Blackjack, the most popular casino game, offers the best chance at winning. Players with varying levels of expertise in card counting can gain an edge over the house, and even casual players can play close to even.
There was a time when craps was the most popular casino game in America. Two world wars and “police action” developed craps players who crowded the tables of Reno and Las Vegas, as well as the many illegal casinos across the country in the middle of the 20th century.
In the mid-Fifties, a group of mathematicians discovered that a basic strategy could be employed to reduce the house advantage at blackjack, or “21”, to virtually nothing. Casinos suddenly realized that the game could be beaten, and have predictably taken various precautions to protect it ever slllce.
The American publication of Beat the Dealer by Ed Thorp, in 1962, began a rush to discover systems and methods that would indeed beat the dealer. Card counting, the method first described by Thorp, has been refined over the years, and today casinos employ various methods from shuffling after every hand to actually barring players accused of card counting from playing in casinos.
The casinos like to call blackjack a game of chance, but it is as much a game of skill as anything. But you won’t hear the casinos denying very strongly that blackjack can be beaten. After all, casinos make most of the money they take at the table games via blackjack. It’s great advertising when someone reports a big win at the blackjack tables. Players have been encouraged for many years to believe that blackjack can be beaten, and the casinos don’t want to do anything to disrupt that message.
But becoming an effective card counter is difficult and time consuming. And unless you’re planning to make blackjack your occupation, it’s unnecessary.
Blackjack can be played successfully by using variations on the basic strategy developed by that group of mathematicians in the Fifties.