CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Let's fix those blackjack "problem hands"

20 January 2007

In this weekly column, blackjack strategy has often been discussed at a higher level than in your average newspaper gaming column. But one very basic thing continues to bother me. It's the fact that experienced players who I see regularly at the casinos still misplay lots of hands.

Just today I saw a man put up a $500 bet. He was dealt Ace/2 against a 3. Now, you'd think anybody betting $500 would know what to do with that hand, but no -- he shoved another $500 out there and doubled down. Well, that's a bad double.

Had he just hit it, he'd have been a 4-to-3 favorite to win. But by giving up his right to take a second hit if he catches an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 9, he dropped to an even 50-50 shot. An edge was dealt to him for serious money, and he threw it away. What a shame!

There's a cluster of about 30 hands that even the better players mishandle rather consistently. You just might be one of them. So today I'll print a chart of only those hands so you can focus on them. The next time I see you at the table, you'd better have these holes plugged up, or I'm gonna' write another article. The letter "D" means Double, "H" stands for Hit and "S" means you should Split.

The Problem Hands
DEALER'S UP-CARD

The first hand on the chart is 11 against a 10. You simply must double down. If you're going to assume the dealer has a 10 in the hole, then why shouldn't you assume your hit card will be a 10? The odds say you'll win this hand 6 times out of 11 when you double. Those are favorable odds – take 'em.

Next come those terrible 12s. The dealer breaks only 30-some-odd-percent of the time when she shows a 2 or a 3. You've got to hit these two hands.

The biggest "no-hit" mistake that otherwise good players make is standing on 16 against a 7. The dealer breaks roughly 1 time in 4 with that 7 up. Yet, almost 40% of the hit cards will help you big time. Hit it.

Ace/deuce through Ace/5 are anything but powerhouse hands – even against a small dealer's up-card. Notice that whenever you take just one hit with any of these four hands, 8 cards out of 13 will leave you with a stiff. Only if the dealer shows some of her weakest up-cards like 4, 5 or 6 should you double down.

Ace/7 is the most universally misplayed hand in blackjack, plain and simple Failing to double against a small card is just a pathetic "gift" back to the house. And not hitting it against a 9, 10 or Ace is another way to punish yourself unnecessarily.

Why is a pair of 4s such a mystery hand? It's just another total of 8 – no different than a 5/3 or 6/2 – unless the dealer shows a weak 5 or a 6. Then you should split and hope for any 5, 6, 7 or Ace on either 4 so you can double down.

A pair of 9s is just an 18 – no big deal. More often than not, it's a losing hand. But if the dealer shows anything except a 7, 10 or Ace, you wring some extra value out of it by splitting.

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