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By Joe Pane

Joe Pane is a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over half a million dollars in blackjack tournaments including his recent first place finish at the IP in Biloxi. Besides competing in tournaments around the country and on the Internet, Joe was recently hired by the Ultimate Blackjack Tour (UBT) as the Assistant Director of Tour Operations, as well as the Team UBT Coordinator. His peers consider him to be one of the strongest blackjack tournament players on the circuit.

Editorís Note: For those that donít know, the annual Blackjack Ball is a social gathering of invited blackjack pros from around the world. The perennial host Max Rubin once estimated, that collectively, the guests at the Ball "easily earn at least $10 million a year playing cards." The only obligation for invited guests to get past security is that they bring one chilled bottle of premium Champagne to the affair (ideally one that they acquired from a casino comp). The evening consists of dinner, drinks, storytelling (of course), a Calcutta where guests can wager on and against each other in the skills test (the winner receives the Blackjack Cup and the coveted title of "Worldís Best Blackjack Player"), the infamous Blackjack Test, and the voting to determine which blackjack luminary joins the prestigious Blackjack Hall of Fame. Thanks again to Max Rubin for providing the test questions that were given to attendees (youíll find the questions and answers at the end of this article).

Part 1 of this article appeared in the February issue of BJI.

As promised in my article last month, the answers to this year's Blackjack Ball quiz are at the end of this article. Check the answers against yours to see how you would have done if you had been invited to this party that takes place in the secret world of advantage players. This annual gathering is reserved for the most accomplished advantage players in the world. It took me several years to get on the invite list, and itís a privilege to be included with this stellar group of casino whackers. "Whackers," by the way, is my term for players that go into casinos, and whack them for some of their cash that they have fleeced from the general public. Some may even call us the modern day Robin Hoods. The only difference being is that Robin Hood took his windfalls and gave it to the poor. We are out there just taking some back for our own benefit.

What I can offer to the unsuspecting public and readers of BJ Insider is good information as to what games you should play, and what games you should NOT play. The biggest NO is this: DO NOT PLAY 6 to 5 Blackjack because this is just another tool the casinos use to fleece the public out of their hard earned money. They advertise it as single deck blackjack, when in fact it's not even blackjack because a normal blackjack payout is 3 to 2.

Letís look at the math for the 6:5 vs. 3:2 payouts. At first, it doesn't seem like a big deal. Plus you get to play a good old fashion, pitch, single-deck blackjack game, including getting to hold the cards in your hand. This all part of the enticement package that the casino sells to the unsuspecting general public.

Suppose you make a modest bet of $25 and get a blackjack (and the dealer doesn't have blackjack). In a normal blackjack game, the bet would pay $37.50 (3:2 payoff, or 1.5 times your bet). In a 6 to 5 game, you will get paid $30.00, which is $7.50 less. This doesn't seem like a whole lot of money at first, but when you figure the amount of blackjacks you will receive over your four-day trip to Las Vegas, the difference will add up to a significant amount of money. Still not convinced? Keep reading.

If you were to play four hours a day (most casinos require this much play if you expect to receive a comp towards your bill), and at 80 hounds per hour over four days, you will have played 1,280 hands. Over the 16 hours of play, you will receive 61 blackjacks (assuming normal occurrence). At a short payout of $7.50 per hand, after your 61 blackjacks, you would be missing $457.50 out of your pocket. If you are playing $100 a hand, then this payout will cost you $1,830 over the course of your trip.

You now can see in dollars and cents how that small difference, when laid out over your trip to the casinos, becomes pretty expensive. You would never see any of the Blackjack Ball attendees playing a 6 to 5 game (however, if you ever do see any of us at these short pay tables, there is a good reason why we are there, and that is a whole other article for another time).

To even go one step further on how much this is a bad deal for any player who plays 6 to 5 blackjack, and what a great deal it is for the casinos, take a look at this.

As I have pointed out, with an average bet of $25, you would be shortchanged, or lose, $30 per hour. This number is based upon only four blackjacks per hour, which is well within the expected math of the game.

Now we all know that there are just so many hours that one player can play in a day, but with the casino open 24 hours, lets take a look on how much a seat at a 6 to 5 game is actually worth to the casino, above and beyond their normal advantage/hold per seat.

If each seat is worth $30 per hour to them, and there are six seats per table, there is an additional profit of $180 per hour per table. Now, with the casino open round the clock, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, each 6-5 table has an additional value to the casino of $4,320 per day, or a whooping $1,576,800 per year, above and beyond the normal hold that every casino has built into its blackjack game. Yes, I did say one million five hundred and seventy six thousand bucks, plus letís not forget the eight hundred dollars of expected extra profits for the casino per table. I know that it cost a lot to keep all their neon lights burning, but when is enough, ENOUGH.

Yes, the possibility of every seat being occupied for 24 hours a day every day of the year is remote, but when you look at these numbers, you now should realize that you must, at all cost, AVOID ALL 6 TO 5 BLACKJACK GAMES.

Now let's get back to the Blackjack Ball test. The purpose of the test was to see who got the most correct answers (the answers were graded right after the test was given). The top five scores from this illustrious crowd of professional blackjack players then advanced to compete for the title of Blackjack Ball Overall Champion...

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