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Ten Blackjack Tips Most Players Need to Learn
23 October 1999
By Fred Renzey
Most of my ideas for helpful gambling advice come to me while I'm in the casino. That's when I see the same mistakes committed over and over again. Sometimes it seems that every next player is a clone of the last. There's no doubt in my mind that impulsiveness, eccentricity and cluelessness dominate the behavior of the majority of gamblers. Are those the three virtues that made you a big success in real life? Well, they won't make you a success in the casino, either!
Sure, most blackjack players know something about the correct basic strategy of play, but a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. As I've mentioned before, there's a lot more to winning than just looking over a chart. For that reason, I've put together a list of 10 blackjack tips that I feel about 95% of the players in the casino can make good use of. Here they are:
- In a typical game of blackjack there are eighteen different soft hands (those containing an ace) that should be doubled down on, but noneof those are against a dealer's deuce. Many players double down with hands like ace/4 or ace/5 against a 2 up. This is a no-no.
- When you have 16, it would only be a tiny mistake to stand against a dealer's 10. In fact, you actually should stand with most of your three or four card 16s against a 10. But it's a mistaketo stand with any kind of 16 when the dealer has a 7 showing. That's because you'll be so much more likely to win the hand against a 7 with something like 18 if you avoid busting.
- The only thing you're likely to accomplish by taking "even money" on your blackjack is reducing your win slightly or increasing your loss slightly for that session. And it will positively have just that very effect over your lifetime. Maximize the earnings of all your blackjacks combined by declining "even money". After all the smoke settles, that will add to your long-term bottom line.
- Who was the genius that first came up with the notion of "doubling down for less"? Since you only double down when you're more likely to win the hand than not, why would you not want to put the maximum amount up? One of the main reasons you play blackjack over the other games in the first place is because it offers spots where you are actually the favorite. Never shortchange yourself in these situations -- you need to buy back all the leveraging power you can.
- Playing two hands against the dealer will merely bring exactly the same combined results as two different players betting one hand each and using identical strategies. Playing two hands at a time may be fun, but it has no basic inherent edge.
- Insurance is essentially a bad bet by its very nature, but insuring a good hand like 10/10 is actually a dumber move than insuring a bad hand such as 4/2! That's because, to gain any benefit from taking insurance, the dealer must have a 10 in the hole, and your "20" just took two of those 10s out of play.
- If you believe those "No Mid-Shoe Entry" signs actually protect you from having your cards "screwed up" by new players coming to the table when you're "running good", then you probably don't stand a snowball's chance in hell at this game anyway. Fact is, those signs serve just two purposes: 1) they stop card counters from "back-counting", then jumping in when the shoe is "heavy" with 10s and aces, and 2) they cater to, and pacify, high-rolling suckers with valueless pampering. Don't get hung up on irrelevant nonsense.
- Betting more just because you're winning at the time buys you absolutely no added chance to being a winning player overall. As unlikely as it may feel at the time, you're just as likely to lose the next hand whether you're ahead or behind.
- No seat at the table, be it first base or third, has a better chance to be dealt good cards. But if you're keeping track of what's been played, you'll get to see more cards from third base before you have to play your hand out. Of course, you'll need to know the proper thing to do with your extra information.
- Betting progressions based on the previous outcome offer virtually no increased chance to win the next hand, and are therefore useless as a strategy tool. You'll simply end up winning the same percentage of your one-unit bets as your three-unit bets and your five-unit bets, etc. That's because where your probability to win the next hand is concerned (which is not dependent upon the last outcome) you've actually sized your bets randomly. The only way to size your wagers according to your chances of winning the next hand is to keep track of the cards. Other than that, you'll do just as well to bet the same amount on every hand.
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!
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Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
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