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Best of John Grochowski
Electronic betting14 July 2016
The games have been widely accepted in some international markets, but in the U.S., there has been more resistance. Players like to have a dealer with real cards, and they like to handle real chips. Automated games, where both gameplay and wagering are electronic, and semi-automated game, usually with live gameplay but electronic betting pads, are niche games. The biggest success has come with electronic roulette.
But if the games gain player acceptance, there are a number of potential positives. In introducing Shaq Jack, a semi-automatic blackjack game developed by Dynamic Gaming Systems in cooperation with former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal, the Tropicana in Atlantic City is emphasizing the elimination of tensions between experienced blackjack players and newcomers.
“Shaq Jack makes it possible for new or casual players to play blackjack without the intimidation of sitting at a communal table with a dealer and experienced players,” Trop General Manager Steve Callender said in a news release. “On the other hand, serious players will enjoy Shaq Jack because they don’t have to worry about newbies ruining their game by playing a bad hand. It’s just you against the dealer.”
I’ve heard from many players who have said they stick to other games because of flak they’ve taken over strategy mistakes. At the tables, I’ve often seen players pile on verbal abuse because they think a newbie has taken the dealer’s bust card.
The reality is that another player’s strategy errors help you as often as they hurt you, but try telling that to a player who has just lost a hand because someone else drew a 10 that would have busted the dealer.
Shaq Jack, which has carved out a following in Pennsylvania, has several unique characteristics. To start with, there’s the look and feel. The arm rests have an orange pebbled basketball look. Foot rests ask if you can fill Shaq’s shoes, and have outlines of the big man’s size 22s.
Players sit at single-seat video consoles that need not be near the dealer. A camera is focused on the dealer table, and a live dealer uses real cards. Three player hands are dealt, and before play begins you can touch the screen and choose to play hand No. 1, 2 or 3. All the usual options – hit, stand, split and double down – are available to you.
Casino operators long have hoped automatic and semi-automatic table games would gain in popularity, and not just because of elimination of hostilities among blackjack players.
With a system such as Shaq Jack, player consoles can be placed at locations throughout the casino. At most live tables, a dealer can serve up to seven players at a time. With a semi-automatic system with remote consoles, one dealer can serve dozens of players at a time, leading to a potential reduction in labor costs.
Electronic betting means casinos don’t have to buy chips to stock the tables, nor do they need to have chips counted, stacked and returned to tables after they’re redeemed at cashier’s cages.
And with electronic wagering, payoffs are made instantly and are virtually mistake free. Dealers don’t have to make payoffs and can deal more hands per hour.
Automatic and semi-automatic games still are not my favorite way to play. I like being up close and personal with the dealer and other players. But such games certainly have their attractions, and Shaq Jack has some fun features for those who want to give it a shot.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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Best of John Grochowski