March 2007
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Mad as a March Bonus [Part 1]

Both Party Poker and Absolute Poker have thrown free money at me this weekend.  Which would be great, if I hadn’t blown it all on blackjack already…

Party seem to think it’s my birthday so they gave me $5 to celebrate with.  In fact it just looks like I entered the month and day back to front, so I’ll try to correct that and see if I get the same offer again when it actually is my birthday! $5 won’t get you very far in any of their poker games, so trying to spin it up playing blackjack seemed like a good idea – the play requirement was $25 in total bets before being allowed to withdraw.

This is an eight deck game with the dealer hitting soft 17, and puts the house edge for these rules at about 0.8%.  No point grinding through 25 $1 bets here to keep the swings to a minimum and cash in as much of the $4.80 expected value as possible - go for glory!

The plan here was simply to try to double up three times to $40 (actually $35 in total wagers – reducing my EV by a few cents) to get to an amount worth withdrawing.  With the possibility of a 3-2 blackjack payout, it could even be a little higher than this.  However I only got to see one hand – a hard 15 against a dealer 6, and the dealer did not bust.

Second try then.  Absolute actually sent me two promotions for the price of, well, none.  The first said "here, have $10" and the second said "here, have $20".  Indeed this was a good mistake, as I found $30 waiting for me in my account.  Both emails told me they missed me in slightly different ways.  Funnily, I hadn’t been missing their clunky software and super tight players at all.

The only play requirement for the free money was to play something – anything would do.  But I couldn’t be bothered to try to make something happen with poker – I already have a Party Poker bonus to clear this weekend – so this also came down to one hand of blackjack.

Absolute use six decks, but the dealer still hits soft 17.  The house edge for these rules is ever so slightly better: 0.76%.  Actually, playing just one hand for your entire bankroll messes up these figures somewhat – not being able to split and double down in favourable situations gives the house a bigger edge.  Again, only giving up a few cents here in exchange for an easier life.

I saved this hand for posterity.  They gave me a brief glimmer of hope for my useless hard 16 against a dealer’s face card, but it wasn’t to be.

Click here to view the hand in action!

EDIT: Of course, since replaying this I noticed the "surrender" button light up, which is the correct play here.  I never even looked for it, dammit.  I could have had $15 back to go on one more hand..!