The following FAQ will answer many of your questions about the game of 21, Blackjack.

**Q 1: ** Is there special terminology that blackjack players use?

Answer

**Q 2**: Is there a special terminology used by card counters?

Answer

** Q 3: ** Why doesHome-Blackjack focus so much on blackjack?

Answer

** Q 4: ** Is casino blackjack a “beatable” game?

Answer

**Q 5**: What kind of advantage can card counting provide?

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**Q 6**: Is card counting permitted?

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** Q 7: ** Are casinos allowed to ban card counters?

Answer

**Q 8: ** What is the house edge when playing basic strategy?

** Q 9: ** Why are multi-deck games worse than single deck

games?

Answer

** Q 10: ** Do bad players sitting at third base have an effect

on expected gain?

Answer

** Q 11: ** Which seat is the best at a blackjack table?

Answer

**Q 12**: How do you card count?

Answer

** Q 13: ** Which is the best counting system?

Answer

**Q 14: **Which is the easiest counting system to use?

Answer

**Q 15: **Which is the most effective counting system in blackjack?

Answer

** Q 16: ** Is basic strategy expectation affected in any way by penetration?

Answer

** Q 17: ** What is the correct strategy for late surrender?

Answer

** Q 18: ** What is “multi action” blackjack and what would be the correct strategy for this game?

Answer

** Q 19: ** What is “Over/Under” blackjack?

Answer

** Q 20: ** What is the counting strategy for Over/Under blackjack?

Answer

**Q 21: **What are some good blackjack books and some bad blackjack books?

Answer

** A 1: ** The special terminology you will hear blackjack players use is listed and explained below.

**Basic terminology**

This is a basic playing strategy that, if applied correctly, can help cut down the house advantage as much as possible without card counting, dealer tells, or shuffle tracking. Basic strategy is the foundation for card counting, but is also used by many players who do not count cards.

* Burn Cards *

These are the cards that are removed from the deck without ever being dealt to the players. After the dealer has shuffled the cards and one of the players has cut the deck, the dealer will remove one or two cards from the deck before dealing. These are referred to as the “burn cards”.

**Card Counting**

The card counting system is designed to help improve the player’s edge. The player assigns a value to each card face and then sums up these values each time a new card is turned face up. The player then uses the count he has been keeping to determine when the game is most favorable to him so that he can place larger bets and/or make changes in his playing strategy.

**Double Down**

Doubling down is when the player doubles his initial wager. When a player doubles down, he can only receive one more card. Usually, doubling down is only allowed on the player’s first two cards, although some casinos will allow the player to double down after splitting a pair. You will rarely find casinos that allow doubling of hands that have more than two cards and some casinos in Northern Nevada only allow doubling down with a two-card total of ten or eleven.

**Double for Less**

This is the same as doubling down only the second wager is slightly less than the first. Usually, when a player doubles down, his second bet can be less than or equal to his first bet but it must not exceed the first bet.

**Early Surrender**

This option is too valuable to the player to be offered very frequently by the casinos. It allows the player to surrender even when the dealer has a natural.

**Even Money**

If you take insurance when you are holding blackjack the result will be a net gain of one bet. At some casinos, the player can get paid without actually placing the insurance bet. This is referred to as “taking even money”.

**First Base**

The player sitting at first base is the player at the table who acts first on his hand.

**Flat Bet**

Betting the same amount on each hand.

**Hard Hand**

This term refers to any hand that is not a soft hand.

**Heads Up**

Playing alone at a table with no other players.

**Hit **

To hit is the same as drawing a new card from the *deck*.

**Hole Card**

This is the dealer’s card that is placed face down so that no one

can see it.

**Insurance**

A side bet offered when the dealer’s up card is an ace, this bet can be up to half of the original bet and pays 2:1 if the dealer has a natural 21.

**Late Surrender**

Only offered when the dealer does not have a natural, the late surrender option allows the player to lose only half of his bet, but he must also forfeit his hand. If the dealer has blackjack the player still loses his entire bet.

**Natural**

A natural 21 is a hand that totals 21 on the first two cards.

**Over/Under**

This is a bet that the player’s first two cards will total either more thirteen or less than thirteen when aces are counted as one.

**Preferential Shuffling**

This is when the dealer shuffles the deck when it favors the players but avoids doing so when the deck is unfavorable to the players.

**Push**

A push refers to a tie hand. When the player and dealer tie, the

original bet is returned to the player.

**Shoe**

The shoe is normally reserved for games where more than one deck of cards is used and holds the cards that have not yet been dealt

out.

**Soft Hand**

Refers to any hand with an ace that can be counted as an eleven without going bust. In a soft hand, it is always possible to draw at least one card without exceeding a point value of 21.

** Split Hand**

In blackjack, players have the option of splitting a hand if the first two cards dealt out have the same rank. When splitting a hand, the player must place another bet for the second hand that is equivalent to the first bet and the new hands are then played out separately.

**Spread**

The option to place more than one bet before the cards are dealt.

**Stand**

To indicate to the dealer that you don’t want any more cards.

* Stiff (hand) *

A stiff hand has a very small chance of winning regardless of how the hand is played out (usually 12 – 16).

**Surrender**

This option is rarely allowed, as it is too favorable to the player. It allows the player to give back his first two cards in exchange for a refund of half of the original bet. Some hands are so bad (such as 16 vs. a dealer’s 10) that it would cost the player less to surrender than play out his hand.

**Third Base**

The player sitting at third base is the one who is last to act on his hand.

**Up card**

This is the dealer’s first card and is dealt face up. Part of making the correct playing decision requires consideration of the dealer’s up card.

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**A 2**: Card counters also use a special terminology. These terms are described below.

**Betting Correlation**

Betting correlation gives an estimate of the accuracy of the card counting system. It is a measure of how well the card weights correlate to the change in how favorable the cards are to the player once the player has seen the cards and they have been removed from the deck.

**Back Counting**

Usually done while standing in the back of the players at the table, back counting is when you count the cards and wait for the count to become favorable before you sit down to play.

**Balanced Count**

The balanced count is used by most counting systems and is used by any counting system that has a count that starts at zero when the cards are shuffled and ends in zero when all the cards have been exposed.

**Bet Spread**

The bet spread is the ratio between maximum and minimum bet size. For example, the bet spread for a player using $20 maximum bets and $5 minimum bets is 4:1.

**Card Weight**

Card weight is the value assigned to each card face. As each new card gets exposed, the weight of the card gets added to the “count”. Usually, weights are small integer values like –1, +1, or +2.

**Count**

The count is a number that the player uses to estimate how favorable or unfavorable the deck is.

**Cover Bet**

Sometimes card counters will make a bad bet in order to fool the pit bosses that the player is not counting cards. This is called a cover bet.

**Insurance Correlation**

Insurance correlation provides an idea of the accuracy of the card counting system for predicting when to take insurance. It is a measure of how well the card weights correlate to the change in how favorable it is for the player to place an insurance bet.

**Penetration**

Good penetration is very important to card counters. It refers to the number of cards that have been dealt before the cards are shuffled. Penetration is usually expressed as a percentage of the cards, as in 65% penetration.

**Playing Efficiency**

This is the effectiveness of strategy variations in tracking the optimal playing strategy as the make-up of the deck changes. Efficiency is given by E=AG/PG, where AG is the Actual Gain from making the strategy changes and PG is the Possible Gain that could be made by using a playing strategy that is supposed to be “computer perfect”.

**Running Count**

This is the sum of the weights of all the cards that have been exposed since the dealer shuffled the deck.

**Shuffle Tracking**

Some players will try to predict which sections of the deck or shoe will be most favorable. This is called shuffle tracking and is based on the locations of favorable sections of the previous deck or shoe and on studying the method used to shuffle the decks of cards.

**Side Count**

In addition to the main count, there can be a side count. It usually involves a single card face, as in an ace side count.

**Ten Poor**

Ten poor refers to a deck that has a lower than average number of tens and face cards.

**Ten Rich**

Exactly the opposite of ten poor, ten rich refers to a deck that has a higher than average density of tens and face cards.

**True Count**

The true count is the count that has been adjusted according to the number of cards that have not been dealt. To get the true count, players divide the running count by the number of decks that have not yet been dealt (or half-decks).

**Unbalanced Count**

As opposed to the balanced count system, the unbalanced count system is one where the count starts or ends on a non-zero value. Red 7 is an example of an unbalanced count.

**Wonging**

Wonging is when a player attempts to improve his edge by placing wagers only when the count is favorable and sitting out when the count is not favorable.

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**A 3**: Because blackjack is the most popular table game in American casinos, Home-Blackjack tries to reflect that popularity by providing an abundant amount of articles about blackjack. Unlike most casino games, if you are a skillful blackjack player, it is actually possible to improve your edge over the house significantly. It is a very complicated game, however, since the games and rules vary from casino to casino and even within the same casino. The number of decks used and the particular rules of the casino affect the strategy to use at the game, which means there is a lot to write about.

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** A 4: ** While there is a general agreement that players can play with a small, long-run advantage in blackjack, there is disagreement about how much this advantage translates to in real casinos. Rec.gamblers has performed some simulations which have shown different amounts of potential player advantage depending on strategies, exact rules, and playing conditions and these simulations have shown gains of about 1% (although in ideal circumstances this could conceivably get higher). The 1% is equivalent to about a penny gain for every dollar bet, but the variance is very high in this game so the slight advantage one might gain is by no

means guaranteed. Back

** A 5: ** Depending on the skill of the card counter, the type of counting system used, and the particular house rules that the player must play under, the average card counter will have an edge of about 1.5%. You will rarely find a casino with house rules that would allow the player 2% edge, even with single deck games. With multi-deck games, the player’s edge is usually less than 1%.

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**A 6**: Card counting is not illegal even though the casinos would like you to think it is. Card counters are simply more skillful players than the average blackjack player and the Nevada courts have ruled that players are allowed to use any information that is made available to them to play their best game provided that there is no collusion between a player and casino personnel. If, for example, a dealer accidentally holds the cards in a manner that allows the player to see the hole card, the player can legally make use of this information without breaking any laws.

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** A 7: ** In the casinos in Atlantic City, card counters cannot be banned, whereas in Nevada, casinos are free to refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason. Players can be barred from playing blackjack or from playing at the casino entirely and if the player continues to insist on playing at a casino from which he has been banned, he can be arrested for trespassing.

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** A 8: ** The house rules and the number of decks being played affect the expected gain for basic strategy play. In the chart below the player’s expectation for a variety of games are summarized. All numbers are in units of percent of initial bet.

<– number of decks –>

| 1 | 2 | 4 | 6 | 20 | 100 |

—————-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+

AC | .1541 -.2228 -.3991 -.4569 -.5368 -.5638 |

AC + LSR | .1761 -.1717 -.3323 -.3843 -.4552 -.4790 |

AC + ESR | .7694 .3952 .2265 .1721 .0968 .0714 |

—————-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+

strip | .0409 -.3214 -.4889 -.5437 -.6245 -.6447 |

strip + LSR | .0707 -.2685 -.4239 -.4744 -.5429 -.5659 |

strip + DAS | .1809 -.1795 -.3472 -.4021 -.4779 -.5034 |

strip + ESR | .6511 .2927 .1320 .0801 .0084 -.0157 |

—————-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+

vegas |-.1527 -.5257 -.7015 -.7590 -.8445 -.8663 |

vegas + LSR |-.1095 -.4594 -.6221 -.6747 -.7469 -.7713 |

vegas + DAS |-.0103 -.3813 -.5570 -.6146 -.6951 -.7223 |

vegas + ESR | .5403 .1720 .0046 -.0493 -.1245 -.1500 |

—————-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+

reno |-.4291 -.7400 -.8906 -.9404 -1.0154 -1.0337 |

reno + LSR |-.3858 -.6737 -.8113 -.8560 -.9178 -.9387 |

reno + DAS |-.3121 -.6176 -.7658 -.8151 -.8840 -.9073 |

reno + ESR | .2639 -.0423 -.1846 -.2307 -.2307 -.3174 |

—————-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+——-+

Typical Atlantic City Rules

dealer stands on soft 17

doubling down is permitted on any two cards

doubling down is permitted after a split

splitting again after you have already split is not allowed

Typical Rules for the Las Vegas Strip

dealer stands on soft 17

doubling down on any two cards is permitted but not after a split

Typical Rules for Downtown Las Vegas

dealer hits on soft 17

doubling down on any two cards is permitted but not after a split

**Typical Rules for Reno **

dealer hits on soft 17

doubling down is allowed on a two card total of 10 or 11 only

**DAS = Double After Splitting**

LSR = Late Surrender

ESR = Early Surrender

** A 9: ** In addition to the more surface differences, such as the fact that single or double decks are usually hand held whereas games with for or more decks are dealt from the shoe, there are some more fundamental mathematical differences too.

