Blackjack Games to Avoid

Single Deck — or any other game — that pays 6 to 5 on blackjacks

Most visitors to casinos play blackjack or other games for entertainment, and do not thoroughly study the games. While there is always a chance of winning in the short run, it has been said that the built-in casino advantage is the «price of the entertainment» for the recreational player. But with the 6/5 short payoffs on blackjacks, the price is too high.

Let’s assume you go to a movie once a month, and pay $8.00 for a ticket. Suddenly, the theatre increases its ticket price to $64.00. Would you still go to that theatre, when other similar theatres would charge you only $8.00? Or would you take your business to one of the $8.00 theatres? By playing single deck blackjack that pays only 6 to 5 on blackjacks, you are doing the same thing as patronizing the $64.00 theatre.

The casinos are taking advantage of the myth among casual blackjack players that «single deck games always offer better odds for the players» . This is simply NOT true with the 6 to 5 game. Normal blackjacks pay 7 ½ to 5, or more commonly referred to as 3 to 2. The house advantage on a normal single deck game is 0.18%. The 6 to 5 game has a house advantage of 1.45%, more than eight times the advantage the casino has on a normal single deck game

This isn’t merely a matter of shuffling incomprehensible numbers around. Stanford Wong, author of Professional Blackjack, explains: «The math is easy. If the player gets paid 3/2 on a blackjack on a $10 bet, the player gets paid $15. If the player gets paid 6/5 on a $10 bet, he gets paid only $12 for a blackjack. That is a difference of $3, which might not seem like much. During a normal-speed blackjack game, the player averages five blackjacks per hour, meaning the player is shorted 1.5 bets per hour. In the case of a $10 bettor, he is being shorted $15 per hour!» (Las Vegas Weekly, 10/23/03)

UNLV professor Bill Thompson, who studies gaming issues, said, «This is incredibly stupid. Everybody knows blackjacks pay 3-2. Unless they’re giving out free bottles of whiskey to everyone who sits down at the table, I don’t know why anybody would play this game.» (Las Vegas Sun, 11/13/03)

The house edge in a normal six-deck shoe is about 0.63%, much worse for the player than a normal single deck, but not nearly as bad as the single deck 6 to 5 ripoff game.

Continuous shuffling machines
These nasty devices require the dealer to insert the used cards from each round back into the machine, instead of using a discard tray as is normally done. The effect is that of playing against a virtually infinite deck. Every round is played «off the top of the deck,» when there is a 100% chance that the unskilled player is at a severe disadvantage. Also, because there is never a break for shuffling, the machine increases the speed of the game by about 20%, so the typical player will lose 20% more money in the same amount of playing time, or lose all of his or her money 20% faster.
Hand-held multi-deck games
The dealer will hold one or two decks in his or her hand, but it is really a five to eight-deck game being shuffled every deck or less. There usually is a sign on the table that reads «Hand-Held Multi-Deck Game,» though the casino will frequently try to hide the sign behind ashtrays or other objects on the table.
You can usually identify a fake double deck or fake single deck game by looking at the backs of the cards. If the backs of the cards being removed from the shuffling machine are the same color as the backs of the cards that were just played, it is very likely to be a fake double deck or fake single deck game.

Superfun 21
This is the only game among the four discussed herein that can be beaten by a skilled advantage player. However, it takes an entirely different set of strategy numbers and plays than does normal blackjack. The house advantage is .94%, if using Superfun 21 basic strategy. If played like normal blackjack, it is much worse.
Frequently dealers and pit personnel will lie, telling an unsuspecting tourist that this game can be played «like regular blackjack,» but it cannot. If this game is played like regular blackjack, expect to lose and lose very quickly.

MindPlay Tables
MindPlay is a table that uses marked cards and knows the order of cards before they are dealt. An optical device is used to scan the cards and chips wagered by each player. By marking the cards and scanning the chips, casinos using this device can determine not only a player’s average bet but also the player’s skill level. The device also counts cards, and can be used to tell the dealer to shuffle whenever the count reaches a predetermined number, taking away any possible player advantage. Casinos that use MindPlay are able to squeeze players comp accounts, because they know exactly how much action you’ve put in play and for exactly how long you’ve played. This will dramatically curtail the ability of a pit boss to extend discretionary comps.
The easiest way to tell a MindPlay table is by the recessed «well» to the dealer’s right. After shuffling or removing the cards from the shuffling machine, but before dealing, the dealer will insert the cards into this «well.» Inside the «well» is a scanner that reads the marked cards, enabling the MindPlay device to know the exact order of the cards before they are dealt. A normal table does not have this recessed «well.» In addition, you will see a black contraption that is used to hold the dealers first two cards. If you see such a table, do not play.

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