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How Knowing Blackjack Strategy Will Whip Your Domino Game Into Shape


Can strategy in one game help you in another? Well, the answer is, obviously, it depends. If the two games have similar structures and underlying goals, then, the answer is yes.

Of course, there will often be a need for some interpretation and critical thinking because the skills identified in one game won’t directly translate to another. For example, according to when Blaise Pascal laid the foundations for modern roulette back in the 17th century, the chances are he didn’t have poker on his mind. However, when you take the two games and look at their fundamentals, it’s possible to identify some crossovers. The most obvious is variance. Even though poker is a game where the most skillful player will win in the long run, there will be times when negative variables (i.e. bad luck) runs against them. The same is also true for roulette. In fact, it’s more pronounced in roulette. So, by playing roulette and learning to deal with these swings, you can effectively improve your poker game because you’ll be more familiar with the ups and downs.

Use Today’s Easy Access to Games as a Learning Tool

The same is also true for dominos. When the records show the earliest games of dominoes in China being played in the 12thcentury, do you think the players had any concept of blackjack or how it could help improve their skills? The chances are they didn’t. However, today we have a much broader perspective on gaming. Indeed, thanks to online gaming becoming a $51 billion industry, players around the world now have easy access to thousands of games involving skill and luck. With a better overview of what’s available, we also have an overview of what’s possible and that allows us to draw parallels between different games and, in turn, learn something new. This is something you can do with blackjack. By understanding the nuances of blackjack and how to turn the odds in your favor, you can actually improve your performances at the dominoes tables. Although taking the time to learn some blackjack skills won’t help you win all the time, you will have a better perspective on the game and, in theory, be able to make better lays.

Know When to Fold’em

One of the first skills you can pluck from the blackjack world and use in dominoes is the idea of surrendering. Read through a blackjack guide such as Stanford Wong’s and you’ll see the term “surrender” crop up. What this means is that you can fold your hand under certain conditions and receive 50% of your stake back. For instance, if you wagered $10, received your two starting cards and they weren’t particularly good, you would have the option to give up (surrender) and get $5 back. Now, this option isn’t available in all forms of blackjack but, when it is, there are certain things you need to take into consideration. Indeed, it’s not enough just to look at your own hand and fold. When playing blackjack look at something known as a surrendering variables chart from, you can get an insight into the situations where mathematics suggests you should fold. What’s the underlying mathematics based on? Put simply, the decision to surrender or fold should be based on the value of your hand and the dealer’s up card. If the dealer is “strong”, i.e. they hold a 9, 10, or A, and you’re weak, i.e. your total is something like 16, it’s correct to surrender. When you run the numbers on the number of times the dealer wins when showing a 10 against your 16, the outcome will favor the former.

It’s Not All About You

From this overview of surrendering in blackjack, we can draw out two important skills you can use in dominoes. The obvious one is skipping a turn. As we’ve noted in our quick guide to block and draw games, there are variants where you can elect to skip your turn even when you hold a playable domino. Now, the question is: why would you want to skip? In most cases, the answer is that you want to wait for a more favorable spot. This is virtually identical to the reason for surrendering in blackjack. After assessing the value of the dynamics of the cards on display, a blackjack player can elect to preserve some of their bet and use it another time. The same is true in dominoes. So, from this, we can say that learning to assess the possible holdings of your opponents based on your dominoes and those on display can help guide you into making a correct pass. If you’re in a weak position and everyone seems strong, you can pass. If the opposite is true, you can play. Beyond this idea, we can link into another blackjack skill that’s useful in dominoes: reading the board.

Look Beyond Your Own Holding

As we’ve said, you can only judge when to surrender if you evaluate all the cards on the display. The same goes for any move in the game. Taking this concept, we can apply it to a point game such as fives. Here, the aim is to lay a domino so that the pips at the open ends add up to a multiple of five. Anytime a player doesn’t create a five score, they don’t score a point. In this setting, taking stock of your own hand as well as the board is crucial. Indeed, when you think about this dynamic in blackjack strategy terms, the player is always looking for weakness in the dealer and strength in their own hand. If they can spot this and have the option to double down (double their bet and receive one card) or split (double their bet and turn a pair into two separate hands), they’ll take it. Why? Because it puts the pressure on the dealer and allows them to maximize their advantage. The same is possible in dominoes. If you can assess the value of your holding and the board, it’s possible to build up an idea of what your opponents may hold. By doing this, you can time your moves and aim to make larger totals when you know someone might be weak. Indeed, if you’re using a round scoring system, you could clinch a turn by learning to review the dominoes you can see and using a little critical thinking.

As we’ve said, learning how to play blackjack won’t make you invincible at the dominoes table. However, if you can take one thing from this strategy discussion, it’s the idea that you need to look beyond your own holding. Assess every available dynamic like a blackjack player and use that information to guide your play in whichever way is necessary.






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