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When video gaming devices started to make their way onto casino floors in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, the assumption of most managers was that video blackjack would be a big hit, and that video poker would struggle. After all, blackjack was the most popular casino game, far more popular than poker.
Exactly the opposite happened. Video poker became one of the hottest happenings in the industry, and video blackjack was pushed to the fringes. One of the big reasons is something we explored in this column before: On most video blackjack games, blackjacks pay only even money instead of the 3-2 you get at the tables. That spots the house an extra 2.3 percent edge.
Another reason is that video blackjack doesn't lend itself easily to the kinds of jackpots that attract players to other electronic gaming devices, including slot machines. In video blackjack, you bet a couple of quarters, you win a couple of quarters.
Nevertheless, video blackjack survives as a niche game. It does far better in jurisdictions such as Arizona that do not permit table games. There, table-sized, multi-player video blackjack games are among the most popular offerings.
Where table games are permitted, video blackjack survives on single-player machines, largely as one option on multigame machines that include slot, keno and video poker games.
Those single-player video blackjack games usually are dealt from a single electronic deck, which is reshuffled after every hand. To get the most out of the game means learning and using basic strategy for single-deck blackjack.
Let's break it down into a few simple rules, then add in a few extra little wrinkles.
Those are the basics. There are also a few little fine adjustments you can make to cut a fraction off the house edge.
Some video blackjack games, including a widespread version on IGT Game King machines, permit late surrender, meaning that if the dealer does not have blackjack, the player may surrender half the bet after the first two cards instead of playing out the hand. In single-deck blackjack, we surrender only with hard 16 against a dealer's 10 or Ace.
We also make a slight adjustment if we have a 12 that consists of a 10 and a 2, and the dealer's face-up card is a 4. In that case, we hit the 12. If the 12 consists of any other combination, we stand.
Also, if we have a 16 and the dealer shows a 10, we stand if our 16 includes any 4s or 5s. With 8-5-3, for example, we stand instead of hitting as we would with most combinations that total 16.
Video blackjack doesn't give players the opportunity to overcome the house edge through counting cards as the table game does, but those who follow the basic strategy will cut that edge as low as it goes.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.