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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Blackjack Odds-'n-Ends Might Help You See the Light

17 December 2005

I just arrived back home from a nine-hour blackjack day at four different local casinos. I must've played at fifteen different tables with fifty different people, and you know what? It seemed like they were all the same player. Nearly everybody plays the game basically the same way. Yet, they're virtually all losers at a game that can positively be beaten.

So where does everybody go wrong? I mean, if blackjack is a beatable game (and it is), why is almost everybody a loser at it? What critical nuggets of advice might be given in a blackjack strategy column that could turn somebody's game around?

Usually, I prepare a detailed essay on one vital topic in an effort to drive home the "point-of-the-day". But today, I'll just ramble on with little random, but critical morsels of truth, hoping they might get a few of you to start thinking, and playing along the right lines. The sooner you recognize these facts, the better off your blackjack bankroll will be.

  • With regard to basic hand playing strategy, most players misplay the same 25 or 30 hands. Primarily, these are soft hands, a few pairs and your basic hard 12s and multi-card 16s. By plugging these leaks, most people could reduce their disadvantage by two-thirds, from 1.5% down to only 0.5%. That would save a $15 bettor about $13 per hour, and a $100 bettor about $100 per hour.
  • Proper basic strategy is not the "be all/end all" of correct blackjack play. There are plenty of times when you should stand with 16 against a 10, or hit 12 against a 4 as well as 13 against a deuce. Sometimes you should stand with A/8 against a 5, and sometimes you should double down. If you automatically think the guy next to you is a moron when he makes these moves, he just might be playing the game over your head.
  • Even if you play all your hands perfectly, you'll still fall behind the house by one bet for every 200 to 250 hands you play in the long term.
  • You absotively, posilutely cannot make up this tiny deficit by trying to capitalize on your streaks, or by using stop-loss betting techniques.
  • Determining your next bet according to the last outcome is a totally irrelevant bet-sizing strategy. After winning three hands in a row, you'll win that fourth hand the same percentage of times as after losing three in a row.
  • All betting progressions cancel themselves out perfectly over time, rendering them useless. Take the 1-2-3 progression as a simple example. WWW gains 6 units. WWL breaks even. WLW breaks even. LWW gains 2 units. LLW loses 1 unit. LWL loses 2 units. WLL loses 2 units. LLL loses 3 units. That's 8 units won and 8 units lost after all possible sequences have occurred. Believe it or not, it works out that same way with any other progression over the course of any other number of bets. However with blackjack, you'll have more L's than W's, so you'll end up behind – the same as if you had used one flat bet all the way.
  • Bad players at the table cannot make you more likely to lose. Every mistake they make is equally as likely to help you as hurt you. If third base takes a hit on 14 against a dealer's 5, the next two cards are just as likely to come out 10-6 as 6-10. In fact, you have no idea whether you'd rather he stand or hit.
  • "No-Mid-Shoe Entry" signs make no sense at all for the player. The order of the cards is not sacred. They got that way by being blindly shuffled, then cut at a random point by one of the players. When things are going great, there's absolutely no tendency for them to keep going great. If somebody jumps into the game mid-shoe, all it amounts to is a little more blind shuffling.
  • The only two things that matter in blackjack are to play your hands right, and to raise your bet when the shoe favors the player. The only time the shoe favors the player is when there are more high cards left. If you can learn a method that recognizes those times, then you'll be raising your bet according to something that matters. Everything else is a waste of money and effort.
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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey