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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Don't Take Even Money on Your Blackjacks

18 September 1999

Conventional wisdom says, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Never turn down a sure thing." So I guess it means that one chip in the hand is worth more than a chip-and-a-half in the bush, right? Wrong! That's the deal you make every time you accept even money on your blackjack against an ace up, and it's not worth a chip-and-a-half in the bush. In fact, taking even money on your blackjack has got to be the most commonly misplayed hand in the entire blackjack universe. Here's why it's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let's pretend you have $100 bet on your hand and are dealt a blackjack. The dealer has an ace up. You realize that unless the dealer has a 10 in the hole, you'll win $150. But if the 10 is there, giving her a blackjack too, then you'll tie. You're also aware that if you take Insurance in this spot, you'll win $100 no matter what the dealer has in the hole. Not wanting to risk it, you decide to go with the "bird in the hand" concept and motion for "even money".

Just then, the dealer points to a sign that reads, "No Insurance at this Table". Damn! Now you're stuck gambling with one of the biggest bets you've made all day and are visibly unhappy about it. Luckily for you, though, the player next to you is a regular bleeding heart--- the kind of sweetheart who would go miles out of his way just to help a friend in need.

So he leans over towards you and says, "Psst; hey pardner. I can see you're in a tough squeeze here. So I'll tell you what I'm gonna do. I'll buy your hand from you right now; win or lose for $5. That way, you're sure to make something on it. Whad'ya say?"

Well, what's your answer? Do you take the guaranteed five bucks in place of a "150 or nothing" gamble? I think it's safe to assume that you tell him to stick his $5 where the sun don't shine.

So now the fella comes right back at you with, "Okay, here's my final offer; $145. Take it or leave it," as he slides five greenbirds and four reds over towards you. Now I have to ask you again, "What do you do?" This time I think you'll take the one-forty-five and run.

Did I guess right on both counts? I bet I did. How did I know? Because it's very simple for anyone to see that $5 would be a rip-off and $145 is a bargain. Now I know that nobody is ever going to be insulting enough to offer you a measly $5 for your $100 blackjack, and nobody's ever going to be generous enough to offer you $145. But I dreamt up this whole make-believe scenario just to illustrate an important point. That point is:

THERE IS A PRICE AT WHICH IT BECOMES WORTHWHILE TO SELL YOUR HAND

But at what price? I mean, if you shouldn't sell your hand for five bucks, but you should for $145, at what price did it suddenly become worth selling? How about $50? What about $90? At what point should you finally "take the money and run?"

The proper way to evaluate this is to figure what your average result would be by playing the hand out. Now, when you have blackjack and the dealer shows an ace, four times out of thirteen she will have blackjack too, on average. Those four times you will tie. The other nine times you will win $150, for an overall average profit of just about $104 each time. This is the fair market value of your hand. If you can get more than $104 for your blackjack, you should sell it. If you can't, you're better off keeping it.

When you take even money on your blackjack, financially it's the same as selling your hand back to the house for $100. They're getting the bargain, which is why the casino offers the deal at every opportunity. By insuring your blackjack, you'll only reduce the amount of money you make on all your blackjacks combined. That'll show up in your bottom line at year's end.

If you needed a guaranteed winner that badly, you have overbet your bankroll. And if you think turning down a sure winner is always the wrong thing to do, you don't understand the working mechanics of profitable gambling. Don't make the mistake the house is counting on you to make. Don't sell yourself short. Don't take even money on your blackjack!


For more information about blackjack:

Blackjack Bluebook by Fred Renzey
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
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