Microgaming Blackjack: Stay Clear of “Gold Series” and other Specialty Games

Everyone has heard of Microgaming: they’re the leading online casino software provider in the world. Their progressive slots jackpots are the highest, often paying in excess of $1 Million USD, and they have the MOST games to play in comparison to any other software company. On top of all that, Microgaming has a track record of superior game quality and trustworthiness. Does all this mean Microgaming offers the best chances of winning?

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Not necessarily. You have to pick and choose your casino games carefully, just as you would with any other software provider. Some games may offer flashy graphics and specialty side games, but in reality are really nothing but a drain on your bankroll. Other games are variants of classic casino games, allowing players a perceived edge that they wouldn’t normally have, although the mathematics of the game itself are stacked in the house’s favor. Sometimes, it pays to stick with the “original” form of the most basic casino games.

This fact is extremely evident when it comes to Microgaming’s blackjack games. With over 40 varieties and gimmicks, it can be confusing to figure out which ones to play. There’s Vegas Strip blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, Double Exposure Blackjack, Multi-Hand Blackjack, Bonus Blackjack, and numerous “Gold Series” versions of blackjack.

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What’s our suggestion when it comes to picking the right blackjack game at a Microgaming casino? Simple: stick with standard “American” style blackjack, that offers the smallest amount of decks possible without any side games or jackpot gimmicks. Here’s why.

Microgaming Multi-Deck Blackjack

The majority of Microgaming’s blackjack games are multi-deck, save one traditional form of the game that uses a single deck. As you’re probably aware, the use of multiple decks puts the odds in the houses’s favor, since there are more small cards in play during the course of a shoe. More small cards mean the dealer is less likely to bust when hitting their hand.

When you’re perusing Microgaming 4+ pages of Blackjack games, watch the game rules window – located to the right of the game selection page – very carefully. It will list the number of decks in each respective game. Most of the “Gold Series” games may look tempting, but the devil is in the details: Gold Series games often play with 6-8 decks of cards, which inevitably shifts the odds in the house’s favor compared to standard versions of these games with lesser decks. So, if you have the option of playing a blackjack game with 3-5 decks versus a “Gold Series” variation with 6-8 decks, skip the Gold and go with the traditional version.

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Dealer Hits Soft 17

Another characteristic of a few of Microgaming’s “Gold Series” blackjack games is hitting a Soft 17, which is a hand consisting of an Ace and 6 point card. In most versions of blackjack, the dealer stands on Soft 17. In some of Microgaming’s variants, however, the dealer is allowed to hit their Soft 17, thus giving them another chance at improving their hand.

On the surface, it might seem foolish to have a compulsory rule that hits a 17 value hand. Remember, though, that the dealer’s edge comes from playing their hand last. If you couple that privilege with the ability to take another card on a Soft 17, it’s likely they will improve their hand. The dealer might end up beating your hand of 18-20, or even tying your hard of 21, that would have otherwise been a winner. Forget any game that allows the dealer is extra advantage.

Modified Blackjack Payouts

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Blackjack, also known as a “natural” hand, is 21 points dealt on the first two cards to the player. This is hand wins automatically, unless the dealer has blackjack, in which case you tie the house and get your bet returned. If successful, natural 21s pay 3:2, or 150% of your bet, which is a nice bonus to enjoy. This extra cash for having a perfect hand is a game rule that helps the player in the long run.

In some of Microgaming’s Blackjack games, Blackjack does not pay 3:2. You might find this in games of “Face up 21” and progressive blackjack games. At first, you would probably think that seeing both the dealer’s cards would make the game much easier. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, seeing both cards comes at a cost of letting the dealer hit Soft 17s, and getting only 1:1 on a natural hand. When you combine the effect of these two rules, you’ll find that the odds are MORE against the player than under regular blackjack conditions. Stay away from games that don’t pay 3:2 for a natural hand.

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Restricted Double-Downs

The classic hands to double-down on are 9, 10, or 11 depending on what the dealer’s up card is. There are, however, situations where you might double-down on a non-standard hand, for example a soft 15, 16 or 17 against a dealer 6. The ability to double-down in these situations is a benefit to the player.

With some of Microgaming’s blackjack games, double-downs are limited to 9, 10, or 11 only. While it may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, this rule can actually limit the ability of the player to capitalize on non-standard double down opportunities when the dealer is clearly at a disadvantage.

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If you can’t double-down anytime you want, your odds of winning are affected. Ignore blackjack games that have these restrictions.

To conclude, “Always know the rules of the game you’re playing” before you bet. Also, if you’re looking to win in the long run, the only games that offer the best odds are traditional/standard versions of common casino games that are free from special rules or add-on regulations. Save these gimmicks for a rainy day when you’ve got some extra cash on hand. When it comes to winning in the casino, gimmicks won’t help you. Stick with regular “American” blackjack with 3-5 decks, and you’ll do just fine.

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Online Casinos – Those Darn Fax Back Forms for Withdrawals

So you’ve just won some money at an online casino, and now you want to cash out. First of all, Good Luck 🙂 , because that’s what you’ll need to get a hold your cash. Secondly, the old adage “always be prepared” applies. If you don’t have the necessary information required by the casino’s fax back form, you’ll need to scavenge through your credit cards and utility bills to get the right documentation. All of this is a big pain in the rear, and it’s made to be this way on purpose.

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Why make customers jump through hoops? Simple: the online casino doesn’t want you to take your money out. Instead, they would rather have the balance linger in your player’s account, just long enough for you to get back to the slots or gaming tables to play some more. Adding an annoying fax back form is just another way of keeping the money in the house’s bank accounts, even though it is technically still yours. In the meantime, while this cash sits in limbo, it will no doubt contribute to the casino company’s profits by earning interest at their bank.

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Fax Back Form Essentials

  1. Copy or Scan of: Driver’s License, Passport, or other Government Issued ID – First off, be assured that online casinos are not in the business of making fake IDs and reselling them. This is very difficult to do from a copy or scan of an ID, so feel comfortable that your information is safe. You’re a more profitable player when your ID is verified opposed to stolen or duplicated. This would get in the way of casino operations, and that’s the last thing they want.

    Important Notes: Many fax back forms require both FRONT and BACK scans/copies of your photo ID. This isn’t really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and is just meant to make sure you’re who you claim to be. The last thing you want is someone else withdrawing your winnings.

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  3. Copy or Scan of: All Credit Cards You Used to Deposit to the Casino – Again, like the photo ID, you can feel safe sending off scans to the casino. Remember, when they require “ALL” credit cards, they mean “ALL” credit cards, no matter how much or how little you deposited per card. Most forms have space for 2 cards. If you used 3 or more, add a note to the form and attach the copies of these cards to your document.

    Important Notes: Many fax back forms require both FRONT and BACK scans/copies of your credit cards.

  4. Copy or Scan of: Address verification documents – The casino needs proof from a 3rd party authority that your address is valid. The only way to get this information is to request one or two of the following documents:

    – A Recent Utility Bill (Gas • Water • Electric • Phone) Full bill, not just the envelope.
    -A Recent Bank Statement
    -Voided Check

    We recommend, in the interests of privacy, that you use a marker to blot out any non-essential information the casino doesn’t need, ie. the dollar amount of your phone bill or the transactions listed on your bank statement. Wherever possible, protect as much information as possible while meeting the casino’s requirements for ID verification.

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What if I don’t have a Scanner or Fax?

This is a very common issue many casino customers face. You might have all the necessary documents, but missing the means to actually get the information to the casino. Here are a few ideas to work around this issue:

  1. Use you Digital Camera to take pictures of the documents, then upload the photos to your computer. Place the documents on a piece of white paper (as a background) so that the ID is discernible in your image. You can also photograph the actual Fax Back form, if required.
  2. Visit a friend or family member with a scanner or fax machine. The process of scanning all the documents will probably take around 20 minutes.
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  4. Visit a Kinko’s, Office Depot, or similar store that has copy machines and scanners available. When you use the store’s machines, make sure you do so in privacy, so that your information doesn’t get stolen or misused. Save the scans to your email account (ie. if you have Yahoo, upload them as attachments and email yourself), or use a flash drive or cellular phone to store them. ALWAYS delete the documents on the store computers, even if they state that documents get erased automatically. Play it safe and you won’t have any problems.
  5. Use www.efax.com – For a minimal monthly fee, you can use Efax to literally fax any document on your computer to another computer or telephone number/standard fax machine. Efax is extremely convenient and the process of sending your documents takes about 5-6 minutes.

Parting Advice: Once you’ve scanned documents that don’t have an expiry period with the casino, meaning what they consider to be a “recent” telephone bill or bank statement, save them on your computer for future use. For example, your Government issued photo ID doesn’t need to be scanned each time if you save it on your PC or Laptop.

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