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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Errors of Omission Cost Blackjack Players the Most Money

1 April 2000

More blackjack players in the casino play it "too safe" than "over-gamble". Errors of omission cost players more money than wild recklessness.

And who are these ill-fated gamblers? They're usually experienced veterans who are so resolved not to waste money that they end up giving even more away through missed opportunities. Remember, this is gambling. If you're not prepared to go out on a limb when it's the right thing to do, you might as well just stay home and mail the casino a check.

Here's what I mean. Conservative blackjack players hate to bust their own hands when the dealer looks weak. Consequently they often stand pat too frequently. They're also reluctant to gamble the extra chips with a good "draw". As a result, they double down too infrequently. And finally, conservative players despise ruining an already made hand and become too passive with their soft holdings.

If these players practiced perfect basic strategy, the house would have a mere 1/2% advantage over them. But by making just 10 very common errors of omission, they nearly double the casino's edge. Those 10 mistakes are listed below. Are you guilty of any of these?

  1. Not hitting with 12 versus 2
  2. Not hitting with 12 versus 3
  3. Not hitting with l6 versus 7
  4. Not hitting with Ace/7 versus 10
  5. Not doubling with 11 versus 10
  6. Not doubling with 11 versus 9
  7. Not doubling with 10 versus 8
  8. Not doubling with Ace/7 versus 6
  9. Not splitting with Ace/Ace versus 10
  10. Insuring 20 versus Ace

As you can see, these mistakes aren't reckless, "kamikaze" moves like doubling down with 12, or splitting 3s against a face-card. No, they're futile attempts at capital preservation.

So, just what's wrong with these plays? Hands 1, 2 and 3 can't win unless the dealer breaks. But with those up-cards, the dealer's not very weak. All told, he'll break just 1 time out of 3. You simply can't afford to stand pat in these spots. Hit your 12s one time against the 2 or 3 and stop no matter what you catch. Same story with 16 against the 7.

Almost nobody ever hits hand #4. I guess they don't realize that 18 against a 10 is a 7-5 underdog. Your best course of action is to keep hitting until you make either a soft 19, a hard 17, or bust.

Hands 5, 6 and 7: The thing that keeps people from doubling down with 11 against a face-card is that old phobia that the dealer has a 10 in the hole. But remember this; your chance to catch a 10 on your next card is exactly the same as the dealer having one in the hole—- but you have 11 and the dealer has 10. It's true, if you catch a 4 or lower, you won't be able to hit again (notice that you wouldn't want to hit a hand like 7/4 - 5 against a face-card anyway) and that hurts you a little, but doubling is still a significant gainer. Hands 6 and 7 are similar scenarios, but even easier decisions--double down.

Hand #8 is a case of not wanting to tamper with a probable winner. But if you double like you're supposed to, 8 cards out of 13 will still give you a made hand and for twice the money. And of the 5 cards that wreck your hand, you'll only lose 3 times because the dealer will bust the other 2.

Hand #9: Not splitting aces in any spot is just plain anal-retentive. Why play a soft 12 once when you can play a hard 11 twice?

Understand this about hand #10: 30% of the time you'll save a bet and 70% of the time you'll be throwing half a bet away. That's a losing proposition.

There are 340 different hands in this game. If you played the other 330 perfectly and made only these 10 mistakes, you'll have boosted the casino's advantage over you to 7/8%! Sound like small potatoes?

Well, if you visit the casinos twice a month for four hours each time and average $15 per bet, those 10 mistakes alone will cost you $500 by the end of the year! That's a pricey tariff for something that's totally avoidable.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Blackjack Bluebook: The Right Stuff for the Serious Player by Fred Renzey
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written 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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey