A growing number of casino goers are coming to the conclusion that there is a game they can beat. In fact, they call it the easiest game in town.
The game is blackjack.
While I am not sure I would agree with them -- I still think the game most players can win at consistently is poker -- they make a powerful case for their beliefs. And my past experiences at playing blackjack fits in with many of their conclusions.
Without doubt, blackjack or 21 has always been one of the most popular games of chance to be offered to the public. Before 1955, almost all the world's casinos offered single-deck blackjack to the public. That was before Dr. Edward O. Thorp, a math professor at UCLA, came up with his computer-proven strategy to shift the House odds in favor of the player and essentially showed people how to beat the game.
After Thorpe published his book, 'Beat The Dealer,' I studied it and practiced his strategies before heading to Las Vegas to try my luck. I won on several occasions and traveled to Lake Tahoe where I continued my winning ways.
Counting cards made the difference. After sustaining some substantial losses, casino management put their heads together and decided to sharply reduce single-deck 21. Today most casinos use shoes to offer the public up to eight decks, which makes it much more difficult to count cards effectively.
There are still some casinos in Las Vegas providing single-deck blackjack. In northern California, specifically Reno and Lake Tahoe, single-deck 21 is much more prevalent.
Players believe blackjack is a fairly easy game to beat because they are able to make decisions that determine the outcome of a game. A player, for example, can go down for double on any two cards in most casinos. Players can split cards, increase their bets, and determine whether to hit or stand before the dealer turns over his hole card.
Another rule that many casinos offer is surrender. A player can surrender half his bet if, say, he has 16 and the dealer's up card is ace or 10. And in many casinos, a dealer must stand on a soft 17, which helps the player who is using the basic strategy.
While playing I have a blackjack and the dealer has a bust card showing (two through six), I adjust my strategy and go down for double on a larger number of hands like nine, 10, 11 or a soft A-2, A--3, A-4, A-5, A-6 or A-7.
If I have an A-6 or A-7, I stand when the dealer is showing a two, seven or eight. If the dealer shows a nine, 10 or ace, I hit an A-6 or A-7.
The player also benefits if all or most of the fives are out. Let's say the dealer is showing a three, four, five or six, you don't want him to have a five in the hole. With most or all of the fives gone, that won't happen and the dealer's chances of busting increase.
Also, the more aces there are in a deck, the better your chances of having a blackjack. You can increase your bets when the deck is rich in aces or poor in fives.
Blackjack can become a very profitable game for you with a little luck and if the cards give you a good run. Naturally if you are a card counter and can find a single-deck game, your chances of winning can sharply increase. Just use your common sense and instincts to give you the best chance of winning.