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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Think You Know Blackjack?

29 May 2004

So you've been working on your blackjack game lately and you've gotten to where you're practically a pro at it, right? Sure you are -- you and every other "also ran" at the table.

The truth is, about 49 out of 50 blackjack players are sadly misguided -- and that's why they lose. Want me to prove it to you? Play your way out of the following common blackjack scenarios. Then read the correct strategy and grade yourself. If you make more than one mistake, you're another "also ran". All situations are against a six or eight-deck shoe.

1) You're dealt a pair of 4s against the dealer's 7 up. You hit twice and catch two more 4s to make 4/4/4/4. Now what?

Answer) Hit it! This play is not even close. Of all the dealer's up-cards you can have 16 against, the 7 up is the one that it's most mandatory to hit! That's because 80% of the cards that don't bust you will most likely make you a winner. Not so against many higher up-cards.

2) You're dealt 8/5 against the dealer's 10 up, hit and catch a 3 to make 16. Hit or stand?

Answer) Stand! Most "also rans" don't understand that 16 against a 10 is a very close play. If you have a typical 10/6, you should hit it the way basic strategy says -- but just barely. If, however, your multi-card 16 has taken any 4s or 5s out of play (such as with 8/5/3, 9/4/3, 7/5/4, etc.), it's now actually better to stand. A hard 16 has far fewer winning outs against a 10 up than against the 7 up from question #1.

3) For the sake of discussion, let's say you're playing three spots and are dealt A/2, A/5 and A/7 against the dealer's 3 up. How should you play them?

Answer) Hit the A/2 and the A/5, but double with the A/7. Most also rans would double, double and stand respectively -- which is all wrong.

4) You're playing a 10-20-30-50 betting progression at a table that has only one other player to your right. You've just won your $10, $20 and $30 bets, and are about to progress to the $50 step. Suddenly, the player next to you who has just lost his last several hands jumps up and moves over on your left. Now you will be receiving his cards. How much should you bet on this next hand?

Answer) Makes no difference! Understand that you're never more or less likely to win your next hand than somebody else at the table. Both hands must beat the same dealer's hand. Which spot has been winning and which spot has been losing has nothing to do with who's more likely to win the next one. Sizing your next bet according to the last result is pointless. Progressive betting is the most common thread among losers.

5) You walk up behind a blackjack table that's just beginning a new shoe. You decide to watch the first few rounds to see how things are going.. If it looks like a good table, you'll jump in. Would you rather see lots of player blackjacks and 20s against the dealer's pat 18s on those first couple of rounds? Or would you rather see the players lose a slew of 10 and 11 double downs to the dealer's four and five-card 20s and 21s?

Answer) If the players have already gotten their blackjacks and 20s, too many good cards have been dealt. Just move on down the line. The time to jump in is when a barrage of little ones have come out.

6) The player on your right has been running badly and bets his last remaining chips on the next hand. He's dealt A/6 against a 4 and having no more money, asks if you want to double down on his hand with your own chips. Should you?

Answer) Absolutely! Any correct basic strategy double down will win more often than it will lose. You have a known, built-in edge here -- going in. This hand is particularly well-suited as a "rider" double, since its owner will never have wanted a second hit, no matter what card he caught. Other perfect rider doubles are A/6 or A/7 against a 5 or 6 up. "Hand Interaction" is almost a totally neglected strategy realm littered with advantageous plays.

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:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey