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Five Ways to Tell If Your

Blackjack Game is Bogus

By Basil Nestor

Basil Nestor is author of "The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps," "The Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack," and other comprehensive gambling guides. Got a question? Visit and drop him a line.

I just loaded a blackjack game onto my Android phone. Thatís because I like to practice on days when Iím not playing live, just to keep my game sharp. Software for users rate the Android and although this particular blackjack software is highly rated overall, some users have posted bad reviews. For example, one player said, "The dealer wins nine out of ten times if you double down or split. The dealer also takes five hits and gets 21."

Another review said, "Fun, but the dealer gets way way WAY too many blackjack [naturals] or hands over 17. Random, my left butt cheek."

And a UK writer complained, "Crappy game. Lost nine out of ten hands. Bollox."

Is it really bollox? What are the odds of losing nine out of ten blackjack hands?

Itís not very high, only about 2%. But 2% is NOT the same as zero. Zero means never, but 2%... wellÖ It happens. Sometimes it happens right away. And after only 200 trials, the probability of seeing nine losers out of ten is about 98%.

In other words, if you play for a long time, itís an inevitable event. Thus you cannot say a game is crooked simply because you lose nine out of ten hands. Similarly, the dealer sometimes gets many naturals. And taking five hits to reach 21 is not a statistical impossibility.

So when can you suspect a game is crooked?

Regulation is Everything

First, consider the conditions under which the game is offered. If itís a brick-and-mortar casino, is the venue unregulated? To enter this casino, do you knock at a door and give a secret password? Do large muscular men pat you down for weapons before youíre allowed to play? If you answer yes to the above questions, then itís possible you may be cheated.

On the other hand, if you play in a public casino in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, in another U.S. municipality, or in a country that has a well-regulated casino industry (such as the United Kingdom or Monaco), then the chances of you being cheated are slim. The same goes for licensed Internet casinos in reputable jurisdictions.

Regulated casinos have little incentive to swindle their customers. The casinos have a built-in advantage against most players, so they would rather follow the rules and not kill the golden goose by running afoul of the law.

Also consider the fact that casino cheating would require a conspiracy between dealers, pit bosses, and upper management. The whole thing is too complicated to exist in the modern world of regulations and surveillance.

Does it ever happen? WellÖ never say never. But, in fact, itís so infrequent that you literally have a greater chance of hitting a Caribbean Stud jackpot in spades (much longer odds than 1 in 2.5 million) than being deliberately cheated by a dealer for the benefit of a casino in a regulated jurisdiction.

Clues That You ARE Being Cheated

Recently, I was consulting for an Internet casino. After a long day of testing the blackjack software, I called one of the owners of the company and told him flatly, "Your game is fixed."

He was shocked and offended. In a shaky and unusually high-pitched voice he asked, "What makes you say that?"

My answer was simpleÖ

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