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Good Blackjack, Bad Blackjack10 August 2006
It's no secret that the modern-day corporately owned casinos must always show a greater profit in each succeeding year or the executives get canned. In fact, the primary job of today's casino executive is to get another job that is either higher up in the same corporation or to move on to another corporation that thinks he or she can do a better job than the person who just moved on to a different corporation from their corporation.
Now, that isn't as obscure as it reads. The bottom line is that the bottom line is always more and more and more.
And now the customer is paying even more for his casino fun at games that are nowhere as good as they used to be. Take blackjack as an example.
From the earliest days of the casino world, blackjack has been played with payoffs of 3 to 2 on a natural 21 (first two cards). With doubling on any first two cards; with splits and resplits; a player who knew basic strategy could face an even game in some single-deck games to about a one-half percent edge in 6- or 8-deck games.
From the 1960s to the late 1990s, blackjack was supreme among casino table games because it gave the player a darn good chance of coming home with some money tonight. However, as the 21st century turned, the game of blackjack started to be tinkered with by casino executives looking for new jobs.
The first real change was the hitting on soft 17 rules for the dealers. In most casinos, prior to the year 2000, the dealer stood on all 17s - even a soft 17 composed of ace-6. That was changed in Vegas and then elsewhere in the country. Today, the majority of games in the country see the dealer hitting a soft 17 - giving the casino an extra two-tenths of one percent edge.
The casinos were also experimenting with automatic shufflers - the first just shuffled the cards and sped up the game but did not change the game. The second type of machines, called "continuous automatic shufflers" increased the number of hands by about 20 percent. That increased, obviously, the players' losses for every given hour of play. Still, the rules of the game remained more or less the same as they had always been.
Then came the creation of the hideous mutant! A new single-deck blackjack game debuted in Las Vegas at Bally's and Paris - where the dealer hit soft 17, where doubling was restricted and where the house only paid 6 to 5 on a natural 21. The house edge on this new and abominable game was about 1.5 percent. That was a minimum of three times higher than the shoe games and anywhere from four to 10 times higher than double-deck and single-deck games that existed before.
Obviously, players losing three to 10 times as much money at blackjack will make more money for the casinos - at least that's the thought. In practice, blackjack play in total numbers of players, has gone down - although profits seem to be rising. Fewer blackjack players and more profit mean - yes, the executives are getting promoted.
But what does this really mean for the recreational gambler? With losses mounting steadily and more swiftly than ever before, we might just see the game of blackjack die. Short term profit; long term demise. Fewer players will ultimately mean less money - no matter how the executives tinker with the game.
So in the interests of saving blackjack and saving those of us who love traditional blackjack from horrendous long-term losses, I am now going to give you the Scoblete-Seven-Point-Plan for Blackjack's Resurrection.
Obeying my seven-point plan should save you a lot of money and it might, just might, send a very strong message to the new group of casino executives flooding out of MBA and hotel schools. That message is simple: Don't screw around with our beloved game!
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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