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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

I'm Sick of Blackjack Players Who Criticize Everyone Else

7 December 2001

There are three basic classes of blackjack players:

  1. Those who are trying to learn and politely watch, look and listen.
  2. Those who know exactly what they're doing and have the class to just watch, look and listen.
  3. Those who think they know it all but don't -- and continuously criticize, blame and fear others for their own misfortune.

Class "3" players are their own worst enemies. Their limited knowledge exemplifies how a little bit of information can be a dangerous thing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Class "3" blackjack players. Here's an extremely common example.

The other day, there were just two of us at the table. Then in the middle of the shoe another fella jumped in at First Base. On the following deal, the hands were:

       DEALER       
 9/? 
   
3rd BaseME1st Base
A/710/910/4/2

The new player at First Base reluctantly stood with his three-card 16, then both I and Third Base waved the dealer off. She turned up a 7 in the hole revealing her own 16, then pulled a 4 to make 20.

"C'mon!", admonished Mr. Third Base, looking over at First Base. "You gotta take your hits -- that's how come we all lost! Hey floor, can we get a No Mid-Shoe sign here? Geez!"

Having seen this movie a thousand times before, I quietly asked Third Base, "So which of the two mistakes do you figure beat us?"

"What'ya mean?" asked Third Base.

"You're supposed to hit your hand too in that spot," I advised him.

"C'mon, I had 18 -- I'll take my chances," he shot back.

Now here's a guy who knew enough to realize that you're supposed to hit 16 against a 9, but didn't know you're also supposed to hit a soft 18 as well. The real kicker is, standing with A/7 against a 9 is a bigger mistake than standing with 16. You'll actually convert more losers into winners by hitting the A/7 than the 16! That's a mathematical fact. Remember it the next time you're afraid to tamper with your soft 18 against a 9, 10 or Ace.

Just to see what might've happened if the hands were played differently, we all decided to note the first two cards that came out on the next round. They were a 3 and a 10. That means if both players take a hit, First base makes 20 with the dealer's 4, Third Base makes 21 with the 3 and the dealer breaks with the 10.

So what does all that tell you? Absolutely nothing! Why not? Because that 4/3/10 could have come out 4/10/3, 3/4/10, 3/10/4, 10/4/3 or 10/3/4. Every sequence would've brought different results. Notice also, that with some of those sequences, Third Base does better if First Base plays wrong rather than right, but you never know which way they're going to come. That's why fearing another player's mistakes makes no sense.

The best you can do is know your odds before the cards come out and play your hand accordingly. That's what the basic strategy is for. It has considered every possible combination of cards that can come, and advises you of your best shot.

Third Base's abrasive request for a "No Mid-Shoe Entry" sign also exposed the shallow level of his game. These signs prohibit new players from coming in until the shoe is over. Misguided gamblers believe they can manipulate their results by either freezing the current order of the cards when things are going well, or by changing the "flow" with the addition of their own extra hand during bad runs. Why is this wrong? Because how things are going up to now only tells you where you've been, but not where you're going. That's just as likely to change immediately as not.

If somebody comes to your table and asks for a "No Mid-Shoe" sign, then starts showing concern over how you play your hands -- you know this is a Class "3" player. He's superstitious, illogical and ill-informed, so you'd better get ready to be blamed for his losses -- which are imminent.

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