Blackjack: Lucky seven - for some

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The Independent Culture
BLACKJACK is one of the better value casino games, because the odds against the player, with correct play, are only about 0.5 per cent. That is enough to drive you to ruin if you play for long enough. Even so, changes are continually being devised, which help boost the house's takings.

One of the new ideas on offer in some American casinos is a fun bet called Super Sevens. For dollars 1 a go, players are invited to bet on hitting sevens in their first three cards. The pay-off looks attractive:

7 First card, any suit pays dollars 3

7-7 First 2 cards, any suit - dollars 50

7-7 First 2 cards, suited - dollars 100

7-7-7 First 3 cards, any suit - dollars 500

7-7-7 First 3 cards, suited - dollars 5,000

The true odds, as you might imagine, leave a lot to be desired. For one seven 12-1, two sevens 175-1, two suited 800-1, three sevens 2,500-1 and three suited 62,500 to 1. In other words, this is a proposition or sucker bet, yielding an overall house edge of 11.4 per cent in a six-deck game. It means that for each dollar you bet, you must expect to lose 11.4 cents. Punters should remember, however, that they may play 50 or 60 coups an hour.

Even in Britain, blackjack is changing. In a new move, the Gaming Board has decided to take another look at the advice it gives to blackjack players, as displayed at every blackjack table in the country.

According to recent analysis, there are several instances where the official recommendations for best play - of what to do and what not to do on any given hand - run contrary to the bible of blackjack players, known as basic strategy. The big difference between British and American rules is that in many US casinos, if the dealer is showing a 10-card, he looks at his hole card to see if he has made a blackjack, before the players act. That is much fairer than the British system, where the dealer does not declare a blackjack until after the players have acted - a severe discouragement to doubling down or splitting against a dealer 10-card. If ever the rules are revised here, that is the one I would like to see changed in favour of the player.