Is It Possible To Learn How To Play Blackjack From Movies?

If you took the time to take a poll now as to what the most popular casino card game was the chances are really high that the answer would come back, in most all cases, as blackjack. Why? Easy, it can’t get much simpler than blackjack. A lot of card games have rules and then things you do if they do this and more. Yeah, I know that’s over simplifying some card games. But really, what are the rules applied to blackjack? One, try to get a hand that is as close to twenty-one as possible. Simple.

So when someone wants to know if they can learn how to play blackjack from movies it may cause some to scratch their head in wonder. Really they’d say? Why? There’s only one rule, what’s to learn. Ah, but like every other gambling game, there are tricks that can be learned, absorbed or copied from people who’ve been there, done that. So if asked can you learn blackjack from movies the answer is a resounding yes.

Not only is it a simple and popular casino game but it is also an incredibly popular card game in the world of movies. Simply take a few minutes and scroll down through the movies released in the last five years alone and you’ll find many movies that feature casinos and more importantly blackjack in their theme. Why? Well, the viewers are allowed to live vicariously through that adrenaline that is sent coursing through your veins when you are on the precipice of losing it all or winning big with one turn of a card. The temperament of the world is such that a movie theme that gives viewers hope of changing their financial status, like the characters in the movie, will always be popular.

But, what do they hope to learn from watching movies that feature blackjack games as their theme? Well, there are strategies in anything. Don’t do this if this card turns up. Do this if this card turns up. The possibility is likely that if the house has this then you won’t want to push after this. Those are the kinds of reassuring tips that many viewers hope to garner from movies that feature supposed professionals at blackjack in them.

Would you and should you use these movies that feature blackjack in them as anything other than entertainment? Well, it wouldn’t be a wise decision to quit your job and support yourself as a professional blackjack after all you’ve learned from movies that teach you how to better play blackjack. But, yeah, it may make you a more informed player the next time you get together with friends to play.

How to Play Blackjack in an Online Casino

The rules in the blackjack game in an online casino are of course, the same as in a real casino and the main objective of the game is to beat the dealer. The rules are pretty simple, actually and I can only think of one thing that is considered hard in this game: to win.

In order to play blackjack online, one must first register in an online casino. Each casino offers sign up bonuses. The larger the casino bonus is, the more tempted customers will be to join. Casinos offer different varieties of the game. But this is commonly played:

In order to beat the dealer, your cards must have a total greater than the dealer’s cards with the total not exceeding 21. When the player exceeds 21, he busts and automatically loses the game. If you bust and the dealer busts, you still lose.

When the player has a total of 21 with the first two cards, he has a blackjack and automatically wins provided the dealer does not also have cards totaling to 21. If the dealer also has a blackjack, then it is a push, meaning the game is a draw. If only the dealer has a blackjack, all the players lose.

The ace card is valued as either one or eleven; whichever puts the player in advantage. The face cards are counted as 10 and the other cards are represented by their numbers.

The players must first place their bets before moving on with the game. After that, each player receives two cards up while the dealer has one card up and the other down. The players then use decisions based on their cards and the dealer’s up card.

If the player wishes to draw another card, he will take a hit. On the other hand, if he is satisfied with his cards, he will stand. If the player receives a double card, he will have an option to split his cards. In splitting, you will have to place another bet on your other card which is equal to your first bet. The dealer takes his turn last and is only allowed to draw until it reaches 17 and up.

Many who play casino games are fond of playing blackjack for the simplicity of the rules and for its fast-paced nature. But this game is not for those who rely only on hunches as this requires strategies to win.

Where I Play Blackjack in Las Vegas, NV and Why

Blackjack routinely offers the lowest house advantage over players as compared to all other casino games off the top. Players can enhance that inherent gambling advantage further by applying very accurate basic strategy play and insistence on playing only those games that offer player-favorable rules. There’s a plethora of variation between game rule-sets and table conditions and these directly affect the mathematical player expected value (EV) which ultimately translates to enhanced winnings / minimized losses over time. Proper game selection can easily reduce house advantage to.5% or less for the conscientious player who employs accurate basic strategy decision plays for a specific game and set of rules. Blackjack also provides one of the best venues to accrue comps for gamblers interested in playing the comp game; wise use of certain comp accrual tactics can increase real dollar value expectation and provide a means to keep losses to a minimum when including the values of potential awarded comps.

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of learning basic strategy for those interested in enhancing the value of their blackjack experiences. It’s the foundation of all efforts to beat the game for both novice and professional players. Basic strategy play is based on literally billions of computer simulated hands to arrive at proper hand play decisions regarding standing, hitting, doubling, and /or splitting pairs against a given dealer’s upcard. Those players who might be interested in becoming serious students or professional blackjack players will learn that further advancement in learning advantage play methods (eg card counting) is pointless without a solidly grasped knowledge of basic strategy. Memorization of specific basic strategy play is not difficult, especially for those who are interested in increasing their expectation at the blackjack table. As a new player in the process of learning these systems, basic strategy charts (specific for specific games and rule-sets) are available in countless books and on the internet; these are also available at most casino gift shops and or player’s clubs in Vegas. Using these at a live Vegas blackjack table is perfectly acceptable and common and is encouraged for novice players. With minimal time and effort at using and memorizing these basic strategy hand decision play charts, proper play will become second nature. Remember that there are some variations in given basic strategy play depending on the number of decks in play and the specific rules in force at a given table. There’s also a “generic” basic strategy chart that is utilized to cover all games and rules; this version is not as accurate as specific charts for specific games and conditions but is far superior to those proverbial “gut” play decisions. Keep in mind that use of perfect basic strategy play will not put players in a position to have an advantage over the house; the casinos will still have an edge over players in virtually all games except a few 3:2 payoff single deck games (which are beyond scarce in Vegas these days).

What are the blackjack rule sets / table conditions that enhance player expectation? I routinely play 6-deck (6D) shoe games that don’t utilize continuous shuffle machines (CSM’s) with $5 – $25 dollar minimum bet conditions. Keep in mind that games with higher minimums ( $25 and up) MIGHT have comparatively better rule sets for players than lower minimum tables; players should scope the better games out at all denomination minimums. The minimum rule sets / conditions (ultimately rendering a house edge between.25 and.42% off the top in 6D games and involving accurate basic strategy play) that I seek out in Vegas include..

Base games = 6D shoe games, $5 – $25 minimums, 1 – 12 bet spread variation (x minimums), 75% penetration, no CSM’s; 2D pitch games, $5 – $25 minimums, 1 – 6 bet spread, 60 – 65 % penetration.

Rules Lowering House Advantage / Increasing Player Expectation (EV) :

– Insist on 3 : 2 payoffs on naturals (blackjacks); adds + 2.5% EV; players cripple their blackjack expectation off the bat if they play tables with either 6 : 5 (there are tons of these in Vegas now, particularly 1D games) or even money payouts on naturals. One of the single biggest errors unknowing, average players make is electing to play these games if they’re concerned about value.

– DAS ( doubling bets allowed after pair splits ); adds + 0.14% to player expectation. There are plenty of games offering this rule in Las Vegas.

– S17 (dealer stands on all soft seventeen hands, eg A, 6 etc.); adds + 0.20% EV vs H17 games (dealer hits all soft seventeens); there are a few Vegas casinos who offer this rule, though most games are H17.

– LS (late surrender offered; allows player to surrender hand and half their original bet with certain 2-card totals against specific dealer upcards AFTER dealer checks for blackjack ); adds + 0.075 % EV. There are a very limited number of games in Vegas that offer this rule, but they’re locatable. Often this particular rule is not posted at tables so ask when you approach for play.

I don’t play 6D blackjack games in Las Vegas unless it offers all the above rules unless there is a specific set of other rules or promotions that drives the house edge down. Obviously, the above games are few and far between and you may consider this an anal approach…I just adhere to this axiom ( you don’t have to ). I agree that blackjack should be an enjoyable, “fun” experience; it’s simply neither of those for me if the house advantage off the top is insurmountable over time. I have found the above 6D rules / games with some consistency at the following Vegas casinos ( keep in mind that you may have to play $15 – $25 dollar minimums to collectively locate the above rules at a given table; additionally some of the properties may require these minimum bet levels for players to even get rated for table game comps, which can potentially add significant real dollar value to player expectation / EV) :

– MANDALAY BAY (Strip)

– MGM GRAND (Strip)

– MONTE CARLO (Strip)

– TREASURE ISLAND (Strip)

– TROPICANA (Strip)

– RED ROCK (Off-strip)

Notice there are no Harrah’s properties on the above list. Be aware that there are changes to blackjack game rules with some regularity which requires players to seek out current info just prior to a trip and then scout and confirm derived information upon arrival. Excellent sources (modest subscription fee required) for blackjack game conditions in Vegas (and elsewhere) is Current Blackjack News (CBJN) or Trackjack. Be advised that the above 6D games are typically easier to find and play during the day on weekdays than on more crowded weekends. When conditions are more crowded for any reason, the better games are more difficult to find and obviously more difficult to find a seat at. Further, the casinos traditionally increase table minimum bet levels as demand increases and on evening shifts.

There are other additive rules ( in addition to and including S17,DAS, and LS rules) that some casinos offer that reduces their advantage and increases EV;

-RSA (resplitting of aces after initial split ); adds + 0.06 % EV; variations are RSA3 (resplit only once to make three hands) and/or RSA4 (split twice to make 4 hands total). The designation UR refers to unlimited resplits.

-D3 (player allowed to double down on first three cards ); adds + 0.23% EV.

Casinos that have recently offered S17, DAS, RSA, and LS (all at $25 dollar minimums or less) and house edge of.26% include;

– MANDALAY BAY (Strip)

– MGM GRAND (Strip)

– MIRAGE (Strip)

– MONTE CARLO (Strip)

– RED ROCK (Off-strip)

– TREASURE ISLAND (Strip)

– WYNN (Strip)

Two “sister” off-strip casinos that offer H17, DAS, D3, LS, RSA3, and UR with initial house edges of.25% are;

-BIGHORN*

-LONGHORN*

* Note that the current rules at the above two locales involve H17 (dealer hits soft seventeen); the cumulative advantage gained by including RSA3, D3, and UR more than offsets the H17 disadvantage (vs S17) to arrive at a playable house edge with accurate basic strategy play. It should be noted that the above two off – strip casinos offer exceedingly minimal glitz and glamour (like..zero) but they do offer decent blackjack rules and very low minimums. I like them both even though I realize Bruce Willis or Britney Spears won’t be there.

Other rules that can enhance player expectation but are seldom (if ever) found in Vegas casinos are;

– DSA (doubling after ace splits); adds + 0.10% EV

– 21S (suited blackjack pays 2:1 ); adds + 0.56% EV

– BJ2:1 (all naturals pay 2:1 ); adds + 2.28% EV

– 6 (player’s unbusted 6-card hand; automatic winner even against dealer blackjack); adds + 0.10%

– ES (early surrender allowed; allows player to surrender hand and half of original bet BEFORE dealer checks for their potential blackjack ); adds +0.63% EV; this rule hasn’t been offered for several years, beyond rare.

As mentioned earlier, more decks in play results in increased house advantage over players. Single – deck (1D) games in Vegas with reasonable rules and 3 : 2 payoffs are extremely rare these days and essentially nonexistent on the strip. In times past, a player could play even or have a slight edge over the house in 1D games with 3:2 payoffs, reasonable rules, and application of basic strategy. In Las Vegas presently, most 1D games offer 6 :5 payouts on naturals; you might as well ride up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and toss cash off the observation deck. My most current info indicates there are 4 downtown (on Fremont street) casinos that offer single deck games with 3 : 2 payoffs;

– EL CORTEZ

– BINION’S

– FOUR QUEENS

– WESTERN

The 1D games at the above downtown locations are all H17 but due to use of single decks ( though they usually only deal out about a half deck before reshuffling) the house edge for all these games is 0.18% and thus playable for a basic strategy player. As a sidenote, if any players employ any type of advantage play techniques (eg card counting, etc.) the pit and eye-in-the-sky surveillance crews may ask them to leave at these games (or any game, anywhere if they’re not adept at camouflage / disguising play). Just be aware. The El Cortez has been referred to as The Sweaty Spaniard for years and there’s a reason why.

There are some playable two-deck (2D) games in Vegas; simply playing a 2D game vs 6D adds.25% EV off the top. Theoretically a player can sacrifice some other rules as a tradeoff to arrive at a reasonable / playable house advantage range. A 2D game with base rules of S17 and DAS only provides a house edge of.19%; two strip locales where these games have been offered recently are;

-MIRAGE*

-LUXOR*

*both have $25 minimums

Recently the following off-strip casinos offer 2D, H17,DAS, and RSA games for $2 -$10 minimums and a house edge of.35%;

– ARIZONA CHARLIE’S BOULDER

– STATION CASINOS (BOULDER,TEXAS, SANTA FE, PALACE, AND SUNSET STATIONS)

– GREEN VALLEY RANCH

– RED ROCK

– SILVER NUGGET

– WILD, WILD WEST

Player expectation from blackjack play can be enhanced by taking advantage of short-term promotional games / buy-in incentives, blackjack matchplay or free ace coupon plays, and by employing comp accrual tactics. Info regarding blackjack promotions may be found in casino newsletters / mailers for players club members or on Las Vegas gambling info websites. Some occasional short-term blackjack promotions include 2:1 payoffs for naturals, payoffs on tied blackjacks (vs dealers; normally a push), increased payoffs for suited blackjacks (usually 2 :1 or 3 : 1 payoffs) or specific card combinations for player 21’s (eg 7-7-7 or 6-7-8). Blackjack matchplay coupons (usually 5,10,or 25$ denominations) are historically worthwhile to low-midlevel gamblers and usually valued at approximately 50% of face value for basic strategy players. Free ace coupons are also a valuable coupon to collect and use; player’s club ‘funbooks’ are available at many casinos and can reduce expenses (and thus add to EV ) if players put these to use. These coupon and funbook sources can significantly enhance EV particularly for low- moderate level gamblers. Contact me for some info regarding coupon / funbook sources if interested. Additionally, accruing comps at blackjack can at times mean the difference between winning vs losing sessions or trips depending on bankroll and wager levels. Signing up for player’s clubs and casino e-mail website subscriptions is a must for being able to obtain awarded comps. Specific tactics to employ at the tables include enhanced initial buy-ins (buying in for more than you intend to lose or gamble with), increased wagers when pit crews or floor people are watching / recording your gambling levels during actual play, and any number of methods that slow down the speed of the game and thus the number of hands / wagers per hour. Additionally, it’s suggested that players develop a relationship with a specific table host at specific casinos where they choose to play; often it’s good to select a host of the opposite gender in my opinion. At some casinos (usually not at Harrah’s properties), floor reps and pit bosses can award meal comps for table play. Developing a friendly, “ask-for” relationship with blackjack pit personnel and previously mentioned hosts can go a long way toward enhancing real-dollar value of player expectation when playing. Some of these casino staff members are people, too.

Any discussion of blackjack should at least address bankroll management elements. Play with money that won’t affect your daily life if you lose it. Staying too long at any table to recoup losses is both common and foolhardy. I seldom stay at a given table beyond 1 hour for several reasons; this time is extended only when experiencing a particularly good winning session or other important factors. There is a plethora of info regarding what’s known as Risk of Ruin (ROR) charts which outline betting ramps and bet levels with a defined starting bankroll. Some of these aspects are quite detailed and are usually restricted to use by serious, professional players. If players are interested in becoming a serious student of the game, there’s a massive amount of pertinent info on the web and within the pages of many books. Avail yourself of this info and over time you will be able to discern the credible info sources (there’s some misleading and inaccurate info out there, of course). For those interested, contact me and I’ll provide a decent info starter list.

The present economic downturn Las Vegas is enduring has resulted in a general trend of lower table minimums to a noticeable degree in several casinos. We could speculate that, in order to attract more patronage, the gaming entities might offer more short-term promotional games with player – favorable rule sets in addition to these observed lower table minimums. We’ll see.

Cheers..

Charles Higgins

Blackjack Rules: Learn a Simple Basic Strategy Before You Play – Here’s How

Blackjack rules are important to understand when playing this casino table game. If played properly by using a simple Basic Strategy, the house advantage is very low, at about 0.5%.

The game is played on a table containing multiple decks of cards. (Usually six or eight). The cards are dealt from a device called a shoe or a CSM (continuous shuffle machine) by the house dealer in the casino.

