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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Many Blackjack Players Leave When They Have the Edge

17 December 2000

Day after day, I sit at the blackjack tables in search of an advantageous shoe. An advantageous shoe is one in which the odds of the game have reversed and now favor the players rather than the house.

You see, your odds to win at blackjack keep changing with every hand that's dealt. The overall odds of the game are very close to 50-50, but on the first hand off the top of a fresh shoe they're always 101-100 against you. From there, they go up or down depending upon the cards that have come out. Sometimes you're a 105-100 underdog and sometimes you're a 104-100 favorite.

During my never-ending quest for finding that elusive blackjack edge, I find it ironic that the other players at my table often seem to get up and leave just when the odds in the shoe have turned in their favor. Now, why in the world would they do that? Let me give you a prime example.

Let's say three of us are playing and we've gotten about two decks deep into a six-deck shoe. Things haven't gone particularly well. The dealer seems to be turning her 14s into 19s and 16s into 20s with disturbing ease. Then comes the following scenario:

DEALER
5-2-7-3/4
 
3rd BASE
6/5-4
CENTER
6/2-3-5
1st BASE
7/4-5

Pretty disheartening, isn't it? Every player at one point or another had 11 but wound up with a stiff. Then the dealer turned her 7 into 14, then into 16 and finally into a five-card 21 just like magic. This is the point when typical players jump up and storm off in disgust. Ahh, but they shouldn't!

At times like these, Joe Average will tend to feel that the dealer's hot, or the cards are cold, or the shoe is stacked in favor of the house. All nonsense! Listen to me. The cards are random. All that's occurred here was that many of the cards that tend to help the dealer and hurt the players (small cards) happened to come out--at random. But there are only so many small cards in the shoe. And when they get scarce, the big ones start coming out and big cards help the players. That's why the last thing you should do when this kind of thing happens is leave the table. On the contrary, you should stay and increase your bets.

I know this goes against the typical player's nature. Joe Typical believes that gambling runs in streaks, that what's just happened is a forecast of what's about to happen next. But typical players beat themselves in many ways, and this is a classic example.

Many are the times I've been at a three- or four-handed table absorbing only a fraction of the hands while the shoe favors the house. Then I'll find myself all alone just when the shoe turns player-favorable because everyone else left in a huff. Now I'm going to hog every hand from that favorable shoe because the other players didn't have the card sense to stay. Don't you make that mistake!

When you're getting murdered at the table, keep your eyes open. It's vital to recognize exactly how you're getting murdered. If your 10/8s and 10/9s keep losing to the dealer's 10/10, that's double murder--you're losing and the shoe's going south at the same time. But if your double downs keep catching little cards while the dealer repeatedly makes 4- and 5-card hands, that's your tip-off. With so many little cards gone, there are now going to be more blackjacks, more face-cards on your double downs and the dealer's going to have a tougher time filling in her mandatory draws. This is the edge you came to find. Get some more money out there! Just don't bet the farm, 'cause it's still gambling. You're very seldom better than a 104-100 favorite on that next blind hand coming up.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Blackjack Bluebook: The Right Stuff for the Serious Player by Fred Renzey
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey