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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Blackjack Winners and Losers Think in Opposite Directions

4 August 2007

More than 99% of all the blackjack players are lifetime losers at the game. Yet, there are people who are lifetime winners at it. But what separates the winners from the losers? Is the winner smarter? Luckier? What, then?

Let's run through a series of typical blackjack scenarios and compare what the average player is thinking vs. what a winner thinks.

There's a dealer just beginning a new shoe right over there. Grab a seat. Your first hand is 12 against the dealer's 3 up. The typical player thinks, "Hmm, the dealer's pretty weak with that 3 up. So I'll just stay and let the dealer bust".

In contrast, the winner says to himself, "I know she'll turn that 3 into a made hand 5 times out of 8, and only 4 cards out of 13 will bust me. So I've gotta' hit."

On your second hand, you double down with 6/5 against a 5 and catch a 3 to make 14. Then, "Joe Clueless" at third base doubles down with 4/4 and catches a 6. To top it off, the dealer pulls a five-card 21. Most players' reaction would be, "How many more hands is this idiot at third base going to cost me with his stupid plays? I better change tables right now!"

But the winner's observation is, "Wow! Look at all those little cards out there. Better fasten my seat belt and raise my bet. Here come the 10s and Aces!"

At your new table, the dealer has 20 on her first three hands off the top of the shoe. A couple of other players had 20s and even blackjacks, but you lost three straight hands with 19, 19 and 18.

Many born losers will decide to add a second hand here, so as to change the "flow" of the cards. But the winner astutely observes that too many high cards have come out early and that it's likely to be a bad shoe, so he leaves the table.

You, instead, are now playing two hands and are dealt Ace/2 and Ace/7 against the dealer's 4. If you're like most players, you reason, "I'll double with my Ace/2 since I need a hit there anyway, and the dealer's got a bust card showing. But I'll stay on my Ace/7 because I've already got 18 there."

The winner sees things just the opposite, and reflects, "There are eight bad cards I can catch to my Ace/2, and if it's an Ace, deuce, 3 or 4, I'll want a second card. So I'll just hit that. But I'll double my Ace/7 because eight cards out of 13 will still leave me with a made hand -- seven of them 18 or better".

After losing all day, you finally nail a blackjack and, wouldn't you know it, the dealer's got an Ace up. The typical player instinctively reacts, " A bird in the hand, baby! Gimme even money!"

The winner calmly reasons, "If I take chicken money, 70% of the time I'll be giving away half a bet. Winning one-and-a-half bets 70% of the time makes more profit than winning one bet 100% of the time. I'll just take my chances."

Now the wild player next to you has 9 against a 7 and doubles down for less. Most losers will smugly just watch in disapproval. But the winner realizes that while doubling is the wrong play, it still wins more often than it loses. So he caps off the rest of the player's double with his own money.

On the last hand of the shoe, you've got A/7 against the dealer's 9. Like most players, you refuse to mess with a made 18 and stand. However, the winner knows that 18 will beat a dealer's 9 showing only 8 times out of 20. But if he keeps hitting, he'll win the hand 9 times out of 20. So the winner opts for 9 wins rather than 8 wins.

So now let me ask you, which of these viewpoints do you usually hold?

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