CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Blackjack Players Can Eliminate the House Edge

8 May 2002

"What do you think they build all those hotels with?" That's the normal comment somebody makes when they judge your chances at casino gambling. It sure seems to make sense. After all, local casinos do make millions from their customers every month.

Here's the thing, though. Most of that money comes from people who know very little about what they're doing. In most casino games the house makes its profit via odds that are set unwaveringly in its favor. If you play the quarter slots for example, the house will take 7.5% of all the money that goes in there -- period. If you play roulette, they're going to end up with their 5% -- end of story. They don't have to depend upon you to gamble badly. Their full percentage is built right in.

Blackjack works altogether differently. There, the house makes the vast majority of its profit from the players' mistakes! There's very little, if any built in house edge. Lucky for you, though, there's no shortage of players' mistakes. That phenomenon is what enables the house to continue offering a game that smarter commonfolk can play basically for free -- if they bone up on their play.

Here's the deal. My computer simulations indicate that average blackjack players make enough mistakes with their hands to give the house about a 1.5% profit on all their bets in a typical shoe game. At $15 per hand and 85 hands per hour, that generates around $22 an hour including doubles and splits. But if you just learn the correct basic playing strategy for all your hands, they've only got you by 0.5%. That grinds it down to $7 an hour. But wait -- there's more!

In past articles, I've discussed other techniques a common player can use to whittle down the house edge beyond that. One is through learning to play the "Magnificent 7" hands more accurately than basic strategy by noticing which cards are on board at the time. You remember those. That involves hitting your 12 against a 4 if there are more 10s on board than 2s through 5s -- etc. A more recently covered method of reducing the house edge is through "Hand Interaction." That's where you partake in other people's good double downs and advantageous pair splits -- or buy some of their advantageous hands that might look like losers to them, such as 19 against a 10. Using these two techniques judiciously can cut the basic strategist's remaining house edge right in half, down to 0.25%. Now we're down to an average loss of $3.50 per hour for that $15 bettor. But we're not through yet!

Most local casinos give "cash back" comps to their regular players based upon the total dollars they've wagered at the tables or in the machines. In my neck of the woods, a $15 blackjack bettor will tend to get a cash rebate of about $1.50 for each hour of play. That brings your net statistical loss down to $2 an hour -- a long way from $22.

Now just sit down and blend in with the average Joe for three hours and the floorperson will have no problem comping you (and probably your partner) to a free $10 or $12 buffet. All this will have cost you an average of $6! Who says the common recreational player can't beat the system?

NOW FOR THE GAMBLE PART

All the above is mathematically true. So much for averages and odds, however. The fact is, you'll still be gambling at $15 a pop. I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that to play like this you should have no less than $350 on the table in front of you. And if your luck runs pretty badly, you could lose it. On the other hand if you get lucky, you could also double it.

Here's something to give you a good feel for what you're dealing with. To measure the likelihood of chance events, mathematicians have something called "standard deviation." In gambling parlance, that's synonymous with "luck factor." Using that equation, it says that 8 times out of 10, you'll finish those three hours of play somewhere between $338 ahead and $350 behind. One time out of 10, you'll win more than $338 and once out of 10 times, you'll blow the whole $350. If you can deal with that, you're in business. Just don't go betting the farm without having a cardboard refrigerator box as a backup.

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:

> More Books By Fred Renzey