A new blackjack bet is sweeping the casinos in the US. Actually, the bet is not so new, but under a new name it is finally getting the attention its inventor believes it deserves. The inventor, Frank Mugnolo, is president and CEO of ‘Casino Gaming LLC’ which is based in Chicago. He came up with the idea for the ‘Automatic Win’ a few years ago, but the original name he chose was ‘Casino Surrender’. Mugnolo started touring around the US in search for potential buyers, and some casinos started using the bet successfully. For some reason, however, the bet never really took off until Mugnolo recently decided to change the name to the more convincing and positive-sounding ‘Automatic Win’.
Here is how the bet works: In case the player is holding a two-card 20, and the dealer is showing a 10-value card face up, but doesn’t have a blackjack, the player has the opportunity to automatically win half of his bet (and keep the original bet) instead of playing out the hand. For example, if a player bet $20, and has either two 10 cards or Ace and nine, and assuming the dealer has a 10 face up, the player can chose to keep his original $20 and win an additional $10, so he walks away with a total of $30 and the round is over.
Mugnolo explains that one possible reason why the bet never really caught on the first time around was its name. Too many players were confusing it with the standard ‘surrender’ option. The surrender option allows players to forfeit half the bet and give up the hand, and is used in case the players hand is at a disadvantage against the dealer’s face card. Surrender used to be popular during the first half of the 20th century, but as of today it is not offered by most casinos.
After giving his invention a new name and a new identity, Mugnolo set out once again to try and interest casinos in his brainchild. Changing its name was definitely a step in the right direction. During the past year, many casinos have accepted the ‘Automatic Win’ option, and it is being offered by many card rooms around the US. Harrah’s Joliet and Resorts East Chicago have added the bet to all of their blackjack tables. It is also being offered at Harrah’s in Metropolis, Illinois, Caesars in Indiana, and Orleans Casino in Las Vegas. Atlantic City’s Tropicana may soon offer it as well. And Mugnolo believes this is just the beginning, as both the blackjack players and the casinos stand to benefit from ‘Automatic Win’.
First of all, let’s explain why the Automatic Win is good for the casinos. When a player is holding a 20, and the dealer is showing a 10, the player stands to win 55.46 to 58.53 percent of time. So the more players use this option, the more money the casino saves over time, since the casino is only paying out 50% of the bet in winnings.
So where is the player’s advantage? Players who use card-counting techniques to keep track of the number of high cards that still remain in the pack should accept the Automatic Win option when the count is at a plus-four or higher. Using this strategy increases the player’s return by up to 0.2299%. The option can also give players an edge in tournament situations, and can come in handy around high-stake tables, where an option to automatically win half of your big bet can be a fast way to insure a big win. Still, even when given the ‘Automatic Win’ option, the basic strategy for the average player is to stand on 20.
If you are out and about looking for blackjack tables offering the ‘Automatic Win’ option, they are very easy to spot. A gold-colored placard with the words ‘Automatic Win’ should be easily visible on any table offering it.