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Best of John Marchel

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Blackjack in the 21st century

3 January 2015

As the 21st century develops, it appears to be an amazing and exciting time to be alive. The advances in medicine, communications, education and job opportunities, just to name a few areas, are turning out to be an incredible junction in time for almost any individual.

It can also be the best time to be a blackjack player.

There are experts who might disagree, saying the best time was during the heyday of the riverboats and New Orleans in the mid-1800s when blackjack was called Vingt-et-un. There are some players who claim when “blackjack,” with the introduction of the 3-to-2 bonus, was added to the game in the early 1920s, that was the best time. There are articles and even books that say the 1960s and 70s, when card counting was first introduced, was the greatest time of all for the game. Then there are others who point to the 1980s and 1990s, when team playing was at its peak and chips were virtually given to players who were organized.

With all that said and done, just look at the choices available for today’s blackjack player. There are more places to play the game today than ever before. At the present time, there are about 150 countries around the world with casinos that offer blackjack. There are also 140 cruise ships floating on the high seas that offer the game.

In the U.S. today, there are 41 states with a little over 400 commercial casinos plus an additional 400 plus Native American ones that offer the game. There are dozens of “dockside” casinos on the Gulf Coast, day cruises on the east and west coast of Florida, and card rooms converting from poker to blackjack are springing up all over the Northwest. All that, plus more states, like Pennsylvania, are changing their laws to allow new casinos to open that will also offer blackjack. Don’t forget the old standbys like Las Vegas with over 100 casinos, and Reno, Lake Tahoe and, of course, Atlantic City. All this is part of the blackjack action that can be found in this new century of ours.

We should remember that blackjack still offers one of the best odds for the player of any table game in a casino. And most importantly, it is a game of skill as opposed to a game of chance like craps, roulette or slots. Playing Basic Strategy, which is the correct mathematical way to hit, stand, double down and split, will reduce the house advantage to less then one percent. No other game in the casino offers those good odds on a continuous basis.

Using a little bit of card counting, keeping track of the big cards verses the little ones, can move the odds to the players’ advantage instead of the house. Yes, we know casinos are very knowledgeable about card-counters and have gone to great measures to spot them and bar them from playing. Still, a conservative card counter, using some basic “acting” techniques, like not betting the table maximum all the time, or continuously changing the bet on every hand, can still earn a reasonable return for their time and money invested.

An important part of the game for a skilled or advantage blackjack player is not to get noticed. This can lead to being barred and being photographed which can result in not being allowed to play in any casino. Your picture could be distributed to casinos all around the country and maybe the world. It will identify you as a blackjack card counter and than you would not be allowed to play anywhere. You don’t want to be left with the knowledge that you could consistently beat the casino at blackjack but not be allowed to play.

This is what happened to the legendary MIT team in the '90s. They had a winning system, but drove it in the ground when they bet too high and stayed too long at the table, allowing the house to identify them as skilled counters and barring them from playing.

Still today, there are many players out there who are skilled at the game and have been playing that way all around the country and world for many years without being identified. When talking to these players, you’ll find they have a lot in common. For one thing, they only play for short periods of time in any one casino, and the majority of their bets are modest compared to the table limits. Playing for forty-five minutes to an hour is plenty of time to make a profit and still slip under the radar of pit bosses and the eye in the sky.

Another important factor to consider when it comes to winning at blackjack is not to expect a big lottery size payoff. The real object is to win some each and every time you play. One way to accomplish that is to adapt a technique from poker called “slow play.” In slow play, you don’t want the opposing player, casino management in this case, to know that you have the power. You bet modestly so as not to be detected, than move on quickly after getting the chips.

Knowing all the many places to play, playing the correct way and using some simple “acting” and betting techniques can still be very profitable for a skilled blackjack player. By following those strategies the 21st century player should be able to play blackjack in many places, for many years to come and do it successfully.


Bet You Didn’t Know

• The late Kerry Packer made his name through his family’s media empire, which owns 60 percent of all magazines in Australia. Packer was also known as a high-stakes gambler when he won $26 million playing blackjack at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

• As late as 1915 the card game “blackjack” was sometimes referred to as a variation of the game of hearts.

• At eight years old, Edward Thorp, author of “Beat the Dealer”, the blackjack book that changed the game, could name all the kings and queens of England from Egbert in 802 to Queen Victoria in 1837.

• In the summer of 2009, the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas began to offered bikini blackjack to their newly renovated pool area. Bikini-clad blackjack dealers will provide a unique gaming experience each Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.

• When it comes to the most popular gambling table game is Las Vegas; in 1931 the most popular game was roulette, followed by craps and number three was blackjack. By 1948, craps was the number one game with blackjack moving to number two. In 1958 blackjack became the number one table game in town.

• It was in May 1981 when the Nevada Palace in East Las Vegas, on Boulder Hwy, introduced the procedure of not checking the blackjack dealer's hold card with a 10 up. It was part of casino management's countermeasure against players who could read dealer “tells.”
Recent Articles
Best of John Marchel
John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

KISS Guide to Gambling

> More Books By John Marchel

John Marchel
John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine.

Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

John Marchel Websites:

johnmarchelgambling.com

Books by John Marchel:

101 Casino Gambling Tips: Affordable Strategies & Techniques for Maximizing Profits & Reducing Loses

> More Books By John Marchel