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 Questions: Insurance, Surrender, The Value of High Cards

22 August 2004

Since blackjack and live poker are both readily beatable casino games, that's what most of my casino columns are about. Over time, that draws many blackjack and poker e-mails to my "blackjackmentor@aol.com" box. Let's air out some the more interesting ones today.

Hello, Fred,

Just got back from Vegas and was playing a double-deck game at the Paris that was dealt face-up -- just like the shoe games. There were many times when the dealer had an Ace up and the players had mostly small cards. Should I have taken Insurance at these times because there aren't another 300 other cards that could be in the dealer's hole?

Appreciate your view.

Jack

Dear Jack,

Face-up double-deck games are rare, and this can make Insurance a good bet for the basic strategy player on occasion. Including the dealer's Ace, you need to see either a total of nine cards on the table with no 10s among them -- or twelve cards with no more than one 10 -- or fifteen cards with no more than two 10s to make Insurance the correct play. That's because in all three cases, more than one third of the unseen cards will be 10s -- and you'll get paid 2-to-1 odds on that bet. Seeing anywhere near that many exposed cards in a "pitch' game would be highly unlikely.

Mr. Renzey,

If surrender is available, is it proper to surrender a pair of 8s against a face-card instead of splitting them?

Paul

Dear Paul,

No. Splitting the 8s is still the best option. Here's why. First off, hitting your 16 wins 23 out of 100 times (after adjusting for pushes) and loses 77 -- that's 54 units lost. Surrendering does a bit better by losing a half bet all 100 times for 50 total units lost. However, splitting wins 76 and loses 124 out of the 200 new hands for a loss of 48 units. The cheapest way out of the trap over time, is to split.

Mr. Renzey,

I have read your blackjack book and need to ask why you say high cards give the player an advantage. When the shoe has lots of high cards, isn't the dealer just as likely to get them as the player? Can you explain?

Tom

Dear Tom,

Due to the uneven rules of the game, the player makes more money with high cards than the dealer -- even though they both have the same chance to be dealt those high cards. The most glaring example of this is a dealt blackjack.

When you bet $10 and the dealer gets blackjack, you lose your ten bucks -- but if you get the blackjack, you win $15. The more often you and the dealer trade blackjacks, the more money you make. If the shoe were all 10s and Aces, it would be happening all the time.

Another good example is a pair of Aces. You get to turn them into two 11s, but the dealer must hit a soft 12. The more 10s there are available as hit cards, the more often you'll make 21 -- and the more often the dealer will make 22.

Also, when doubling down, if you catch a high card you usually win -- not one bet, but two! The dealer, however, can never double her bet when she has a great drawing hand.

Now let's look at the dealer's side of things. She absolutely must hit every stiff, even though she may already have your 15 beaten with 16. In fact, if no card in the deck/shoe was higher than a 5, the dealer would never, ever bust. By catching a 5, a hard 12 becomes 17 and a hard 16 becomes 21. That's a pretty sweet ending for somebody who was forced to play Russian roulette. You on the other hand willfully elect to stand on more than a third of your stiffs, because that improves your chances to win the hand.

Indeed, the number one factor in beating blackjack is the ability to recognize when high cards are more likely to be dealt.

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