blackjack.  This will be a seminar on blackjack card counting that “drills down” into all aspects of counting including the history and development of card counting techniques over the past 50 plus years.  In addition, I will spend a large portion of the time on detection and confirmation.  The one tried and true method for confirming any person is counting cards is through the process of “charting”.  Charting identifies whether or not the suspected player shows a sign of correlation between his/her wagering and the “true” count of the cards.  Unless a card counter strictly wagers into positive true counts, that counter will not be able to gain a long-term advantage over the casino. [Note: Anyone can learn how to chart].  Any participant in this seminar will definitely come away with the ability to detect if a player is counting cards, and learn the process needed to confirm a suspected player is counting on a level that places your bankroll at a long-term risk.  Some of the areas covered in this two-day seminar are:

  • Myths and history of card counting
  • Different count systems (including computers) and why these systems work.
  • Counting strategies against single and multiple deck games
  • Counting strategies for attacking side bets and variations of standard blackjack.
  • Simple methods for better detection of card counters
  • Methods for better confirmation that a person is counting.  Learn how to “chart” card counter play.
  • Mitigation of confirmed card counters: Back-off or discourage through procedural changes; what’s good, what’s bad.

Important: Requirements to attend:

  1. Presently work in the casino industry (not open to the general public).
  2. Have knowledge of multiple deck basic strategy.
  3. Have a working knowledge of the “Hi/Lo” count system (also known as “basic plus-minus”).
  4. A laptop computer (PC or MAC) compatible with Excel (used on second day to “chart”).

Because of room restrictions, I have to limit the number of participants to 40.  If you are interested, please contact me at wzender@aol.com, and I will send you a registration form.  BTW, I am now in a position to take Credit Cards. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me, wzender@aol.com.
 
Knowledge SharingCertificate in Gaming Leadership – University of Nevada, Reno Extended Studies and Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business – January 22-25, 2018 –  Hard Rock Casino, Tulsa, OK

I will be working with the University of Nevada Reno and Oklahoma State University to help put on the programs “Track C: Table Games Operations”.  I will be joining several other great instructors including San Manuel Surveillance Director Jessie Beaudoin and slot expert Jeff Jordan, CEO of GameCo Inc.  My schedule and Track C topics are as follows:

  • Introduction to Table Games Operations; How Casinos Make Money; Probability, Odds, Payouts – Monday, January 22nd from 10:15AM to 12:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: Using Earning Potential as a Management Tool – Tuesday January 23rd from 8:00AM to 10:00AM.
  • Table Games Operations: Maximizing Table Games; Math & Statistics of Casino Gaming – Tuesday, January 23rd from 1:00PM to 3:00PM.
  • Optimizing Table Games Mix – Tuesday, January 23rd from 3:15PM to 5:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: Live Game Promotion – Wednesday, January 24th from 8:00AM to 10:00AM.
  • Table Games Operations: Player Development and Database Management – Wednesday, January 24th from 10:15AM to 12:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: The Principles of Leading Your Table Games Operation – Wednesday, January 24th from 1:00PM to 3:00PM.

For additional information, please visit the following website: https://business.okstate.edu/cepd/open-enrollment/pds/gaming-leadership.html.
 
World Game Protection ConferenceWorld Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas – Bally’s – March 12th – 15th

It appears I will be presenting again this year at the WGPC.  This year I plan to speak about the problems and protection strategies with Electronic Table Games (ETGs).  Is it a slot machine or table game?  Does it take a different mindset to safely protect ETGs, or do we need to look at these games from different directions in order to block the various known and unknown avenues of attack.

ELECTRONIC TABLE GAMES: A GAME PROTECTION CHANGER – 50 minutes

Electronic Table Games (ETGs) are becoming a crowd favorite with players and are taking up an increasing amount of space on casino floors. But are they slot machines or a table games? More importantly, how do they work and how do you protect them from cheats, thieves and advantage players. If this is the ‘evolution of gaming’, it seems no one consulted with game protection professionals. In this session Bill examines the popular e-table games on the market and the relatively new concept of stadium gaming. You will hear about vulnerabilities that have been exploited in recent times and Bill’s thoughts on the best ways to protect these new-age games
For more information on the World Game Protection Conference please go to; http://www.worldgameprotection.com/
 
On the moveOn the Move
I understand you can’t hit a moving target, but I still have some time available through the end of the year.  I always have time open to conduct winning player reviews.  If you have any questions, please let me know at wzender@aol.com
 
January
Northern California
Southern California
UNR/OSU Tulsa Gaming Leadership
 
February
Optimal Card Counting Seminar LV
Northern California
New Mexico
Open
 
March
Open
World Game Protection Conference
Central California
Open
 
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
 
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate to contact me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen emails on gaming every day wzender@aol.com
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

How Casinos can be Sure a Person is Counting?

October 2, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

Galaxy GamingI will be attending this year’s G2E tomorrow, October 3rd, and Wednesday October 4th.  Since I am on the Board of Directors, I will be “hanging out” primarily at the Galaxy Gaming booth 4208.  The convention area is like a small city so be sure to grab a map and look for the booth’s location.  Come by and see Galaxy’s sales “guru” Dean Barnett, or the company’s new CEO, Todd Cravens.  A longtime associate of mine, Gary Saul, will also be working the booth.  While you are there, ask Gary to show you a card trick or two.

Part of the time I plan to visit the Techart booth 3535.  Techart is the maker of the MAXTime hole card reader.  I will be there visiting two of my good friends, Bob Del Rossi and Artie Miller.  Artie is one of the winners of the World Game Protection Conference’s “Lifetime Achievement” awards for his contribution to the gaming industry and game protection.  Not a bad place to spend time.
If you catch me around 2PM on Wednesday, maybe you can join me while I walk the exhibition floor.  I like to tour some of the booths and look at new and improved products that involve table game productivity and protection.  It’s usually a fun table game “walk-about”, and you never know what you might find.  Hope to see you there.

How can a casino executive be sure a person is actually counting?How can a casino executive be sure a person is actually counting?
This is the third portion of the Card Counting Protection series I have detailed in my monthly eBlasts.
Before backing anyone off a game, changing deck penetration, or limiting the player’s bet spread, one needs some reasonable tools to determine that the suspected person is a professional level card counter.  The executive or surveillance professional who is conducting the evaluation needs to use some type of analytical tool that will accurately determine the possibility that the suspected player is in fact a card counter, and also provide the evaluator with a printout, or hard copy of these results.  This hard copy can be used to back up the evaluation, and to later serve as proof that the suspect was in fact counting cards.  How many times have your department taken action against a player for counting cards, only to have the legitimacy of the “back off” questioned by a host or casino marketing afterwards?  In addition, this evaluation tool can serve as evidence as to why a player wasn’t backed off even though the customer was a big winner.

There are two tools that I recommend casino executives can utilize.  The first tool is a blackjack software package that analyzes a blackjack player’s skill and betting level.  There are two very effective software packages available to the casino executive.

Information regarding the person’s actual play is entered into the program either manually or through a voice recognition program.  After enough hands are entered into the program, it is queried by the analyst. The program will indicate to what degree the information of the betting and hand decision patterns indicate the suspected player is counting cards.  It’s important when using any type of card counter verification method that several decks or shoes are analyzed in order to calculate the best possible decision outcome.  The primary drawbacks to the software are in its inability to take into consideration other influences in the game, and the hefty price tag that comes with the software.

The second card counting analytical tool is a much lower tech, less expensive system that accomplishes the same goal just as accurately.  This is known as “charting”.  A number of surveillance departments already use some form of charting a customer’s plays as a means to better understand the person’s play characteristics.  Charting is most effective as a card counter catch tool when the evaluator uses it to determine the breadth of the suspect’s betting spread, and the suspect’s betting correlation with the true count of the cards.  In order to win money counting cards, the counter must wager significantly more money when he has the advantage, and as little as possible when the casino has the advantage.  If the charted observations of a suspected player indicate that he is utilizing a large enough bet spread, and increasing his wagers to the larger bet level when he has a mathematical advantage of 90% or greater, then the evaluator has enough information to safely rule that the suspected player is counting cards.  As noted when using a software package to evaluate a suspected card counting play, it is prudent to watch no less than 4 decks or shoes before making the final decision about the player.

Following are points that need to be followed to ensure the casino executive or surveillance professional is making the correct analysis regarding a suspected blackjack player’s long-term ability to be a card counting threat to the casino’s bankroll.

  • Don’t automatically assume that a winning blackjack player is counting cards.  There’s a greater chance he’s a desirable player who is running luck.  Assuming a winning person is a card counter will also cloud one’s ability to look for other more costly problems such as advantage play techniques and cheating.
  • It’s a must for a successful card counter to have an effective bet spread, especially in the six deck and eight deck games (don’t forget the 6:5 single decks).  Without the necessary bet spread range, the player cannot gain an advantage counting cards.
  • Never cut the shoe in half on a player to look for a reaction.  You need to analyze the play before taking any action. If you cut the shoe in half on a desirable blackjack customer, he could get upset and never play at your property again.
  • Don’t rely on a decision that is made by one of your floor executives or surveillance operator who is not at least on a semi-professional card counting level.  I’ve known a number of executives who claim to know card counting inside and out, but when asked, can’t answer simple questions such as the mechanics of true count conversion and hand strategy deviations.  Take the Ouija board out of the equation.
  • Whether your organization uses a counter catcher software package or elects to chart the play, always look at several shoes or decks before making a decision about a player.  I prefer looking at several examples where the count is mostly minus throughout the shoe, as well as several examples where the count is mostly plus.  Taking your time to compare the extremes will help eliminate the chance of getting “false positives”.
  • Do not take action against a suspected player until you are 100% sure the player is counting cards.  If you wish to error on the side of the casino, take your time and make sure you correctly identify a customer as a long-term card counting threat before disrupting his play.

For more information on charting, please feel free in contacting me wzender@aol.com.
 
Seminars and workshopSeminars and Workshop

CGA Conference – Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity – Monday, October 16th, 2017 – Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Nevada

I just finalized the material in my presentation at this year’s California Gaming Associations meeting at Lake Tahoe which will be held October 14th through 16th.  I will be presenting a 60 minute session on Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity.  The presentation will include different methods that are being used to cheat table games in the California card rooms.  This not only concerns poker games, but also the rotating bank games such as baccarat, blackjack, and pai gow poker.  The following topics are:

Capturing playing card sequencing
It has become a common attack for cheaters to attempt to capture shuffled card sequencing on high limit games.  The captured sequences are used to learn winning hands occurrence before making wagers on the game.  The primary game of attack is baccarat, but this techniques have also been used in higher limit blackjack.

Switching hands in Pai Gow Poker
The game of Pai Gow Poker is played with seven cards placed into two separate combinations.  What if a player was able to place a large wager on one hand, but have the ability to choose from two separate seven-card hands?  In this segment the participants learn how a husband and wife team were able to switch hands without the dealer, floor supervisor, or the designated player questioning their actions.

Protecting Bad Beat and High Hand Jackpots in Poker
Ever have an unusual cluster of “Bad Beat” jackpots occur over a short period of time?  Was it a statistical anomaly or was it created by cheaters working with the dealer.  Learn how a group of cheaters would set up a “Bad Beat” cooler deck, and what your surveillance personnel need to look for specifically.

Player collusion in Pai Gow tiles
What would happen if a group of Pai Gow players shared their tile information with each other?  Do you know what to look for?  Learn the primary indicators of a player collusion scam in Pai Gow tiles, and learn what you can do to prevent them from taking advantage of your Pai Gow customers.

At this time I’m not sure whether the presentation will be held in the morning or afternoon session.  I will inform everyone of that schedule in next month’s eBlast.  I believe you have to be a member of the CGA in order to attend.  For more information please contact California Gaming Association, Joe Patterson, Executive Director, (916) 297-4822, www.californiagamingassociation.org/.
 
Cutting Edge Table Game Seminar – Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada
I will be presenting once again on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference.  This is another conference in which I like to present.  This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented last year, however I have included the much talked about topic of “Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs”.  I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games.   Following is an outline of this year’s session:

I.     Table Games Mathematics – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

  • House advantage of major casino games
  • Mechanics that drive hold percentages up (and down).
  • Table game procedures that waste time and money
  • Understanding how to optimize side bets
  • Managing table game minimums to yield the best returns
  • Calculating risk range for table games and table limits
  • Determine the best metrics to use in player tracking systems.
  1. Understanding Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs – 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM & 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
  • What is a Rolling Chip Program?
  • Understanding Multi-play Chip mathematics
  • Percent of the Rolling Chip Buy-in that you can use for Player Reinvestment
  • Points needed before initiating a Rolling Chip Program

III.     The Cost of Table Game Promotions – 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM

  • Effect of changing table game rules
  • Cost of “value added” promotions
  • Cost and effect of using Match Play
  • Cost of using Single Play Promo Chips
  • The pitfalls of using play-till-you-lose Promo Chips
  • Problems with discounting player losses
  • Using an Adjusted T-win model

The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 14th through 16th.  For more information please go to their website www.tablegamesconf.com/ .  I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.

On the moveOn the Move
It appears I will have at least one week open each month to the end of the year.  I always have time open to conduct winning player reviews.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com
 
October
G2E
Open
California Gaming Association Presentation
Northern California
 
November
Albuquerque NM
Open
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
 
December
Open
Central California
Holidays
 
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day wzender@aol.com
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

Game Protection and Card Counter Detection

From Bill Zender and Associates
Bill Zender Newsletter
September 6, 2017

Bill Zender NewsletterI cannot believe the number of “winning” player evaluations I have conducted this summer.  Most of them concerned higher limit blackjack players, but I still had a couple higher limit baccarat players, and one Pai Gow tiles evaluation.  Usually the evaluations only confirm what the surveillance department had already concluded; the player in question was experiencing an unusual run of luck, and was no long-term threat to the casino.  However, every once and a while I do come upon winning player or players who are winning because they were able to use advantage play techniques (legal but undesirable), or illegal techniques against the house to win that money.  I found just that sort of problem while conducting my Pai Gow tiles evaluation.  After reviewing all information provided along with several hours of video imaging, I was able to establish that a group of players were actually passing around hand tile information so the group could determine the value of the four tiles in the hand controlled by the dealer.  Because of this evaluation, the casino could take the proper steps to neutralize this attack when the group returned to the casino.

Of course winning player evaluations is not the only service I provide.  My list of services are as follows;

Table Game Evaluations – The evaluation of your table game operation to determine game protection weaknesses, and opportunities to change specific procedures in order to increase table game revenue potential.  I’m surprised more casino executives do not take advantage of this service.  The return on investment is outstanding if the customer accepts and implements my suggested procedural changes.

Game Protection SeminarsGame Protection Seminars – These seminars are presented to individuals who are responsible for the supervision and protection of table games; i.e., floor supervisors, dual-rates, pit and shift managers, table game managers, surveillance operators and supervisors, gaming investigators, and upper level casino management.  The approximate 6+ hours of material covers card counting blackjack and side bets, baccarat side bets, hole-card play in blackjack and alternative games, key-card location play, advantage play and cheating in roulette, cheating in craps, and cheating in blackjack, baccarat, and alternative games.  I try to tailor the material specifically for your table game operation, but will show you situations that could result in future problems.

Table Game Management Seminars – I offer a list of topics that I can mix-and-match for your operational need.  The most asked for (and important) areas are, the cost of table game promotions, the mechanics that move hold percentage, managing effective side bets in blackjack, understanding game win-loss volatility and loss risk ranges, understanding the effect of time and motion on table game revenue, and the effective strategies for managing table game limits (both minimum and maximum).  This is a great session if your organization has some up and coming table game management talent that need to learn the finer points of managing table games.

Remember, I do conduct a lot of individual winning player reviews.  All I need is for the casino management/surveillance to send me documentation of the suspected person’s game play, and a video sample of their play.  Some casinos are not allowed by regulations to send anyone video segments.  In these cases, I can conduct reviews and evaluations from detailed player tracking sheets.  If you have any questions about winning player reviews, please feel free to pick up the phone and call me (702-423-5734).  I’m more than happy to answer questions about conducting these evaluations for casinos, regulators, or prosecutors looking to build a case against someone violating gaming laws. 

If you have a question regarding any of the above services (or anything about table game management or protection), please feel free to contact me at wzender@aol.com, or by phone at 702-423-5734.  I look forward to speaking with you.

Your Card Counter Detection Arsenal: The “Third” (and most important) Tool

Card Counter DedectionIn this eBlast I will be examining what I believe is the most important of the three tools for detecting card counting.  The first two tools were learning and recalling basic strategy perfectly, and understanding the minimum bet spread the professional card counter needs to gain a long-term profit from counting.  The third tool involves identifying a correlation between the suspected counter’s bet sizes with that of the person’s hand playing decisions (deviations from basic strategy).  The professional level counter will use basic strategy on 4 out of every 5 hands he plays.  However, approximately 1 out of 5 hands, the counter will deviate from basic strategy in order to use the remaining card composition in the deck to the counter’s advantage.  Note: The counter gains approximately 75% of his advantage from betting more money (a lot more) when the composition of the cards in the deck/shoe are in his favor; however approximately 25% of that gain comes from altering his hand strategy play to the count.  Following is how you can use a wager-hand strategy correlation to increase card counter detection from the casino floor significantly.

Situation: You notice that a blackjack player is wagering with a bet spread that will provide him or her with a long-term advantage.  For example, the player in question is spreading from one hand of $25 to two hands of $200 ($400 total) for a 16 unit spread.  If the player is wagering near the top of his require bet spread, $200 to $400, it could be assumed that the larger wagers indicate the count is “plus” or the deck composition is rich in ten value cards and aces.  If the player is wagering near the bottom of his bet spread, it can be assumed that the count is either “minus” or neutral, and is rich in small value cards.  Based on these two assumptions, if the suspected player is counting cards he will be seen adhering to the following bet-wager correlation:

– Key hand decisions with a “LARGER” wager placed

Aggressive doubles and splits: 11 v. A, 9 v. 2, 10 v. T, 10 v. A, TT v. 5 & 6 (split).

Passive standing/Aggressive surrendering during some “bust” situations: 16 v. T, 15 v. T, 16 v. 9, and
12 v. 2 & 3.

– Key hand decisions with a “SMALLER” wager placed

Passive double downs (hitting instead): 11 v. A, 11 v. 10, 9 v. 3, and 10 vs. 9.

Aggressive hitting during “bust” or surrender situations: 16 v. T, 15 v. T, 16 v. 9, and 12 v. 4 & 6

Note: These above hand strategy deviations from basic strategy are based on Donald Schlesinger’s “illustrious 18”, the eighteen most important hand deviation decisions a professional card counter can make when counting cards.  Several of the above hand decisions noted DO follow basic strategy; they are noted only to illustrate the difference between the two situations, i.e., “larger” bet versus “smaller” bet situations.

As important as these above deviations are to the professional level card counter, the most important…what I call the “million dollar” indicator is…INSURANCE!

Question: What hand totals does the average blackjack player insure?  Are the hands 20?  Even money? Possibly 19?  What about hand totals of 12 through 16?  Does the average player ever insure those?  Never!  But the professional level card counter will.  He does not care what his hand total is.  He is not trying to protect a good hand like the average player, he is wagering on a side bet (insurance), and bets this side bet when (and only when) there is a high count (Hi/Lo count of +3 or greater).  The third tool for detecting card counters can be reduced to this following Game Protection procedure:

If your floor supervisor observes a blackjack player wager a significant amount of money, and this player is seen wagering on insurance when holding a 12 through 16, there is a better than average chance the player is counting cards (or spying the dealer’s hole card).

An “insurance bet” placed while holding a hand of 12 through 16 by a player wagering a significant amount of money is the MOST IMPORTANT indicator that a player might be a card counting threat.  If you teach your floor supervisors to look for this one situation, you will greatly increase you professional card counter (and hole-card advantage player) detection.

A review of the final three tools a floor supervisor needs to know to adequately protect the game of blackjack;

Have the supervisors (and surveillance operators) know basic strategy well enough so that they can instantly tell whether or not a BJ player is following basic strategy.
Be sure all floor supervisors know the minimum required bet spread needed by a professional level card counter in which to gain a long-term advantage over the chosen blackjack game (based on game rules and deck penetration).

Have the floor supervisors look for situations where blackjack players wagering a significant amount of money take insurance with a hand of 12 through 16.

Based on these three tools, be sure the floor supervisor is given directions as to who to notify when a “positive” card counting situation occurs.  One of the biggest problems in casino gaming is the failure to communicate situations to the right person who can help solve the problem.  Remember, you detect problems from the floor, but confirm the problem from surveillance.

In next month’s eBlast, we will look at methods surveillance can use to confirm a person is a professional level card counter.
 
