The new blackjack games demonstrate that nothing ever stays the same
I n the nightcap of a doubleheader in July 1946, Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams—aka The Kid, aka the Splendid Splinter, aka the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived—dug his spikes into the batter’s box at Fenway Park and saw something between third base and second base that must have freaked him out. He saw nothing.
Shape Shifting No shortstop. No third baseman. No, well, anybody.
Williams, it bears mentioning, was in the midst of a tear that could only be described as, well, Williamsian.
He had already doubled in his first at-bat; this after belting out four hits and driving in eight runs in the opener.
Now Williams, by preference, was an inveterate pull hitter.
He generated ungodly amounts of power and torque from his Icabod Crane frame by getting out in front of the ball and yanking it to the right side of the field.
So when Williams strode to the plate again, Cleveland Indians manager Lou Boudreau decided it was time to pull the plug on all this pulling.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, but tell Maury Povich to get the DNA test ready, because desperation may be its Baby Daddy.
Boudreau flushed 50 years of positioning precedent down the clubhouse toilet and stationed six of his defenders to Williams’ pull side. The only Indian on the left side of the field was, un-ironically enough, the left fielder.
The Boudreau Shift, as it was immediately and eponymously dubbed, was so visually outrageous that even a blind man—or if you prefer, a baseball umpire—could have seen it. But what about the Blackjack Shift?
Well, that takes more of a learned eye to detect. But it’s just as real, and it’s just as pronounced.
As most people know, the history of proprietary table games is largely a history of poker games:
Shape Shifting Caribbean Stud, Fortune Pai Gow Poker, Let it Ride, Three Card Poker,
Casino Hold’em Poker, Casino War (aka one-card poker), Four Card Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, Flop Poker, Texas Hold’em Bonus, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Missis sippi Stud, and High Card Flush.
The list goes on and on, or at least it would if this column wasn’t subject to a strict word count.
And there’s still plenty of new poker titles coming out. You’ve got DJ Wild and Wild, Criss Cross and Double Draw, Match ‘em Hi-Lo and 7-Up Pai Gow. So, the time will not come for poker to surrender its preeminence anytime soon. But those times, however, are a’changing. And a’changing a’quickly.
More and more, the axis of proprietary table games is tilting away from poker and towards blackjack.
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