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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Inquiring blackjack and poker players want to know

18 November 2006

It's about time to catch up on some poker and blackjack questions I've received over the past few months.

Lately I've been seeing a new blackjack option called "Casino Surrender" at some casinos. It's not the old surrender option, but works kind of in reverse of that. Is this a decent bet for the player?

Bruce

Casino Surrender is a recycled proposition bet from several years ago that used to be called "Guarantee 20". When the dealer has a 10 up but no blackjack and you have 20, you can opt to be paid a profit of half your wager before the dealer plays her hand out. That way, you'll never suffer the frustration of pushing with your 20 against the dealer's 10/10. It's a bad bet because you'd win an average of 56% of your wager in that situation if you just let the hand play out. Settling for a 50% profit merely gives 6% of that money back to the house as things begin to average out. Where the old surrender option is good for the player, "Casino Surrender" is a sucker bet.

I was playing Hold'em the other night and had a pair of 10s in the hole. The flop was 5-6-10 with two clubs making me a "set" of 10s. Long story short, I lost to an A/Q of clubs when a third club fell on the river to give my friend an Ace high flush. After the hand, we debated about who was the favorite on the flop – the trips or the 4-flush. Could you supply some odds?

Barry

This hand is not that close of a matchup. With two cards to come, the flush will get there 9 times out of 25. Your three 10s will hold up the other 16 times – but that's not all. You'll also win with a full house 3 of those 9 times that the A/Q makes his flush. In all, you'll lose to his flush only 6 times out of 25. You were about a 3-to-1 favorite on the flop. Tough beat!

In your recent blackjack I.Q. quiz, it says that when you have a pair of 7s against a dealer's 3 up, your best move would be to let somebody else put up the money and take one of your 7s, rather than split the entire pair yourself. If that's true, then why does basic strategy say to split 7s against a 3 in the first place? Am I missing something?

Earl

When you have 7/7 against the dealer's 3, there are three possible play choices. Each of the three has different mathematical odds. Unfortunately with this hand, all three sets of odds are negative for the player. If you hit the 14, you'll win 32% of the time. If you stand you'll win 37%. If you split you'll win 48% of the time on each 7 (counting your extra net profits from subsequent double downs). Although splitting is the least of all evils, it's still a net loser. So if you must play the hand out on your own, the cheapest route is to split. However, most casinos welcome hand interaction betting among players. Therefore, if a player next to you likes the looks of your hand, by all means, give him half of it. You'll be getting rid of a hand you would've lost more than half the time.

I read with interest your recent column about playing smart on the "turn" in Limit Hold'em. I was disappointed that you didn't mention anything about 4-flushes on the turn. Is it worth paying the upper limit bet to try to make a flush on the river?

Tom

In most cases, a flush draw on the turn is automatically worth a call. It's primarily based on your "pot odds" (how many upper limit bets you'll win if you hit). The typical limit Hold'em pot usually contains about 8 upper bets at the end. Since hitting a flush on the next card is only 4-to-1 against, it's an easy call – so long as a flush will win. In large pots, say, 11 or 12 upper bets, you can even call a bet and a raise. The time to fold your flush draw is when there's heavy betting and a pair is already on board. There, the danger is too great that you might hit your flush and still lose to a full house.

Send your casino gambling inquiries to 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:

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:

> More Books By Fred Renzey