Caribbean 21 Blackjack

This game was developed by Real Time Gaming, an online casino software developer. It is a variant of standard blackjack that has many differences that make it a challenge.  The first and biggest difference is that an Ace is only and always counted as 1.  It is never valued at an 11, so there is never a two-card “21” in this game.  A hand comprised of two 10-value cards and an Ace is the Caribbean 21.  As in standard blackjack, the objective is to beat the dealer’s hand, without going over 21.  Caribbean 21 beats all other hands totaling 21.

RULES

  • All cards are valued the same as in standard blackjack, except for the ACE, which is, at all times, valued at 1
  • The game starts with the player making a bet
  • Two cards are dealt face up to the player and one card is dealt face up to the dealer
  • The dealer does not take a hole card
  • The dealer does not take his final cards until the player has completed all his plays
  • The player can take insurance on whether the dealer will hit a Caribbean 21 if the dealer has an Ace up
  • Insurance can be taken at any time, up to half of the total amount bet at the time
  • The insurance bet pays out at 9 to 1 if the dealer gets two ten value cards as his 2nd and 3rd cards
  • The insurance bet is paid out at the end of the hand
  • The stand and hit moves are the same as standard blackjack
  • The player can double down at any time, even with more than 2 cards, this includes re-doubles, as well as doubles after splits
  • The player can split any two cards
  • The player can surrender at any time, forfeiting half of his total bet at the time

PAYOUTS

  • Dealer wins all ties
  • If the player is dealt a Caribbean 21, the payout is 3-2
  • If the player busts, he loses his bet
  • If the dealer busts, the player wins even money on his bet

HOUSE EDGE vs. STRATEGY

Following a basic strategy developed by Michael Shackelford, a top authority on casino game probabilities, for this version, the house edge can be as low as 0.19%, which is lower than many other blackjack variants.  To be noted though, the house edge on the insurance bet is 5.38% in this version, so that bet should not ever be taken, despite the tantalizing 9-1 payout.

ONLINE PLAY

Being a property of RTG (Real Time Gaming), Caribbean 21 blackjack can be found at many of the top online casinos, as RTG is considered a leading industry software provider.  Take a look at the list below for a few of the most reliable online casinos where you can enjoy a true game of Caribbean 21 blackjack.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The challenge and thrill of play Caribbean 21 lies in the player’s ability to split any two cards and re-doubling.  Because of those extreme player-friendly rules, the house gets a slight advantage back by ruling that all ties go to the dealer.  In other words, without the possibility of a “push,” Caribbean 21 blackjack makes for a more up and down game playing experience, sure to appeal to thrill-seeking players who prefer out right gambling on every hand, instead of a back and forth grind out with pushes.

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Texas Hold’em-Beginner’s Outline

Texas Hold’em Poker is definitely the most popular variation of poker played around the world.  In fact, many people not familiar with poker, think this is the only type of poker played.  More and more people want to learn the game because of it’s popularity on TV.  It’s well known that the top professional players earn millions playing a simple looking game, so why can’t the average person win a few bucks also?  It seems like such a simple game.

Starting Rules

  • In casinos and card rooms, the dealer doesn’t play.  In home games, the dealer duty usually changes clockwise with each hand
  • The player to the immediate left of the dealer acts first.  The player to act first is at a definite disadvantage because they have no idea as to what the other players may do
  • At casinos, there will be a “dealer” button that moves with each hand played, so play will rotate fairly
  • There are 2 forced bets called blinds.  They are the small blind and the big blind.  Games begin with the two players left of the dealer making these predetermined blind bets.  This is to insure there is always something (a pot of money) to play for  in each hand.  This is also why the dealer button moves every hand, because it wouldn’t be fair for the 1st two seats to always have to put in the two blinds
  • The small blind is usually ½ of the minimum bet and the big blind is usually the full minimum bet.  So, when you see a $1/$2 Hold’em table, that means the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

The object of the game is to combine your hole cards with the 5 cards eventually dealt in front of the dealer, known as the “board,” to make the best poker hand at the table.  The hand can contain your 2 hole cards and 3 board cards, 1 hole card and 4 board cards, or neither hole card and just the 5 board cards.

PLAY OF THE HAND

The Deal

Each player is dealt 2 cards face down, called the “hole cards.” You cannot let the other players see your cards and therefore they are to be checked discretely.  No board cards are dealt yet.

First Betting Round

The 1st player to act is the 1st player left of the big blind spot, because the blinds have already bet in that sense.  The player may fold, call or raise.

To fold, the player pushes his cards face down towards the middle of the table, called a muck, and is out of the hand.

To call, the player matches the big blind bet.

To raise, the player bets at least double the big blind bet.  If he decides to bet all his remaining chips, it’s know as “all-in.”

Play continues clockwise around the table, with each player making the choice of fold, call or raise, with the same rules in play.  As betting continues around the table,  a raise is actually called a re-raise at that point.

THE FLOP

After the end of the 1st round of betting, the dealer “burns” (discards) the top card of the deck, just in case it was accidently seen, then proceeds to place the next 3 cards face up on the table in front of him.  This is the flop.

Second Betting Round

This starts with the 1st player to the dealer’s left, since there are no more forced bets.

After the flop, the option of “check” is now available.  This is like taking a pass.  You can stay in the hand without betting additional money.

If everybody checks, that round is over and everyone gets to see a free card.

If someone bets, then all players must either fold, call or raise.

You cannot check if a player has made a bet before you.  If a bet is made before you, you must fold, call or raise.

THE TURN (4th Street)

Once again, the dealer burns the top card and deals the next card to the table, called the turn or 4th street. 

Third Betting Round

The betting again begins with the player immediately to the left of the dealer.  The same betting rules used in the second round, apply in the 3rd round.

THE RIVER (5th Street)

The dealer burns the top card and deals the next (and last) card to the table in front of him, called the river or 5th street.

Fourth Betting Round

Same betting rules apply as in the previous betting rounds, with the player to the dealer’s left, starting.

THE SHOWDOWN

This is where it gets exciting.  The last player to bet or raise shows their hand first and the highest five-card hand wins the pot. In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.

Hands don’t always reach the showdown.  In any betting round, if a player bets and everybody else folds, that betting player wins the pot without having to show his hand.

HANDS RANKINGS

  • Royal Flush — five cards of the same suit, ranked ace through ten; e.g., AKQJ10
  • Straight Flush — five cards of the same suit and consecutively ranked; e.g., 98765
  • Four of a Kind — four cards of the same rank; e.g., QQQQ4
  • Full House — three cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., JJJ88
  • Flush — any five cards of the same suit; e.g., AJ852
  • Straight — any five cards consecutively ranked; e.g., QJ1098
  • Three of a Kind — three cards of the same rank; e.g., 888K4
  • Two Pair — two cards of the same rank and two more cards of the same rank; e.g., AAJJ7
  • One Pair — two cards of the same rank; e.g., 1010942
  • High Card — five unmatched cards; e.g., AJ1052 would be called “ace-high”

FINAL THOUGHTS

Texas hold’em poker is not very difficult to learn, but it is quite difficult to master.  I’ve only given the basic outline and rules of the game here.  There are a vast number of possible game situations that can challenge players of the highest levels.  Even the winningest pros say they are always learning to play better. Remember it is a game of chance, you can’t win all the time. Play responsibly.

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Easy Money Blackjack System – Review

This system was developed by an avid blackjack player who was frustrated with his inability to consistently win at blackjack.

He wanted a easy, practical system that anybody could master, to win at blackjack, without the need of deep concentration or card counting.

THE PROGRAM

Easy Money Blackjack System is an 80-page digital manual, giving step by step directions on how to make your blackjack sessions profitable.

WHAT YOU GET

  • Several different charts and tables for easy visual learning
  • A simple strategy, with only a few rules,  that doesn’t require a lot of concentration
  • Additional bonuses that include, Vegas coupons, online house edge calculator for any game, printable pocket basic strategy cards
  • A 100%, no questions asked, 60-day, money back guarantee

The program teaches the following:

  • Methods of tracking favorable tables, to decide which table to play at
  • Proper chip stacking, to make betting easier and more routine
  • How to manage your bankroll by maximizing profits and minimizing losses
  • How to play within your limits and disguise your winning patterns, in order not to bring attention from pit bosses
  • Different strategies for playing at land-based casinos vs. online
  • Different strategies based on the number of decks being used
  • How to take advantage of liberal rules at different casinos
  • How to recognize tricks casinos will use to take your money and avoid falling for them
  • When it is a good time to take insurance
  • When is the proper time to surrender, how to use it for your benefit

SUMMARY

This is a highly comprehensive and valuable course, with enough information to start making your blackjack sessions profitable on a more consistent basis.  It is clear and very easy to understand.

Easy Money Blackjack System is based on personal secrets and information amassed from many years of play and thousands of computer simulated hands played. 

It would be informational for even the most avid player, as it does point out many things that a typical blackjack book doesn’t give you.  It’s an easy to grasp system that will take your game to the next level.

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21st Century Blackjack

21st Century Blackjack is probably one of the most unique variants of blackjack  It was invented, by an Irvine, California company called Casino Gaming Concepts, to “get around” the 1860 California law that made it explicitly illegal to play the game of “Twenty-One,” among other gambling games where the player bets against the house.

It is similar enough to standard blackjack for players to want to play, but also varies enough to not be considered an illegal game under the California law.  It is mostly played in California, as you might imagine.

It is also sometimes called 21st Century No-Bust Blackjack, because one variant is that there is no “busting” in this game.

The Differences

While the list of differences may seem lengthy and complicated, the basic goal of the game remains similar to blackjack, in that, as a player, you try to get closer to 21, than the dealer, without going over.

  1. The game is played with multiple decks of cards, from 2-8 decks, with 1 joker included, per deck of cards.
  2. The maximum hand is 22, also called a natural
  3. The joker is considered wild and helps a player get a hand of 22
  4. Players are allowed to bet on other hands
  5. There is no house dealer.  There is a “dealer/bank” button that moves around the table, giving players the chance to act as the dealer as the game goes on. (This may vary depending on the casino)
  6. There is no bust…a player/dealer with a hand value over 21 that is also higher than a player’s hand, results in a push
  7. A player/dealer with a hand value over 21, but lower than a player’s, over 21 hand, results in a loss for the player
  8. The player/dealer does not actually receive cards for that round, but “acts” as the bank for the round.  The player/dealer gets the money if the dealer wins, but also must pay the players if the dealer loses.
  9. The casino usually charges a fixed amount to play, usually $1 to play and $2 to act as the dealer.  This is how the casino makes money on this game.
  10. The casino may or may not provide an employee or a player with a large bankroll, (detected by the large bankroll in front of them) to cover all bets on the table.  If a player chooses to act as the dealer, but doesn’t have enough money to cover all bets, the large bankroll person will step in and cover what remains, and then splits all wins and losses with the dealer.
  11. A player can place up to 3 bets on his hand, designated by 3 betting circles on the table in front of his hand. 
  12. A player may also bet on another player’s hand by placing a wager in one of that player’s betting circles.

RULES OF PLAY

  • The maximum hand value is 22, or a “natural”
  • A “natural” beats all other hands
  • A “natural” is formed with 2 Jokers,  a Joker and an Ace, or 2 Aces
  • In some casinos, a “natural” of 2 Jokers, pays extra
  • A “natural” for both a player and the player/dealer, results in a push
  • Other than when paired with an Ace or another Joker, a Joker paired with anything else results in a hand value of 21
  • There is a dealer/bank button that moves from player to player as the game progresses.  The button stays with 1 player only a specified number of hands
  • There is usually a bet limit, but players may bet that limit in each of the 3 betting circles
  • A player does not bust if his hand totals more than 21, play continues until the dealer’s last move and then rules will determine wins and losses
  • Player may double down on  and receive 1 additional card
  • Splitting is allowed
  • Surrender is allowed after first 2 cards
  • Player must hit 12 or less
  • Player must stand on hard 20 and up, and hard/soft 21, 22
  • Player may double down on 11 or 12 and draw up to two additional cards
  • A player may not double down, split or surrender if they have a Joker
  • If a player and the player/dealer tie with hands less than 21, it is a push
  • A player cannot hit if the player/dealer’s up-card is a joker
  • Player/dealer hits soft 18 or less
  • Player/dealer stands on hard 18 or more
  • When a player and player/dealer go over 22, it’s a push if the player’s hand value is lower than player/dealer’s
  • When a player and player/dealer go over 22, a lower dealer hand results in a win for the dealer.
  • Card values are the same as regular blackjack, except for the joker, which has no value except to pair with any other card to value 21 or 22.
  • Some rules may vary depending on the casino

How to Play

  • Player’s place their initial bet and one of them opts to be the player/dealer (or bank)
  • Two cards are dealt to each player, each face up, with the dealer receiving his first card face down (the hole card) and the 2nd card face up
  • If the player/dealer has an Ace or 10up, the hole card is checked to determine if he has a natural.  If he does have a natural, all players hands lose, except if a player also has a natural and that player pushes
  • If the player/dealer doesn’t have a natural, play continues with each player deciding to hit, stand, double down, split or surrender
  • The player/dealer is last to play and either hits or stands.  When his play has ended, winners and losers are decided and payouts are made

PAYOFFS

  • All payoffs are to the extent the player/dealer has the money to cover all bets
  • Order of payoff or collection is determined by the player/dealer’s hole card and is in clockwise order. The player/dealer will place an action button in front of the first hand and go clockwise from that point.  If the hole card is an Ace, the payoffs start with the player immediately to the left of the player/dealer.  If the hole card is a two, payoffs start with the second player to the left of the player/dealer, and so on.
  • Order of payoff can make a big difference if the casino doesn’t offer the “large bankroll player” or employee who would cover any bets the chosen player/dealer can’t pay.  If the player/dealer doesn’t have enough money to cover all bets, the players whose bets weren’t covered, would get no action, no matter if they would have won or lost.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned in the beginning, though the rules and differences may seem great, the game play is not that different from standard blackjack.  If you’re an avid blackjack player, it’s a game that will challenge you a little more, having enough difference to keep you from getting bored with play.  Also, if you’ve ever thought that being the “bank” or “dealer,” would be cool, this game gives you the opportunity to do that!  Different can be fun!

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Blackjack Superstitions

As you sit at a blackjack table, you’re bound to hear all kinds of hype about what brings good luck or bad luck at a blackjack table.  Unfortunately, believing in any of that hype can actually harm your game.  Let’s go over some of the myths and facts:

MYTH:  Novice or Bad players will make you lose

FACT:  It’s true novice players can negatively affect the outcome of a hand, because they’ll stand when they should hit and hit when they should stand.

When a bad move happens like that, it’s easy to blame the novice player for costing you a hand (especially if that novice is in the 3rd base seat), taking the dealer’s bust card, but the reverse can also happen.  The player’s bad choices can help you just as often, evening things out. 

MYTH:  A new player entering in the middle of a shoe, ruins the flow of the cards

FACT:  There is no way to know the order of cards, so you can’t say there’s a certain flow for you to know what card is supposed to come next.  Once again, as with playing with a novice, the addition of a new player can change your luck for the better, just as well as “ruin” the flow.

The Superstition: Face cards always follow face cards—so if a face card is dealt, don’t hit your stiff hand.

FACT:   Keep the facts in mind.  If you include the 10’s with the face cards, there are 16 out of 52, 10-value cards in a deck, meaning 31 percent of the deck.  If you see two face cards in a row, the chance of another face card coming out drops to 28 percent.  Because there are now fewer face cards, you’re actually in a better position to hit a “stiff” hand (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).  Looking at it this way, that superstition would be a detriment to your game. 

The Superstition:  You will always bust if you hit a 12

FACT:  Many blackjack players feel that if you hit a 12, you will almost always get a 10-value card.  However, remember the point that  a non-10-value card is more likely to come up, than a 10-value card.  You have to trust the basic strategy charts and hit a 12 when the chart tells you to do so.

Final Fact

If you let superstitions direct your blackjack playing decisions, you can bet it will cost you more money!

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Double Attack Blackjack

This variant offers many twists and is seen mostly in Atlantic City.  It is similar to Spanish 21, in that, blackjack pays even money and the player can double down after seeing the dealer’s first card, before seeing their own card.

