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Best of Fred Renzey

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Three Ways That "Ploppies" Hurt the Game of Blackjack

14 February 2004

In prevailing blackjack literature, a "ploppy" is defined as a poor to typical player. Ploppies outnumber skillful blackjack players by a wide margin. A ploppy harbors many false beliefs about the game, and through those beliefs he actually sometimes causes or enables the casino to make the game tougher to win at. Ploppies also tend to make blackjack a more intimidating game to play than necessary.

Now what could a bad blackjack player possibly do that would have a negative affect on the overall game of blackjack? Lots of things. Just consider the following three items.

Surrender: The surrender option is not available at the majority of casinos even though it's a definite help to anyone who knows how to use it properly. Correct basic strategy would be to surrender 16 against a 9, 10 or Ace as well as 15 against a 10. And if the dealer hits soft 17, then you should also surrender 15, 17 and 8/8 against an Ace. It works out cheaper overall to surrender half your bet with these hands than to play them out.

Ploppies, however, tend to think of it as treason to ever give up a hand without a fight and often chastise other players for surrendering. What's worse, since most ploppies believe that the order of the cards is sacred, they sometimes object to another player's surrender -- professing that he should've taken a card and now their flow has been insidiously corrupted. Some ploppies go so far as to leave the table after another player has just surrendered a hand. This undesirable controversy gives casino managers incentive to steer clear of the advantageous surrender option altogether -- even though many players will misuse it thereby bolstering house profits.

"No Mid-Shoe Entry" signs: You don't have to be a low-stakes player to be a ploppy. It's obvious that plenty of $50 bettors never laid their eyes on a basic strategy card. One of the first things a higher-stakes ploppy often does at the table is ask for a "No-Mid Shoe" sign to keep others from jumping in and spoiling his "run". If you're not a ploppy you understand that this is utter nonsense, since preserving the order of the cards is just as likely to hurt as help. Still, casino management will often grant the ploppy his inane wish, which keeps everybody else from joining in until that shoe is over. This includes shoes that skilled players can recognize are likely to be "player friendly" from here on out. Thus, the rest of the players are hindered while ploppies are pacified to no benefit of their own.

"Everybody should play like me": Each ploppy believes his own particular way of playing his hands is the right way, although he misplays many of them. A few nearly universal ploppy blunders are: standing with 12 vs. 3 or with A/7 vs. 10, doubling with A/2 thru A/5 vs. 3 and taking even money on blackjack vs. an Ace.

Furthermore, the ploppy believes that anyone who doesn't play their hands his way contaminates the entire table's destiny. So tenacious are many ploppies in this warped belief that they often berate and embarrass others at the table who break form from their "ploppy" strategy. This has driven many sensitive, less confident players from the game of blackjack. I've been reprimanded by many a ploppy and told that if I don't know how to play the game, I shouldn't play it.

Summary: It's unfortunate that the beliefs of the misinformed are inflicted upon the masses. What all players should understand is that casino blackjack is not a team sport. Every player exists and plays for his own benefit and there is no individual strategy for one player's hand that will promote the common good of all. Furthermore, another person's hand playing decision cannot affect your own chances either way, and nobody deserves to be criticized for it. If you've played blackjack for a long time and you've lost at it, I'm sorry but nobody else is to blame. There is hope, however, because the game is beatable if you get your head on straight and redirect your attention to things that matter.

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:

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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