Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blackjack in Arizona and online: I'm just your standard deviant.

Yes, you too can make $45-$135 from the comfort of your own computer chair.

Knowing I had a limited bankroll ($70), I figured the likelihood that Casino Arizona had a low limit ($1/$2) table was pretty low. So, I've been boning up on basic blackjack strategy (not counting cards -- that's too much like real work), in case I was going to end up playing blackjack. I'm glad I did -- and it's not because I built my $30 buyin into $40 tonight at the $1 electronic blackjack tables (more on that later). No, it's because of this little bonus thing I found, thanks to a posting at FlopTurnRiver, salsa4ever's blog posting from last August (yay, google cache), a posting at, and

On bonusbug, ScurvyDog writes:

You deposit $100 at StarLuck ( and get a $100 bonus, giving you $200. You have to wager $1,600 total. Betting the minimum of $1, that means you have to play 1,600 hands. Of those 1,600 hands, though, you’ll be splitting and doubling on some, so you’ll probably only have to actually be dealt 1,500 or so hands.

[With the StarLuck bonus,] your expected profit is $90. That never changes, no matter what the size of your bet is. If you bet the minimum of $1 per hand, your standard deviation will be about $45.00. Your results, on average, will be within 1 standard deviation of the expected profit about 65% of the time. So 65% of the time you’ll book a profit of between $45 and $135 when completing the bonus at StarLuck (

Keep in mind that when we say 65% of the time we mean just that, nearly a majority of the time. Not always, not guaranteed, simply 65% of the time, and actual results can still fall outside that range of 1 standard deviation. Or, more simply, roughly one-third of the time your results will fall outside of 1 standard deviation, causing you to make less than $45 or more than $135.

I did it, and I've got a withdrawal pending for my initial $100 deposit, plus $167.50 profit. Yeah, I ended up a bit past the standard deviation on the positive side. Woot.

So, armed with 1500 hands of experience and a printout of the Wizard's blackjack chart, I head into Casino Arizona and look around. As expected, no poker tables. No shuttle, either. And bad news -- the lowest limit on the blackjack tables is $5. Pricey. After a bit of looking, though, I discover a bank of slot-machine like machines, five chairs to a side, in a 15 seat triangle. In the middle the triangle, facing each row, is a monitor representing the dealer. The lower limit is $1, but it doesn't round up, so you've got to at least bet $2 if you want full credit for your blackjacks. I ended up making $10, which offset my $10 loss on the slots.

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