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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

A Bad Economy Tends to Improve Blackjack Games

19 December 2008

All across the country, the casino business is down. Just walk into any casino and you can see it. Some of them are down more than 25% from last year. That leaves the onus on management to find ways to pick things up. Some casinos offer their customers free toasters or mini-vacs. Others send out cash coupons to come in and gamble.

With many of the games themselves, there isn't that much you can change to lure gamblers in the door, since most of them don't know a good bet from a bad bet anyway. But with blackjack, it's different. The value of various blackjack rules and conditions have been analyzed and publicized widely. So to bring more customers to the blackjack tables, some casinos are improving the quality of their games – and then advertising it.

No 6-to-5 Blackjack: The word is out. Single-deck games that pay only 6-to-5 on blackjack rather than the standard 3-to-2 are the worst games out there – by far. Several casinos have pulled them off the floor and replaced them with a standard six-deck shoe, making those players a lot better off.

No CSM: Games where the dealer re-inserts the cards into the back of a continuous shuffling shoe after every round or two eliminate the player's ability to follow what cards have been played. In tough economic times, these sophisticated machines are expensive and some casinos have replaced them with a standard dealing shoe.

8 down to 6: Some other casinos have removed their eight-deck games and replaced them with six-deckers. All else being equal, the fewer the decks, the better for the player.

Double Deck: As a draw to the blackjack pits, bold table games managers have pulled out a few of their shoe games and installed some hand-held double-deck games. These would cut away about one-third of the basic house edge, as long as the rules are not tightened up too much.

Re-split Aces: Normally, the only pair you cannot re-split into a third hand is Aces. But some houses are now letting you re-split your Aces all the way out to four hands if you re-pair them. This option will trim about one-sixth off the basic house edge.

Double on 3 Cards: One very aggressive Midwest casino will now let you double down on a three-card hand, such as when you have 2/5/4. When used correctly, this will cut the basic house edge nearly in half.

Surrender: Often thought of as a sucker play, the surrender option is actually a moneysaver to the player if played correctly. Some casinos are throwing this into the mix to give the customers more playing latitude.

Ace/Jack of spades bonus: Another hook is to pay 2-to-1 if your blackjack is the Ace of spades and Jack of Spades. This perk looks better than it is, since only 1/64th of all your blackjacks will come that way. It'll knock the basic house edge down by only about 1/16th of its total.

These are all things that make blackjack a better game for the player, and more of them are showing up in these tough economic times. But not every new twist is a good thing. Lots of other options make the game worse.

Blackjack Side-Bets: On the whole, any option you can play where you place an extra bet is only put there to pad the casinos' pockets. Options like Super Sevens, Lucky Ladies, Pair Square, 21+3, Perfect Pairs, etc., all carry a much higher house edge than the game of blackjack itself. Steer clear of them and your bankroll will thank you.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey