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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Don'tcha Hate Blackjack Players Who Keep Switching Hands?

24 April 2005

I was playing center field on a blackjack table with two other persons. At one point during the shoe, I switched from playing one hand to two. The player on my right was dealt a blackjack while third base and I had three 20s against the dealer's 18.

On the next hand for a very good reason, I played only one spot and this time the dealer got blackjack. The player on my right who had just pressed up his bet threw his arms in the air and objected, "You took out a hand and changed the cards when everything was going good!" With that, he shook his head, grabbed his chips and stormed off.

Funny thing was, "Stormy" didn't say a word when he was the one who got blackjack right after I switched from one hand to two. I guess that part was due to his skill. The dude at third base backed up Stormy by counseling me, "He's right, Man. You can't keep switchin' back and forth like that – it messes up the cards!"

That's one of the most prevalent philosophies in the entire game of blackjack. I've been berated by players all over the country for changing my number of betting spots during the shoe. If you agree with Stormy and Dude on this matter, you won't like what I'm about to say -- but you need to hear it for your own good. So open your mind and listen carefully.

There is absolutely nothing -- I repeat -- nothing sacred about the order of the cards. At the end of each shoe, the dealer splits up the cards into right and left piles. Then she grabs a small clump from each pile and shuffles them into a center stack. After that, she begins shuffling one clump at a time into that center stack, first grabbing from the left pile and then from the right. When all the cards are in the middle stack, she divides them in half again and performs a second shuffle. Finally, she offers the pack to one of the players who cuts the cards at a point of his choice.

The cards then get dealt out with each player taking or not taking hits as he/she sees fit. Now ask yourself this question. If at some point during the shoe, one extra or one fewer hand gets dealt, who should that "mess up" the cards for -- the players or the dealer? The answer? All it amounts to is a little more shuffling!

Understand that if the number of hands was changed while the players were winning, it simply means the players were winning. Extensive studies have shown that the last outcome is no predictor of the next. The result of the last hand tells you where you've been –- but gives no clue as to where you're going. Unless you know the actual order of the cards, you never know whether you'd rather have the 205th card or the 209th. This is true even if you know exactly how many 10s are left in the shoe, but don't know where they're at.

So please, get over this nonsense about the cards running in patterns or streaks. The truth is, your hand outcomes will run "choppy" most of the time (win 1, lose 2, win 2, lose 1, etc.), but it's the occasional streak that sticks in your mind. Chasing trends or streaks is just barking up an empty tree because their patterns are totally unpredictable.

Move on to factors that can actually make a difference in your game. There's plenty to be aware of at the blackjack table, but how things have been going up to now isn't one of them.

Oh, what was my reason for switching from two hands back to one right after Stormy got blackjack while Dude and I had all 20s against the dealer's 18? Too many precious high cards got used up at that point in the shoe! Now we're talkin' things that can make a difference!

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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey