They say sex can sell anything.  They may be right.  Sex appeal has a universality to it because it taps into something that crosses borders and cultures and languages, and drives home a latent compulsion in every one of us.  Marketing firms have known this for generations, and tailor their products according to this one tenet: if you’re advertising sex, you’ve already got them hooked.  Fast food commercials feature red backgrounds and attractive models eating their hamburgers.  Clothes lines feature the selfsame models mid-pose in the latest accessories.

So why shouldn’t we indulge?  Gambling and beautiful women have always gone hand in hand.  It’s where we get the iconic Bond girls in high-class European casinos, the doe-eyed seductresses who can deal just as deadly a hand on the tables as they can in the bedroom.  But for those of us who don’t have the luxury of a secret agent’s bank account, there’s an easy and enjoyable substitute that doesn’t even require leaving the house.  On the contrary, you’ll probably want to stay in.

Newgrounds has a version of ‘Sexy Online Blackjack’ that allows you to customize two attractive avatars representing a dealer and a player, with options that range from breast size and skin tone to their profession (school-girl seems to be a favourite) and style of lingerie.  The actual gameplay is very simple, featuring a head-to-head set against a computer opponent – the object of the simplified version of blackjack is to score as close to 21 without going over.  The reward?  It’s better than strip poker.

Each time you or the computer loses a hand an article of clothing disappears in the blink of an eye, and leaves one or the other avatar looking a little barer, and a little more vulnerable.  If this hasn’t whetted your appetite, there’s a very subtle animation that keeps their bosoms gently bouncing in an invisible wind.  It’s a subtle enough that you might discover that you’re losing more hands than you’re winning.  I give kudos to the programmers and to Newgrounds for adding a certain flair and obstacle I wouldn’t normally encounter in a real casino.  The element of distraction – it’s hard to keep your game face on when a smoking slender police officer in black tights starts to show more and more skin.

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Although all the current mobile and online versions of ‘sexy blackjack’ are strictly animated, it’s fun to wonder at the possibilities for the future, especially considering its popularity thus far.  Could we see the inception of live blackjack broadcasts with real girls?  It’s not the craziest thing to imagine a webcam blackjack program where women act as the dealer and initiate their own strip-tease – but only if you win.  For now, though, we’ll have to settle for the high-graphic virtual girls.

Although disrobing a fantasy woman has a certain allure to it on its own, when combined with the gameplay of a blackjack hand where one is required to exercise a degree of strategy (and restraint) and focus, there’s a real tension that is both exciting and challenging.  Can you bite your tongue and play an even 21 without rushing through hands, or will you fall prey to your desires and haphazardly click ‘Deal’ just to see what the girls are packing underneath?