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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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A Final Word on Blackjack from "Mr. Aces"

15 February 2006

In today's final installment of my interview with "Mr. Aces", a veteran blackjack player who has mastered the art of playing the game for both fun and profit, he offers his thoughts on the importance of consistent play, opinions about variations of the game of Twenty-One and a fun approach to tipping good dealers.

Thrifty Gambler: How important are good players at your table, especially at "first base" (player position number one) and "third base" (the final player to act before the dealer plays out the hand)?

Mr. Aces: I think everybody at the table is important, not just at the base spots where there always seems to be an emphasis. But just as important as good play is consistent play. If everybody at the table plays a consistent game of blackjack, it seems everybody stays longer and the players benefit from longer winning streaks. By consistent I mean this: Say the player sitting at third base never hits his two-card total of 16 against the dealer's seven through ace. Even though I disagree with his strategy, I can deal with it if he does it all the time. It's when a player will do something like that one time but not the next that the 'flow' of the cards can be disrupted and things can get bad.

TG: What makes you get up and walk away from a table?

MA: I'll move on if the table becomes too crowded or if someone sits down who really doesn't know how to play the game. Also, I'll leave a table if one of the players bets a few hands, sits out a hand, then gets back in only to start that same pattern of play all over again. That kind of thing can become very irritating for serious blackjack players. The only time I will tolerate that situation is when the dealer gets on an incredible hot streak. But it's blackjack courtesy for a player wishing to sit out a hand to inform his fellow players.

TG: What is your opinion of variations of the game of blackjack?

MA: I don't think much of them. Games such as Spanish Blackjack and Double Exposure Blackjack give the player the illusion of having a better chance to win when in reality the concessions a player has to make for what seems to be more liberal rules offset any advantage. I stay away from those games and play the traditional game the way it's supposed to be played.

TG: How do you tip a good dealer?

MA: I used to tip dealers the standard way by just playing a chip for them outside my betting spot. But then I started leaving the chip I'm betting for the dealer in the circle with my own bet. When I win I'll take the dealer's winning chips and start a pile of chips for the dealer separate from my own stack of chips. If I get the pile to start building up, I'll make sporadic bets of varying amounts. It seems to create a lot of fun at the table for both me and the dealer, especially when the shift changes and a relief dealer comes in. I'll point to the stack and say: 'O.K., let's see if you can continue to make it grow.' Once I got the dealer's stack up to $100, but I was losing $200 for the session! It was worth a laugh when I pushed that $100 to the dealer to drop in the toke box while I'll walked away a loser.

TG: Does the dealer play an important role in the way you play the game?

MA: Yes, dealers are a big part of the game. First, from a psychological aspect: If you're at a table with a stone-faced dealer who doesn't show any emotion and who doesn't seem to necessarily want the players to win, it contributes to making the night pretty long. Also, a dealer who isn't very good or is inexperienced can spoil your game. You don't want to see dealers make mistakes like being too quick to scoop up your money when in reality you've won the hand. On the contrary, I don't necessarily want to play with an overly chatty dealer. A good dealer will strike a happy medium by just being responsive to the course of play, such as smiling when the situation warrants, or expressing displeasure when the cards aren't going in the favor of the players. You just like to feel the dealer is on your side.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp