Archive for the '21' Category

Basic Strategy Lesson 1 Friday, April 25th, 2008

Alright I thought I would start my Basic Strategy lessons with the basic strategy that I am using when I play online. I currently play at and I am playing the Vegas Strip Blackjack Game. has a few variants of Blackjack available including Perfect Pairs, European Rules, and a Progressive Blackjack game. I decided to play the Vegas Strip Blackjack as it has similar rules to what I might find in Las Vegas.

Vegas Strip Blackjack has the dealer standing on all 17’s, doubling is allowed on all values and after splits, there is no surrender option and the dealer does peak to check for Blackjack. Now that we know the rules for the game we can select the right Blackjack Basic Strategy and being play.

Basic Strategy for Vegas Strip Blackjack.

8 decks, S17, DAS, No Surrender, Peek
Estimated casino edge for these rules: 0.47 %
Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
7 H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
17 S S S S S S S S S S
A,2 H H H D D H H H H H
A,3 H H H D D H H H H H
A,4 H H D D D H H H H H
A,5 H H D D D H H H H H
A,6 H D D D D H H H H H
A,8 S S S S S S S S S S
A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
2,2 P P P P P P H H H H
3,3 P P P P P P H H H H
4,4 H H H P P H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
6,6 P P P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
Dlr 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
H = Hit S = Stand P = Split
D = Double (hit if not allowed)
DS = Double (stand if not allowed)

Update to Card Counting Post Friday, April 18th, 2008

It seems that card counting online doesn’t work as the deck is essentially shuffled after each deal. This means that all the cards are in play for every hand making card counting useless. In land based casino’s this would be equivalent to playing at a table that uses a constant shuffle machine. I think I’ll do a post on these neat little machines in the near future.

Unfortunately this also means that you cannot use an online casino as a training ground to practice your counting skills. There are however computer programs that people have written specifically for people to use to practice their counting skills with.

Card Counting Continued Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Some card counting system can be very complicated, even the easy system I wrote about in my last post is difficult to use when you are starting out.
I found a really simple system created by the wizard of odds. This system is call the Wizard Ace/Five and it is a great system for those that wish to start out in card counting.

Wizard Ace/Five

The Wizard Ace/Five system was developed by the Wizard of odds ( to minimize the chance of being identified as a card counter by the casino and to maximize casino comps.

The Wizard Ace/Five start like any other card counting system with the introduction of a new deck or shoe. The Wizard Ace/Five system is most effective when used at a table that has six decks, dealer stands on soft 17.

Unlike the Hi-Low system where every card was assigned a value the Wizard Ace/Five system assigns a value to only the 5 and Ace cards. The 5 cards have a value of +1 and the Ace’s have a value of -1.

Just like the Hi-Low system you will be adding or subtracting 1 to your running count. When you see a 5 played add +1 to your running count and if an Ace is played then subtract (-1) from your count. If your running count is zero or less you will wager one unit, if the count is positive you will wager 2 times your unit size times the running count. This means that if $2 is your wagering unit and the count is +2 you would wager 2 x $2 x 2 = $8.
All your game decisions should be made using basic strategy.

As you can see both the Hi-Low system and the Wizard Ace/Five system are very easy to use in theory. However using them in practice might be a little more difficult. I would imagine that trying to use these systems in a noisy casino with employees that are trained to spot card counters must be very difficult.

Basic Strategy Primer Monday, April 7th, 2008

Blackjack Basic Strategy has been tested both in the real world and in the theoretical world and it has been proven time and time again to be an effective strategy to lower the casino’s edge over the player. With this in mind I would like to present a basic primer on Blackjack Basic Strategy, how to use it and how it will affect your game.

The Goal of any strategy is to improve your odds of winning. Basic Strategy does this by providing a set of rules that you as the player will follow. These rules will dictate your play, when you should hit, stand, split, double etc. When you follow these rules exactly and play what is known as perfect strategy you can reduce the casino’s (or house) edge down to about one half of a percent, that is 0.5%!

Unfortunately there is not just one Basic Strategy that will cover all variants of Blackjack, there is one Basic Strategy that has been developed for each different variant of Blackjack. This means that you will need to play the same variant of Blackjack every time you goto the casino or you will need to learn a number of strategies that will cover the types of blackjack that you might play. Luckily casino’s don’t mind the use of Basic Strategy trainer cards at the tables as long as you do not rely solely on the card for each and every hand.

Here is an example of Basic Strategy explained in detail. Future Basic Strategy post will contain a Basic Strategy Trainer Card or Chart.

Soft Hands: Soft hands are hands that contain an Ace.

If your starting hand is:
Ace, 2 or Ace, 3 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 5 or 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 4, or Ace, 5 - If the dealer’s hand shows 4 - 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 6 - If the dealer’s hand shows 3 - 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 7 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2, 7, or 8 Double 3 -6 otherwise hit.
Ace, 8 or Ace, 9 - Always Stand.

Hard Hands: Hard hands are hand that do not contain an Ace.

If your starting hand is:
8 or less - Always hit.
9 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 3 - 6 Double, otherwise hit.
10 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 9 Double, otherwise hit.
11 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 10 Double, otherwise hi if the dealer shows an Ace.
13 - 16 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 6 Stand, otherwise hit.
17 - 21 - Always stand.


If you starting hand is:
Aces or 8s - Always Split
2 or 3s- If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 7 Split, otherwise hit.
4s - If the dealer’s hand shows a 5 or 6 Split, otherwise hit.
5s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 9 Double, otherwise hit.
6s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 6 Split, otherwise hit.
7s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 7 Split, otherwise hit.
9s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 6, 8 or 9 Split, if the dealer shows a 7, 10 or Ace Stand.
10s - Always Stand.

Soft Hands Friday, April 4th, 2008

In Blackjack there are two types of hands, Soft Hands and Hard Hands. Hard hands are very straight forward the value of the hand is the value of the cards in that hand. A hand that contains a 10 and a 8 is an 18. A soft hand is a hand that contains an Ace. If you remember from earlier I mentioned that an Ace can have a value of One (1) or Eleven (11) what this means is that a hand that contains an Ace and a 8 could be valued at 19 (11+8) or 9 (1+8). Now it might seem obvious in this example that you would want to value the Ace as 11 and have a hand of 19, which would be the correct thing to do. However lets assume you had
an Ace, 7 which is pretty good hand at 18, however according to Basic Strategy if the dealers up card is a 9, 10 or Ace you will need to hit. In this case any card higher than a 3 would bust your hand if it was a hard 18, the Ace in the soft 18 however would convert to a value of one and the hand would not bust.
For an Example lets say the card the hand recieved was a 5. Our hand of 18 if the Ace was valued at 11 would bust as adding 5 to 18 = 23. Since the hand would bust with the Ace valued at 11, the ace will be valued at 1 which means out new hand total is 13 (1+7+5).

It is almost like the soft hand is giving the player a second chance if the hit delivers a less than ideal card.

Still need to see 21 Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Well the weather this weekend was decidedly unwinter like which is great because it isn’t winter anymore. Anyways I couldn’t bring myself to sit in a movie theater in such nice weather so I passed on seeing 21 on the opening weekend. It looks like they didn’t need my help to have a bang up opening weekend.
It would seem that the studio’s gamble on 21 was worth the risk and they certainly were dealt a Blackjack with this one. 21 grossed $24,105,943 on it’s opening weekend.

In case you haven’t heard about 21 yet here’s the trailer. (I tried to get it to embed but it would work so here’s a link)

21 Friday, March 28th, 2008

Tonight is the opening night of the much anticipated (at least by me) of the blackjack movie 21.

In case you do not know what 21 is about it is about a group of students from MIT lead by a Professor who form a card counting team and travel to Las Vegas on weekends. The MIT 6 as they have become known as use team work and card counting skills to win millions of dollars from Vegas Casinos. Eventually greed starts to take over and cracks begin to form in the team resulting in team members being caught and all of them being banned for life from most casinos.

I don’t feel too bad giving away the plot and ending as the movie is based on a real team of students from MIT. The MIT 6 exploits are (in)famous and there has been numerous books written about/by them.

The is certainly a must see, the trailers look excellent and Kevin Spacey as Prof. Rosa is a great choice! I’ll do a review once I see the movie (hopefully this weekend).

Welcome to Blackjack for Dummies Friday, March 7th, 2008

Welcome to my Blackjack Blog. I know there are a large number of Blackjack related blogs to read. Blogs that offer strategies, others that offer tips and some that give hand by hand details of their latest game or tournament. I hope to offer something a little different. You see I’ve never actually played Blackjack other than at a friends house to kill some time.

I’ve always been interested in Blackjack but I’ve never taken the time to learn about the game other than the basic rules and I’ve never taken the plunge and actually played Blackjack at a casino whether it be a land based casino or an Online casino. Since I live in an area where there are no local casino’s I’ll be playing mostly online Blackjack. I’m hoping to get to Vegas soon and I am really interested in playing some Blackjack in Vegas.

Since I know very little about Blackjack I’ll be recording my thoughts and experiences as I play and learn about this game. Of course I’ve heard stories about the MIT team that went to Vegas and won millions of dollars by counting cards. Now I’m no math genius and I don’t think I could keep track of that many cards to win anything. There is no way I could tell you how many Aces, Kings and Queens had been played after about 15 cards so I think I will avoid card counting.

So It’s off to my online casino of choice (which is for my first real game of Blackjack.

Wish me Luck