Archive for the 'Twenty One' Category

Card Counting Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Did you know that card counting has nothing to do with counting the number of cards played and memorizing those cards? I didn’t!

I honestly thought that a card counter tracked the number and types of cards played by memorizing the number of each card played. In my world a card counter literally new that 3 tens, 1 queen, 3 5s etc had already been played, but in reality card counting has nothing to do with memorizing which cards have been played.

I’m sorry to tell any card counters out there that I am just a little less impressed with your skills than I was only yesterday. Yesterday you were Blackjack Idols with the memories that were closer to computers than anything else. Today you are just Blackjack Idols with impressive skills… sorry :)

In case there is anyone like me that has no idea what card counting is I’ll explain it like I did with Basic Strategy.

There are a number of different card counting strategies available but I’ve only looked at two of them, the Hi-Low system and the Wizard Ace/Five system.

The Hi-Low system is the most basic of the card counting systems. Each card is assigned either a +1, -1 or 0 value to it. As each card is dealt you will either add (+1), subtract (-1), or do nothing to a running count in your head and adjust your wagers based on this count.

The cards valued 2 through 6 as assigned a value of +1.
Ten valued cards (including Faces and Aces) are assigned a value of -1.
The cards 7, 8, and 9 are assigned a value of 0.

Using this distribution when a full deck has been dealt your running count should be zero as there are an equal number of +1 valued cards and -1 valued cards.

So to use this system you would wait until a new deck(s) is introduced at the table and add the appropriate value to your count (which starts at zero) as each card is dealt.
As an example I just started a hand and the cards dealt to me were 5 and 2 and the dealer has an Ace as their face up card. The count would look like this +1 for the five, +1 for the two and -1 for the Ace so my current running count is +1 (1+1-1=1). I take another card and I am dealt a 4 which changes the count to +2. Again I take another card which is a King, which bring my count back to +1. Since the King gives me 21 it is the deals turn and I get to see what cards the dealer has and will get. Their hole card was a 4 and they drew a 9 and 10. So with these cards there is no change in my running count because the 4 is worth +1, The 9 is worth 0 and the 10 is worth -1 (1+0-1=0). This means after the first hand my running count is at +1 which means that there are a more 10 valued cards in the deck and I should increase my wager as I am now more likely to be dealt a Blackjack than I was on the last hand.

Here is how my second hand worked out.
Player: 4, 2, Q, (+1)
Dealer: 5, 6, 3, 6 (+4)
New running count total: (+6)

Well thats all for my first post on Card Counting. In my next post I will discuss a simple card counting system called the Wizard Ace/Five.

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.

A detailed look at play in Blackjack Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

When you step up to a blackjack table you will notice that the table has a half circle shape with the dealer standing in the middle of the table on the flat side. The players will be positioned around the curved edge of the table facing the dealer. Most Blackjack tables can accommodate 7 players. A hand of Blackjack begins with each player placing their wager for the next hand on the table in the designated spot in front of them. Once all the wagers have been placed the dealer will begin dealing out the cards starting with the player to the dealer’s immediate left and working around the table and ending with themselves.
After everyone has received one card the dealer will deal the second card to everyone at the table. The dealer will deal the first card face up including their first card. The second card will also be deal face up except for the dealer’s second card which will be dealt face down, this card is called the hole card. Once the deal has been completed the dealer will return to the player on their left and ask if they would like to hit (take a card), stand (take no card). There are other options like doubling, splitting, insurance and surrender that will be covered in another post. The player will indicate to the dealer what they would like to do.
If a player hits the dealer will deal another card face up, if the hand total has not exceeded 21 the player can take another card and continue to do so until they bust.
At any time the player can stand which means they do not want another card and the dealer will move to the next player and this will continue until all player hands have been played.
Once the player portion of the hand is completed the dealer will reveal their hole card and will hit until the hand is equal or greater than 17. Generally the dealer will stand on all 17s but at some tables the dealer may hit on a soft 17. A soft 17 is a hand that contains an Ace. The table will have the rules written on it so you will know if the dealer stands on all 17s or if they hit soft 17s.
When the dealer phase of the hand is over the dealer will collect money from busted hands, losing hands, Payoff hands that have one and return the wager of tied hand. This last action is called a ‘Push’.
The hand is completed with the dealer collecting the played cards and discarding them in the card disposal slot. At this point the next hand begins and the sequence starts over again.

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).

Weekend Blackjack Results Monday, March 10th, 2008

Well I need to find a Blackjack strategy or something to help me play. I started playing on Saturday and quickly lost my bankroll. Loss after loss after loss.

I think I made every bad decision that could have been made while playing Blackjack. I held when I should have hit, and hit when I should have held. It seems that the only time I won was when I was dealt a Blackjack.

I had planned on playing Blackjack all weekend but my first game was such a horrid experience that I spent the reset of the weekend looking up blackjack strategies that could help me improve my game. I found two strategies that seem like they might hold the answer to my poor Blackjack skills. These blackjack strategies are Basic Blackjack Strategy and Card Counting. Everything I read said that I should start with Basic Strategy as some card counting strategies rely on Basic Strategy.

I’ll be writing about Basic Strategy shortly and how it affects my play.

First Blackjack Game Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Well I just finished my first game of Blackjack and man was it a lot of fun!
I think I did pretty well. I played with $1 wagers and went on a streak right from the start until I was up about $20 and then I bounced around for a while until I left being up $3. I was able to play for about 45 mins. I never went higher than $20 in winnings and spent most of my time bouncing around $15 until I slowly started to loose. I figured I would walk away from my first game with some winnings.

I won’t bore you with a play by play of the game but I think I did pretty well considering. I’ve figured out a few things as I was playing. It seems like a safe bet to assume that the dealers hole card is a ten. More often than not I stood on a 17, or 18 with the dealer showing a 8 or 9 assuming that they would need to hit and then bust. This rarely happened. In most cases the hole card was a 10 and they won the hand. When I started assuming that the dealer’s hole card was a 10 I didn’t lose as often. Sure I busted more but I think I won more of these hands than I did before.

Don’t take insurance. Insurance is a huge waste of money that I only won a few times. Clearly the casino knows it is a looser for the player or they wouldn’t offer it.

I’m going to be playing some more Blackjack this weekend and we’ll see what happens.

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