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Best of John Marchel

Gaming Guru

 

Choosing a Casino

13 August 2005

Many players think that one casino is the same as another when it comes to playing blackjack. This is not so.

Generally speaking, there is some type of local government that regulates them all, however, in most cases the casino itself will set its own specific rules for the game. This is true for Nevada casinos, riverboats and even for Native American casinos located throughout the country. A good example is in Las Vegas. Many casinos on the strip require dealers to stand on all 17s, which includes a soft 17, or the ace-6. On the other hand, most downtown casinos require their dealers to hit the soft 17. Staying on all 17s is a favorable rule while the latter is an unfavorable one.

Many casinos will even have multiple rules depending on how many decks are used at each table. Their six-deck game might have a rule allowing doubling on any two cards while their two-deck game will only allow doubling 9, 10 and 11, and the single-deck might offer doubling on 10 and 11 only.

It's important to know what rules are offered in the casino you are going to play at before putting your money on the line. Listed below are the rules that favor the blackjack player and those that are unfavorable ones. Your objective should be to play only in those casinos that offer the best rules for the player. In fact, you can reduce the house edge to almost zero and maybe get a slight edge in a casino that has a lot of favorable rules. So, just don't play because they offer a game. Be choosey.

Favorable for the player

  • Dealer stands on all 17's
  • Early or late surrender
  • Double down on any two cards
  • Double down on 2 or more cards
  • Double down after split
  • Resplitting of aces
  • Insurance (when counting cards only)
  • Observer betting
  • Single deck
  • Deck penetration 65% to 75%

Unfavorable for the player

  • Double down on 11 only
  • Double down on 10 and 11 only
  • Two or more decks
  • Dealer hits a soft 17
  • No dealer hole card (British style)
  • No doubling down after split
  • No resplitting of aces
  • Continuous shuffling machines
  • Deck penetration less then 60%

Even though the continuous shuffling machine is not considered a "house rule," I listed it here as an unfavorable one for the player. I am not talking about the regular shuffle machines that have been around for years; these new continuous shuffling machines operate differently. What happens is after a round has been played the cards are scooped up and placed back into the machine and reintroduced into the un-played decks. This action of putting the cards back in play reduces the likelihood of a streak developing. It also prevents any chance of counting the cards. I recommend avoiding casinos and tables that use these machines.

Be aware that it is not uncommon for casinos to frequently change the game rules. When new owners take over or a new casino manager is hired, they will change the rules overnight so that the good game you had last month at casino x might have different conditions the next time you visit it. One tool to help you know what rules might be in affect at your favorite casino is the Internet. There are sites that report specific blackjack conditions of casinos all across the country; check them out before your next trip. In addition, when first entering a casino, look closely at the table placards; it will have some of the rules posted on it. Don't just look at one table; look all around the casino, especially if they have tables with different numbers of decks in play.

When it comes time to choose a casino you need to know what specific rules are offered. That is important to the blackjack player. Pay close attention to them. They can and will affect your overall win-rate.

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:

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

> 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