EVALUATING DOUBLE DECK GAMES
by The GameMaster
Every month, I'll be posting an article which will, I hope, make you a better Blackjack player. Naturally, the question follows: Just who am I to say I can make you a better player? My background in Blackjack began in Atlantic City in 1978 where I learned, by attending a four-session school how to count cards. That led to considerable involvement with Blackjack teams and travel to a lot of places to take the casinos' money. After the liberal rules in Atlantic City were dumped by the casinos, my Blackjack-playing days went dormant for some time. I'd do the occasional trip to Reno or Las Vegas, but it wasn't until casino gaming came to Missouri in 1994 that I got back into Blackjack with both feet. Now I live close to four casinos, can play as much as I want, and can tell you - with first-hand experience - how to win at Blackjack. My Website iswww.gamemasteronline.com.
There are a lot of money-making opportunities for the individual card-counting Blackjack player in double-deck (DD) games, but there are also a lot of bad DD games out there, so before you waste your time and $$$, let’s discuss the differences.
Casinos and their average patron know that the fewer decks used, the better it is for the player, which is why the 6 to 5 single-deck game of BJ can succeed, at least among "average" players. But you and I are not average, so we avoid those lousy single-deck games, but can we avoid a lousy DD game as well? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just looking for a 3 to 2 payoff on a "blackjack" because all the DD games I know of (except for a few in Vegas) do indeed pay the correct amount for a natural – at least they’re not messing with that for the moment.
Many casinos do, however, alter the DD game in such a way as to negate its advantages, yet still treat it as what I call a "premium" game. Such games typically have a higher minimum bet, are few in number and are usually watched very closely by the casino supervisors as though somebody may get rich playing them. A good example is the DD game that Harrah’s here in St. Louis offers. First of all, there are only two tables (of a total 40) that offer DD games and the rules on them actually give the casino an edge "off the top" that’s higher than the edge they have in their 6-deck games! Plus, the minimum bet is $25 with a $500 maximum, as opposed to the $5-$1,000 for the six-deckers and then they deal out just a smidgen over half the cards. For all intents and purposes, the game is unbeatable in the long run by most card counters. Even a team cannot beat those games because they have the "nms" – no mid-shoe entry – rule there.
I have always preached that a counter must be able to realize a long-term advantage of at least one percent in order to make the effort worthwhile; otherwise, you might get stuck early on and spend the rest of your life trying to dig out. And that 1% really is the minimum, which leads us to a discussion of what’s called...
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