RULES

  • 8 Spanish 48-cards decks are used (all the 10’s are removed)
  • Dealer stands on a soft 17
  • If a player takes insurance, a dealer peeks for blackjack
  • Insurance payout is 5 to 2
  • A player has a right to double down after splitting
  • A player can split aces once and receive one more card
  • All cards except aces can be re-split 4 times (this can vary depending on the casino)
  • No re-doubling for this type of blackjack
  • A player can double or surrender any time during a game

The dealer gets the first card dealt and the player can then choose to double their bet, namely, the “Double Attack.”  The bet actually can be just a slight raise, but maxed at double the original bet.  If the player later splits, that bet must match the “double attack” bet.

BUST IT – Side Bet

This bet is a bonus bet in the game.  The player has the opportunity to bet whether or not the dealer will bust with 3 total cards.  This bet does have to be made before the dealer’s up-card is dealt. The payout will depend on what the “bust out” card is for the dealer and is as follows:

  • Third card is a face card. Pays off 3 to 1.
  • Third card is a nine. Pays off 6 to 1.
  • Third card is an eight. Pays off 8 to 1.
  • Third card is a seven. Pays off 10 to 1.
  • Third card is a six. Pays off 15 to 1.

There is also a special payout if the dealer busts with 3 eights (888) and is as follows:

  • The eight is the same color. Pays off 50 to 1.
  • The eight is the same suit. Pays off 200 to 1.

Additional Bust It Side Bet

Though not typically done at many casinos, the Bust It side bet can also be made on the total number of cards the dealer busts with and those payouts are as follows:

  • Dealer busts with 4 cards. Pays off 2 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 5 cards. Pays off 4 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 6 cards. Pays off 12 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 7 cards. Pays off 50 to 1.
  • Dealer busts with 8 cards. Pays off 250 to 1.

Best Strategy for Double Attack Blackjack

Using traditional blackjack strategy should allow for a decent return on your money. You can trust that typically doubling down on 9, 10 and 11, as well as splitting Aces and eights should continue to be your playing strategy.

When the dealer’s card is low, say 2-8, is the best time to double attack.  If the dealer’s up card is a 9 or better, it’s best not to double.

Taking insurance in this game is slightly more favorable, because the payout is better.

Final Thoughts

While Double Attack Blackjack could be looked at as a bit more advanced, it’s a fun version for many blackjack fans.  The additional rules and bets don’t have to be memorized, just enjoyed. If you’re want a little more excitement with your blackjack fun, try this version.

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Play Free Bet Blackjack

Another popular Blackjack variant is Free Bet Blackjack.  This version was created by Geoff Hall, who also invented Blackjack Switch, Zombie Blackjack and Zappit Blackjack.

The big difference from regular Blackjack is that the player doesn’t risk his own money when splitting or doubling down, for the most part.  I’m sure you thinking that’s great, show me where to sit!  Fortunately it won’t take long to understand the rules, especially if you’re already familiar with regular blackjack.

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Rules

Apparently the rules have been modified since the original launch in 2012, and casinos can develop their own rules, but the following are considered the standard.

  • Six decks
  • Dealer hits soft 17’s
  • Blackjacks pay 3 to 2
  • Double after split allowed
  • Double on two cards only
  • Re-split pairs up to four hands, including aces
  • No surrender

Three major changes from a standard game:

  1. FREE DOUBLES – with a 2 card total of 9, 10, or 11.  The player’s bet is matched with a “free bet” button and the player receive 1 additional card.
  2. If the dealer wins, the player loses only his original bet.
  3. If the player “pushes,” the player gets back only his original bet.
  4. If the player wins, the player get back his original bet, plus double the original bet.

  Regular doubling is allowed on all other two-card totals.

  • FREE SPLITS – With all pairs, except 10’s, the player’s cards are split into 2-one-card hands.  The player’s original bet is placed with the 1st hand and a “free bet” button is placed with the 2nd hand.  Each hand is played out one at a time, (where “free doubles” and “free splits” are still allowed).  For winning hands, the “free bet” button is replaced with chips equaling the original bet. Losing or push hands result in the dealer taking back the ‘free bet” button.
  • Dealer pushes with 22. If the player has 21 or less and the dealer busts with 22, the player’s bet is a push.

Basic Strategy

Strategy will depend  on whether you playing your real money hand or the “free bet” hand.  This is because with a ‘free bet,” a push is just as bad as a loss.  Therefore you want to be a bit more aggressive with a “free bet” hand.  Afterall, you’re not playing with your own money.

An easy thing to remember strategy-wise, take every free double and free split opportunity you can.  It’s free money!

Worth Playing?

Free Bet Blackjack was accepted by casinos because they know the idea of “free money” is appealing to gamblers.  The idea is that players will make larger original bets, hoping to get the opportunity of a free double or free split and thereby win bigger.

If you are a skilled player and a card counter, Free Bet Blackjack can result in some very profitable sessions.  The question is whether or not you can stay disciplined in play and make the bigger bets, only when it’s most opportune and not in hopes of hitting a big free bet.

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Is Wonging in Blackjack Effective?

Wonging

This is a technique named after Standford Wong, the pen name for the legendary author of “Professional Blackjack” and other gambling books.   It’s not that Stanford invented the technique, but many of the users were Wong’s students.

It is when you stand beside or behind a blackjack table and count the cards and then decide to sit down at the table when the deck is favorable to you as the player.  It is also called “back-counting,” because you’re counting cards from behind the players. 

It is mostly used when there are several decks in play because it allows the wonger to spend some time counting cards.  If only a couple of decks are being used, the wonger doesn’t have a chance to get a good count on the deck before it’s shuffled.

By sitting down when the deck has become favorable, you can make relatively larger bets at once, hopefully without drawing suspicion.  If you’ve been at a table a while and suddenly start making bigger bets, the pit boss may consider that a sign that you’re counting cards and know the deck is suddenly favorable.

Some casinos try to negate wonging by having a “no mid-shoe entry” policy.  However, that can be difficult to enforce, so it still can be done effectively.

There is also a technique called Semi-wonging, where you actually leave the table at a predetermined point in the count.  For instance, you may have sat down when the count was +8, but decide to leave the table if the count falls to +4.

Wonging Advantages

The most obvious advantage is that you only play when the deck is favorable to you.  You don’t have to make minimum bets because you’re only playing when the count is highly favorable, allowing for maximum bets for you.

With bankroll management a vital concern, not having to waste time and money with minimal bets when the deck is not favorable, is a huge advantage.  The bigger you can bet, the more you can win, in a shorter period of time.

Wonging Disadvantages

Though standing around and counting cards can be relatively simple, it can also be noticed by casino surveillance. The casino will eventually realize that you observe tables for a bit and then sit down and make relatively large bets.

Despite sitting down when the deck is favorable, there’s no telling how long the deck will remain this way.  You will of course want to get up when the deck starts cooling down.  Casinos become wary of card counting when a player sits down for only a couple of hands, gets up and perhaps watches a few hands and then sits down again.  You don’t want to be that obvious.

Final Thoughts

Wonging has been around since probably the 1970s.  It can still be done effectively today if it is thoroughly understood and practiced.

In terms of doing it effectively, you need to be able to count cards from a distance, without drawing attention to yourself.

As a wonger, you probably won’t have your table mates happy with you because you sit down and start winning, while they have suffered through all the bad hands!  Just tell them you’ve brought them luck, since the deck is now favorable for all players!

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Understanding Bust-Out Rates

Dealer Bust-Out Rate

This refers to the chance a dealer has of busting out, depending on the up-card.  It’s not imperative to know the exact percentages for each up-card, but knowing the relative rate can help you decide how you will play your cards.

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It has been determined that for an overall rate, a dealer will bust 28% of the time.  The following chart will show the dealer bust rate based on each available up-card.  The first row is the up-card, the second row gives the bust-out percentage:

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
35% 37% 40% 42% 42% 26% 24% 23% 23% 17%

Of course these rates (specifically for 10 up-card) refer to those times the dealer does not have blackjack.  If the dealer had blackjack, you wouldn’t even play the hand.

There is clearly a significant drop between having a six or having seven.  This is why “basic” strategy can vary depending on the strategy card you’re using.  It is also why it can make a big difference if the dealer must “hit” a soft 17 or must stand on all 17’s.  If the dealer must hit a soft 17, the bust-out rate for a 6 up-card increases to 44% and for an Ace up-card increases to 20%.

