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Where's My "Charlie"?

1 May 2022

QUESTION: I had one of those hands that made me wish they really paid Charlies. The dealer had a 10 up. I had a 2 and a 4.

Next was a 3, then another 3. Four cards, and I only had 12. Then I drew another 2, then an Ace. So that's six cards and 15. The dealer still has that 10 up and I'm thinking, wow, I have to draw a seventh card.

I really struggled with that. There were so many low cards out already. But I bit the bullet and signaled a hit. Miracle of miracles, it was a 5. That gave me 20 and I'm thinking it was all worth it.

Naturally, the dealer flipped up another 10. All I got out of all that was a push. Beats losing, but why couldn't it be a 6?

ANSWER: For those who don't know "Charlies" in blackjack, they're automatic winners with a specified number of cards without busting.

With a five-card Charlie, you'd win with a five-card hand totaling 21 or less. with a six-card Charlie, you'd win with six cards totaling 21 or less.

Charlie rules are rare in casinos. I've been playing for well over 30 years and have never seen Charlies in regular blackjack games. There's good reason for that. A five-card Charlie subtracts 1.46 percent from the house edge. It's gives as much to players as reducing blackjack pays to 6-5 takes away.

With more cards required, players draw Charlies less often so they make less difference to the house edge. A six-card Charlie subtracts only 0.1 percent from the edge, though wizardofodds.com lists a six-card Charlie that pays 3-2 instead of even money at 0.31 percent.

Charlies seem to be used more often in home games. I once saw a couple put up a fuss at Slots-A-Fun casino in Las Vegas because the dealer wasn't paying five-card Charlies.

My first blackjack play was when I was 11. A couple of second cousins were teaching me to play at a New Year's Day gathering at my great grandfather's house. Five-card Charlies were in play.

If that's how you learn to play, it's something to unlearn when you start playing in casinos.


QUESTION: When I started going to casinos 40-plus years ago, it was forbidden to take pictures. Nowadays, it'd be hard to enforce that with everybody having cameras in their phones. I see photos of friends' big slot hits or video poker hands on Facebook, but I never see tables. Is that just my friends not playing tables?

ANSWER: Every casino has its own rules. Some put more restrictions on photography than others, but even the most lenient will draw the line at photos of tables that are in use.

When you focus on your video poker game or slot machine, it's easy to get a quick snap of the screen or reels. If you try to take a picture at a table, you might get photos of employees or other players, or a table full of cards or stacks of chips. Around the casino, operators don't want you relaying images of the cashiers' cages or any area that might be vulnerable to thieves or scammers.

It comes down to the original reasons photography was banned. There are security issues, and there are issues with images of players who don't want others to know they're playing.

Many casinos will let it go if you take a quick snap of your royal flush at a video poker machine. Anything more expansive will draw security's attention.
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski