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Dear Mark,
I am going out to Las Vegas in a few weeks to do a lot of gambling.

I've been working on a method for playing blackjack that I want to try, but I recently read an article online that made me worry my system would not even be playable.

My question is, if a table limit is, for example, $5 - $100. If I initially bet $100, and am given cards that either allow me to split or double down, am I allowed to bet more to perform that split or double down? Or, will the casino tell me that I cannot bet any more because I am at the maximum bet? The article I read was saying the maximum was actually the maximum that you will ever get paid back. So according to it, if you bet $100 on the table limits previously mentioned and hit Blackjack, the casino would only award you $100, not $150 (assuming you were playing at a 3-2 table).
- Joey S.

Here's a little casino trade secret, Joey, concerning systems. No Lamb, even with a system, slaughters the butcher. Do ya think Steve Wynn just bucked-up nearly three billion to build Wynn Las Vegas so you can give him a shellacking? Notta chance!

He didn't spend bazillions on his gambling joint so that Joey can come in, beat the hell out of the place, and ask him for the keys to the front door.

I'm also going to poke a bit of fun at your question, because your query was a gimme. If you are going to take a whack at Steve's bankroll, you should have at least known this particular rule of blackjack.

Newbies I'll excuse for being wet behind the ears, but if you are going to chunk that kind of dough on the layout, you should at least know all the rules of the game you're playing on.

Betting limits on table games establish the minimum and maximum amounts of money you can wager on your original bet. You cannot wager less than the minimum or more than the maximum amount posted. The key word two sentences back was your "original" wager.

Let's say your initial wager is $200 on a $200 maximum bet blackjack table. When you double down, you turn your cards face up, double your $200 bet, and receive one, and only one more card.

The advantage of doubling down is that you are allowed to increase your bet after you've seen your hand and the dealer's upcard. You should ALWAYS be able to make another wager that equals the original bet, even if the total amount wagered is above the table maximum. The same holds true for a blackjack. You should always be paid 3 to 2 for a natural, no matter what the table limit is.

(Note: There is a single deck blackjack game where a blackjack pays 6:5. Look for a review of this game in an upcoming column.)

As for that article you read on the internet, I suggest that you become more skeptical regarding content online. Sure, there's a lot of great stuff on gambling, however it's also a dumping ground for content that is inaccurate, out-of-date (including a few of my earlier columns floating around in cyberspace), and sometimes deliberately misleading content. Exercise some caution.

One final point, Joey. If you just happen to come across a casino were they pay you less than the appropriate amount for a blackjack, find the nearest door, and just keep running!

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