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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Honesty in Blackjack: Where Do You Draw the Line?

26 August 2005

Anybody who's played blackjack for a number of years has somewhere, sometime been paid on a losing hand. It usually occurs when your hand contains several cards and somehow looks higher than the dealer's total.

How should you handle this situation? Is it right to quietly accept this kind gift – or should you be perfectly honest and inform the dealer that you've got a loser?

Personally, I consider myself an honest person. When this occasionally happens to me, I stop the dealer and point out the error. I've always prided myself on that. The times I walk out of the casino a winner, I need to know that I did it by beating 'em – not cheating 'em. I agreed to the rules going in. If I beat the dealer, I get paid. If she beats me or I bust, she gets my chips.

Once, when I colored up to leave the table, a conversion error was made in my favor that the floorperson didn't catch. I pushed in some reds, greens and blacks at the end of the shoe. The dealer then arranged the blacks in stacks of five, then both the greens and reds in stacks of four. Counting the three red stacks as $75, they wanted to give me $15 too much. I pointed out the oversight, they thanked me and I went home thinking what a good guy I am.

However, what if a mistake at your table involves not you, but another player? What do you do then? The most blatant form of being paid with a losing hand I've ever seen occurred just last week.

WINNING WITH 22: The player at first base had J/2 against the dealer's deuce and doubled down – an insane play. He caught a Queen. There was his heavily painted hand, sitting there for all the world to see:

J/2-Q

The dealer never flinched, but just finished with the rest of the players and then played out her own hand. She busted!

As she went around the table paying players from third base towards first I thought, "Surely, she'll see the 22 at first base and pick up his chips". But no! She paid his double bet and scooped up the cards! I gawked at the dealer, then at the player using body English to get their attention. Nobody ever looked up and the next round of cards came flying out of the shoe. Alas, I had sat there in silence right through a blatant impropriety. How honest of a guy was I now – or when another surprising mistake occurred.

THE SHORT BUY-IN: A few months ago, a player walked up to the table with a stack of $50 bills in his hand. He handed them to the dealer, who spread them face-up on the felt for the camera to see. They were arranged in two rows of four bills each, and one short row of two bills.

"Changing 500", said the dealer as the pit person casually gave the okay. Problem was, one of the fifties in the middle row was a twenty! It wasn't that hard to spot. I saw it. I looked squarely at the player buying in, then quickly turned my head to the dealer, then back to the player. Nobody acknowledged me or the $20 bill nestled among the fifties. Again, I had sat by while another impropriety took place.

The thing of it is, at an awkward moment like that, I'm not really sure where my moral obligation lies. I feel like a fink, ratting out the player. And I don't know if I might get the dealer in trouble, pointing out such sensitive mistakes. By the way, if there is such a thing as poetic justice, both of these particular players went empty at the table. So the house got all the money anyway.

Now what I want to know is, how do you folks feel about all these things? Send me an e-mail with your opinion backed up by your reasoning and I'll print some of them in an upcoming column. My address is blackjackmentor@aol.com.

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