Ohhhh what a weekend. Dinner on Friday was delicious. I went whole hog with salmon and bacon-wrapped scallops. I can’t even express how good it was. So good that I didn’t take a picture. One of the things I’m going to really miss about living on the East Coast when we haul it back to Chi-town is the access to fresh seafood. It’s just so yummy. The only way it would have been better is if it had been on the grill. But the grills in our complex are in the back, and they’re those camp site grills that are dirty and you have to bring your own charcoal. When we move home we will be lacking in the fresh seafood department, but will have a house and a grill. So, ya know. It will have its upsides.
My parents were in town yesterday!! My daddy recently got a job at an airline, so we all fly for free now! Even me, even though I’m not a dependent anymore. That was very exciting information since we have to fly to four weddings this year. Airfare ain’t cheap. Anyhoo, Saturday my parents decided to go visit some of our friends in Florida, but because of spring break and crowded planes, they had to route themselves very oddly: Chicago to DC to Houston to Ft. Walton, over the course of two days. So they got to DC yesterday afternoon (after being at the airport for about 6 hours and finally getting on the 4th flight out) and we had a lovely evening filled with Doctor Who and risotto and family awesomeness.
We’re quite the traveling bunch lately. Earlier in the day, I had taken the Hubbster to Dulles. At 6 am. Apparently I like him a lot. He was going to Las Vegas for a work conference, the lucky bastard. Well, except for the conference part. Why are ‘conferences’ and ‘expos’ always in Vegas? Oh yeah. Gambling. By yesterday afternoon he was already up $55 at the Blackjack tables. Ahhhhhhhh I love Blackjack. I blame my brother and sister in law. It’s well justified, too. They lived in Laughlin, Nevada for a few years before recently popping out my adorable nephew and moving back to Chi-town. They both worked at a high school and they were best friends with the math teacher, who happened to make more money playing Blackjack than with her salary. When the Hubbster and I went to visit, we were taught the great art of Blackjack. For those of you who have not played the great game, it’s quite the thrill, even in the backwoods casinos of Laughlin.
There is a common misconception that the goal of Blackjack is to get to 21. This is wrong (obviously, since I prefaced it with the word “misconception”). The real goal is to make the dealer bust. When the dealer busts, everybody wins. So it helps if you are at a table with either people you know and can yell at for hitting on 17 when the dealer is showing a 6, or people who know what they’re doing and yell at you. Besides counting cards (which isn’t illegal, but the casinos will take you to their little jail like in ‘Bringing Down the House’ and ban you for life) there are certain rules to abide by when playing Blackjack to boost your odds of winning ze monies (add a French accent to that last bit. It’s how I said it in my head and the ‘ze’ will make more sense). These rules won’t make you win every hand, because unless you are counting cards, the deck is unpredictable. But follow them the next time you’re in Vegas for a conference, and you’ll have a better shot!
1) Always assume that the dealer’s face-down card is a ten. For example, if they are showing a 5, you assume they have 15 in their hand. There are more face cards than any other card in the deck (i.e. cards worth 10 points) so it is a general assumption that most of the cards that have yet to be revealed are face cards.
2) When the dealer is showing a 3, 4, 5, or 6, you can assume that they are going to bust. These are your money hands. If they are showing a 3-6, you assume they are hiding a face card underneath, so their total hand is 13-16. Unlike players, who can do whatever they want, the dealers have to follow certain rules. They hit until they either reach at least a 17 or bust. So if they have to hit on a 13-16, you assume they are going to flip over a face card (see 1) and bust.
3) Basic stay/hit guidelines: (Note: Every move is based on the dealer’s hand, so pay attention)
11 or less: HIT
12-16 when dealer is showing a bust card: STAY
12-16 when dealer is showing a face card: HIT (note: Either always hit or always stay on 16. Pick one and commit to it, and you’ll win about half the time)
17 or higher: STAY
4) Double down on 11. Especially if the dealer is showing a 3-6 (see 2). If the dealer is showing a face card, then double down at your own risk. Doubling down is a sign that you like your odds of winning. Technically, you can double down in any situation. But this is the time when you need to do it. When you double down, you double your bet, and get one more card. Again, you assume it will be a face card (see 1) so then you will have 21. If it isn’t a face card, but the dealer is showing a 3-6, then the odds of them busting are still high.
I recommend you practice with pennies. Or toothpicks. Or bobby pins. Basically whatever small things you have lying around. It’s fun even without playing for money–though I recommend at least turning it into a drinking game to keep it interesting 🙂