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Best of John Grochowski

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Unusual Slots and No-Hole Blackjack

5 January 2020

QUESTION: My friend and I have been playing slots together since we first went to a riverboat 25 years ago or so. We’ve seen A LOT of slot machines.

We were talking the other day about unusual games that weren’t necessarily all that long. The big payoffs were in jewelry instead of cash. Do you remember it? I think we saw it once on a trip to Las Vegas, but never saw it on any of the boats near us in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.

ANSWER: You’re probably remembering IGT’s Elizabeth Taylor Dazzling Diamonds game. It was one of two Elizabeth Taylor games in a series of film star-based three-reel games called Diamond Cinema. There also were Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean games.

For her games, which included a Megajackpots slot as well as Dazzling Diamonds, Taylor recorded voice messages to make it seem as if she was talking to you as you played.

Dazzling Diamonds prizes included jewelry with designs based on Taylor’s own large, varied jewelry collection.

Casinos quickly ran into problems with maintaining proper supplies of jewelry to meet winners’ demands. Managing which items needed to be stocked in which proportions brought an extra level of difficulty to slot operations.

Had the game been a megahit, slot execs might have gritted their teeth and dealt with the problem, but it wasn’t. Most quickly dropped Dazzling Diamonds and moved on to games that made as much money for the house without the extra problems.


QUESTION: My wife and I were on a cruise ship with a casino that was open while were at sea, but not in ports. I asked, and they said they were OK in international waters, but in the territory of a host country they were subject to local laws.

OK, that’s fine. But the blackjack was weird. The dealer didn’t take a hole card. Instead, he took his second card only AFTER all the players had finished playing their hands.

It felt very strange, but I wasn’t sure if it affected the house edge or strategy. It confused me, so I didn’t play very much.

ANSWER: The no hole card method makes a difference only if a dealer blackjack takes all double downs and bets on split pairs.

In the games we’re used to seeing in the U.S., a dealer who has an Ace or 10 up then checks his hole card to see if he has blackjack. If he does, that stops the hand before anyone has a chance to split or double.

In the game you describe, there is no hole card to check and nothing to stop the hand before splits and doubles. By the time the dealer gets a second card, the extra money already is on the table.

If the dealer completes a blackjack and takes only the original bets while returning split and double wagers to players, then the house edge and strategy are unchanged.

However, if a dealer blackjack takes all split and double bets, the house edge increases by 0.11 percent and you need to be less aggressive with pair splits and double downs.

Players in such games should double on hard 10 or 11 only against a dealer’s 2 through 9. Non-card counters should never double against a 10 or Ace.

Basic strategy players in the U.S. have been drilled to split Aces or 8s against any dealer up card. In a no hole card game in which a dealer blackjack takes all bets, it’s better just to hit 8-8 against 10 or Ace and to hit Ace-Ace against Ace.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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