Four Formats For Playing Blackjack – Which is Best For You?

Blackjack Table

Blackjack Table

There are Four Formats For Playing Blackjack. Table, cards and chips – real or virtual – are the basic elements for blackjack. Blackjack has come a long way from the days when it first appeared in America as the game we know today. The name for the game however was Twenty-One which has been used in New Orleans since 1823. The game became hugely popular in France after casino owners offered amazing bonuses (for a hand of Jack and Ace of Spades the player got a 10 to 1 payout) which brings us to the origin of the name of Blackjack.

Related Post – Roll The Bones By Dr. Schwartz

Let’s take a look at the modern day formats.

THERE ARE FOUR PHYSICAL FORMATS FOR PLAYING BLACKJACK IN CASINOS:

  1. the traditional live table game with live dealer
  2. stadium game play, with a live dealer, but played with community cards by many players
  3. electronic blackjack, played by up to six players around a blackjack table with a video dealer
  4. video blackjack on a solitary machine, usually the same terminal with video poker, keno, and a few slots.

IGT video blackjack

Is it better to play video blackjack at a video poker terminal or to shimmy up to the table and play the game the way it was meant to be played? (at least before 6/5 BJ and all the enhanced house edge rules.)

It really depends on what you are looking for in your blackjack experience. There are some players out there that refuse to play a video blackjack game. (To be honest, I’d rather play keno than video blackjack.) Some players feel video blackjack can’t be trusted. But, there ARE reasons to play video blackjack?  Let’s compare:

ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING VIDEO BLACKJACK

LOWER MINIMUMS – Video blackjack machines often have a lower minimum bet as little as $1. Compared to traditional tables, even $5 seems low, especially on weekends where limits can start as high as $15 – $25.

BETTER RULES – Video blackjack games can have better rules than any live blackjack game that can be found in the same casino. Check the rules and you may find standing on all 17’s, offering surrender, doubling after the split and split up to 3 hands, better rules than many traditional games offered in several casinos.

BETTER COMPS – Comps, the free perks casinos give to players, are calculated higher for machine players. Some casinos won’t even rate you if you play under $25, and those that will rate you will give you very little in the way of comps, and making some promotions available to you that only apply to slot machines since your play on video blackjack machines will count as a slot machine.

NOT A SOCIAL PLAYER? – Many of us have played at those serious tables of NFB (No Fun Blackjack).  The dealer might be grumpy, the players may be serious strategy or card counters, and heaven help you if play the wrong way (according to basic strategy).  Some players can be very intimidating, if not down-right nasty.  It is a belief that the wrong play will effect the other players’ hands.  Over time, this has been proven not to be true.  Your next mistake may actually help them win – but you’ll never hear a thank you for that.

Stadium Gaming Blackjack

This a hybrid that that crosses all lines  First, for solitary players, being social at the table isn’t necessary. You still have a live dealer, so it’s slower than video BJ, but still faster due to automatic payouts  Having other games immediately available gives more variety and not having the pressure to play every hand. Skipping hands, or socializing with friends around you it a less-stress situation and more fun. Stadium gaming can be lots of fun with friends, something a live table game can provide also. Besides blackjack, bacarrat and roulette are also usually provided. New England casinos that offer Stadium Gaming include Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, Twin River Casino & Hotel, Tiverton Casino and Hotel. Plainridge has table game terminals, but is not allowed live dealers as a slots-only facility.

RULEs and Rewards

Points accrued at a standard table game is basically earned according to the the following:

  • Amount of Wager per hand
  • Time spent at the table
  • Table game house edge being played
  • Average hands played per hour.

But any video format, including stadium gaming, is more like slots and video poker, where your play and your points are decided by the casino software.

Four Formats For Playing Blackjack – DISADVANTAGES TO PLAYING VIDEO BLACKJACK – 

NOW A WORD OF CAUTION FROM OUR FRIEND, THE CASINO ANSWER MAN JOHN GROCHOWSKI:

CHECK THE PAYOFFS –  “Given basic strategy for a single-deck game, the house edge is about 2.5 percent. If you got the full 3-2 payoff on blackjacks, it would be a 0.24 percent game, but even-money pays on two-card 21s add 2.27 percent to the house edge. That’s equivalent to a slot payback percentage of 97.5 percent, so yes it’s a higher payback than on penny slots. Returns vary from game to game, casino to casino and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but penny slot paybacks almost always are less than 90 percent.

FASTER PLAY – A word of caution: video blackjack plays a lot faster than table blackjack. The video game doesn’t need time for dealing cards to other players, settling bets, stacking chips in trays, buy-ins and cash outs of multiple players, shuffles or cuts. As a video player, you can play just as fast as you can make decisions and hit the buttons. At a full table, you might play only 50 to 60 hands per hour. If you’re betting $10 a hand, you’re risking $500 to $600. At your video blackjack game, it’s easy to get in 500 hands per hour. Even with $1 bets, you’re betting $500 per hour.

Your hourly wager total is right up there with the $10 table players, and you’re playing against a house edge that probably is much higher than the table edge. On a six-deck game where the dealer hit soft 17, you may double on any first two cards including after splits, may split any pair up to three times and blackjacks pay 3-2, the house edge against a basic strategy player is 0.62 percent. If your budget extends only to $1 bets and you’re going to set a low loss limit, then you can have some fun at the blackjack machines. But for extended play, the table usually is the better play.

ADVANTAGES TO PLAYING LIVE BLACKJACK

A fun time was had by all!

WHILE VIDEO BLACKJACK HAS MORE OF A BEGINNER FOLLOWING, THERE ARE CERTAINLY ADVANTAGES TO A LIVE DEALER AND LIVE ACTION.

DRINK SERVICE – If you would like good drink service, you will get served more drinks in the table games pit than you will in the slot area where video blackjack games usually are located.

BETTER COMPS FOR HIGHER ROLLERS – If you are going to average $25 or more a bet then you will get noticed in the pit and you are likely to get better comps.

COUNTING CARDS – If you are going to count cards it will be much easier to do so at the table games. It is impossible to count cards on some blackjack machines. A full table game of blackjack will likely be faster than a video blackjack game because novice players are more likely to be on the machines.

SMOKE FREE TABLES – If smoke bothers you then table games might be best for you too. Casinos will often make a table smoke free upon request. That cannot be done in the slot area.

SOCIAL – Table blackjack games also tend to be more social than video blackjack machines. No, it’s not the fun commeradeie of the craps table, but with the right people, it can bring a bit of “the players vs. the casino” excitement.

Related Post – Blackjack Not a Team Game

BAD VIDEO BLACKJACK MACHINES – BEWARE

The machines that can be played advantageously are multi seat machines where blackjack pays 3 to 2. Some video poker machines such as Game Kings and Game Makers have a heads up blackjack game on them. These are terrible blackjack games. These games typically pay even money on blackjack. They typically do not allow doubling after the split either. Some of these machines do not allow doubling at all. It is best to avoid these games. Some multi seat games are single deck games that pay 6 to 5 on blackjack. Avoid these single deck machines as well.  Believe it or not, some video blackjack terminals include even money in blackjack.

One more word of caution concerns multigame machines.  Usually, the rate of  comps depends on the game of with the tightest house edge, and that includes the rest of the games on that machine-including the rest of VP, Keno, Slots and yes, Blackjack. Find video blackjack on machines with poorer VP pay tables to ensure the highest amount of earning comps.

CONCLUSION

There are advantages to playing both live and video blackjack. Each player has their own goal as to what they would like to get out of a blackjack game. Blackjack can be fun whether it is a video blackjack game or a live blackjack game; it is up to the player to decide which they enjoy more.er hour. Even with $1 bets, you’re betting $500 per hour.

Binbin

 

Blackjack Not a Team Game

Blackjack Not a Team Game, but Craps Is. This post is in response to all those whining blackjack players who play at low limit tables and complain about players strategy.  Where else are beginning or recreational gamblers supposed to play? Help when asked for is fine, but shaming one’s strategy and blame for your lack of success is just wrong.  If you want better strategy played, I hear you can reserve a table in High Limit…..

Blackjack Not a Team Game vs the Casino

Tension at the blackjack table

This is a tale of two table games, Craps and Blackjack.  Some consider both games “us against the casino.”  Team games.  But only one comes with that kind of fun and camaraderie……and it’s not blackjack.

Craps players tend to band together.  They have the most fun.  The shooter is the warrior, the attacker for the group.  His throw of the dice will determine his followers success – at least those betting pass line. Craps is the only “one for all and all for one” table game…..and that doesn’t include any of the carnival games that can be found.

Now, Ever hear this?

