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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Don't Underestimate the Blackjack Dealer's 7 Upcard

17 October 2008

You see it so much at the blackjack tables. The dealer has a 7 showing, and the player steps out of line and makes a bad play. Why? It's because most players don't respect or fear a dealer's 7 up.

A fellow player just the other night stood with 7/5/2/2 against a 7 saying, "If she doesn't have a 10 or an Ace in the hole, she's gotta' draw." He said that as if drawing means she's going to bust.

Well, do you know how often the dealer busts when she has a 7-up? The answer is 26% of the time. The rest of the time, you better have a made hand – or you lose.

Following is a list of other scattered mistakes I see made against a dealer's 7 up. Have you made any of these?

Splitting two 6s
Standing on Ace/6
Doubling with Ace/6
Doubling down with 9

All of these plays hurt you in a shoe game. The most common mistake by far, though, is:

Not Hitting 16: I'm sure the average player doesn't realize that the dealer will make a completed hand with a 7-up nearly as often as with a 10-up (26% vs. 23%). Yet, a 7-up is so much easier to beat than a 10-up the times you hit and don't bust. To show you what I mean, here are some stats.

Whether you're hitting your 16 against a dealer's 7 or against a 10, you've got exactly the same chance to bust, 62%. The other 38 times when you catch an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5, you'll end up beating a dealer's 10-up 23 times (counting pushes as a half win and half loss). That's a 23-15 record for all the times you hit and don't bust.

But if you're against a dealer's 7 when you catch that little card, you'll beat her 29 times, to go 29-9 (adjusting in the same way). Taking the gamble and hitting your 16 is much more likely to pay off against a 7 than against a 10. There are many times when you actually should stand with 16 against a 10 (as discussed in other columns). But against a 7, you've got to hit it every time, even if it's a 4/4/4/4.

Splitting two 6s: This is actually a fairly small mistake against a dealer's 7, but a mistake nonetheless (unless you're playing single or double-deck with loose rules). In any shoe game, you'll come out of the hand cheaper off if you just hit your 12 and be done with it. Playing the 12 once is less costly than playing 6 twice.

Standing on Ace/6: Playing for a tie here is far too conservative, especially since your 17 against a dealer's 7 actually loses more often than it wins. Hit it like a man and if you make a "stiff", hit it again. That strategy will convert you from an underdog to a favorite on the hand, overall.

Doubling with Ace/6: Now that would be going too far. You may need a second, or even a third hit with this hand. While just hitting will make you an overall favorite against a 7, limiting yourself to one card by doubling down will leave you as an underdog – and for twice the money.

Doubling Down with 9: It's easy to see how this might look like a sensible play. In fact, for every time you do double down here, you'll actually win the hand 53% of the time and make some net profit. Only problem is, had you just hit it, you'd have won it 59% of the time – and made more profit. Hit the hand.

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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey