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Best of John Grochowski

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Blackjack Software Lets Players Hone Their Skills

6 September 2000

Not long ago, I mentioned that practicing on the computer was one way to master blackjack skills. That brought a sheaf of reader inquiries asking what software to use to practice blackjack.

I've reviewed quite a lot of blackjack software over the years. For most beginners to intermediate players, Masque Blackjack is the easiest to use. It'll help you learn basic strategy, and also can be used to learn to count cards using the Hi-Lo system. Advanced players looking to do statistical analysis or to try more complex counting systems would do well to look at Casino Verite or Conjelco's Blackjack Trainer.

If your software store doesn't have these programs, try Huntington Press at (800) 244-2224.

New software is being developed all the time, and a new CD-ROM just crossed my desk last month. Called Blackjack 6-7-8, it was developed by Hal Marcus of StickySoft Corp. in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and is available for $59.85 plus tax and shipping from StickySoft at (800) 366-8448 or online at www.blackjack678.com, and from Huntington Press at (800) 244-2224.

As in any good blackjack program, Blackjack 6-7-8 can be set to warn you if you make either a strategy or bet size mistake. If someone learning the Hi-Lo count desires, the screen will display the running count, true count, a side count of aces, the number of hands played in the shoe and the number of hands played overall.

Blackjack 6-7-8 can be set for any combination of table rules. In fact, there are a few options here not found on most programs - you can set Blackjack 6-7-8 to play Double Exposure, Over; Under 13, or Multiple Action.

Users can practice at a seven-player table, with any number of betting spots active. In most software, practice is heads-up, you against the dealer. Here you can play one betting spot, play all seven yourself, play one while having the computer play one or more of the others, or any combination.

One really unusual feature is that Blackjack 6-7-8 will provide a distraction either in music or in a sign scrolling across the table. That doesn't quite measure up to real casino distractions, but it's a nice attempt to deal with the reality that it's much easier to concentrate at a computer screen than in a busy casino.

There are dozens of unusual features, and yet the software is fun and easy to use. Blackjack 6-7-8 merits a place on my list of recommended blackjack software.

More software: Howard Marks and Anthony Singer have designed some of the most interesting, interactive and challenging video poker games around. Two of them, Pick Five and Big E, were licensed to Williams and saw a limited amount of casino play.

From a casino standpoint, they're a little too interactive - there are so many decisions to make that play tends to be a little too slow for slot managers' tastes. I've seen the games in a few Las Vegas casinos, but they've never reached the Midwest.

But now you can try the games out at home with the new Howard Marks Video Casino Games released through Hasbro Interactive. There's Pick Five, in which the player sees cards two at a time, and picks one of each two on the way toward building a five-card hand. There's also the Big E, in which there's a five-card column, with the first, third and fifth cards also being used to start five-card rows. The player sees 17 cards in sequence, and must place them along the E to try to build winning hands.

On the video poker side, the software also includes the Big H, Keep Dealin', Video Poker Gold, Carnival Poker and Blackbeard's Treasure.

But the software doesn't stop with video poker. There's a basic blackjack game, along with Side Action 21, in which the player can make a side bet on whether the dealer's hand will be 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 or bust.

Two innovative keno games are included, along with slot games called Gold of the Gods, Dragon's Gold, Paddleboat Slots and Cuckoo Clock.

Strategy tips on Big E, Big H, Pick Five and Side Action 21 are particularly helpful, because there are no published strategies for these unusual games. When Pick Five was first available in the casino market, Marks told me it was a better than 100 percent game with computer-perfect play. Here's your chance to practice.

Howard Marks Video Casino Games software is available for $29.95. Any software store should be able to order it, or check out www.howardmarks.com.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski