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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

A Deeper Look at Those Odds-'n-Ends in Blackjack

24 December 2005

Last week, we briefly highlighted nine truisms about blackjack that most players, even experienced ones, aren't aware of. You can be sure, though, that blackjack pros and semi-pros alike are keenly aware of them. So today, we'll take a few of those truisms and explain them in further detail, so that you can get a better grip on the real game of blackjack.

1) Basic Strategy is no "be all/end all": The other night I doubled down right off the top of the shoe with A/8 against a 5 and caught a 10, which didn't change my hand. Like most players, first base became visibly irritated -- especially since the dealer turned up a 7 in the hole and followed it with a 6 to make 18. First base had 14. I won double and first base lost a hand he would've won had I stood pat.

Something the common player doesn't realize is that doubling with A/8 vs. 5 isn't far from being a proper basic strategy play. And when the rest of the board is 8/6, 5/4/3 and 2/4/7 the way this one was, doubling is the best move. The thing to understand about basic strategy is it assumes all cards are equally available. In this case, they weren't. Anytime at least five more "babies" (2s thru 5s) have been killed than 10s, doubling down with A/8 against a 5 or 6, as well as with 9 against a deuce, all become correct.

As for how your custom play will affect those players around you is strictly a random thing. If the next two cards had come out 6/10 rather than 10/6, first base would've loved me!

There are seven blackjack hands that can be optimized by merely noticing the cards on board. They're called the "Magnificent 7" hands. They are 9 vs. 2; 11 vs. A; 12 vs. 4; 13 vs. 2; 16 vs. 10 and A/8 vs. 5 or 6. You can upgrade your game beyond basic strategy by learning how to play these hands more efficiently.

2) Money Management doesn't win: Most players are fixated on betting their money according to the results of the last hand, or two, or three. That's irrelevant information. You want to know where you're going – not where you've been - and your recent outcomes give no clue of that.

In our last article, we showed how a 1-2-3 betting progression would merely break even over the long haul if you won as many bets as you lost. I used a sample just three bets long to illustrate this, but you can test out for 6 bets, or many more if you like. Just be aware that even a six-bet sample must contain a list of 64 won/lost sequences. You can also change the progression to a 1-1-3-5, a 1-2-4-8 or anything else you can dream up. Anyway, you'll see that with any progression over any number of bets, all the winning sequences will win the same amount that all the losing sequences lose. It's elementary.

3) Lose the Superstitious Mindset: Bad players are not the slightest threat to your blackjack results. Suppose you and I were alone at the table. We both had 16 against the dealer's 5 up. You stood pat and now it's my turn. Which way are you more likely to win your own hand: if I hit or stand?

Of course, you don't want me to take the dealer's bust card, but which card is the dealer's bust card – the first or second card? Suppose the dealer went so far as to show us her hole card and it was a 10, giving her 15. Then she even showed us the next two cards in the shoe, a 6 and a 9. Now she shuffles those two cards, just like she did before and put them back in the shoe. Would you rather I hit or stand? When you can say, "It doesn't matter", you've taken your game to the next level.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey