BLACKJACK SCHOOL – Designed to help you play a better game

May 15th, 2008

Charles Jay’s
Designed to help you play a better game

A,5 vs. 2

THE SETUP: You’re playing in a game where soft doubling is allowed. The dealer gives you an Ace and a five and then flips up a two. The hand of Ace-Five gives you a total of either 6 or 16 – it’s your choice as to which way it will work better for you. Your options are to stand, hit, or double down.


What do you do?

CJ’S WAY: When you think about it, standing on this hand doesn’t make a lot of sense. What you need to resist is the temptation with the idea of doubling, just because the dealer isn’t showing an upcard that is classified as “pat.” What you need to do here is HIT this soft hand.

WHY WE DO IT: Essentially, there are two questions we’re asking ourselves – (A) Is the Ace-five (remember to call it that, not 6 or 16) strong enough to double with?; and (B) Is the upcard the dealer is showing (the two) vulnerable enough to double against? The answer to the first question is, generally, yes. The Ace-Five gives you that total of 6 or 16, and you could wind up in a lot worse condition. In point of fact, you WILL double this hand against the dealer’s upcard of 4,5, or 6. However, the answer to the second question is, NO, the two does not provide enough of an opportunity to double on this hand. It allows the dealer too much of a chance to attain a solid or standing hand. The bottom line, mathematically, is that with this hand you have an overall negative expectation; you will win 1% MORE and lose 1% LESS if you hit the hand as opposed to doubling it.


A,5 vs. 7

THE SETUP: You are playing in a game which features soft doubling. You are dealt an Ace and a five, while the dealer shows a seven. You can’t bust out with one hit in this situation. Obviously, when soft doubling is available to you, you’re always looking for a chance to exercise it. Here we may have one of those chances.


What do you do?

CJ’S WAY: No, it doesn’t. No doubling here. You must HIT this hand.

WHY WE DO IT: Remember that the Ace-five gives you a total of either 6 or 16. Certainly this doesn’t constitute a hand that’s good enough to double with against a dealer’s seven. Examining the math, doubling on the hand produces a negative expectation. You will, in fact, lose over NINE more hands per hundred than you will win. That represents about a 20% deficit, which is what you ant to avoid. However, considering the alternative, when you simply hit the Ace-five against the seven, you’re actually looking good. Leaving all pushes between the player and dealer aside, when you hit this hand you will win and lose almost exactly the same amount of times. That becomes essentially a break-even, which represents a better way to go than doubling in this scenario, where you are putting more money into play and at risk.

Try these suggestions next time you log in at Superior Casino.

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May 7th, 2008

By Charles Jay

Allow me to ask these questions of you, the recreational blackjack player:

– Do you feel worse when you bust than when you lose out to a better hand on the part of the dealer?

– Do you stand on hard totals of 12-16 because you want to hold onto your chances of winning until the dealer plays out his hand?

– Are you of the belief that luck runs in streaks, and if so, do you usually increase bets after wins and decrease after losses?

– Are you conditioned to playing “hunches”, depending on which cards you’ve previously been dealt?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, read on, because this is of particular interest to you.

One day at the library I was up in the “stacks,” so to speak, and happened to come across a past issue of Psychology Today (Oct. 1985). And I noticed it contained an article dealing with the behavior of players at the blackjack table, and how certain psychological quirks had a tendency to affect their behavior and performance when playing this casino game.

There is a tremendous psychological element to blackjack, and it is important to look at that angle, since customarily players not only have to execute betting decisions but playing decisions as well during the course of a session. A lot of players enjoy blackjack more than roulette, baccarat, or craps in that they feel more of a sense of control (which is not an ‘illusion’ as is referred to in the article), and they have the ability to vary their play using certain options as allowed for in the rules. That indeed is a potential advantage to blackjack, since the house’s edge, or lack of it, is very much dependent on the player’s level of skill. The pitfalls, if one falls into them, have the potential effect of diminishing the skill level of the player, and also serve to put up barriers preventing them from being able to digest the strategy that can ultimately bring the greatest chance for long-term return.

One of the bigger problems happens when it comes to playing the hard totals of 12 through 16. The research that was done for the article indicates that players, even if they know a Basic Strategy, very often fail to hit their hand in accordance with it because they fear busting out before the dealer has an opportunity to play his hand out. There are a couple of principal reasons for this. One is that the player’s mindset is that it is worse to bust than to hold out and lose to the dealer’s better hand, since the dealer’s draw is something that is completely out of the player’s control. And then there is that desire to stand pat in order to keep one’s winning hopes alive for as long as possible, and therefore they do nothing and wait for the dealer to make a move. As you already know from reading any responsible blackjack source, even with the worst upcards possible (5 or 6), the dealer will only bust 42%-43% of the time, so it is patently obvious that doing nothing is not a wise strategy at all.

Here’s another myth – that luck always seems to run in streaks. This idea sometimes leads to the player increasing bets after wins and decreasing after losses. On the other hand, there is a school of thought many people subscribe to which advocates increasing (usually doubling) bets after losing, and decreasing after wins. This is all based on an interpretation of the so-called “law of averages” which theorizes that sooner or later you would have to win. There is a familiar name for this betting strategy – the “Martingale,” and most people can tell you that it can easily lead to ruin, since it’s quite possible to keep losing hands and soon be over the house limit, paralyzing the system and one’s session at the same time.

Don’t get paralyzed. Take note of where the psychological obstacles can be, and do your utmost to overcome them.

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New Game: Secret Garden

May 1st, 2008


Lots of people who own a home have a garden. But it’s likely you’ve never found one quite as fertile as the “Secret Garden” that’s available at Superior Casino.

The brand new 20-line, five-reel video slot game with a lush, green ambiance, designed and powered by Rival Gaming, offers the player quite a few ways to win. For example, play one to ten coins and hit five squirrels in a payline to get a 350-unit return. That’s hardly “nuts.” Or if you really want to get lucky, hit five “rose” icons and we can guarantee pocket 500 units, which isn’t being too flowery in the least (all wins multiplied by coins staked per line).

And we’re saving the best for last. Be on the lookout for the “Scatter” icons, which can help your bankroll “grow” in ways you may have never thought possible. Scoring three Scatters on any one spin will produce 20 free spins. Four Scatters return 30 free spins; get five on the board and receive 50 free spins (all with a 2x multiplier). That’s a great way to bring your play to a new level. And as if you needed any further proof that this game is not “for the birds,” they’re wild – get five of them in a line and you’re staring a 5000-unit payoff in the face.

But even that doesn’t compare with the rewards that are in store when you pull up three or more “Master Key” icons in one spin, which puts you right into the “Explore the Secret” bonus round, where you can win as much as you can collect. That’s what we call a big potential harvest!

So maneuver that mouse with your “green thumb” and get ready to water those plants and bring them to life – you’ll know what we mean when you get into the game!

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