Blackjack and the video game industry have a long relationship.Going forward, and pending the creation of a convincing virtual reality (VR) experience for blackjack (it’s not beyond the realms of possibility; a reported 300 companies in Europe have thrown their lot in with VR), the game is likely to remain the concern of casino brands focusing on the mobile space and on purely online experiences, like website play.
The classic pastime was one of nine launch titles for the Atari 2600 way back in 1977, a development that owes a great deal to the card game’s accessibility. Since then, blackjack or “21” has made the transition to the ZX Spectrum (Casino), Game Boy (Las Vegas Cool Hand), and, most recently, to mobile phones.
The rationale is simple: the appeal of mobile platforms like Android and iOS is so great that advertisers are abandoning TV to snare the attentions of a younger, more digitally-focused audience. As the millennial demographic is the holy grail of online casino brands, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that they’ll go wherever their audience does: namely, to mobiles.
For example, 888casino has an extensive casino offering on mobile devices, encompassing games like roulette and blackjack, as well as variants of the two games with live dealers. The latter melds the social aspects of the offline game with the convenience of the mobile experience. However, there’s more to some casino games than on-demand play; blackjack may actually have some benefits for people going into certain careers.
Blackjack is a game of probability. To expand on that, it’s also a game of statistical analysis, in which rules and dynamics shift all the time. “You realize it is a probabilistic game”, Sid Patil, Twitter’s head of data science told VentureBeat. “[It’s] the only game in the casino that has a memory. What happened in the past is indicative of what will happen in the future.”
What’s interesting about Patil is how readily his blackjack experience transferred to the workplace, factors such as playing the long game and assessing risk. Patil famously spent time in the West Coast Blackjack Club before forging a career in data analytics. His experiences in Atlantic City were the subject of a 2004 book called Bringing Down the House.
The trick to becoming successful at blackjack, both on a mobile app and in the casino, is in understanding the variables that might affect any given outcome and the probability that said outcome comes about. For example, an insurance bet, a wager on the likelihood the dealer has blackjack, has a low “expected value” in the long term because it comes with a one in three chance of success.
Conversely, “doubling down” on 11, a move that effectively ends the round after one more card, is more likely to benefit the player than doubling on 9 or 10. It’s the same kind of logic used in determining whether investments will pay off or the long-term viability of a product in the marketplace.
Finally, it's worth noting that blackjack is a practiced art and mastering basic strategy is just the first milestone on any player's journey.