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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Advanced Blackjack Plays Aggravate Other Players

17 February 2007

Once a blackjack player learns most of his correct hand-playing strategy, he can quickly recognize novices by their dumb mistakes. The irony is, sometimes a true blackjack expert will make the same bizarre play as a novice, but for a totally different reason. When a typical blackjack veteran observes the expert making this unusual play, he generally mistakes the expert for a novice. And as you've probably noticed in the casinos, typical blackjack veterans have a resentful aversion to playing with novices.

Here's a classic example. The other day, I heard third base say to another at the table, "Hey, do you know when it's the right time to split a pair of 10s?"

The other replied sarcastically, "I dunno, when you're mad at your money?"

"No, it's when you're at a full table and your buddy needs a seat", came third base's punch line. They both chuckled in affirmation as the fun and games continued.

It's true that novices will sometimes split a pair of 10s. So have I on rare occasion. To most purists, that would be seen as heresy and could actually clear out a table. But now let me ask you this question.

What if you were dealt those two 10s against a dealer's 5 up, and you just happened to know that every single remaining card in the shoe was a 10? What's your best play?

Think about it. If you split and keep splitting, you'll end up with four 20s and the dealer's bound to make 25. So obviously, in this particular case, splitting 10s is the best move.

Will you ever see a shoe where every single remaining card is a 10? Highly unlikely. But this does point out that if splitting 10s is wrong with a full shoe but right when nothing but 10s are left -- then there has to be a crossover point where splitting 10s becomes better than standing. Typical blackjack veterans are unaware that this crossover point actually does get reached every now and then. At those times, splitting 10s is the play.

In fact, there are lots of plays that become correct when the cards in the shoe have gotten out of balance, and some of them come up often. Only a few extra small cards need to be played out to make it right to double down with 8 against a 6, or with Ace/8 against a 5, or to stand with 16 against a 10. These plays tend to rattle and bewilder typical players who believe that basic strategy embodies everything that there is to know about the game. Yet, a recreational player using something as simple and basic as the Ace/10 Front Count (mentioned in previous columns) will know when it's to his advantage to make these plays.

And what might Joe Purist do when he sees an enlightened player make this "dumb play" for reasons that Joe doesn't even know exist? He might well get spooked enough to leave the table, making room for that other fellow's buddy who needed a seat.

That's another irrational way that typical players hurt themselves. You see, if a truly bad player doubles down on a soft 19 for no good reason, it really doesn't hurt anybody else's chances at the table. This subject has been analyzed and explained in many of these columns.

But if an expert makes the same play because an advantageous shoe has developed, and you leave the table because you don't want to play with bad players, you're probably costing yourself some money!

So the next time somebody at your table makes a strange looking play with his hand, don't be so quick to write him off as a born loser. It's true, he might just be making a novice's mistake, and in that case his play doesn't affect your own odds to win.

Then again, he might be playing at a level above you and if you leave now, you might well be turning your back on a profitable shoe.

For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet, "The Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to, Fred Renzey, PO Box 598, Elk Grove Village, 60009.

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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> 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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey