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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Make Profitable Double Downs on Your Neighbor's Hand

27 September 2003

A couple of weeks ago we discussed how to play your blackjack pairs above and beyond basic strategy by thinking outside the box. Pairs aren't the only hands that afford you the opportunity to make a little extra dough from places you never thought of.

Here's a blackjack scenario that I know you've seen many times. Say the guy next to you has 11 against a face-card, or maybe he has 10 against a 9, or perhaps Ace/6 against a 4. Any way, he kinda knows he's supposed to double down, but maybe he's been getting hammered, or he might be short on chips, or whatever. So he decides to put just an extra half bet out there and doubles for less as kind of a compromise. There's your cue to move in.

You see, all those hands are proper double downs because they'll win more often than they'll lose (among other reasons). So when you see somebody leave some space left unfilled on a good double, get your own chips over there and fill it up! Just say, "Here, I'll go with you on this one, partner," and toss him the rest of the bet.

When doubling with 11 against a 10, you're a 6-to-5 favorite to win. With 10 against a 9, you're a 7-to-6 boss. And with Ace/6 against a 4 you've got 8-to-7 the best of it. When are you ever going to have that on your own hand before you even put down a bet? Don't let these, or any other proper doubles, go by unfilled. You can't make any money by just watching other people play their winning hands.

Now what if the player doubling for less is betting bigger than you are? All the better! A $25 player who gets $75 worth of somebody else's "advantage" action every 20 minutes can wipe out the casino's entire half percent edge (assuming you play good basic strategy). If you're a pure basic strategy player with no card counting aspirations, then you should make these kind of hand interaction plays a major part of your repertoire. It's a legitimate way to pare down that last morsel of advantage that the house holds over you.

All the forgoing should be obvious, once you think about it. This next part however is not so obvious, so you'd better read it a couple of times and let it sink in. Ready? You can also make money by taking a piece of somebody else's incorrect double down.

Sound hokey? Okay then, here's a good example. How many times has the trigger happy gambler next to you doubled with say, 8 against a 6? Now that's a bad double, but do you know why? It's because if you just hit it, you'll win it 56% of the time. And if you double you'll win it only 52% of the time. The player who has a choice makes more money overall by just hitting his 8 against a 6. The point, however, is that both plays make money. And if the mope next to you is nice enough to take the 52% route and leaves some room open for you, grab it!

So, how many incorrect doubles will still win more often than they'll lose? A complete list follows below.

8 against a 5
8 against a 6
9 against a 2
9 against a 7
11 vs. an Ace
A/2 against a 4
A/3 against a 4
A/7 against a 2
A/8 against a 3
A/8 against a 4
A/8 against a 5
A/8 against a 6

If somebody at your table ever doubles for less in any of these situations, jump on it. They're all money makers.

Now it's time for a personal question; Just how cutthroat do you want to play this game? The reason I ask is, suppose your neighbor is dealt something like 11 against an Ace and hesitates, thinking maybe he'll double, maybe not. You might try to induce him to double by offering to go halves if he "wants to gamble."

Is that being too mercenary? I don't know; you'll be costing the player some of his profit, saving the house a little less than that and you get the difference. It's a decision you'll have to wrestle with.

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