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Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack
by Basil Nestor
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Strategy is the key to success at the blackjack table; that's a mathematical fact, and you can count on these expert, easy-to-learn tactics to make you a victor. Here's the deal: everything begins with the basic rules, and they're laid out on these pages with smart little “factoid” tips. Go through blackjack economics, which explain why cards fall the way they do, and what makes a good (and a sucker) bet. Easy-to-follow tables suggest strategies for splitting pairs and soft hands and provide dozens of other statistics and card probabilities.
Casino Tropez Blackjack
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Blackjack: Favorable and Unfavorable Games

Some blackjack games are played with a single deck. Others use multiple decks. Some dealers hit soft 17, some don’t. Naturals traditionally pay 3:2, but a lot of games these days pay only 1:1,Basil NestorBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games.  He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling.  Basil's website is  or 6:5 for naturals.
For every rule there is usually a variation. Even the “bust-over-21” rule is sometimes bent.
All these variations change the house edge. And while one change by itself isn’t necessarily dramatic, the effects of multiple changes can accumulate and drag a player well into the negative side, especially when basic strategy is not adjusted to compensate. An overall two-percent jump in the house edge is not uncommon when an incorrect strategy is applied to a mediocre or extremely unfavorable game.
You certainly don’t want to be playing under those conditions, so in this and the next few articles I’ll show you how to quickly identify favorable and unfavorable games.

The Good, the Bad, and the Sneaky

Once upon a time (in the middle decades of the twentieth century) blackjack was played mostly one way. It was a single-deck game, and dealers always stood on soft 17. Doubling was allowed on any two cards, and doubling was also allowed after splits. Naturals paid 3:2.

Blackjack with these rules was extremely profitable for casinos because people used to do all sorts of nutty things like splitting 10,10, standing on 8,8, or hitting 12 regardless of the dealer’s upcard. Nobody knew any better. But all that changed in 1962 when casino managers noticed that some blackjack players were winning enormous amounts of money. The managers did some research and learned that these particular players were using strategies from a book called Beat the Dealer written by Edward O. Thorp, a mathematics professor. The book explained and expanded on the original basic strategy developed back in 1956, and it introduced the advanced strategy of counting cards.

This was a trauma for the casino industry. Blackjack was suddenly beatable. Since then, casinos have been endlessly experimenting with countermeasures such as multiple decks and hitting soft 17 to mitigate the effects of the various blackjack strategies. But it’s a tricky balance for them because they don’t want to make blackjack too tough for novice players. Whenever a casino introduces rules that completely kill the effects of strategy, it also essentially ruins the game, and many players (including the novices) move to other casinos. Casino vice presidents are then summarily fired, and the blackjack rules are relaxed. The crowds return, along with the advantage players (people who use advanced strategies), and the cycle repeats itself. Managers fume as they watch a few really good players skewer the house. And when managers aren’t fuming, they’re jiggering rules to make games seem beatable when they’re really not.

It’s a sneaky system of bait and switch, as you’ll see in the next article.

The preceding material is just a sample of what you'll find in Basil Nestor's Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack.

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