Blackjack in the New Millennium

Picture yourself sitting down at a blackjack table in the 21st Century. On a video monitor that sets next to the dealer, you see and hear the virtual card shuffler automatically shuffling the cards in a perfectly random manner. During the final shuffle, a player calls "stop" and the virtual cut card is inserted at the exact position requested by the player and then the cards are cut.

The dealer waits as players make their bets using special casino chips that have an embedded microchip. Sensors beneath the table scan the chips when they placed in the betting circle and the amount of money that each player bets is displayed on the dealer's console. The dealer presses a "deal" button and realistic playing cards are dealt to a video display that runs the complete length of the blackjack layout in front of each player. Players don't even have to total their cards. It is automatically displayed on your video monitor along with the dealer's face card. Your video monitor will also display the cards of your fellow players as they play out their hands and keep track of when you win, lose or tied the dealer.

When it comes time for you to play out your hand you give the dealer the usual hand signal to indicate that you want to stand or hit. You can also double down and pair split by adding more chips on the layout. The dealer will select the appropriate play button on her console based on your signal and this determines how many cards the virtual shuffler will deal you. The computer knows when to give you only one card on a double down and it automatically separates the virtual cards on your monitor when you decide to pair split.

When it's the dealer's turn to play out the hand, the computer does it automatically, standing on all totals from 17 to 21 and drawing on 16 or less. You watch your monitors as the dealer's draw cards are displayed as well as the total. You smile as the display registers "Dealer Bust" and the dealer pays you off.

The computer will scan each chip that you place in the betting circle so it knows the total amount that you have bet. If you won the hand, the computer calculates how much to pay you, displays the amount on the dealer's console, and the casino dealer will give you the appropriate amount of winning chips.

Each blackjack table can be programmed for any number of virtual decks of cards from a single deck to an eight deck game and also the percentage of cards that will be played prior to a shuffle (known as the penetration). Any number of different playing rules can be programmed into the computer such as surrender or resplit of aces and even the type of virtual shuffling of the cards.

The computer will also keep track of the cards that are played and can correlate this with the amount that players bet. Special software will use this information to determine if a player is card counting.and alert the pit boss. The computer can also be programmed to shuffle the virtual cards after every hand making card counting a useless exercise.

Since real cards are not used, dealer and player cheating scams are virtually eliminated. The game plays faster than a regular blackjack game something that casino managers and players like. Expensive peeking devices to check the dealer 's hole card are not required. Nor are automatic shuffle machines.

If such a blackjack game seems far out it really isn't, since much of the technology has already been developed. VLC, Inc., for example, has already created a Digital 21 blackjack system that marry's blackjack with advanced digital technology and state-of-art-electronics to create a blackjack game without plastic cards. Several other manufacturers have also developed special casino chips that can be scanned as a player bets in order to keep accurate records of a player's total betting action. Computer software is currently being used in some casinos to determine whether a player is or is not a card counter. And it won't be long before cash will not be necessary at the blackjack tables. You will purchase a players card for any amount of dollars at the casino cashier then hand the card to the dealer when you begin to play. The dealer will debit your player card for the amount of your buy-in and then credit your card with the amount of chips you have left after you are done playing.

This transaction occurs at every table where you play. At the end of the day you hand your players card to the cashier who scans it and then gives you cash or a check for the amount of bankroll you have left.

Certainly the technology exists today to change the game of blackjack, as we know it. However, the real question is how long will it take blackjack players to embrace this new technology in a game that has such a long history of being a simple card game between player against dealer. But rest assured the change to digital technology will occur sooner or later. You can bet on that.