The objective is for a player to have a completed hand totaling 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. Any player’s or dealer’s hand with a sum over 21 is a bust and therefore loses.

The card values are:

2 through 9 – count as their face value

10 through King – count as a ten value

Aces – count as eleven or one

How to Play

Playing is simple. After you placing an initial wager, two cards are dealt face up to each player. The dealer also takes two cards, one face up and one down, known as a hole card.

Based on the strength of the player’s hand and the value of the dealer’s up card, the player must make one of five options:

Stand – If the player has a strong hand such as a 10, 8 totaling 18, s/he would stand by taking no additional cards.

Hit – If the player has a weak hand such as 8, 5 totaling 13, s/he may hit by requesting additional card(s).

Split – If the two cards are of equal value such as an 8, 8 the player can split by playing two hands for an additional wager.

Double Down – Player may elect to double down by requesting only one card after doubling his/her wager. One example would be a 7, 4 totaling 11. The player would hope to receive any 10-value card to make a total of 21.

Surrender – (Where permitted.) When a player has a very weak hand against a dealer’s strong hand, he/she may surrender the hand for ½ of the wager. One example would be a player with 15 and a dealer showing a 10 or ace up.

Per standard rules, a dealer must draw to a hand total up to 16 and stand (no draw) on a total of 17 or higher.

Note that the 17 rule varies between casinos. Some jurisdictions permit a dealer draw to a soft 17, (Ace + 6) others require a stand on all 17’s. Drawing a card with a soft 17 always aids the casino. Standing on all 17’s aids the player(s).

All winning hands, except for Blackjack, pay even money. A Blackjack is a two-card hand containing an Ace and any ten-value card. That payout is 3 to 2. Some casinos have reduced the BJ payout to 6 to 5. Stay away from the 6/5 games if possible. Here’s why:

Players receive an average of about four Blackjacks per hour. With a 3/2 payout at a $10 minimum table, the total win is $60, whereas a 6/5 payout would only net you $48. That’s a $12 loss per hour at a 6/5 table!

Simple Basic Strategy

Prior to playing, it is important to learn basic strategy. It is easy to comprehend and with a little practice your money can last longer at the table. Basic strategy cards are available in most casino gift shops. You can also find them on-line. Most casinos do not object to any player using the cards for reference while playing. Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.

The strategy is a blueprint for players that can greatly reduce the house edge to the aforementioned. It is easy to learn, though it does require some practice.

As previously mentioned, correct strategy is always based on the strength of the player’s two card hand against the value of the dealer’s up card. When applying this method, the player always assumes that the dealer has a ten- value card in the hole. Hence, the following strategy should be used whenever playing: Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.

Prior to Playing

Rules do vary between casinos so players should first scout the tables to look for liberal rules. In many jurisdictions the rules are posted at the table. If you do not see them, ask. Here is what to look for:

Split any pair

Double down on any two cards

Re-splitting allowed

Double after split allowed

Dealer stands on all 17’s

Surrender permitted

Here is the Simple Basic Strategy:

Player Hard Hands, (no Ace) if You Have:

8 or less, always hit.

9, double if dealer has 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

10, double if dealer has 2 through 9, otherwise hit.

11, Double against dealer 2 through 10, hit against Ace.

12, hit against 2 or 3, stand against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.

13 through 16, stand against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.

17 through 21, always stand.

Player Soft Hands, (one Ace) if You Have:

Ace 2 or 3, double against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 4 or 5, double against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 6, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 7, stand against 2, 7 or 8, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.

Ace 8 or 9, always stand.

Player Pairs, if You Have:

Aces or eights, always split.

Twos or threes, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.

Fours, split against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.

Fives, double against 2 through 9, otherwise hit.

Sixes, split against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.

Sevens, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.

Nines, split against 2 through 6 and 8 or 9. Stand against 7, 10 or Ace.

Tens, always stand.

Blackjack side bets are also available at almost every table. Although tempting, the house edge increases a great deal when these options are selected, some into double digits. Always keep in mind that your bankroll is at a greater risk of a quicker depletion when making these inviting side bets.

Remember that no matter which game you choose, the house always has the edge over the long term. The benefit of applying proper strategy is to increase your chances for short term gain.

Good Luck!