On the busy casino floor of Harrah’s casino on the Las Vegas Strip there has been one table with a new game since last summer: Easy Jack.
Easy Jack was developed by Matthew Stream, former blackjack dealer and now a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). As a dealer, he noticed that many players had trouble keeping track of their points during the game.
His solution: a stripped-down form of blackjack, where you count not to 21, but to 11.
Easy Jack is played with eight decks of cards. All cards have the same value as in normal blackjack, but instead of two cards, as a player you get only one card at the start of the game.
If you get an ace as the first card, you immediately have 11 points and therefore "blackjack". You will then be paid out one and a half times your bet as winnings.
Then Easy Jack works the same as regular blackjack: you can ask for a card (hit) or pass. If you go over the 11 points, you are "dead".
You cannot double, split or insure, so the game is actually complete easy.
In addition to this regular game, there is a side bet where you can bet on the chance that the dealer will buy himself dead. The more cards the dealer draws before he passes the 11 points, the higher your payout.
The full lines are in the image below.
First prize of 1500 dollars
Inventor Stream worked out his blackjack version in detail as part of one of his lectures at UNLV. At the end of the semester, he participated with Easy Jack in a competition of the university, in which casino managers evaluate new game ideas. Stream won the first prize of 1500 dollars.
Melissa Price, senior vice president at gambling giant Caesars, was so impressed with Easy Jack that she decided to place the game as a test in Harrah's Las Vegas. This is very rare – hardly any new table games appear in casinos.
In an interview with the local newspaper Las Vegas Sun, Stream talks about his big dream, global success for Easy Jack:
"I would love to go as far to say international patents … expanding first throughout the States, but Macau is the new Vegas, so there, Europe, Australia. There’s a handful of places with a healthy gaming market. (…)
So as far as I can take it pretty much at this point, and with the support of UNLV, I expect that to be a real possibility. "
Mr. Casino wishes Stream every success, but wonders if Easy Jack is not too simple and therefore boring, without the exciting options of doubling and splitting.
And: if you can't count to 21, do you have anything to look for in a casino at all?
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