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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Wheeling and Dealing with Players at the Blackjack Table

12 January 2003

The player at third base had about $8000 in front of him with five $100 chips riding on his hand -- and he was the small bettor at the table!

Did I get your attention with that opening line? This happened in the High Limit room at one of the local casinos. I was just watching. Third Base was dealt a pair of 9s against the dealer's 8 up. The only other person at the table was routinely betting two to four purples ($500 chips) per hand. He had 17 and stood.

Third base hesitated pensively, apparently knowing that he should split -- but this was one of his biggest bets. "You know what you gotta' do," commented Big Purple with nonchalant confidence. Third Base remained frozen like a statue.

"Here. I'll take one of your 9s", Big Purple finally blurted out as he tossed Third Base a $500 chip. "Then I gotta break up my 18 and start all over with 9? Naw -- I need more than $500 to do that," beckoned Third Base. So Big Purple, ever the sport, tossed Third Base a $25 chip to go along with the original purple. "There's a guaranteed $25 profit on your 9 of hearts. I'll take that and you play the 9 of spades," suggested Big Purple in a final tone.

Third Base was on the spot. He could split his two 9s for $500 apiece, play a pat 18 for $500 total, or play one 9 against an 8 for $500 starting out $25 ahead. "How 'bout I keep the quarter, we split the 9s and divide up the results 50-50?" Third Base countered. "Sounds like a partnership to me -- deal the cards Mr. Dealer man," said Big Purple.

At uncrowded high stakes tables, these things go on fairly regularly. But the point is, it doesn't have to be a high stakes table. If you've got the blackjack "card sense" and can be quick and smooth about it, you too can wheel a profitable deal here and there -- be it on your own hand or somebody else's.

Once you become a perfect basic strategy player, you're either stuck with a 1/2% disadvantage or you have to move forward. The realm of "hand interaction" is a wide open area that almost nobody seems to pay any attention to. To use it to your advantage though, you have to know the odds.

How many times have you seen a player at your table split say, a pair of 6s against a 4, catch a 5 on the first 6, double down and buy a deuce? Then on the second 6 he catches a 3 and won't double there because he already has three bets riding with two of them on a bad hand. Well, his loss in perspective is your opportunity! You should know that any proper basic strategy double will win more often than it loses. So get your chips over there and grab that edge!

It doesn't necessarily work that way with pair splits though. Suppose you have a pair of 6s against the dealer's 3. Basic strategy tells you to split that, but it's only because splitting will lose less money than playing your 12. However, playing only one 6 against a 3 loses less money than either hitting 12 or splitting two 6s.

So the next time you've got a pair of 6s against a 3, ask somebody next to you if he wants one of your 6s. Since it's a basic strategy move, you may get a taker, and that'll save some money -- long term.

Sometimes you can even buy another player's hand outright. How? By taking advantage of their own false beliefs. For example, how do you feel when you have 19 against the dealer's 10 up? If you're like most players you're praying, "Please no 10 in the hole -- p-l-e-a-s-e no 10." But did you know that a made 19 is the outright favorite against a playable dealer's 10 up? Yet, many players half expect to lose that hand.

So what can you do? When the guy next to you has 19 against a 10 up for, say, $25 -- offer him a guaranteed $1 profit for his hand by proposing to buy it for $26. If he takes it you'll have manufactured a 3% edge out of nothing!

By the way, who was the hustler and who was the "mark" in the deal between our two high rollers at the beginning of this story? Well, both 9 against an 8 and 18 against an 8 are 6-to-5 favorites to win. Big Purple saw an edge and bought his way into it. Third Base sold out half of his edge for too cheap a price, cutting his total expected gain down by one fourth.

How did the hand turn out? One winner, one loser and the sucker made $25 off of the "suckee" -- that time.

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