“You know what really drives me crazy about blackjack? …You sit down and get a good game going, and then some idiot sits down at third base and starts messing up the cards. What do you do about that?”imageI am so tired of superstitions and myths believed by even the best players.  Remember what we say at NETG, “Embrace the math, not the Myth.”The whole idea that blackjack players band together under the same strategy to beat the dealer is preposterous. The table isn’t a team, it’s one on one against the dealer’s hand.

Blackjack – NOT A Team Sport

Ken Smith is a well-known blackjack player. If you want to know more about him, try going to BlackjackInfo.com.  In Blackjack Forum, 2013, he wrote the following:  “Other players have no appreciable affect on your results. That’s right… Johnny Clueless from Buffalo who sat down at your table had nothing to do with your losing streak.  Now, if you already knew this to be true, you probably know what happens next in the conversation. Trying to explain that other players can’t screw up your results invariably leads to that blank stare. You know the one. It’s where you can almost see them thinking: “This Kenny guy doesn’t know squat about blackjack! How did he ever make any money?!”

Generally, I don’t even bother trying to dispute their notion. Instead I’ll just nod my head as if these kinds of players bother me too, and change the subject as soon as I can,……. let me make a concerted effort to explain why this is a myth. “

Win or Lose, Play Your Own Blackjack Hand

Bottom line is you can win as much as lose from players and their poor strategy – short or long term.imageOnce, I was playing video poker. I was dealt two tens, but only kept one….three hours of playing will cause that sometimes.  On the draw, I was dealt the rest of the Royal Flush. It was my mistake in strategy, but I didn’t give back the $1000.

Moral of the Story

I’d like to complain about high table minimums at blackjack.  I’d like to blame the sightings of 6:5 blackjack pay tables.  But, to be honest, it’s the lack of fun and height of intensity at the blackjack table that keeps me away.  I don’t find it at craps, or Pai Gow poker, and especially with my own personal video poker terminal. The last time I played blackjack was at Ellis Island, Las Vegas, with a great dealer, great atmosphere, kind players and a $5 minimum. Ah, those were the days….

Related Post – 12 Tips For Blackjack Beginners

So, don’t bitch about something that doesn’t exist, don’t play $5 tables and expect highly skilled players. Take the good with the bad, and embrace the math, not the myth.

Binbin

 

Best Blackjack Quiz by Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin was one of those authors of gambling materials I followed in my humble beginnings when I started delving into the strategy for gambling, along with experts such as Bob Dancer, Jean Scott, John  Grochowski, Max Compton and Frank Scoblete.  They always seemed to have the answers I was looking for, no matter what gambling topic.

Henry has been very busy over the years. His best-selling book “Blackjack: Take The Money and Run,”  being editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course are just a few of his current accomplishments. His website SmartGaming is a go to website with “strategies for casino players who want to learn to play and win.”

For over 40 years, he has been an advocate for better odds for casino players, while also teaching the general public how to play smart. His specialties are blackjack and video poker.

Here are the publications that he currently writes for:

Casino Player Magazine
Strictly Slots Magazine
Midwest Gaming & Travel Magazine
Gaming South Magazine
Southern Gaming Magazine
New England Gaming News
Casino City Times
Jackpot
Bingo Bugle

In Casino City Times this week, he posted a Blackjack Quiz that I had to share.  Many of our followers are Blackjack enthusiasts, so I knew that if you thought you were so good at your strategy, you must take this quiz.  Answer the questions, take down your answers and check out how you did after all are done.  Here goes……


 

Blackjack

Blackjack

The Ultimate Blackjack Test – By Henry Tamburin

So you think you are a hotshot blackjack player? Take this short test and see how much you really know about the game. (Assume a six-deck game, with S17, and DAS.)

1. You hold a pair of eights and the dealer shows a face card. Would you hit, stand or split?

2. You hold an A-7 (8 or 18) and the dealer shows a five up card. Would you stand, hit or double down?

3. You hold a 10-6 and the dealer shows a seven up card. Would you hit or stand?

4. You hold a pair of nines and the dealer shows a nine up card. Would you stand or split?

5. You hold a 10-2 and the dealer shows a three. Would you hit or stand?

6. You hold a pair of fives and the dealer shows a six. Would you hit, split or double down?

7. You hold a pair of face cards and the dealer shows an ace and asks for “insurance”? Would you make the insurance bet? Yes or no?

8. You have 2-3-A-A and the dealer shows a five up card. Would you stand or hit?

9. You have 9-6 and the dealer shows a face card. Would you stand, hit or surrender?

10. You have A-3-4 and the dealer shows a nine up card. Would you hit or stand?

Which statements are true and which are false?:

11. Always take even money on a blackjack hand when the dealer shows an ace.

12. The third base player is the most important player on the table. If he stands or hits correctly, everyone will win.

13. A player who doesn’t have a clue about when to stand or hit will cause his fellow table players to lose.

14. Card counters always win.

15. Surrender is a playing rule that when used correctly can limit your losses.

16. Which of the following rules favor the casino, and which favor the player?
• Dealer hits soft 17.
• Double after pair splitting.
• Six decks vs. one deck.
• Resplit aces allowed.
• Double only on 10 or 11.
• Surrender.
• No resplitting of pairs

Cats Playing Blackjack

Answers (give yourself five points for each correct answer):

1. Split. You are better off starting a hand with an eight rather than with a 16 against a dealer face card. Overall you’ll lose money in the long run by splitting compared to hitting (standing is the least desirable play). As a general basic strategy rule, you should always split eights no matter what the dealer shows.

2. Double down. Even though an 18 is a strong player hand, you will win more money in the long run if you double down. The main reason is that by doubling, you can get more money on the table when the dealer has a good chance of breaking with a five up card.

3. Hit. Most blackjack players will hit a 16 against a dealer 10 but not against the dealer’s seven up card. They reason is that a 10 is a stronger card than a seven, so it’s more important to hit against the 10. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s a worse mistake to stand on 16 against a dealer’s seven vs. a 10 up card. Why? Even though the risk of busting the 16 is the same whether the dealer has a seven or 10 up card, your chances of eking a win by drawing a small card are greater when the dealer shows a seven compared to a 10.

4. Split. You are slightly better off starting with a count of nine on two hands rather than an 18 against a dealer’s nine up card. You’ll win 41% and lose 59% of the hands if you stand on 18 (at a dollar a hand, your net loss is $18 after $100 bet). If you split, you’ll end up winning about 47% of the hands and losing 53% (net loss is $12 – because you double your bet when pair splitting- per $100 bet). You’ll gain an extra $6 by splitting.

5. Hit. Only a 10-value card will bust your 12. Plus the dealer is not as vulnerable to busting with a three (and two) up card compared to a four, five or six up card. For these reasons, you should hit 12 when the dealer shows a three (and two) up card but stand if the dealer’s up card is four, five or six.

6. Double down. Most novice players make the mistake of splitting fives. Never split fives. Treat a pair of fives as a 10, and against a dealer’s six up card the best percentage play is to double down.

7. No. Insurance pays 2 to 1 on a bet that has less than 1 chance in 3 of winning (i.e., the odds are greater than 2 to 1). That will cost you money; about $7 for every $100 worth of insurance bets you make. Don’t do it!

8. Hit. Be careful with soft hands. A-2-3-A-A is a soft 17, and you should never stand on soft 17 no matter what the dealer shows.

9. Surrender. You will lose greater than 50 cents per dollar bet if you stand or hit. By surrendering, you limit your loss to exactly 50 cents. Therefore, you will save some money in the long run when you surrender.

10. Hit. An A-3-4 is a soft 18, Normally you would stand when you hold an 18 but in this case you have a soft 18. Against a dealer’s nine, you are slightly better off hitting a soft 18 rather than standing.

11. False. You will be giving up about 4% of your potential profits in the long run every time you take even money. Your best percentage play is to pass on taking even money.

12. 13. All false. These are misconceptions that most players have about blackjack.

14 Card counters do not win every time they play. They have a long-term advantage, which means over time they will win more money than lose. Over the short term, like a single playing session, they can lose.

15 True. When used correctly surrender can limit player’s losses.

16 The player favorable rules are double down after pair splitting, resplit aces, and surrender. The casino favorable rules are dealer hits soft 17, six decks vs. one deck, double only on nine and 10, and no replitting of pairs.

If you scored 75 or 80, you should be holding your own at the blackjack tables.

If you scored 60 – 80, you are probably losing more money than winning when you play blackjack.

If you scored less than 60, you had better spend some time improving your blackjack playing skills; otherwise, be prepared to lose a lot of money.