Gaia Cards is a token game on Gaia Online, resembling much of blackjack (or 21) with some modified house rules. Gaia's version of Blackjack is tougher as it bends the rules of standard casino blackjack to include elements such as NPC/PC cheating and life bars. The maximum bet per hand is three tokens.
Gaia Cards hands are scored by their point total. The hand with the highest total wins as long as it doesn't exceed 21; a hand with a higher total than 21 is said to bust. Cards 2 through 10 are worth their face value, and face cards (jack, queen, king) are also worth 10. An ace's value is 11 unless this would cause the player to bust, in which case it is worth 1. A hand in which an ace's value is counted as 11 is called a soft hand, because it cannot be busted if the player draws another card.
The goal of each player is to beat the dealer by having the higher, unbusted hand. Note that if the player busts he loses, even if the dealer also busts. If both the player and the dealer have the same point value, it is called a "push", and neither player nor dealer wins the hand. Each player has an independent game with the dealer, so it is possible for the dealer to lose to one player, but still beat the other players in the same round.
A two-card hand of 21 (an ace plus a ten-value card) is called a "blackjack" and is an automatic winner. A player with blackjack is paid 3: on his bet. The play goes as follows:
- If the dealer has blackjack and the player doesn't, the player automatically loses.
- If the player has blackjack and the dealer doesn't, the player automatically wins.
- If both the player and dealer have blackjack then it's a push.
- If neither side has blackjack, then each player plays out his hand, one at a time.
- When all the players have finished the dealer playes his hand.
The player's options for playing his or her hand are:
- Hit: Take another card.
- Stand: Take no more cards.
- Double down: Double the wager, take exactly one more card, and then stand.
The player's turn is over after deciding to stand, doubling down to take a single card, or busting. If the player busts, he or she loses the bet even if the dealer goes on to bust as well.
After all the players have finished making their decisions, the dealer then reveals his or her hidden hole card and plays the hand. Gaia House rules say that the dealer must hit until he or she has at least 17, regardless of what the players have. In most casinos a dealer must also hit a soft 17 (such as an ace and a 6). The felt of the table will indicate whether or not the house hits or stands on a soft 17. If a push happens, it is simply a tie, and one's bet is usually returned back.
Gaia Cards is unlike blackjack in many ways. A few house rules are used as a result, making it different from regular casino blackjack.
Changes to the Standard RulesEdit
- Gaia Cards runs the standard casino rule of the dealer must stand on all 17s and must hit on all 16s. This includes any combination using an ace.
- Double down is available through any combination of cards, but is not available at any time after the first card is delt.
- A push (tie) happening on a hand will not have your bet returned to you, but carried over to the next hand. One can have the option of adding another three tokens to one's bet, effectively doubling up.
- Split is not available through Gaia Cards. A split is one double's a wager and have each card be the first card in a new hand. This option is available only when both cards have the same value such as (A A) (5 5) or (J J).
- Like most casinos, a surrender option is not available. There are two types of surrendering one's bet; an early surrender is the ability to forfeit half your wager against a face or ace before the dealer checks for blackjack and normal surrender allows one to forfeit half one's wager at any time during the game.
- Insurance is not available through Gaia Cards. Insurance is when a dealer is delt a face up ace, and the player has the option of putting a 2:1 side bet on whether or not a dealer has blackjack. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the player loses the sidebet. Generally, in most blackjack expert circles, Insurance is a bad bet for most circumstances except in card counting situations.
- A "Mechanical shoe" prevents card counting and shuffle tracking since Gaia Cards uses a pseudo-random number generator on the server side. An example of a "pseudo-shoe" in blackjack is Yahoo! Blackjack.
- A Five Card Charlie rule is not applied in Gaia Cards. This rule allows a player to automatically win upon being delt 5 cards that is equal to or less than 21.
Obviously not in any real life casino, cheating is an integal part of Gaia Cards. As you play, a small meter under your face will fill with red. When this meter fills up you will have the option to use your super power by clicking the cheat button, allowing you to see the dealer's face down card. This is advantagous upon certain questionable hands such as a face up 10.
Dealers also have their own cheating moves as well and will very from dealer to dealer.
- Russell Ace - Will use Pocket Ace and deal out an ace to make his hand better.
- Jinx - Will use Fresh Start and redeal her entire hand based on your hand.
- Cardbot - Will use either Fresh Start and or Pocket Ace depending on which is to its advantage.
The life bar on the top represents one's wins/loss ratio throughout a session of Gaia Cards. The bar may turn gold or even platinum depending on the play/return ratio.
NOTE: If you cash in your winnings for tickets, your health bar will go down.
Basic Strategy TableEdit
|Your Hand||Dealer's face-up card|
The above is a basic strategy table for the most common 6- to 8-deck, Las Vegas Strip rules, which is the basis on Gaia Cards strategy. Specifically: dealer stands on soft 17., blackjack pays 3:2.
- S = Stand
- H = Hit
- D = Double
A close interactive calculator is available online. Set the rules for S17 and the decks to 8 to simulate the closest course of action to Gaia Cards. Other interactive calculators are available for download, though a calculator specifically for Gaia Cards has yet to be made.
Accuracy and RulesEdit
Most complaints of Gaia Cards are those that feel that the game is missing essential parts of a game of blackjack such as using insurance on a dealer's upturned ace, employing card counting tactics, or splitting one's hand when one recieves a pair. However, as noted earlier, using insurance in most circumstances is not a safe bet.
On the complaint of card counting, the Gaia Cards system works similarly to most virtual casino blackjack games where a pseudo-random number generator constantly "shuffles" the deck and in order to use an eight deck card shoe (a common sized blackjack deck in casinos) would require more stringent programming and can result in an economic depression since there are many programs out on the internet (and in other literature) that can teach the average Gaian how to card count.
A more pragmatic explaination for not allowing splits is seen; there is not enough room on the game screen to place too many cards.