Seminars and Workshop

Seminars and WorkshopUniversity of Nevada Reno Extended Studies: Table Game Management – September 18th thru 21st, 2017 – Reno Nevada

In a couple of weeks I will be presenting at the UNR Extended Studies Gaming program regarding table games management.  I will be covering the topics of Casino Mathematics and Table Game Management on September 20th and 21st.  The mathematics portion of this course will dive into the understanding of gambling probabilities, along with converting probabilities into gambling odds.  Once odds have been established, we can convert the difference between true odds and payoff odds into a wager’s mathematical house advantage.  As far as I’m concerned, house advantage is the money tool for operating table games; however we do examine hold percentage and the factors that contribute to hold percentages move up and (Yuk) down.  On the second day, I use the mechanics provided the first day to support theories that will result in increased table game revenue.
 
I know the staff at UNR’s Extended Studies program will accommodate any last minute requests.  Please contact them at gaming@unr.edu, or call 1-800-233-8928.  You can also visit the website for more information about gaming management education.
 
CGA Conference – Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity – Monday, October 16th, 2017 – Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Nevada

I just finalized the material in my presentation at this year’s California Gaming Associations meeting at Lake Tahoe which will be held October 14th through 16th.  I will be presenting a 60 minute session on Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity.  The presentation will include different methods that are being used to cheat table games in the California card rooms.  This not only concerns poker games, but also the rotating bank games such as baccarat, blackjack, and pai gow poker.  The following topics are:

Capturing playing card sequencing

It has become a common attack for cheaters to attempt to capture shuffled card sequencing on high limit games.  The captured sequences are used to learn winning hands occurrence before making wagers on the game.  The primary game of attack is baccarat, but this techniques has also been used in higher limit blackjack.

Switching hands in Pai Gow Poker
The game of Pai Gow Poker is played with seven cards placed into two separate combinations.  What if a player was able to place a large wager on one hand, but have the ability to choose from two separate seven-card hands?  In this segment the participants learn how a husband and wife team were able to switch hands without the dealer, floor supervisor, or the designated player questioning their actions.

Protecting Bad Beat and High Hand Jackpots in Poker
Ever have an unusual cluster of “Bad Beat” jackpots occur over a short period of time?  Was it a statistical anomaly or was it created by cheaters working with the dealer.  Learn how a group of cheaters would set up a “Bad Beat” cooler deck, and what your surveillance personnel need to look for specifically.

Player collusion in Pai Gow tiles
What would happen if a group of Pai Gow players shared their tile information with each other?  Do you know what to look for?  Learn the primary indicators of a player collusion scam in Pai Gow tiles, and learn what you can do to prevent them from taking advantage of your Pai Gow customers.

I’m not sure whether the presentation will be held in the morning or afternoon session, but I will be sure to inform everyone in next month’s eBlast.  I believe you have to be a member of the CGA in order to attend.  For more information please contact California Gaming Association, Joe Patterson, Executive Director, (916) 297-4822, www.californiagamingassociation.org/.
 
Cutting Edge Table Game Seminar – Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada

I will be presenting once again on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference.  This is another conference in which I like to present.  This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented last year, however I have included the much talked about topic of “Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs”.  I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games.   Following is an outline of this year’s session:

I.     Table Games Mathematics – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

  • House advantage of major casino games
  • Mechanics that drives hold percentage up (and down).
  • Table game procedures that waste time and money
  • Understanding how to optimize side bets
  • Managing table game minimums to yield the best returns
  • Calculating risk range for table game and table limits
  • Determine the best metrics to use in player tracking systems.

II.     Understanding Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs – 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM & 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

  • What is a Rolling Chip Program?
  • Understanding Multi-play Chip mathematics
  • Percent of the Rolling Chip Buy-in that you can use for Player Reinvestment
  • Points needed before initiating a Rolling Chip Program

III.     The Cost of Table Game Promotions – 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM

  • Effect of changing table game rules
  • Cost of “value added” promotions
  • Cost and affect of using Match Play
  • Cost of using Single Play Promo Chips
  • The pitfalls of using play-till-you-lose Promo Chips
  • Problems with discounting player losses
  • Using an Adjusted T-win model

The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 14th through 16th.  For more information please go to their website www.tablegamesconf.com/ .  I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.
 
On the Move
On the moveIf someone needs me to conduct a Table Games Evaluation or a Game Protection Seminar the second week of this month (September), let me know ASAP and I can still fit you in.  Right now my schedule is open for the last week of September, a week in October, and two weeks in November.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com
 
September
Open
University of Nevada Reno
Open
 
October
G2E
Open
California Gaming Association Presentation
Northern California
 
November
Open
Open
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
 
 
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
 
Questions???
 
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day wzender@aol.com
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734