To begin with, single deck blackjack is usually better for card counters, basic strategists, and amateurs. Also, with four or more decks, busts are less likely to occur since a player could conceivably draw a hand like 2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2 (for a total of 18 points), which are impossible in a single deck hand. Busting less actually helps the dealer’s hand more than the player’s hand because, according to strict rules, must hit more often than the players. In addition, with multi-deck games, blackjack also occurs less frequently, which is bad since you get paid 3 to 2 for those. In short, multiple decks will cost a basic strategist nearly 0.5% in advantage and this is

more than you would get from all but the very best package of favorable extra rules. This is an intuitive explanation but if you want a complete mathematically sound proof, there are combinatorial analysis programs

that exist for this purpose.

Finally, for card counters, multiple decks offer less frequent opportunities for large favorable bets because the count is less volatile. For example, consider the difference between a jar with one black marble and one white marble versus a jar with one hundred black marbles and one hundred white marbles. If you draw half the marbles from the jar with one black marble and one white marble, there is a one in two chance that the remaining marble is white. If, on the other hand, you draw half the marbles from the jar with one hundred black marbles and one hundred

white marbles, there is only a 1 in 100,891,344,545,564,193,334,812,497,256 chance.

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** A 10: ** It is commonly believed that wrong plays by the player at third base might take the dealer’s bust card or leave the dealer a good card, but this is not true. As long as shuffling is sufficient to randomize the cards, incorrect plays made by other players have just as much chance of helping as

hurting. Still, poor players can cause other players frustration, which may affect how well they play and increase the likelihood of making mistakes. It is wise to temper your anger if there is a bad player at the table.

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** A 11: ** This depends on a number of factors. For basic strategy players, where the player sits has no significant effect on his expected return. For those card counters employing a variety of strategies, third base is probably the best seat since it allows you to see the most cards before playing your hand. For “front loading” dealers, the best seat would be the one that gives you the best chance at getting a glimpse of the dealer’s hole card.

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**A 12**: The card counting system that is explained below is an unbalanced ten count that is 100 percent accurate for determining when to take insurance. However, as a general-purpose card counting system it is fairly weak and not recommended. Nonetheless, it is useful for illustrating many of the principles behind card counting.

For single deck games:

- Start the count at –4 when the deck is shuffled
- For 10, J, Q, and K count –2
- For everything else count +1 (including aces)
- When the count is positive, bet high. When the

count is negative, bet low. - When the count is positive, take insurance.
- At all times, play basic strategy.

For N deck games:

- Start the count at (-4 * N)
- The rest of the rules are the same.

** Notes: ** This counting method is unique because it is perfectly accurate for dealing with insurance. The player has the advantage when the count is positive so he should take the insurance bet. On the other hand, the house has the advantage when the count is negative so the player should not take the insurance bet.

It is best to count the cards by counting several cards at once. This method is easy to practice if you do the following:

- Counting one card at a time, count through a deck of cards. Begin at –4 and count through the entire deck. After you have seen all of the cards, your count should be zero. If not, you have made a mistake in your counting. Repeat the exercise until you can do it quickly without any mistakes.
- Counting two cards at a time, count through the deck of cards. As you are counting, look for the following patterns, adding the correct amount for each pattern:

(X = 10, N = non-ten)

NN: +2

XN: -1

XX: -4

Again, the count should be zero after you have seen all the cards in the deck. Repeat this exercise until you can do it efficiently.

- Counting three cards at a time, count through the deck. Look for the following patter, adding the correct amount for each pattern.

(X = 10, N = non-ten)

NNN +3

XNN 0 (this is a common pattern)

XXN –3

- Practice playing and counting cards against a computer blackjack game. It might help if you count the cards by counting an entire hand (either the player’s or the dealer’s) at once. If there are more than three cards in the hand, you can mentally break the hand up into groups of 1, 2, or 3 cards (look for XNN patterns and ignore them since they add up to zero). You should also count the cards just before the dealer picks up the hand unless you are counting for insurance. In this case, count your cards and the dealer’s cards immediately.

**A 13**: There are number of approaches that can be taken to answer this question.

One approach is to evaluate the different systems by simulation. This approach tends to obscure the unique advantages of each system but it does show how a system will perform in one particular realistic casino playing situation and makes it easy to see the trade-off between performance and ease of use.

Another approach estimates several performance parameters of each system that collectively approximate the system’s inherent potential. Using this approach it is possible to study the different blackjack systems in detail. This, in turn, should allow for a better, more precise comparison of different systems and assist efforts to improve a particular system. Also, with this approach the results obtained may be used to determine which counting system is theoretically most profitable. The disadvantage of this approach is that it does not address the issue of how easy or difficult it is to use this counting system under actually playing conditions.

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**A 14: **There are many different types of counting systems and there is an important tradeoff between the degree of complexity and theoretical power. The more complex systems are harder to use and more error-prone.

Below is a summary of a comparison study of different systems. The study was done by Home-Blackjack.

Guidelines regarding complexity are described in the results paper, but remember complexity is a subjective measure. Power is the integer nearest to p/0.05%, where p is the % advantage of the strategy one-on-one in a single deck, dealer hits on soft 17, no DDAS, splitting a second time is allowed, game that is dealt down to twenty cards, and using a 1-4 betting spread. 15,000,000 hands guarantee correctness to within 1 point 99% of the time.

name complex power card weights reference

A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 X

————————————————————————–

BASIC 0 -5 Steve Jacobs

UNBALANCED 10 2 13 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 -2 Steve Jacobs

SUPER-SIMPLE OPT-I 2.5 16 1 1 1 1 -1 WGBJB (1)

REVERE PM 3.5 16 -1 1 1 1 1 1 -1 PBaaB

RED SEVEN 3.5 19 -1 1 1 1 1 1 R:1 -1 BiB

OPT1-6+6 5 18 1 1 1 1 -1 WGBJB

WONG HIGH-LOW 5 19 -1 1 1 1 1 1 -1 PB

ZEN 5 19 -1 1 1 2 2 2 1 -2 BiB

HORSESHOE 6 14 1 2 2 3 2 2 1 -1 -3 MDB (2)

REVERE POINT COUNT 6 17 -2 1 2 2 2 2 1 -2 PBaaB

OPT1-6+6 W/ ACE 7 23 1 1 1 1 -1 WGBJB

ANDERSEN 9.5 16 -2 1 1 1 2 1 1 -1 -1 TtToLV

USTON APC 10 22 1 2 2 3 2 2 1 -1 -3 MDB

WGBJB: “World’s Greatest BlackJack Book” by Humble and

Cooper

PBaaB: “Playing Blackjack as a Business” by Lawrence Revere

BiB: “Blackbelt in Blackjack” by Arnold Snyder

PB: “Professional Blackjack” by Stanford Wong

TtToLV: “Turning the Tables on Las Vegas” by Ian Andersen

MDB: “Million Dollar Blackjack” by Ken Uston

(1) with modifications by ‘thunk’

(2) with modifications by Paul C. Kim

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**A 15: **The betting correlation, insurance correlation, and playing efficiency are listed below for several counting systems. The numbers provide an idea of the effectiveness of the counting system. Where there are two numbers listed, it is because an ace side count has been added in addition to the main count.

EXPLANATION OF COUNTING SYSTEMS

COUNTING COUNTING VALUES “BEST” EFFICIENCY CORRELATION

SYSTEMS 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 X A SOURCE PLAY+ace BET+ace INSURE

——– —————————- —— ——– ——– ——

Griffin 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 -1 0 Griffin 64-64+ .85-.95 .85

Hi-Opt I 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 -1 0 Humble 61-63 .88-.97 .85

Hi-Opt II 1 1 2 2 1 1 0 0 -2 0 Humble 67-67+ .91-.99 .91

High-Low 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 -1 -1 Wong 51-63 .97 .76-.85

Ita 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 -1 -1 -1 Sys.Res. 53-63+ .96

Red 7’s 1 1 1 1 1 ** 0 0 -1 -1 Snyder 54-64+ .98 .78-.87

Unbal 10’s 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 -2 1 Roberts 61-61+ .73-.94 1.00

Uston +- 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 -1 -1 Uston 55-64+ .95 .76-.85

Uston APC 1 2 2 3 2 2 1 -1 -3 0 Uston 69-69+ .91-.99 .90

Wong Halves 1 2 2 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -2 Wong 57-67+ .99 .72-.85

Zen 1 1 2 2 2 1 0 0 -2 -1 Snyder 63-67+ .97 .85-.91

** red 7’s +1, black 7’s 0

Note: Playing efficiencies have a practical maximum of about 0.7.

“Unbal 10’s” is short for “Unbalanced 10 Count”

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**A 16**: Most likely, penetration does not effect basic strategy expectation . The cards will be in a random order after the deck has been shuffled unless the dealer is cheating. It won’t matter if there are several rounds or only a single round between shuffles unless, of course, the player is counting cards or using other techniques to gain an advantage. If, on the other hand, the dealer is using preferential shuffling,

this will hurt both the basic strategy players and the card counters.

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** A 17: ** In multi-deck games using Atlantic City rules, basic strategy for late surrender is as follows:

Surrender hard 16 (but not 8-8) vs. 9, 10, ace

Surrender hard 15 vs. 10

If you are not a big risk-taker, you should also surrender hard 15 vs. ace.

There are some casinos that let you surrender your first two cards. In this case you lose half of your bet and do not have to play out your hand. With an early surrender you get back half of your wager even if the dealer has blackjack. If the dealer has blackjack with a late surrender, though, you lose your entire wager.

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** A 18: ** In multi action blackjack, the player is allowed to simultaneously place up to three bets on the same blackjack hand. The player is dealt only one hand and three bets are placed against the same dealer up card but each bet gets a different draw card. Many players are nervous about hitting stiff hands against a dealer’s up card that is a seven or higher, since they will lose all three bets if they bust. Basic strategy is completely unchanged in this game, however, and the correct strategy is exactly the same as if the player had only a single bet risk.

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** A 19: ** This game was introduced by Caesar’s Tahoe at some of its blackjack tables and it allows Over-13 and Under-13 side bets. These bets are based on the total of the player’s first two cards when aces are counted as one. Under-13 bets win when the player’s cards total 12 or under, while over-13 bets win when the player’s cards total 14 or higher.

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**A 20**: The Over/Under count uses the following card weights:

Count +1 for Ace, 2, 3, and 4

Count –1 for tens and face cards

The deck becomes favorable for counts of +2 and above and for counts –4 and below. If the count is +3 and above, place over-13 bets, but if the count is –4 and below, place under-13 bets.

With the counting method described above, almost all of the player’s profit comes from the over-13 and under-13 side bets. On the downside, this counting scheme is not recommended for playing the blackjack portion of the bet because it will only allow the player to play about even with the house on the blackjack bets. On the upside, however, the over/under bets can be very profitable if there is good penetration. A 6-deck over/under game with good penetration can give the player an edge of 1.5% or more. Single deck over/under games with good penetration, which are very rare, can give the player an advantage of over 4%.

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**A 21: **There are a number of blackjack books out there and they, obviously, could not all be included in the brief book review below.

Dalton, Michael. *Blackjack: A Professional Reference*. Spur of the Moment Publishing, PO BOX 541967, Merritt Island, FL; 1991.

(1964 pages)

This book is a comprehensive reference to the game of blackjack and was written by a computer systems engineer at NASA. It includes over 1000 entries listing articles, books, magazines, newsletters, publications, reports, software, videos and other products for blackjack players. It also includes a complete blackjack dictionary explaining blackjack terminology, rules, strategy and system descriptions, and blackjack trivia. There are also complete basic strategy charts that cover almost any blackjack game in the world. It is fully cross-referenced with

recommendations.

Blackjack Video: *Winning at Blackjack with Bobby Singer*, JCI Video, 1987, 103 minutes.

This video presents a sales pitch/introduction to a card counting seminar hosted by Bobby Singer. On the back of the video cover Singer is billed as the “world’s biggest winner at the game of blackjack”. There are five areas covered by the tape: basic strategy, card counting, money-management, team play and casino awareness. The information provided, however, is incomplete. The section on basic strategy, for example, only covers hard and soft hands and the section on card counting covers only the card values for the Hi-Lo count but does not cover bet sizing or strategy adjustments. For an additional $149 you can get the rest of the information and this includes a set of notebooks with lessons and audio tapes that cover the Hi-Lo count and an 800 number that you can call to find out where the best games are in the city that you plan to play in.

Singer does make an interesting point regarding team play. He advocates playing 4 deck or up shoes with the “Big Player” approach developed by Uston. Singer advised using a counter, at one or more tables, who flat bets and uses hand signals (e.g., scratching your head) to call in a “big money” player. The counter indicates the current count to the big money player by stacking his chips in a certain way. In this method, the big money player is supposed to then be able to play out the rest of the shoe free of heat. If the count does go bad, the big player finds a way to leave the table, for example, by saying he has to use the bathrooms.

