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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, January, #37



Happy New Year!

We predicted it in the last issue of Blackjack Insider newsletter– and now the Sands has admitted it made a major mistake in its policies. The Sands just sent out a letter to its present (few) and former (many) table-game players telling them to come on back, that they are putting in more table games and giving table games the "space" they deserve and table-game players the courtesies they deserve.

Will this change the failing property? Time will tell – and we’ll tell you. As promised in the last issue, what follows is the basic strategy for the new game, Blackjack Switch, where you play two hands and get the opportunity to ‘switch’ the second cards on each hand if you wish.

Blackjack Switch Basic Strategies

All variations include the following standard rules:

Full 'Switching' allowed

All doubles and splitting allowed

'Blackjacks' pay 1/1

Dealer will 'push' on a total of 22


Dealer Hits 'Soft 17'

Player 'Blackjacks' will beat a dealer 22

House Edge 0.16%


Dealer Hits 'Soft 17'

Dealer 22 'pushes' everything

House Edge 0.71% (The 4 Queens, Las Vegas)


Dealer Stands 'Soft 17'

Dealer 22 'pushes' everything

House Edge 0.32% (Belterra, Indiana ~ The Taj Mahal, Atlantic City)

As in regular Blackjack except hit 12 verses 4 and 13 verses 2.
Double 9 verses 6 only.
Double 10 and 11 verses 2 thru 8.
A,5 verses 6.
A,6 verses 5 and 6.
A,7 verses 5 and 6.
SPLITTING (Double after splits)
2's and 3's verses 5,6 and 7.
6's verses 4,5 and 6.
7's verses 3,4,5,6 and 7.
8's verses 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9.
9's verses 4,5,6,8 and 9.
Aces verses everything.

(Editors note: Most of the time the decision to switch will be obvious. However, some times it isn’t. The basic strategy for switching is complicated but Michael Shackelford, the Wizard of Odds, has worked it out. For details see

Here are the ratings of blackjack playing conditions for January 2003. These ratings have been compiled with the help of Arnold Rose.

Rating system:

***** = Excellent

**** = Very Good

*** = Good

** = Fair

* = Poor.

BALLY’S PARK PLACE: No change from last report. Penetration has deteriorated on the six-deck games in the high-roller pit with standard 1.5 cutoffs. The rest of the casino is the standard AC eight-deck games with penetration that varies but is consistently more than 75 percent. Some tables have been changed to Let It Ride and Three Card Poker. You can resplit for a total of three hands, but aces can only be split once. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 are also available for minimums of $10. Always crowded. ***

CAESARS: Standard penetration throughout the casino. The six-deck games have penetration of 75 percent in high-roller room. The rest of the tables are eight-deck with 75 percent penetration. Resplitting allowed but you can only split aces once. Bright, clean casino. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available at $10 and up! ***

CLARIDGE: No change from last report except the Claridge merger with Bally’s is now official and the casino hotel will become another wing of Bally’s AC. The blackjack is still good by AC standards. The high-roller action was six-deck games with $50 minimums most days, higher on weekends. Penetration varies but averages above 80 percent. You can resplit pairs up to four hands, including aces, in high-roller room but the rest of the casino, all eight-deckers, doesn’t allow resplitting. Multiple Action and Spanish 21 available for $10 and up. *** 1/2*

HARRAH’S: The six-deck games are improving, and there are more of them in the high roller area. The rest were all eight-deck games. Penetration now ranges from 66 to 70 percent everywhere. Resplitting allowed except aces. No midshoe entry. Harrah’s Table Game Guarantee: if the minimums are raised during play, you still get to play your original minimum. **

HILTON: No change from last report. Has hit a plateau and the games have stabilized but not anywhere near as good as they were just a year ago. Hilton used to have one of the best games in AC but now it’s in the second tier. Generally has decent penetration -- in the neighborhood of 75 percent, sometimes more -- from the six-deckers in the high roller room to the eight deckers on the regular floor. Resplitting allowed except aces. The Multiple Action and Spanish 21 also have okay penetration for $10. More paranoia being exhibited by the pit personnel. One "progressive player" – who played with no edge over the house --was reportedly short shoed there during a lucky streak. ***

RESORTS: Resorts is still doing everything right and you’ll find good penetration on eight-deck games, consistently in and above the 80 percent zone, dealer dependent, however. Most of the $5 games have become $10 games, even midweek, but this is still a bargain by AC standards. The six-deck games in the high-roller pits are good, coming in at 80-85 percent penetration. Resplitting is allowed at all tables. Casino also offers multiple-action blackjack and Spanish 21 at $10 minimums. Pits are friendly. ****

SANDS: No change from last report (change is happening as we write this, we hope). Okay, let’s see what happens when Sands re-invents itself again. There was improvement in penetration when we were there. All eight-deckers, however. *

SHOWBOAT: Showboat is still an okay casino for AC BJ players. It is also a bright and cheerful place to play. Six-deck games in the high roller room have standard penetration of 75 percent. Resplitting now allowed up to three hands. Eight-deck games have 75 percent penetration. Can now occasionally find $25 games in high roller room. ***

TROPICANA: No change from last issue. Six-deck games in high-roller room are $100 minimums with 66 percent penetration. Rest of the casino is no better, except these are all eight-deckers. Another slot heaven or hell, depending on how you view the one-armed bandits.*

TRUMP MARINA: No change from last report. Marina was hopping this summer; attracting a younger crowd. Six-deck games in high roller room and eight-deck games on the main floor have penetration of 75 percent mark. They are aggressively marketing the place. Games are mostly $15/$25 and up, especially on weekends. ***

TRUMP PLAZA: Six-deck blackjack games in high limit area have 70-75 percent penetration, sometimes slightly higher, with $100 minimums. Sometimes when it’s slow, they will honor a request for $50 minimum. The eight-deck games have penetration ranging from 70 percent to 75 percent on all, depending on the dealer. No midshoe entry on eight-deck games outside high-roller pit but you can find $25 (a few) to $50 minimums on these. Allows resplits, except aces. Most eight-deck tables are $10 and higher. **

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL: No change from last report. Decent game with 70-80 percent penetration, dealer dependent. Several $5 minimum games in the morning on weekdays. Multiple Action, Double Exposure and Spanish 21 are still available at $10/$15 minimums and up. ** ½*

WILD, WILD WEST: No change from last issue. The closest thing to Vegas in Atlantic City! Consistent 75-80 percent penetration throughout the casino but all games are eight-deckers. Most tables were $10/$15. Resplits allowed, except aces. Great atmosphere for gambling. *** ½*



Alene Paone is the CEO of Paone Press, which sells gaming books and tapes at discount prices. She also writes for Her husband, Frank Scoblete, is the #1 best-selling gaming author in America and the author of Best Blackjack. Frank’s books and tapes have sold over a million copies. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406 or write: Paone Press, Box 610, Lynbrook, NY 11563.


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