By Henry Tamburin
Note: I’ve received many inquiries from Casino Player readers about the new Ultimate Guide to Blackjack that I’ve written; therefore, I decided to make it the focus of my column this month. I’ll start at the beginning as to why I decided to take on this project.
Does the world need another book on blackjack? That was my first reaction when a company called 888casino initially contacted me about writing the Ultimate Guide to Blackjack (UGBJ) for their blog. Even though there are plenty of sources of information on rules, tips, and strategies on online blogs and web sites, what intrigued me about 888casino’s request was that they wanted the UGBJ to be “the most extensive and comprehensive introduction to the casino game of blackjack that you will find anywhere.” Their objective made me seriously consider whether I was up to the task of raising the bar on blackjack information that was already available to players. After careful thought, I decided to take on this project.
My first task was to prepare an outline of what exactly was going to be in the UGBJ. After several iterations, a structure for the guide was finalized that would consist of 18 chapters and several sub-chapters, beginning with the history of blackjack and then incrementally introducing topics (e.g., basic strategy, scouting the tables, betting systems, card counting, side bets, blackjack tournaments, and more) that would give the reader the knowledge to play blackjack skillfully.
With my years of experience in writing articles on blackjack for print publications, I was naïve in thinking that I’d use the same writing style for the UGBJ. Wrong. I quickly learned that writing information on a web site requires different writing skills, which I had to learn. For example, paragraphs need to be shorter with bullet points to catch the reader’s attention; and facts and figures being stated in words need to be illustrated to help readers comprehend the information. Additionally, color-coded strategy charts, Chapter Objectives, Key Takeaways, and a Test Yourself quiz were added for an enjoyable learning experience for readers. Yes, it was a whole new ballgame for me to learn a different writing style but I was up to the challenge.
I wanted the UGBJ to contain the most up-to-date and authoritative strategies, tips, and skills for both novice and experienced blackjack players in an informal and practical way. But first and foremost, I wanted the information in the UGBJ to be technically and stylistically accurate. To ensure this, I asked my friend Don Schlesinger to edit each chapter before I submitted it to 888casino. For those that don’t know, Schlesinger is the author of one of the most authoritative books on blackjack (Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pros’ Way), and he was recently inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame by his peers. (Read the interview I did with Schlesinger that appeared in the November issue of Casino Player.) Don is one of the finest editors that I’ve ever worked with. He is a stickler when it comes to grammar, style, punctuation, and of course, clear and accurate explanations of playing strategies and data. I’m happy and pleased that he agreed to edit the UGBJ; and you will be, too, dear readers.
Below is a sample from Chapter 1.1 (History of Blackjack) showing the eye-catching graphics.
1.1 THE LONG AND COLORFUL HISTORY OF BLACKJACK
For several reasons, blackjack is the most popular casino card game in the world:
- It’s an easy game to play.
- There’s an element of skill involved.
- The mystique that surrounds card counting, which makes it possible to beat the game, keeps it in the public eye.
And here’s an example of the end-of-chapter Key Takeaways from Chapter 1 and the Test Yourself comprising questions from material discussed in the chapter (answers are included in the UGBJ).
- By using the basic playing strategy, it’s possible to reduce the house edge to less than 1% (rules dependent).
- Blackjack is a game of skill, not solely chance, and by using certain playing and betting techniques, it is possible to swing the odds in your favor. This is not possible for any other casino game.
Try answering the following questions based on the information in Chapter 1.
- The name of the game that is thought to be the precursor of blackjack is the French game Vingt-et-Un. True or False?
- The game of “21” became known as “blackjack” when what occurred?
- What did the “Four Horsemen of Aberdeen” accomplish?
- Who developed and published the first powerful winning card-counting system for blackjack?
- What was the name of this card-counting system and the name of the book that made the New York Times list of best-selling books?
- What is the objective of blackjack?
- What major change occurred to the way blackjack was dealt in casinos following the publication of Beat the Dealer?
- In a single-deck, pitched game you are allowed to hold your cards with two hands. True or False?
- You want to make a $40 bet with one green chip ($25) and three red chips ($5 each). What’s the correct way to stack your chips in your betting spot?
- You can reduce the house edge in blackjack by betting more after losing several hands in a row. True or False?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that writing the UGBJ has been a challenging project for me. But from a selfish standpoint, I view the UGBJ as my legacy to the game of blackjack to present and future legions of blackjack players. I hope you find it an enjoyable guide and that you will become a better player after reading it.
Tamburin Tip of the Month
The Ultimate Guide to Blackjack is free to read. It is posted on http://blog.888casino.com/casino-guides/blackjack. And here’s a tip: If you have a smart phone, you can go directly to the UGBJ by scanning the QR Code below with your smart phone.
I’d also appreciate your comments on the UGBJ. Send them to me at HTamburin@aol.com.
Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Blackjack (http://blog.888casino/casino-guides/blackjack), editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com), lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, and host of smartgaming.com. For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to www.bjinsider.com/freetrial. To receive his free Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit www.smartgaming.com.