I Hope This Doesn’t Mean 6:5 Blackjack Is Coming To Venetian and Palazzo

Venetian Blackjack Table
Venetian Blackjack Table

I was doing my weekly catch up on Las Vegas news on Sunday when I saw a post on Wizard of Odds that made me cringe a little.

A little background first. Wizard of Odds is my go-to for any gaming odds and strategy. I source their information often. In fact, when I wrote about where to find the best blackjack in Las Vegas for Vegas Chatter I used their information.

I didn’t realize that Michael Shackleford worked at Las Vegas Sands (Venetian & Palazzo) until I read that he was no longer working there.

Let it be known I am no longer working for the Venetian. It would be an understatement to say that my feelings about the termination are acrimonious.

…I started with the Sands corporation on April 30, 2012. My job title was Director of Gaming Mathematics. Physically, I worked in the Venetian, but my job was at the corporate level, pertaining to all things table games in all the Sands casinos worldwide.

Venetian and Palazzo both have some of the best blackjack that you will find on the Las Vegas strip. Specifically, Palazzo is my favorite place to play blackjack on the Vegas strip.

I’m not sure if Mr. Shackleford is the reason for the good blackjack, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt. The rest of their games are strip average at best. Venetian and Palazzo’s 3:2 blackjack dealt from a shoe for all denominations stand out from the Continuous Shuffle Machines at MGM properties and the 6:5 blackjack at Caesars properties.

I hope Mr. Shackleford’s departure from Las Vegas Sands doesn’t mean that the blackjack will go away too. Even though I don’t know him I wish Mr. Shackleford the best.


Blackjack Myths

Blackjack - 7+7+7=21

Last week I wrote an article for Vegas Chatter asking what kind of person you’d rather play blackjack with. The question was really a lesser of all evils. Ultimately we’d all like to play blackjack with people who “know how to play.” Unfortunately we rarely get to play with these kind of people.

People that know how to play exist, but there are a lot of myths that people spout out at the table that are just not true. The biggest myth I’ve come across is that when a person makes a bad play by one player will adversely effect the other players (i.e. stay on 14 against a 10). After listening to a Betting Dork Podcast with Jeff Ma last year I learned that the math says this isn’t true and that it’s psychological.

There is also a psychological myth that Continuous Shuffle Machines (CSM) are also bad for blackjack odds. Mathematically there’s no truth to that. I never win at a CMS and I generally stay away this kind of blackjack game.

While doing a little research last week I found a list of blackjack myths at Blackjack Age and wanted to share so you know if people really know what they’re talking about when they bitch about you “not knowing the rules”.

  • Always Figure the Dealer for 10 in the Hole – …about 30% of the cards in the deck are worth 10, so there is really only a 3:7 chance in any given round that the blackjack dealer actually has a 10 in the hole.
  • Bad Players at the Table Hurt Your Chances (as discussed above) – In reality, mathematically speaking, bad players have no real effect on the outcome of the game.
  • The Order of the Cards is Sacred – While it’s true that another player surrendering or someone new joining the game will change the order of the cards, there is just as much a chance that their decisions will result in a shift that will help you to win.
  • Avoid Choosing the Last Position at the Table – The decisions of the other players at the table shared just as big a part in leading up to the end of the round and the order of the cards as you did.
  • Always Take Insurance When Dealt a Blackjack – However, taking insurance in every instance is often one of the worst moves you could make. When you take insurance you give up 13% of the profit that blackjack pays, cutting your winnings drastically.
  • Card Counting is Illegal – Stop worrying about getting caught and learn this great strategy because in reality, card counting in blackjack is perfectly legal and can greatly increase your chances.

Conceptually, the author is right about everything above. However, I know card counters that have been banned from casinos and this isn’t something to take lightly if you care about where you play blackjack.

My reasoning to share these myths is just to remind you to relax and have fun when you play blackjack. There is so much discussion of right and wrong when playing blackjack that everyone will tell a novice something different.

Just play the same way every time and don’t be a jerk and you’ll be fine with most people at the table.

** Jeff Ma was part of the MIT blackjack team from the book Bringing Down The House and movie 21. Check his wiki to learn more. He’s smart.