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Disturbing trends

21 August 2002

It used to be that if you wanted to find a good blackjack game, you had to go to Las Vegas. Because of the intense competition for players, casinos in Las Vegas always offered decent rules and good games. They were the standard that players used when comparing blackjack games in other locations. But this is not the case now.

Several changes have occurred to blackjack in Las Vegas over the past two years which makes most of the games you'll find average at best. Yes, there are still some good games, but they are becoming harder to find.

The first negative event occurred when the majority of strip casinos decided to install continuous shuffling machines (CSMs) on their blackjack tables. These devices allowed the dealers to reshuffle every hand which made card counting futile.

But CSMs not only hurt card counters; they have a negative effect on the average player. The reason is that the casinos can get 20 percent more hands played on average per hour with these devices because there is no downtime for manual shuffles. Unless a player slows down when he plays, he will be playing more hands per hour and his potential hourly loss will increase (remember the casino has the edge over the average player).

Then came the rule change where they converted their tables to dealer hit soft 17 from dealer stand on soft 17. Just recently the Las Vegas Hilton was the latest casino to make the switch. No big deal, you say? That tiny rule change costs the player about 0.2 percent of his total betting action. And that assumes the player knows the changes to the basic playing strategy, which many do not.

Then came the introduction of the "new" single-deck game Super Fun 21 up and down the strip and even casinos that cater to local players. The carrot in this "new" game is that it is played with a single deck of cards (which most players know has better odds) plus the game offers a whole bunch of player favorable rules (like doubling on any number of cards and being able to surrender even after doubling). But the stick was the even money payoffs on player blackjack hands (except in diamonds). The latter negated all the player favorable rules resulting in a game with an 85 percent increase in the casino's edge (up to 0.95 percent).

There is a problem with Super Fun 21 from the casino's perspective. Even though the tables are filled and they are making lots of money on the game, they have to pay a royalty every month to the developer of the game. And this royalty comes right off the casino's bottom line, something that casino managers vehemently dislike. So, one casino company, Park Place Entertainment, decided to do something about this. They converted a bunch of their shoe-dealt games to single-deck games at all their Vegas properties (Bally's, Caesars, Paris, Flamingo Hilton and others) to entice players, but then paid them only 6 to 5 instead of the traditional 3 to 2 when they got a blackjack. That one rule change increased the casino's edge to 1.5 percent. As one supervisor at Bally's told me, "This new game is increasing the table drop and win significantly, plus we don't have to pay any royalties."

Finally some casinos have six-deck games disguised as two-deck games. Six decks are shuffled together, then the dealer uses only two decks to play with (hand-held game). For the average player it looks like a two-deck game, but it really is a six-deck game. Pretty sneaky, huh?

Blackjack players, listen up. As long as you continue to play these games you are going to lose more money. You are much better off playing at a traditional blackjack game that offers normal blackjack rules. There are still casinos that offer such a game (even a traditional six or eight-deck shoe game is better than these new games). So my advice is to not play these gimmicky games and stick to the traditional ones. But then, it's your money.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Blackjack: Take the Money and Run by Henry Tamburin
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
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