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Blackjack Is Good or Bad Depending on YOU!21 May 2004
Shakespeare had Hamlet say, "There's nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so." Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The dopey guy who lives across the road said, "Blackjack? It's all just dumb luck!"
For the dopey guy who lives across the road, his thinking has made blackjack a "bad" game and for him the long run will be "the worst of times." Because blackjack is a game where skill will determine just how much you win and lose over the course of your playing career and luck will take a back seat, how you think about the game will be the precursor of what actually happens to you when you play the game.
The majority of blackjack players, unfortunately, tend to play blackjack in such a way that they give the house rather large edges when, in fact, had they played correctly, the house would have very little edge, if any edge at all. Why do they do this, when information about proper blackjack play is readily available in books, tapes and courses? Because they "think" that the game is either based on luck or, they think, that their homespun strategy, concocted from superstition, faulty logic, narrow memory of results and bull-headedness will bring them to victory.
And they ignore the growing losses over the days, weeks, months and years of their play.
It doesn't have to be that way. Blackjack is the most studied, analyzed, and dissected of all the casino games. There are almost as many books on the subject as there are players. The correct basic strategy for the play of every player hand against every dealer upcard has long been established, proven by math and computer simulations running into the billions of hands, and, for the true aficionado, distinct basic strategies for single, double, four, six and eight deck games have also been developed.
If a player doesn't feel like memorizing the basic strategy for blackjack, he can just buy a "basic strategy card" (often sold in casino gift shops) and use it at the table like a cheat sheet - except it isn't cheating! By using correct basic strategy the casino edge is reduced markedly. While most blackjack players will play with a 1 to 3 percent house edge against them, the blackjack basic strategy player will play with a mere half percent (or less) edge against him.
But it is even possible for blackjack players to turn the tables on the casinos and actually secure for themselves slightly positive edges. These players, utilizing such methods as card counting and shuffle-tracking, are known as advantage players. Not many players have been able to turn the tables on the casinos and become advantage players (there are approximately 8 million blackjack players in the country and only 1,100 identified advantage players - that's 1 long term winner for every 8,000 long-term losers) because it does take effort to learn how to count cards and it takes incredible skill, talent and effort to learn how to master shuffle tracking. However, some players have had spectacular success against the casinos, such as the late Ken Uston, whose books about his million-dollar adventures have inspired two generations of blackjack players.
Why blackjack is such a good game has to do with the fact that when cards are played they can't be replayed until after the next shuffle. That means the odds for and against the player are always in a state of flux, depending on which cards have come out. Sometimes the odds favor the casino; sometimes they favor the player. For example, if all the aces come out, no one is going to get a blackjack on the next round. With knowledge of the remaining cards to be played, card counters are able to structure their betting to take advantage of the times during a game when the upcoming cards will favor them.
So what favors whom? If small cards (2-6) are predominant in the deck, the casino is favored. If large cards remain (10-A) the player is favored. A card counter keeps track of the relationship of these two groups of cards and when the time is right, he increases his bets to take advantage of player-favorable situations, which occur about 20 percent of the time, depending on the number of decks and rules of the game being played.
Over the years various card-counting systems have been developed, some more, some less powerful than others. While the theory of card counting is relatively easy to grasp, the actual performance of it in the casino is much harder to master. Here's a sample of how the card counter goes about his business:
As the dealer deals the round, the player adds all the small cards and subtracts all the high cards. At the end of the round he either has a plus-count, a minus-count or a neutral count. If he has a plus count he must then divide the number decks remaining to be played into that count (known as the "running count") to establish a true count. Each point in the true count is the equivalent of a half-percent. If we assume a game where the casino has a half percent edge off the top, then a true count of +1 would mean the game is even; a true count of +2 would mean the player has a half percent edge; a true count of + 3 would mean the player has a 1 percent edge.
The player would increase his bet based on his edge. Most expert players with a 1 percent edge would bet one half to 1 percent of their bankroll. Betting in this way is called "Kelly betting."
Until recently, there were no easy systems at blackjack that actually could get the player a verifiable, mathematical edge. However, Dan Pronovost, a blackjack software developer, and Henry Tamburin, a blackjack expert and best-selling author, worked for three years on a new way of assessing the game and came up with a unique way of getting the edge - a way that is far simpler to learn and much easier to use than traditional card counting techniques in the casinos.
They called this method "Speed Count." When Henry and Dan realized what they had achieved - the easiest advantage-play method ever devised - they decided not to publish this simple yet powerful technique in a book, but rather to set up a series of classes where the "Speed Count" would be taught. With the help of Frank Scoblete and Dom "Dominator" LoRiggio, a complete course, including a new basic strategy that increased the edge of a "Speed Counter," was developed called Golden Touch Blackjack.
The fact of the matter is that blackjack players merely have to think about what they want to achieve at the tables, then learn the proper methods, for the game to be a "good" for them. If they want to cut the house edge, they will learn basic strategy; if they want to get the edge for themselves, they can learn how to count from books (which is quite do-able) or take the Golden Touch Blackjack course for two days and graduate from that with an edge.
It can be "the best of times" for the blackjack player if he wants it to be. He isn't stuck just relying on "dumb luck" as the guy across the road is.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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