Blackjack

In Scotland, it rains a lot.  Before the internet, when we were kids, we used to stay in when it was raining heavily and play card and board games.  One of the card games, that we used to play, was the British game, pontoon.  

Of course, we only played pontoon for match sticks because we were 18-.  Pontoon is very similar to blackjack.   Therefore, by the time that we get to 18+, blackjack is already in our DNA.

The name "blackjack" was coined by the Americans.  Before that, it was called "21" in France.  Anyway, just learn the American lingo (eg hit instead of twist; stand instead of stick) and you are close to being a blackjack player.  Oh, and don't forget, they don't have 5 card tricks in blackjack.

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WHY BLACKJACK IS THE BEST CASINO GAME

Blackjack is the best game to play in casinos.  There is a single reason for this.  The past does effect the future in blackjack.  That’s assuming that the dealer isn’t shuffling the deck after every hand.

In the live casino, the dealer shuffles after around half the shoe has been dealt.  In the non-live casino, the cards are shuffled after every hand.

In other casino games, such as roulette, each spin is an independent event.  With blackjack, when lots of high cards come out of the shoe early, you know that the decks are low in high cards.

 

Card Counting

Even if you are not a card counter, you need to know that high cards in the shoe are good for the player and low cards are bad for the player.

You will hear casino gurus say that you can’t card count in the live casino because they shuffle half way through the shoe.  They say that there is not sufficient deck penetration to make the count meaningful.  I suspect that these casino gurus are on the casinos’ side. 

Here’s the thing.  With any card counting method, the only thing that matters is the count.  The number of decks left in the shoe is of importance.  However, this is already factored into all card counting systems. 

It is more likely that you will get a skewed count towards the end of a shoe.  However, if the count is, say +5, it doesn’t matter how many decks are left.  What I am saying is tha, a card counter would make the same decision when the card count of +5 whether there is one deck left or whether there are a million decks left.

The reason these unscrupulous casino gurus give you wrong information is because, if they can get you to give up on the idea of using your brain, they make more money.  That’s if you signed up to the casino via their links.

I say, every little bit of equity counts.  Even if you are not card counting, if you sit at a table  and at the start of a shoe, and you see a load of 10 value cards and Aces come out.  You know, that you should leave that table and join a new table. 

Conversely, if a lot of low cards are dealt, you know that the deck is rich in 10 value cards and Aces compared to the average and you should stay.  So, you should stay at the table.

Whether you can beat the house edge by card counting, I don’t know.  However, you can certainly reduce the house edge.

In addition, it’s easy to card count in live casinos because the game is quite slow.

 

Other Methods

There are other Blackjack methods.  However, most are impossible to do online.  Hole carding is when you try and get a peek at the dealer’s down card.  No chance.

Shuffle tracking is when you watch for a cluster of cards that include an Ace.  When you see these cards come back out, you have to recall where 10 value cards were in the group of cards.  Since, they use new decks after every shoe, you can’t use this method.

For the same reason Ace prediction won’t work.  Ace prediction is a form of shuffle tracking, except you are tracking the Aces.

 

Conclusion

Card counting is your only hope of gaining a bit of equity.  The best method is the KO method (Fuchs, K and Vancura, O., 1988).  However, that is the subject for a whole new article.