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BLACKJACK SOLITAIRE -- READ ME

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Blackjack Solitaire, version 1.0
December 1993
©1992-93, by Richard Harvey. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Blackjack Solitaire. This read me file will give you a quick introduction to all of the features of the game. If you are ready to get started, the interface should be somewhat intuitive. However, you may want to quickly browse the screenshots below to get yourself oriented to the various windows in Blackjack Solitaire.

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DISTRIBUTION/DISCLAIMER
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This program is being offered AS IS, with NO guarantee as to stability, compatibility, or suitability for any particular purpose. You assume all risks by using this software. However, suffice it to say the software has been tested on various Macintosh configurations before being released to the public at large. This package is Copyright ©1992-93, by Richard Harvey. All Rights Reserved. This program is protected by the laws of the United States of America and the State of Texas.

Also, since Blackjack Solitaire was written using MacApp, Apple Computes object-oriented application framework, Apple Computer, Inc. makes no warranties whatsoever, either express or implied, regarding this product, including warranties with respect to its merchantability or its fitness for any particular use.

The MacApp software is proprietary to Apple Computer, Inc. and is licensed to Richard Harvey for distribution only for use in combination with Blackjack Solitaire.

I authorize distribution of this program by non-profit organizations, bulletin board systems, and online services such as CompuServe, America Online, Genie, etc., as long as NO FEE is charged besides normal online access charges. User groups may distribute this program as long as the fee charged is less than $5 and the fee is used for user group activities only. The program MUST be kept intact as originally distributed, and must be accompanied by this documentation. I strictly forbid distribution by all other parties, including CD-ROM collections, without my direct written consent.

Now that we have all the ugly stuff out of the way, it's time to get down to some fun!

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REQUIREMENTS
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Blackjack Solitaire requires a color Macintosh running System 7.0 or higher to run properly. Although it was designed for monitors with 640x480 resolution or higher, no single window is larger than 512 pixels wide, so it should run fine on LC sized monitors (although I have not had the chance to test this myself.) You will need approximately 1MB of free disk space to install Blackjack Solitaire.

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INSTALLATION
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There are two files that comprise Blackjack Solitaire - the Blackjack Solitaire application and the Blackjack Deck data file. Both of these files must be placed in the same folder for Blackjack Solitaire to work correctly. The Blackjack Deck file stores the images for the card deck -- if you are proficient with a resource editing application, you can substitute your own card decks (although I feel my card images are some of the best available.) Once you launch Blackjack Solitaire for the first time, a third file will be created named Blackjack Players. This file will keep names and bank accounts for any number of players you create. Don't remove this file unless you wish to lose your bankroll!!

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RULES OF PLAY
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This section will (briefly) describe the rules of Blackjack. If you are already familiar with the rules of play, skip ahead to the section labeled GETTING STARTED.

Although sometimes described as "21", the goal of Blackjack is not to get a hand value of 21 as most people assume. Instead, the goal is to beat the dealer's hand, regardless of hand value. If the hand total of the player exceeds 21, then the player has "busted" and automatically forfeits their bet.

Blackjack is played using 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, or even 7 decks of cards shuffled together. Normally when more than 2 decks are used, the cards are placed in a small box called a "shoe", where they are dealt out to players one at a time. One or more players may play at one time, but it is very important to point out that you are not competing against each other, but against the dealer.

The cards in the shoe have a value of 1 to 11. All face cards are valued as 10, as is the 10 card (as expected.) All other cards keep their face value, except for the ace. The ace card (A) can be counted as either a 1 or 11 at any time, to the advantage of the player. When the ace is counted as 1, the hand is considered a "hard" hand. When the ace is counted as 11, the hand is considered a "soft" hand. For example, a hand of (A, 7) can be counted as 8 or 18. A hand of (A, A, 10) would have to be counted as 12, because counting either ace as 11 would bust the hand.

Cards are dealt to the player one at a time until each player and the dealer receives two cards. The first card to the dealer is normally kept face down until all hands have been played, and then it is revealed to the players. Once all cards have been dealt, each player in order will determine whether they should stand (not receive any more cards), hit (receive one or more additional cards), split (split cards into two hands), or double (increase the bet to twice the original value.) The player may receive additional cards until they stand or a total greater than 21 has been reached. If the player's hand exceeds 21, the hand is forfeited and the dealer collects the bet. If the first two cards dealt to a player total 21, the player receives 1 1/2 times their original bet. If the dealer receives a hand total of 21 on the first two cards, the hand is immediately over and the dealer either collects bets or "pushes" any player also holding a hand totaling 21. If the dealer is showing an ace, the player is offered "insurance" costing half the value of the players bet. If the dealer indeed has a blackjack (21), the player is paid back insurance at 2:1 to their original bet. Except for rare circumstances or professional play, insurance is considered a bad bet and normally should not be accepted.

When all players have played their hand, the dealer will reveal their face-down card (called the hole card) and begin hitting their hand, normally until a value of 17 or greater is reached. At this point, the dealer will payoff bets to all players having hand values greater than the dealer. The dealer will collect bets for all hands having values less than the dealer. Hands having equal value to the dealer's hand are "pushed", and no money changes hands.

While playing a hand, various circumstances may allow the player to double their bet or split their hand into two hands. When doubling a bet, the player will receive one additional card and their bet will be doubled. In some casinos (notably northern Nevada), the player may only double down when their hand total is 10 or 11. When splitting pairs, the hand will be divided in half, and a bet equal to the original bet will be placed by the new second hand. Each hand will be played out individually, and the player will have all normal play options available. In some casinos, a hand may not be split multiple times; because of limited screen real estate, Blackjack Solitaire only allows a single split on the original hand. Hands originally having two aces (A, A) will only receive one card apiece after being split.

Play continues until the player leaves the table or loses their bankroll, whichever comes first. For sake of learning, Blackjack Solitaire will allow you to continue play after you have lost all your money, and will even allow you to play hands without placing a bet.

This is a very brief description of blackjack. Many good books exist which go into great detail on blackjack strategy and counting schemes. I suggest you find a good book just to get a better appreciation for the number of strategies that exist for blackjack, and definitely if you consider to wager real money in various casinos across the country. Blackjack Solitaire is not suitable as a training tool for casino play strictly because of how often rules change and the number of different strategies available that cannot possibly be covered by the limited scope of this program. But, for recreation at home, I hope you enjoy the game!

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GETTING STARTED
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Once you launch Blackjack Solitaire, you will have various options available to begin a new game. First, you will need to add yourself as a "player" by clicking New Player. Enter your name into the player name to insert your name into the player list.

Once you are in the player list, click on your name to select the player bankroll to risk in the new game (you will be given $500 as a starting bankroll). This is a solitaire game, so only one player may be selected. After you have selected a player name, you may choose the number of "simulated" players to have the computer play to help randomize cards dealt, the number of decks to be used in the game (most casino's have 6-deck games today), and the rules set you wish to use. Currently Las Vegas, Northern Nevada, and Atlantic City are supported (Caribbean and Europe may be added later based on response from users like you!)

Once you have selected your game options, click the New Game button to begin a new game.

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PLAYING AREA
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Once you have started a new game, a variety of windows will automatically appear which control various features and feedback of the game. The main window which will be the focus of your attention is the playing area, or the table. This is where you will see the cards dealt to you by the dealer, along with the dealers cards. The dealers cards are shown at the top of the screen, and your cards are shown at the bottom. In situations of a split hand, you will be given two sets of cards at the bottom of the screen, and will play them out one hand at a time, from left to right.

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GAME PLAY
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As you are dealt cards, you will need to make decisions on how to proceed with your "hand". A small floating windoid gives you access to all blackjack playing moves:

Items will appear "dimmed" when they are not legal for the current move. The options represented in this palette, from left to right, are Deal, Hit, Stand, Split, and Double. Each is discussed briefly below:

Deal - Chosen once you have placed your bet on the table. This will signal the dealer that you are ready to play the next hand.

Hit - Requests another card from the dealer. If the next card causes the total of your hand to exceed 21, your turn is over and play moves to the first simulated player (or the dealer, if no simulated players are present.)

Stand - Ends your turn and moves play to the first simulated player (or the dealer.)

Split - Splits your hand into to hands, and places a bet equal to your original bet for EACH hand. If the original hand was NOT a pair of aces, you will be able to choose play options for each hand. For an (A,A) hand, each split hand will receive one and only one card.

Double - Will double your current bet (if you have enough money available). You will then receive ONE card (be careful here!!)

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BETTING AND BANKROLL
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The Winnings window is used to place bets onto the table and to review your bankroll and win/loss ratio.

To place a bet, you must not have an active hand on the table (bets may only be placed before the cards are dealt.) To place chips on the table, click the chip picture in the Winnings window showing the dollar amount you wish to bet. You may place any number of chips onto the table, in various denominations. The chips will automatically be stacked and converted for you. For example, if you place two $5 chips on the table, the chips will be removed and replaced with a single $10 chip to keep the table less cluttered. To remove chips from the table, click on the chip to remove until it is highlighted with a yellow "rim", then press the Delete key. You may repeat this for multiple chips as necessary. After each hand, it is NOT necessary to place the SAME bet amount. If you simply click the Deal button, the last bet placed will automatically be used again. Only when you wish to change the bet amount should you use the chip icons.

The Winnings window will show you the available cash in your bankroll (which you cannot exceed while placing bets), and will show you your win/loss ratio in number of hands and cash flow.

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HAND TOTALS & CARD COUNTING
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The Count window will show you the hand values for your hand and the dealers hand (if all of the dealers cards are face up), the current running count for the counting scheme in effect, the number of cards remaining in the deck or shoe, and the suggested move based on the casino rules which are in effect.

The red line shown in the shoe is the location of the "cut card" in the shoe. Once cards have been dealt past the cut card, the next available turn the dealer will shuffle the decks.

If Hand Totals is activated in the Preferences dialog (show later in this document), the total values for the player and dealers hands are shown as cards are dealt. Use this when you are just getting used to game play, but try testing your speed at counting for yourself without hand totals shown to test your skill.

If Running Card Count is active in the Preferences dialog, the current "count" of the active counting system is show in the "+/-" column. With counting systems, a count is kept of certain cards which have been dealt from the decks. If the running count is positive, it tells the player that the remainder of the deck is in the players advantage, and betting should be adjusted higher. When negative, the deck is in the house advantage and betting should be lower. Blackjack Solitaire supports three standard counting schemes of various complexity. If you are interested in learning more about counting schemes, I urge you to view the "Suggested Reading" area at the end of this document to locate books which teach these schemes in great detail.

Finally, the lower section of the Count window will show the suggested strategy if Show Strategy is selected in the Preferences dialog. You will normally want to keep this option turned on while you are practicing. The suggested strategy follows the "basic strategy" of blackjack. No matter which book you study, the basic strategy is mathematically fixed by odds, and should not differ across texts. Therefore, you can feel pretty confident the strategy suggested is sound unless you are actively using a counting system, which may alter normal strategy. By following just the normal basic strategy, you cut the house advantage by roughly 1 to 2 percent.

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SIMULATED PLAYERS
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The Hands window will show the hands of the simulated players (if you chose to have simulated players.) Normally you will want at least two simulated players to help keep the card dealing more random, since in casino play you will normally be seated with multiple players.

The computer will automatically control these hands and play a very simple strategy -- simply hit the hand until 17 is reached or the hand is busted. Although not very "intelligent", it serves the purpose of randomizing game play. If you are not interested in viewing these hands, just close this window and these hands will be handled "invisibly" in the background as you play.

One note -- it is a good idea to keep this window visible and pay attention to the first hand. This is the player who will receive cards immediately after you do. So, the next time you stand on 12 and wonder if you would have busted if you hit your hand, you can look at the next card dealt to the first simulated hand to see if a face card was dealt. This may help give you confidence in the sometimes weird strategies such as standing on (7,7) when the dealer is showing a face card. Over time, you will see that the basic strategy is the most mathematically sound move.

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FLASHCARDS
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Blackjack Solitaire offers a flashcard system to help quickly test you on basic strategy play based on the current casino rules. You will be given a pair of cards and shown the dealers upcard. You then need to decide if the best move is to hit, stand, split, or double.

The number of correct and incorrect choices you have made is maintained in the lower right corner of the screen. If you are stumped and need to see the recommended strategy for this hand, click on the Show Hint button and the strategy will be shown in the Hint section of this window.

You can activate the flashcard window at any time, even in the middle of an active game. If you find yourself losing money real fast, take a deep breath, open the flashcard window, test yourself for awhile, then close the window to return to your game when you're ready.

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PREFERENCES
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There are various preference settings you can change by choosing Preferences from the Edit menu. This option is always enabled and can be chosen at any time. To save your preferences, click the OK button.

Each preference is described below:

Card Dealing Delay - move the scroll bar left or right to speed up or slow down the rate at which cards are dealt by the dealer. If you are trying to use a counting system, it is probably best to set the dealing delay to a slow setting so you have time to recognize each card and keep a running count. For leisure play, move the dealing delay to a fast or very fast setting.

Hand Totals - when checked, the hand total for your active hand and the dealers hand (when the dealer upcard has been turned face up) will be computed and shown for you automatically. Otherwise, a question mark (?) will be displayed.

Running Card Count - if you have chosen a card counting system to use, choosing this option will show the running count in the Count window. Otherwise, a question mark (?) will be displayed.

Suggest Strategy - when chosen, the basic strategy based on your hand and the dealer upcard will be shown in the Count window.

Sound Effects - when chosen, you will hear sounds when chips are placed on the table, when cards are dealt, and when the dealer shuffles the deck.

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SUGGESTED READING
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I've always enjoyed blackjack since my father taught me the game when I was a kid. I really couldn't find a blackjack for the Mac that suited my tastes, so I decided to write this game. In researching the various rules of the game, I was amazed at the level of detail some books on the market teach strategies of blackjack, show mathematical odds, and teach card counting systems. Below is a list of some of the books I used while teaching myself rules I had never known before. Your local bookstore will probably have many more titles to offer, and some may be more recent than the ones I chose.

Roberts, Stanley. The Beginners Guide To Winning Blackjack. Hollywood, CA: Gambling Times Inc., 1984.

Roberts, Stanley. Winning Blackjack. Gambling Times, Inc., rev 1981. (*best seller)

Thorp, Edward. Beat The Dealer: A Winning Strategy For The Game Of Twenty-One. New York, NY: Random House, 1966. (*recommended)

Uston, Ken. Million Dollar Blackjack. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1992. (*recommended)

Wong, Stanford. Professional Blackjack. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company, Inc: 1981.

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BUG REPORTS & FEEDBACK
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Unfortunately, software is not always the precise are we would like it to be. If you happen to run across a bug, I would be very glad to hear from you. On a brighter note, if you just like the program and wish to give your support, I'd like to hear from you, too. I offer Blackjack Solitaire as a "what-it's-worth" program, meaning you should donate what you think the program is worth. If you need some suggestions, here are things I like to receive:

* A postcard from your state or country
* A trinket or souvenir unique to your state or country
* Good old United States currency (moola, dough, cash, etc.)
* Be creative!

I can be reached at one of the following postal or electronic addresses:

Richard Harvey
Timing Z Softworks
P.O. Box 118332
Carrollton, TX 75011
U.S.A.

- or -
AOL: Banana6000
Internet: banana6000@aol.com

Please send me your feedback!!


Original file name: BJ Read Me! - converted on Thursday, 2 December 1999, 18:02

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