I was at a casino recently that didn’t offer surrender—not in the reports, not in the posted rules, not in the signage. Nevertheless, at my first 16 against a dealer’s face card I asked if I could surrender it and get half of my bet back. The dealer shrugged. The pit boss shrugged. Then he said, “Okay.” I like to think they added the rule BECAUSE I asked for it, but in any case the asking made all the difference.
Do your research on blackjack table conditions, and always confirm the information before you play a hand. It hurts the soul of a card counter to find out at the END of a session that what you thought was a six-deck game was actually a five-deck game (they do exist!). It also hurts to make a long drive only to find the place so crowded you can’t get a seat. Call ahead to ask about table limits, rules, and times of day that tables are closed or crowded.
Likewise don’t rule out a casino just because of reported conditions. Casino games are organically changing. If money isn’t coming in the doors, or if the casino down the road made its rules better, the casino is often forced to compete for patrons.
If card counters are storming a place because of great reports, the game often deteriorates. Stay ahead of the curve by combining good online research with your own research. A report that discourages counters means that foot traffic has decreased and conditions may have changed. I popped my head into a casino recently where they supposedly offered only bad games to find an amazing double-anything single deck game that wasn’t on any of the reports. I played it all night, and the pit was happy to have me as I took them for a healthy chunk of change. Punchline—this dream scenario happened in Las Vegas. No don’t go looking for it. It’s not there anymore. I’d like to think I was the reason they put that table out to pasture, but who knows. I will bet that when the casino is under the gun to boost its numbers, that game may well come back.
In the time it took to read this dispatch, the conditions at a blackjack table near you just got better. Go find it and have a roll in the EV on my behalf.—Loudon Ofton