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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Can You Explain the Logic of a Superstitious Gambler?

31 August 2007

My friend won't admit it, but he's a superstitious poker player. Whenever I suggest that his poker decisions are guided by superstition, he cops the ultimate defense by proclaiming, "I'm only superstitious about things that can affect my luck – but that's all". How do you argue with that?

Poker isn't the only game that's given to superstitious strategy. Virtually all casino games have their prevalent superstitions. That's why gaming companies can build skyscraping casino resorts and make bazillions.

Chances are, you're a bit superstitious too. But if you insist you're not, then explain the logic behind these common, everyday gambling beliefs.

1) When you barge into the blackjack table right in the middle of a shoe, do all the players get worse cards – or is it just the player whose cards you took?

2) At a 10-handed poker table, before any cards are dealt, each player has a 10% chance to win the next pot. But if there's a dealing mistake and nobody receives their correct original cards, how much less of a chance does each player have now?

3) A blind chimpanzee's chance of making a "pass" at the craps table is 49.3%. How far over 50% does it become if 15 frenzied human intellectuals are all chanting and betting in unison?

4) Do those index tracking cards at the baccarat table tell you "who's hot" – or "who's due"? And why is the house encouraging you to record such "precious" information?

5) Most roulette tables have electronic "reader boards" above them, posting the last 15 or 20 numbers that came up. Why do casinos provide you the information to "beat them" with?

6) The average gambler bets more money when he's ahead. But which bet is he more likely to win – the one he makes with the casino's money, or his own, and why?

7) Most blackjack players believe it's smart to insure a 20. But which Insurance bet are they more likely to win – when they have 10/10, or 3/2? Think about it. Since a player's 20 takes two 10s out of play that the dealer needs in the hole to pay off on the Insurance bet, that's the worst possible hand to insure.

8) In blackjack, when third base has 7/5 against a dealer's 6, why should the dealer break if the player plays correctly and stands, but the dealer make a good hand if the player plays wrong and hits? If that's true, suppose third base held 7/4 rather than 7/5. Which play, standing or hitting would make the dealer more likely to break now?

9) If you're really supposed to assume the blackjack dealer has a 10 in the hole, then why shouldn't you split a pair of 10s against a 6? What the heck, she's got 16! And why not hit 17 against a 10, because after all, 17 doesn't beat 20. For that matter, why not double with 7 against a 6 because – well, you get my drift. And why, whenever the dealer has an Ace up, is the house offering you 2-to-1 odds that the 10 is not in the hole?

10) Say you're playing two spots at blackjack and are using a progressive betting system. Your left hand has just won, but your right hand has lost. Why should you bet more money on the spot that just won, but less on the spot that lost, when they both must beat the same dealer's hand?

The list of misguided decisions goes on and on. But the important thing is this: If you squander your attention on this kind of popular nonsense, you'll be gambling at a level that is oblivious to things that really matter. Eventually, you'll find yourself wandering around the casino floor a hopeless loser, wondering what went wrong because you never got beyond the senseless superstitions.

It's ironic that superstition is what brings so many people to gambling in the first place – when superstition is the very thing that can keep them from winning at it.

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:

> More Books By Fred Renzey