In today's final
installment of my interview with "Mr. Aces", a veteran
blackjack player who has mastered the art of playing the game for both
fun and profit, he offers his thoughts on the importance of consistent
play, opinions about variations of the game of Twenty-One and a fun
approach to tipping good dealers.
How important are good players at your table, especially at "first
base" (player position number one) and "third base" (the
final player to act before the dealer plays out the hand)?
Mr. Aces: I think
everybody at the table is important, not just at the base spots where
there always seems to be an emphasis. But just as important as good play
is consistent play. If everybody at the table plays a consistent game of
blackjack, it seems everybody stays longer and the players benefit from
longer winning streaks. By consistent I mean this: Say the player
sitting at third base never hits his two-card total of 16 against the
dealer's seven through ace. Even though I disagree with his strategy, I
can deal with it if he does it all the time. It's when a player will do
something like that one time but not the next that the 'flow' of the
cards can be disrupted and things can get bad.
TG: What makes you
get up and walk away from a table?
MA: I'll move on
if the table becomes too crowded or if someone sits down who really
doesn't know how to play the game. Also, I'll leave a table if one of
the players bets a few hands, sits out a hand, then gets back in only to
start that same pattern of play all over again. That kind of thing can
become very irritating for serious blackjack players. The only time I
will tolerate that situation is when the dealer gets on an incredible
hot streak. But it's blackjack courtesy for a player wishing to sit out
a hand to inform his fellow players.
TG: What is your
opinion of variations of the game of blackjack?
MA: I don't think
much of them. Games such as Spanish Blackjack and Double Exposure
Blackjack give the player the illusion of having a better chance to win
when in reality the concessions a player has to make for what seems to
be more liberal rules offset any advantage. I stay away from those games
and play the traditional game the way it's supposed to be played.
TG: How do you tip
a good dealer?
MA: I used to tip
dealers the standard way by just playing a chip for them outside my
betting spot. But then I started leaving the chip I'm betting for the
dealer in the circle with my own bet. When I win I'll take the dealer's
winning chips and start a pile of chips for the dealer separate from my
own stack of chips. If I get the pile to start building up, I'll make
sporadic bets of varying amounts. It seems to create a lot of fun at the
table for both me and the dealer, especially when the shift changes and
a relief dealer comes in. I'll point to the stack and say: 'O.K., let's
see if you can continue to make it grow.' Once I got the dealer's stack
up to $100, but I was losing $200 for the session! It was worth a laugh
when I pushed that $100 to the dealer to drop in the toke box while I'll
walked away a loser.
TG: Does the
dealer play an important role in the way you play the game?
MA: Yes, dealers
are a big part of the game. First, from a psychological aspect: If
you're at a table with a stone-faced dealer who doesn't show any emotion
and who doesn't seem to necessarily want the players to win, it
contributes to making the night pretty long. Also, a dealer who isn't
very good or is inexperienced can spoil your game. You don't want to see
dealers make mistakes like being too quick to scoop up your money when
in reality you've won the hand. On the contrary, I don't necessarily
want to play with an overly chatty dealer. A good dealer will strike a
happy medium by just being responsive to the course of play, such as
smiling when the situation warrants, or expressing displeasure when the
cards aren't going in the favor of the players. You just like to feel
the dealer is on your side.