The ages-old game of Blackjack: Do video games get it right? (feat. RDR2 in Remote Play)

Special Feature

Red Dead Redemption 2 might have arrived on PC a month ago, but it has been present on the PS Vita for over a year as a PS4 Remote Play title. Not surprisingly, the game has been getting stellar reviews. Rockstar’s open-world Wild West epic is truly epic, reminding us of the studio’s mastery to craft a perfect blend of story and gameplay. What makes the game so unique isn’t just the open world – it’s how alive it is from within.

Just like GTA, RDR2 features a living world where things don’t stand still. You can eat, you can dance, and in true Wild West fashion, you can also play poker and blackjack. It’s not a new feature – gambling has been featured in other games before. Of course, that doesn’t take the fun away from it. Whenever you’re not chasing criminals, you can sit at a table and test your skills against others or enter tournaments with a lot of cash to be made. However, video games in general and RDR2 in particular have been heavily criticized for not getting the rules of blackjack right.

How to Play Blackjack

Everyone…well, at least most of us know how to play the game. Blackjack rules are simple – whoever gets closer to 21 wins. The game is a mix of luck, skill, and chance, but it’s still pretty straightforward for beginners. If you’ve never tried a game of blackjack, you can play your first hand in Red Dead Redemption 2. All the rules are available within the game so you won’t have a problem grappling things on the fly. 

The card values are simple. All cards from 2 to 10 give you the same number of points, while jacks, kings and queens are worth 10 each. An ace is valued 1 or 11 depending on your hand.

The game starts with you placing a bet – that’s the dealer’s cue to deal two cards to you and themselves. Your next move is directly linked to the cards in your hand – you can hit (ask for another card to get closer to 21), stand (stay on your current hand), split (if the two cards have high value), bust (you’re over 21 and out of the game), double down (double your bet), etc.

When you believe your hand is better than the dealer’s, he will compare them and declare either you or him a winner. As mentioned, whoever’s closer to 21 wins.

How Do Video Games Get It Wrong?

Most games, including RDR2, hand out your winnings to a master cash supply that implies straight betting. For those unaware of the term, it’s a strategy that involves betting the same amount over and over again. It sounds boring and IT IS BORING. This is the biggest problem with RDR2’s blackjack rules – there’s no progressive betting and it bears no resemblance to how one would play the game in casinos.

That said, there is more variety in betting styles when you take into consideration online casinos and even blackjack and casino games on the PSP and Playstation Vita. It’s just this minigame implementation that is usually a bit more limited.

Straight betting isn’t wrong per se. It’s a simple strategy that allows you to keep track of your run with ease. However, even if just a minor piece of a large video game, adding features such as progressive betting would make any video game with blackjack all the more fun. 

Gamblers would surely love it, and it would surely mean a lot to newcomers as well. It’s a pretty simple thing to fix and we have our fingers crossed that a future patch resolves this annoying little problem.

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About Simon Plumbe 858 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian.Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe