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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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"Automatic Win" Catching on at Area Blackjack Tables

19 December 2007

Frank Mugnolo, president and CEO of Casino Gaming LLC in Broadview, a southwest suburb of Chicago, had an idea a few years ago. It was a new blackjack bet. Not a gimmicky, budget-busting side wager, rather an option which players could exercise in select situations at the tables.

Here's the premise: If a player is holding a two-card 20 (10/10 or A/9) and the dealer is showing a 10-value up-card (no blackjack), the player could elect not to play out the hand in return for keeping the original bet and being paid half its value in winnings.

He called his bet "Casino Surrender" and began to market it to casinos around the country in the spring of 2005. It proved to be successful at the properties it was offered, but never really took off the way Mugnolo had hoped.

One of the obstacles, he theorized, was that too many people confused it with standard "surrender", an option offered at some casinos that permits players to salvage half their original bet for not playing out a hand which is at a mathematical disadvantage against the dealer's up card.

Earlier this year Mugnolo renamed the bet "Automatic Win", capturing the essence of what it really is and branding the bet with an identity all its own. That was the key. A recent surge in acceptance has seen the option picked up by casinos around the country, including the Chicago area.

Automatic Win has been added to all of the blackjack tables at Harrah's Joliet and Resorts East Chicago. Other properties in this market are ready to follow suit. In addition, it is being offered at Harrah's in Metropolis, Illinois; Caesars in Indiana, and Orleans in Las Vegas. Tropicana may soon be the first casino in Atlantic City to have it. Even two riverboat properties in Louisiana recently signed on.

It's easy to identify tables that offer the option. Just look for a small gold colored placard with the words "Automatic Win".

Casino owners like Automatic Win because players stand to win 55.46 to 58.53 percent of time when they're holding a 20 against the dealer's 10. Getting players to accept it instead of playing out a hand they have a statistical advantage to win is in favor of the house.

There's something in it for players as well, especially those who keep track of the cards that have been dealt. Gaming Laboratories International in Lakewood, New Jersey ran tests and determined that when the count is at plus four or higher, accepting Automatic Win increases the player's return by up to 0.2299 percent.

For the majority which doesn't play the game at that advanced level, Automatic Win is a proposition of give and take. There's a price to pay for eliminating the gamble and accepting an automatic win amounting to 50 percent of your bet.

It's a particularly attractive option in the high limit rooms where an automatic win is enticing for gamblers who bet hundreds of dollars on every hand.

For those inclined to take even money on a blackjack versus a dealer's ace, which statistically equates to the ill-advised insurance bet, Automatic Win stands tall as a better, more flexible proposition.

Mugnolo has now turned his attention to dice. He unveiled an imaginative new craps wager at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas last month. I'll give you the details next week.

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