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20 April 2012

It was a holiday weekend, and I was in a large, crowded casino in Northern Nevada. When I first enter a casino I use a mental checklist to evaluate blackjack tables to determine which ones might be good and which ones to avoid. I do this rather than just hoping that the table I sit down at will be a winning one. On this particular weekend I found something special.

The first thing I look for is the placard. This small rectangular sign is normally positioned near the far edge of the blackjack table. It's important for players to observe this sign because of the valuable information on it. To begin with, I look at the color of the placard itself. Many casinos color-code them to identify what the minimum bet is at that specific table. For example, a red-colored placard will indicate that the minimum bet is \$5, the same color as the \$5 red chip found in most casinos. A green placard would indicate a \$25 minimum as the \$25 chips are generally colored green. A black placard would indicate a \$100 minimum, the same as the \$100 black chip.

Besides listing the minimum and maximum bet allowed, many casinos list some of the rules of the game on the placard. For example, a casino may post what two cards a player can double down on, rules about splitting aces, doubling after split, what action the dealer takes on a soft 17 (hit or stand), and sometimes it will list whether surrender is offered. It is important to know that each table can be different! In most cases the difference in rules is based on whether it is a single or multi-deck game.

During this particular weekend I noticed one table listing on the placard a rule stating "double down on 2 or more cards." I was surprised because I had never seen that rule offered before. I thought it was interesting as the rule adds a positive 0.24 percent advantage to the player. I wanted to see if this unique rule was as good as it looked, so I sat down. After a few hands, the opportunity I was looking for came. I had a three-card eleven. To make sure, I asked the dealer if I could double down and she said, "You certainly can." I added the additional wager and she give me a 10 for a winning 21. I was delighted.

After some time, a relief dealer came to our table and took over dealing. As we continued to play, I again received a three-card double down opportunity and began to add more chips to my original bet. This dealer stopped dealing and said, "You can't do that. You can only double down on the first two cards." I explained to the new dealer that this particular table was different and pointed to the placard. Just then the pit boss appeared and the dealer, who looked surprised after reading the placard, asked him about this unusual rule. The pit boss pointed to the little sign and said it was OK. It was interesting to note that the blackjack tables on either side of ours had the same amount of decks and the same rules with the exception of the two or more double down option. The dealer shrugged her shoulders and resumed dealing, giving me my card. Again I caught a 10, resulting in 21 and a winning hand. Later, as I canvassed the rest of the casino, I discovered only four tables allowing this exceptional rule. What was interesting is this particular casino had over 60 blackjack tables. The point to remember is: always read the placard and don't take it for granted that all the tables have the same rules.

Bet You Didn't Know

• Las Vegas' elevation is 2,020 feet above sea level. It is Nevada's largest city with a 2011 Census population of 588,274. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, has a population of 1,967,722.
• A recent Macau regulation stipulates there be no more than 55,000 gaming tables offering card games until at least 2013.
• It was in 1995 that the first outdoor overhead pedestrian walkway in Las Vegas opened at Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.
• Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. He also started a lottery afterwards to raise funds to rebuild the city.
• As a young child singer and actor, Bing Crosby's nickname was "Bingo."
• The Bellagio hotel-casino in Las Vegas has more rooms (3,933) than Bellagio, Italy has residents (2,945).
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
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