Page 23 - Southern California Gaming Guide •  April 2020
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 movie made about his Blackjack exploits detailed in his book, The Big Player. Uston was also featured in a 1981 Sixty Minutes show, and helped lead a successful legal challenge to prevent Atlantic City casinos from barring card counters. Strategy Most Blackjack players know that by playing flawless basic strategy, they can increase their odds to nearly even with the casino—without the use of card counting. The only time that card counting helps is when deciding whether to take the insurance bet. The Rules Up to seven seated players may play. After all players have wagered, each player is dealt two cards, either face down (in hand-held games) or face up (in shoe games). The dealer is dealt two cards, one face down (the hole card), and one face up (the upcard). Cards 2 through 10 have their face value, J, Q, K are worth 10 (and are collectively referred to as 10s). Aces are worth either 1 or 11, depending on the player’s preference. Any hand with an Ace is considered “soft.” The hand value is determined by adding the values of the two cards. “Blackjack” or a “Natural” occurs when a player is dealt an Ace and a 10 in the first two cards, for a total of 21. Blackjack pays out 3 to 2 odds. If the dealer has a Blackjack, all players lose, even if their completed hand totals 21. Players with a Blackjack will tie the dealer. The Play Players not dealt a Blackjack have several options on how to play out their hands. They may stand pat, and not draw any additional cards. They may hit (be dealt another card), and continue to do so until they either bust (exceed 21 and immediately lose their wager), or decide to stand. Players may also choose to double down, in which case they wager an additional amount (up to the amount of the initial bet) and receive one final card. Any payouts or losses are now based on this new total wager. If the first two cards are a pair, the player may split the pair and play two independent hands. The player places an additional bet equivalent to the original bet, receives a second card for each hand, and plays out each hand in turn. When splitting a pair of Aces, most casinos only allow one more card on each Ace. After all players have received their initial two cards, if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, the dealer will offer insurance bets against a dealer Blackjack (if the dealer has Blackjack, everyone automatically loses). Do not take the insurance bet unless you know how to count cards. When the final player’s hand is completed, the dealer plays out her hand. The dealer, however, can make no decisions. If the dealer’s cards total 16 or less, the dealer must draw. The dealer must stand on 17 or greater. Whether the dealer hits or stands on “soft” 17s is up to the casino. The best advice is this: don’t take insurance, and don’t worry about trying to count cards. Memorize the basic strategy tables instead. Not all Blackjack games are created equal, though. Different variations on the rules will change the odds. Some favor the player, and some favor the house. For example: The more decks that are used, the bigger the advantage to the casinos. Most Southern California casinos use either a 6-deck shoe or a 4-deck continuous shuffle in all but their highest- stakes games. That’s the reason that single deck games are so rare (and that when they do exist, they tend to be the high stakes games). On the other hand, the ability to double down on any initial cards, and the ability to double down after you’ve split a pair weigh heavily in favor of the player, because you’re able to increase your bets (and therefore your return) on hands that have the greatest chance of winning. But I can’t emphasize this enough: You must follow the basic strategy in order to see any benefits from the improved odds! So play smart and have fun! APRIL 2020 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GAMING GUIDE PAGE 23 The Strategy The strategy table shows the basic Blackjack strategy for multiple deck games, and applies to all 4-, 6-, and 8-deck games in Southern California. The top row shows the dealer’s up card; the left side your hand. “S” indicates you should stand pat; “DD” indicates you should double down. 8 or less 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17–21 Soft 13 Soft 14 Soft 15 Soft 16 Soft 17 Soft 18 Soft 19–20 2,2 3, 3 4, 4 5, 5 6, 6 7, 7 8, 8 9, 9 10, 10 Ace, Ace *If unable to double in these circumstances, stand. In all other cases, hit when unable to double. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace 

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