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Blackjack


Introduction

Blackjack is a game of skill and not a game of chance. If you know how to play correctly and count cards, blackjack is not gambling. This is a strong statement, but the fact has been proven by many mathematicians. Essentially blackjack is an contest between the player and the dealer Up to seven players many compete at any one time. The player first makes a bet, which must fall between the minimum and maximum stakes, then the dealer deals two cards to each player and one face up to himself. The object of the game is to obtain a total which is greater than the dealer's but is not greater than 21. The jack, king and queen all count as 10 and the other cards count as their face value.

The dealer must draw cards to a total of 17, at which he must stick. Anything over 21 busts. If the dealer and player score less than 21 then the highest hand wins. If the scores are tied the hand is called a push, and no money changes hands. Winning hands are paid at even money, and if the player receives an ace and a ten for his first two cards, the player has a blackjack and is paid 3-2. The player may also double down, double his initial bet then draw one additional card only. Or, If the player receives two same valued cards, he may split them, then bet a sum equal to his original and gets two hands to draw from.

History

In 1956 a group of scientists working in an army base in Maryland published a paper called "The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack". The four scientists, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott had spent three years analyzing every possible playing option in blackjack for every set of dealer and player upwards, but it was not considered to be 100% mathematically valid. Their problem was they could not do enough trials to validate their theories because they did not have access to high speed computers. This strategy endured until Edward Thorp' book came out in1962. While working at the Atomic Research center at Los Alamos New Mexico, Edward Thorp ran millions of trials on the Basic Strategy previously done. When he finished he realized the strategy for Single Deck Basic Strategy.. Basic Strategy includes rules for drawing/standing/doubling/splitting in a given blackjack game. Basic strategy changes with different rules or numbers of decks. However; once you have established these rules, the basic strategy must be used consistently. Thorpe also concluded there was a difference between Blackjack and other games offered by the casinos. His concept was blackjack is a game of dependent trials. Craps, Baccarat and Roulette are games of independent trials. This is the difference that makes Blackjack beatable.

To understand the difference, take a single card from a deck of cards, the deck content has now changed and as we continue to remove cards from the deck, the content continues to change. What is left, is dependent on what has been removed. In Craps no roll of the dice has any effect on the next, they are all independent of each other. In craps, the odds of throwing a 7 are one in six. In Roulette, each spin of the wheel is independent of the previous spins. Thorpe also discovered that certain card ranks favored the casino and other cards favored the player. If the player could keep track of these cards as they are played, then the player could determine at what point the deck is in the player's favor and when it is in the casino's favor.

Therefore, you could raise the bet when it is in your favor, and lower the bet when it was in the casino's favor. Thorp' conclusion blackjack can be beaten by a knowledgeable player. When casinos discovered that his card counting system worked, they began adding Multiple Deck Blackjack. Thorpe played blackjack very successfully. The casinos could not figure out what he was up to. They stationed personnel to observe him so as to see how he was cheating. At first they thought that he was marking the cards so they told him he was not allowed to hold the cards in his hands and the dealers were instructed to deal the cards face up. Ultimately he was so harassed in Nevada he went to play in Puerto Rico. The same thing developed and Thorpe finally decided to give up playing. Although his system is older, Thorp' book is still essential reading for winning at blackjack.

Blackjack Basics:

Blackjack consists of a dealer, a table with room for seven players and a shoe that holds about six decks of cards. The dealer shuffles and deals the cards one at a time from the shoe. In a single deck game, he deals by hand. Everyone starts with two cards, including the dealer. There are some game variations, both cards can face up or one up and one down, or the first two cards down and all subsequent cards up. The rules for each game apply for both dealer and player. All single deck games are dealt face down. Depending on what the player is dealt, he will stay or he will hit. The dealer must hit holding 16 and stand on 17 or more. . 21 is the objective. In front of each player the table has a circled area on the layout indicating where to place your bet. The shoe, chained to the table, holds the cards. It has an opening where the cards are slipped out one at a time. The deck must be visible to the players at all times then you can see how many cards remain by the thickness of the deck in the shoe.

Shuffling

Shuffling does effect the decks content. If the dealer were to remove any cards from the deck it would be legal cheating by stacking the deck. When the aces and 10s are out of the deck, the odds are in favor of the house. The dealer can accomplish this by keeping track of the aces and tens and shuffling according to how many aces and tens have been played. For example, if all the aces and tens are dealt early in the game the house has the advantage so the dealer might not shuffle, but would continue to deal all the small cards to the player. However, if no aces or 10s were played, the dealer might shuffle early(short), thereby increasing the number of small cards in the deck. (players disadvantage) Shuffling when all the aces and 10s are out of the deck would be to the players advantage because it would put them back in play.

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