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A Blackjack Dealer Faux Pas?

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: While on a cruise playing blackjack, there were two players and myself at the table. The first player was dealt a blackjack, the other player had a thirteen, while I, playing third base, had a seven. The dealer had an Ace as an up-card, and went on to offer even money to the player who had the blackjack.

The player with the blackjack did not understand the rule and after an explanation took the even money. The other player then hit and got a five and stayed on 18. I hit and got a ten and stayed on 17. The dealer then turned his card over and had a King. He swept the cards and money, and I asked him what he was doing. He said he had a blackjack, and I said, "No" you have an eleven as he did not declare a blackjack. He called the pit boss over and "they" agreed it was a blackjack. I said, "No" as that insurance was not even offered.

I told the pit boss and the dealer that he had played too fast and had committed an error. (I had been protesting about the dealers playing too fast all trip.) I said when I make a mistake, I have to live with it and so should they. I cashed out and went to a slot machine.

A waiter came up to me and told me the house would like to buy me a drink. When I got it, I took a sip and waited until I caught the pit boss' eye. I then toasted him and said "See, you know I was right" Your opinion, please. Bob Z.

Anytime, Bob, you sail the high seas on a floating casino, realize the blackjack game you’re plopped in front of is the only game in town. When it comes to competition for your play, open water cruise ships have none. You are part of a captive audience whose only escape is to leap over the rail.

The casino thinks that you are more than likely a one-timer on vacation, with disposable income burning a hole in your pocket. The casino isn’t looking for repeat business because you’re probably never coming back.

Sending a cocktail to you was definitely NOT an admission of any error on their part. The return wink-and-a-drink probably cost the casino 50 cents. It was a smart move on his end, and it seemed to somewhat satisfy you on yours.

So, Bob, let’s examined what happened. To begin with, was it a blackjack or was it an 11?

Indisputably, it was a blackjack. That card total (21) plays as it shows, even if you believe you were not offered insurance. Plus, in between the even money payoff, Player Two getting his five and you getting your ten, you didn’t make any noise, like, “Hey, buddy, what about me” regarding insurance. Moreover, as a dealer, I was trained NOT to verbally offer insurance, but to swipe my hand across the insurance line. Might that possibly have happened, Bob, and you missed it?

Fewer disputes occur when using hand gestures over vocalizations. This is comparable to scratching your cards when you want a hit instead of just saying, “Hit me.” Since the surveillance camera can’t pick up what you are saying, the casino wants to see some motion from you and not a verbal directive.

Now, let’s examine your being peeved over the speed of the game. Casinos love time and motion studies. They know it’s simply more cost effective for the casino when their dealers deal more hands per hour. They are also aware that speed kills on a blackjack table, or anywhere else in the casino for that matter. The more blackjack hands you are exposed to increases the built-in house advantage, the faster a speedy dealer will annihilate your cruise bankroll. It’s all math to the casino, Bob.

As far as taking even money, or insurance, when the dealer shows an Ace, with the exception of counting cards, making either of these wagers is financially not a sound move, even if, as first base was, dealt a blackjack. Of course, the player on first base wanted the proverbial bird in hand. But by taking even-money in blackjack, mathematically it will cost that player 4% in profits over the long haul, simply because the dealer is more likely to NOT have a blackjack than to have one.

Sorry, Bob, that I couldn’t offer more support. I’m just the messenger here.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: Almost all life depends on probabilities. - Francois Voltaire