*The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling*, Edwin Silberstang,

Plume, 1980 and 1989.

This book presents a general overview of casino gambling. Chapters in the book cover casino operations, comps, credit, junkets and the games offered. There are detailed sections on baccarat, craps, keno, roulette, slots, video poker (89 edition only) and blackjack that give the staff, rules, and procedures of each game, the house advantage, a glossary, and the best plays. There are also anecdotes about playing the games. The book does not provide much information on poker or sports betting because the author has separate books on both subjects. Consequently, Red Dog and Pai Gow poker are not covered in this book.

*The Winner’s Guide to Casino Gambling* includes a section with correct basic strategy information on 1, 2, and 4+ deck games with and without DAS as well as a discussion of rules variations for the Las Vegas Strip, Downtown Las Vegas, and Reno. The author presents the Hi-Opt I count (not by that name) and explains how it is to be used for bet sizing and insurance bets, but does not present strategy adjustments. Also included with the book is a section written by a professional blackjack player about life as a pro and how to hide the fact that you are card counting and. This is a great book to read if you are looking for a single volume introduction to casino gambling.

*Fundamentals of Blackjack* by Chambliss and Roginski

This book includes some very useful charts with good information but beyond that, it is basically a standard blackjack book. It is a good source of supplemental material for whatever counting system you are using. The counting system discussed in the book is not a system that you would actually want to use, but the tables in the book at least don’t assume it is the system you would use. Since the data for the tables is taken from Snyder’s *Blackjack Formula* instead of computer simulations the accuracy of the information is not as good as it would have been had it been taken from the simulations.

*Card Counting for the Casino Executive *by Bill Zender

As the name indicates, this book was written for casino executives, which is precisely why it is an interesting read for card counters. The book pays a great deal of attention to how casino executives can identify and discourage card counters. There is also a list of ways that players can win either honestly or by cheating.

*Million Dollar Blackjack* by Ken Uston

This is a good all-around blackjack book with a balanced view of the game. The advanced counting scheme described in the book is much more difficult than most counting schemes, however.

*World’s Greatest Blackjack Book *by Humble and *Cooper*

Although this is a good book with a reasonable counting strategy, the authors come across as extremely paranoid about cheating. In fact, they blame virtually all of their losses on cheating. The authors are also very negative about Lawrence Revere so if you are looking for a book that counters the point of view in *Playing Blackjack as a Business, *this would be an appropriate book to read.

*Blackbelt in Blackjack *by Arnold Snyder

This book presents the Red Seven count quite simply and effectively against single deck games. The Zen count in the book is more powerful, but more difficult too. Snyder also talks about “depth charging”, a subject not usually covered in other books, but this book is probably more for advanced players than beginning players.

*Theory of Blackjack* by Peter Griffin

For those of you looking for a good book that covers the mathematical considerations of the game, this is the book for you. If you are not big on the mathematics, you may want to skip this book.

*Beat the Dealer *by Edward Thorp

Considered a classic blackjack book, *Beat the Dealer* is well worth the read. It is a good book for card counters even if the card counting schemes are somewhat outdated.

*Professional Blackjack *by Stanford Wong

This book is also considered a classic. Many people rate it very high and it contains a wealth of good information.

*Playing Blackjack as a Business *by Lawrence Revere

This book has very accurate basic strategy information and includes some nice colored charts, however Revere’s attitude that he is right and everyone else is wrong is offensive. Also, while the numbers in the tables are extremely accurate (provided by Julian Braun), the numbers Revere provides for player’s expected gain are inflated.

*Scarne on Cards* by John Scarne

Serious blackjack players should actually avoid this book, as it presents incorrect information about the game. It actually has negative reading value.

*Turning the Tables on Las Vegas*by Ian Anderson

A fun book to read, *Turning the Tables on Las Vegas* describes different ways of disguising your play to avoid being spotted by casino personnel.

*Casino Tournament Strategy *by Stanford Wong

Sold for a reasonable price, this book provides information on both tournament blackjack and tournament craps. It provides useful information about the unique situations that come up in tournament play. It is definitely worth reading if you are considering playing in a tournament.

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