Monday, January 14, 2008


Fairly competent and full-featured version of Blackjack, but with such a simple game (where the house inevitably comes out ahead, making repeated play punishing by default) some graphical flair or personality would have gone a long way towards making it not something painful to play.

There are a couple different variations on the rules of play ("Vegas Strip," "Atlantic City," "Downtown Vegas", etc.) but their impact on my virtual cash was minimal. I lost more than I won, regardless of which area's rules I was playing by. Interestingly absent is a reset for the player's balance - I assumed that "New Game" would reset my cash to the original starting value ($400 or $500 I believe) but it doesn't. I'm sure I could just edit a text file somewhere but not having a way to reset it within the GUI simply seems kinda lame.

As far as the gameplay goes, it all feels a bit clumsy. There was an annoying lag between cards coming to the deck, that I was able to turn off in the preferences, but rather than having buttons for "Draw" or "Stand" or what-have-you, they went with an efficient and minimalist interface that was confusing at first, and prone to my clicking the wrong thing from time to time when I was just trying to zip through some games.

For example, you click your pile of cards to hit, and you click it to deal a new hand, and you drag it to split. No worries. Except clicking on your chips changes function as well - in between hands, it adds a chip of that denomination to your bet, but if a hand has been dealt it doubles your bet and asks for one card, ending your turn automatically. In the heat of frustrated gambling, I would accidentally click my pile of cards an extra time, resulting in dealing a new hand, and not realize it until I had tried to change my bet. Because instead of changing my bet, I would be looking at a fully played hand that cost me double.

That happened less once I cut off the card delay, but it was still an occasional annoyance. Basically, I understand the aesthetic beauty that comes from an interface with no extraneous buttons, but I don't feel it's as functional from a user-friendly standpoint as having separate buttons for each command. Indeed, as far as keyboard shortcuts go, there is a separate key for "Deal" and "Hit" so on some level, the programmers were aware of this. Last and least, I didn't notice any way to add or remove chips using the keyboard, so the keyboard support is not fully implemented.

Blackjack on Linux is frustrating and flawed, but competent enough if you are desperate for a casino-blackjack experience. I will probably never play it again (although the fact that my ending balance is 2k in the hole will probably lead me to try to get back to zero at some point in the future; I'm OCD like that).

1 comment:

Daniel Jackson said...

You should assume at all times that the down card of the dealer is 10. So if you see that the dealer's upcard is a 6 and you previously have 20 then you should hope that the dealer will get 16 and be forced to hit and expectantly get busted. This is one of the basic strategies of blackjack in usa online casinos .