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by JPB

JPB has been playing blackjack and counting cards part-time since 1996. He plays throughout the country but primarily in Missouri. He has been a Green Chip member of for four years and one-time winner of the Post-of-the-Month. JPB is a professional engineer with three engineering degrees and works as a consulting engineer.

In my 15+ years of playing blackjack as an advantage player, I am always on the lookout for desirable playing conditions. Generally, desirable playing conditions means: good rules (dealer standing on soft 17, double after a split allowed, double on any two cards allowed); good penetration; and a pit that will allow an aggressive bet spread.

I also look for special promotions, such as an extra payout for a suited blackjack. For me, perhaps the most desirable and rarest promotion is the legendary "2-1" payout on blackjacks. I had heard of the legend many times in blackjack books, on blackjack message boards (such as the Imperial Palace in Biloxi, circa 2002), and from dealers. After searching for years and finding a few pseudo "2-1s," I finally found the real thing in the most unlikely place.

Under good playing conditions, with an aggressive spread, I think I can achieve a 1% or so advantage over the house by counting cards. The trouble is, to get that 1% advantage, I need to spread my bets aggressively: betting as low as practical during negative counts and as high as will be tolerated during very high positive counts. Not only does this subject me to getting identified as an undesirable advantage player, it also involves a great risk of losing lots of money over a short period of time.

With the two to one blackjack promotion, there is really no need to count cards. Compared to most conventional blackjack games where the house advantage ranges from about 0.19-0.60%, the player has an advantage of about 1.6-2.2% (depending on the rules and number of decks) with the "2-1" promotion, without counting cards. A 2.0% advantage in blackjack is huge. Bet $100, your expectation is +$2.00; bet $500, your expectation is +$10.00. Play enough hands (with correct basic strategy) and eventually your expectation will be very high. Your actual result should be about one standard deviation above or below the expectation. Translation: if you bet enough money at a "2-1" promotion, your actual result will be somewhere between winning a whole bunch of money and about breaking even. Compare this to card counting with an aggressive spread, where your actual result will vary somewhere between winning a whole bunch of money and losing a whole bunch of money.

List of 2-1 casino promotions...

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