One observation that should be made with this chart, is that the dealer bust-out rate is never over 50%, not even close. So, the dealer never has an up-card that will bust more often than not.  That’s part of the built-in house advantage of the game.

Player Bust-Out Rate

Knowing the player’s bust-out rate is as important as knowing the dealer’s bust-out rate.  The idea is that you don’t want to take the chance of busting out, if the dealer has a better chance of busting out.  In other words, you want to stand pat with your hand only if you have a greater chance of busting than the dealer. The top row is the hand value, the 2nd row is the bust-out rate.

121314151617181920
31%39%56%58%62%69%77%85%92%

As you compare the two charts, you should be able to understand the basis of strategy charts a little more.  First, you want to remember that these rates are primarily used when learning to deal with hand values of 12-16, because you should know not to hit hand values of 17-21.

So, you want to stand when you have 13-16 and the dealer has up-cards of 3-6, because you have a higher bust-out rate (39%-69%) than the dealer (37%-42%) Also you can see that it should be fairly safe to hit a twelve because your bust-out rate is lower than the dealer’s rate in those cases. 

You will find there are experts who say knowing these bust-out rates will help your play, while others profess that such knowledge is useless.  As I first looked at it, it was a bit confusing, but as I took the time to understand it, I think it gave me a better understanding of basic strategy as outlined on strategy cards.

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Card Counting Practice

As with anything you want to be proficient at, it requires practice.  Card counting is no exception.  While it is definitely not illegal, casinos don’t like it to be used because it absolutely allows the player to win more and lose less.

To use it effectively, you have to make sure your usage is not detectable!  Card counters have to be cool, calm and collected, so the pit bosses don’t start keying on your activities.  You want to practice until the process becomes second nature to you.

How To Practice

Fortunately, it’s as simple as grabbing a deck of cards and counting through the entire deck, one card at a time.  Using the simple Hi-Lo method, as you count through the 52 cards (jokers removed), your final count should be 0. 

Your goal should be to get faster each time through.  The expert card counters are able to get through a deck in less than 30 seconds.

Speed Counting

The difference between professional card counters and beginners, is the expert’s ability to count cards in groups, as opposed to counting each card individually. 

Because cards are generally grouped in pairs as you look at a blackjack table, it should be your goal to look at a pair and immediately know that value.  For instance, if you see a Jack and a 3, you should automatically think “0” instead of “-1” and “+1”, = “0.”  Learn to recognize low cards (2’s-6’s) and 10-value cards cancel each other to 0.  In the same vein, with 2 low cards, immediately think “+2,” and with 2 10-value cards, think “-2.”  Being able to look at 2 cards at once and have a count, will dramatically increase your counting speed.

Distractions

You want to practice your card counting with as many distractions as you can possibly create, because casinos will have many distractions.  Just the noise alone in a casino can make card counting difficult. 

The casino atmosphere can work a little in your favor as well, because if you can maintain your cool and keep a running count of the cards on the table, without a pit boss becoming suspicious, more power to you!  You want to be focused, but not “look” focused on the cards dropping on the table. 

You want to be able to take only a second to look at cards and a get a count in your head.  If you can only count by intently staring and doing the math in your head, you will be caught by a pit boss and kindly asked to leave the table.  Learn to count with just a peek at the cards and do the math in your head while looking away from the table.

Online Practice

Finally, there are many online simulators that will help you increase your card counting speed and accuracy.  These are effective ways to truly test how fast you are at counting.  You may have gotten very good at challenging yourself with hand dealing to yourself, but rest assured, it’s more difficult with the online simulators and therefore great practice.

I like cardcountingtrainer.com and the free counter at casino.org just to name a couple of trainers.  All you need to do is a google search for card counting simulators to find one that you’ll like. 

Many people don’t try card counting because they feel it’s too difficult.  That’s not true!  All it takes is practice, practice, practice. 

It takes a lot of practice because the hardest part of card counting for blackjack, is doing it calmly enough so that you’re not caught doing it.  Remember, it’s not illegal, so you won’t get arrested, you’ll just be asked to not come back.

The best way to stay calm about it is to know it so well, that it’s like second nature to you and you can count without batting an eye.  That just takes practice!