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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Think Outside the Box to Win/Save Extra Blackjack Bets

20 May 2006

Let's face it. The vast majority of blackjack players just aren't cut out to be professional card counters. Merely learning the proper way to play all their hands is tough enough.

But suppose you're one of those better players who has committed perfect basic strategy to memory. As you know, the house still has a 0.5% edge on you. The good news is, there are other moves you can make short of card counting that can whittle down that tiny remaining house edge. But you'll have to be more than a basic strategy robot to pull off these moves.

Below is a list of extra-curricular blackjack maneuvers that can improve your bottom line – one bet at a time. These are the next concepts you should grasp once you know all your basic strategy.

Other Peoples' Doubles: There's no other area of the game where distinct edges are so readily available. Whenever somebody at your table decides to double down for less than the full amount on a proper doubling hand, you should quickly offer to fill in the rest with your own chips. It's entirely legal and the player will almost always oblige.

Premier examples are when your neighbor has 9 against a 3, or 10 against a 9, or 11 against a 10 and he doubles for less. All these hands, as well as many others, will win more often than they'll lose, yet players sometimes double for less than the max with them.

Even some hands that are not proper doubles will still win more often than not, and you should grab a piece of those too if you can. Common examples of those are 8 against a 6, or 9 against a deuce, or 11 against an Ace. Just hitting these hands makes more money than doubling, which is why hitting is the best play. But if somebody else decides to double for less with them, you should jump right aboard because the hand is still a net moneymaker.

Pawning Your Splits: I hope you know that all basic strategy splits are not moneymakers. About half of them are merely "moneysavers". Suppose you have a pair of 7s against the dealer's deuce. You're supposed to split that hand, but do you know why? It's because standing on your 14 will win 35% of the time, but if you split the 7s, you'll win 46% of the time on each 7. That makes splitting the cheapest way out – unless – you can get rid of one of your 7s.

How in the world can you do that? Ask the player next to you what he would do with your hand. If he's a decent basic player, he'll say he'd split them. Then offer to sell him one of your 7s. Since it's a proper basic strategy play, many players will take it, thinking they're likely to make money on your hand – when in reality, they're likely to lose money. Other splits that fall into this same category are 7s against a 3 as well as 6s against a 2 or 3.

High Card/Low Card Layouts: The more high cards that are left in the shoe, the more the player wins. The more low cards, the more the dealer wins. Even if you're not a pro card counter, you should still be aware of this fact and be ready to recognize when it presents itself.

Get accustomed to thinking of high cards as being the 10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings – all the 10s. Also think of all the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s as being "babies". There are just as many 10s as babies in a full shoe. Likewise, there will often be as many 10s as babies on the board during a hand – but not always.

With a six-deck shoe, anytime there are 8 more babies on board than 10s, you should bet more on the following hands until things have come back down again. Likewise, whenever a rash of 10s have appeared on the board, it's time to cut back your bets, or even leave the table. This will cause you to show a slightly more favorable result on your larger bets and minimize the damage on your smaller ones, which will improve your bottom line.

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

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