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Best of Henry Tamburin

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Be selective in blackjack games

24 March 2018

Back in the good ole days, there wasn’t a lot of rule variation from one blackjack table to another. Nowadays that’s changed. Not only will you often find a different mix of blackjack playing rules from one casino to another but quite often in the same casino you’ll find a myriad of different blackjack games.

The problem is this: Some blackjack games are very good, while others are terrible. And no one in the casino is going to tell you which is which, so it’s up to you to be a smart consumer and know how to spot a good game from a bad one. I’ll help with some tips.

What I’ve done is summarized the Bad, Good and Best games for single-, double-, six- and eight-deck games. I realize that in some gaming jurisdiction single- and double- deck games are scarce but some day you might be taking a trip where you’ll come across these games so the information might come in handy.

The two variables that determine how good the game is for the average non-counting player is the number of decks of cards being used and the mix of the playing rules. To make it easier to follow along, I’ll use the following abbreviations for the more popular playing rules you’ll likely run across.

S17 = dealer must stand on all 17s, including soft 17 (A-6).
H17 = dealer must hit soft 17.
DAS = doubling after pair splitting allowed.
LS = late surrender allowed.
RSA = aces can be resplit.
6/5 = player blackjack gets paid at 6 to 5.
Even = player blackjack gets paid at even money.


SINGLE-DECK GAMES
Bad
Any 6:5 or Even game.

Good
H17
H17 and DAS

Best
S17
S17 and DAS

Comment: Never play a single-deck game where the house only pays 6:5 on a blackjack. This game is a rip-off! These games are prevalent in casinos mostly everywhere. Most single deck games only offer H17, the better ones also include DAS (almost an even game against the house). If you find a rare one that offers S17 and DAS, you are in blackjack heaven because a basic strategy player will have the edge over the casino in this game.

Sometimes a casino offers a single-deck game but restricts a player to doubling on only 10 and 11. That’s OK if the dealer stands on all 17’s (S17) but less preferable in an H17 game. Lastly, stay away from the gimmicky single-deck games like Superfun 21 where blackjacks pay only even money.

DOUBLE-DECK GAMES
Bad
Any 6:5 or Even
H17
H17 and DAS

Good
S17
H17, DAS and RSA

Best
S17 and DAS
S17, DAS and RSA
S17, DAS and LS

Comment: Double-deck games can be very good for basic strategy players. The key is to play on tables where the dealer stands on soft 17 (S17) rather than hits soft 17 (H17). If the dealer hits soft 17, then you should also have DAS and RSA. The absolute best double-deck games offer S17, DAS and either RSA or LS. Avoid any double-deck game where a blackjack is paid at only 6/5 or worse even money.

SIX-DECK GAMES
Bad
H17
H7 and DAS
H17, DAD and RSA
H17, DAS and LS

Good
S17 and DAS
S17, DAS and RSA
S17, DAS and LS
H17, DAS, RSA and/or LS

Best
S17, DAS, RSA and LS


Comment: As a general guideline, try to play six-deck games with S17 rather than H17. If the only game available is H17, check to be sure it also allows DAS, RSA and/or LS. The very best six-deck games offer the combination of S17 plus DAS, RSA and LS.

8-DECK GAMES
Bad
Any H17 game
S17

Good
S17 and DAS

Best
S17, DAS and LS
S17, DAS and RSA

Comments: Ideally you should only play an eight-deck game if it’s S17 and DAS, and the best eight-deck games also offer RSA or LS.
Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

Winning Baccarat Strategies

> More Books By Henry Tamburin