Blackjack – Which Casino Format is Best For You?

Blackjack Table

Blackjack Table

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 acrued 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 and a firmula

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.

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

 

5 Reasons Why Craps Players Have the Most Fun

The Craps table can be a very confusing place to the beginner!

The Craps table can be a very confusing place to the beginner, but it always sounds like the players have the most fun.

Ever play slots next to the craps tables?  How distracting…..all that noise…..and smiles…..and camaraderie……and fun…….and, hmmmmmm?

It always seems like it’s a band of warriors, or the underdogs beating the champs. A group of Davids trying to bring down Goliath together, and whether they do or not,  the banter, the laughter, the “high 5’s” and the joy of making that long roll supersedes all losing.  Together they have made the good fight.

There’s got to be more to it, right?

Let’s inspect this more deeply….. here are five reasons craps players have more fun than any other table games.

1) It’s not just about a beating the house, it’s beating the house TOGETHER! The community, the friends – the kind you bring or the kind you make, and it’s not only OK to vocally yell for their success, it’s encouraged.  Even the dealers at the table seem to get into the fun, or they should – it’s encouragement personified – a battle together against the casino.

Fun at craps

2) It’s about tolerance.  Yes, there are those nay-sayers that believe in the anti-point – the “Don’t-Pass” bettors. But, if they behave, even they are allowed to bring their bad karma to the Spartans fight for the point to be made.

Don’t Pass Bet in Craps. Not the favored bet on the table.

3) It’s about the “stick man” – a dealer that actually announces what’s happening.  A craps stickman is the casino staff member who calls out the dice rolls and then returns the dice to the shooter. It’s like having your own color commentator.  Wouldn’t that be cool to have behind you at a VP machine (“four to a Royal…. draw the three of hearts, no Royal, side out”   ……hmmm, maybe not…..)

Stickman to the left, boxman in the center, dealer to the right makes for a well-oiled machine.

4) It’s about playing at different levels of proficiency. For a game that looks so complicated – it’s really not hard. And while asking for advice at other table games usually results in grunts and grumbling from players and dealers alike, your new friends are more than happy to help you.  Go with a buddy who does play craps is even more fun.  “Pass line” – that’s all a craps newbie needs to know to join the fun.  All that other stuff on the table? There’s plenty of time to learn about that.  K-I-S! (Keep It Simple)

5) It’s about throwing the dice – to throw the dice means you control the fate of the table.  As Star Trek’s Spock once said, “”With great power comes great responsibility” – but don’t let that bother you. On no other table game do you have the control – YOU’RE THE ONE TO THROW THE DICE!  The roulette dealer never let’s me turn the little ball in the wheel, and the BJ dealer doesn’t even let me touch the cards, never mind deal!  (Yes, I know you hold the cards in single deck BJ, but try finding that game.) You can make money just by riding along with a good shooter.

 

Larry Edell, from Casino City Times writes, “Are you are tired of the hassles and changing rules at the blackjack tables? Are you tired of getting no profits and no comps at roulette? Maybe you should give craps a try! It gives you real player control, the possibility of very high profits, a very low casino edge, the ability to ride along with someone else’s skills, lots of easy-to-get comps, occasional long money-making streaks, and the ability to determine how the table is going by talking to the other players. Where else can you find a better game than that?

Shooting the dice everyone gets the chance.

I think the best way to learn is to ask a real craps player to take you to a real craps table in a casino.  Everything I know I can thank Mark Devol and Dr. Mike from “You Can Bet on That” and Cousin Vito from Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast. In New England, all casinos have real craps tables, except Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, which sports an electronic version like “bubble craps.”

Want to practice, or learn on your computer or iphone? There are programs and apps galore.  Here are some places to start:

Websites: Gambling Teachers – http://www.gamblingteachers.com/craps.html

Software: WinCraps (Online Casinos also offer free craps play)

Books: “Craps: Take the Money and Run” by Henry Tamburin &

“Craps Made Simple” by Tomas B. Gallagher

Apps: “Aw Craps!”

Craps Dice

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…….keep those dice a-rollin……..
That’s all for now.
Binbin

Pai Gai Poker & Gambling Superstitions

Pai Gow Poker Table.

I have really enjoyed playing Pai Gow Poker lately.  While the game is slow, with a low house advantage (good for bankroll, not so good for comps), I find it fun.  The gamblers at the table are usually interesting, whether there are language barriers or not.  It’s not a social game, but you can show your hand for advice in separating your cards into hands to other players, the dealer or even the pit boss f.  It’s a different camaraderie than the screaming at the craps table.

I find this variation of Pai Gow Tiles, which originated in Asia, has many gambling superstitions. Of course, superstitions are also a part of most table games, or gambling et al. There are both ethnic based and arbitrary depending on the individual.

Because of its close Chinese origin, many Asian gamblers favor this poker game and bring with them strong superstitions about poker and cards in general.

Red is a very popular color to wear in Pai Gow because the Chinese believe the color brings fortune and joy when you wear it. For that matter, why not change the felt for Asian-based games to red?

Numbers also play a huge role. I like 4 because it represents my birth month – purely arbitrary.  But many times, if there’s a choice, the 4th seat at a table mine, or 4th seat on a bank of slots or VP.  Four , however, in the Chinese language, sounds almost exactly the same as the word death does and, as such, is a very unlucky number in Pai Gow Poker.

LUCKY NUMBERS

  • Three – a lucky number symbolizing the three stages in people’s lives.
  • Five – there are five elements in Chinese culture, hence the reason why five is considered lucky. Additionally, you’ll find that there are five arches in the Forbidden City main entrance, and that the Emperor was often associated with the number five.
  • Six – this is a number that represents wealth and is a lucky number.
  • Seven – this is considered the luckiest number in the West as well as a very lucky number in Chinese culture.
  • Eight – a very auspicious number and lucky number used both by businesses and in card games.

Tip your Pai Gow Poker dealers. Courtesy of Wizard of Odds.

MORE INDIVIDUAL SUPERSTITIONS

  • It was interesting recently observing the Pai Gow Poker table I was playing at. I would say by the bets, it was a variety of big to small bettors, most of who knew the game.  Here are some of my observations:
  • Some players diminish bets when relief dealers come in.  They might be considered unlucky or even casino “coolers.”
  • When a player decided to bank the hand instead of the dealer, everyone pulled back their bets.  I personally have had bad luck against the player banking, so I pulled my bet back, too.  (Peer Pressure?)
  • Either play the side bet or not……but decide and stick to it.  Because you know what happens when you play it and then don’t – 5 aces shows up in your own or an other player’s hand.  (Been there, not happy.  Lost $250 envy bet. It is forever engraved in my memory.)
  • Avoid counting your wins and losses during the game. This can incur bad luck and is quite impolite to other players especially if you’ve just won big.  That said, I count because I forget where my bankroll is at.  Heck, I recheck my low-hand often because I forget what I put in it.
  • The cards – when picking up the cards, some at the table would spread them very slowly.  On person picked up his hand every time in a neat pile, picking from the back of the pile first every time.  Strange……..oh wait, that was me!

It was a fun session. I made $50 after 2 1/2 hours of play.

For related posts on how to play Pai Gow Poker, go to 

How To Learn New Casino Table Games – Let’s Try Pai Gow Poker

7 Beginner’s Tips for Pai Gow Poker

Resouces for Gambling Part 3 – Pai Gow Poker

One consideration to be made.  Tip the Pai Gow dealers.  They rarely get tipped like other dealers. I like to put a $1 -$2 bet for the dealer.  It’s not much, and I know it cuts into the already low house edge, but you’ll make a friend usually, which usually translates into a little help if there is a problem.

That’s all for now.

Binbin