CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Why Can't I Make Hands Like the Blackjack Dealer Does?

7 October 2001

Three of us were sitting at the blackjack table. The dealer had a 4 up. First base stood with 13. Center field doubled down with A/6 and caught a deuce to make 19, then I stayed pat with my crummy 16. The dealer turned over a deuce in the hole for a starting total of 6, hit a 7 to make 13 -- caught an Ace to make 14 -- then another deuce to make 16 -- and finally a 5 to make 21!

As she swept the board first base moaned, "What I wanna know is, how come I can't hit cards like that?"

The dealer immediately chimed in, "It's easy from this side of the table. When I'm on your side, I can't do it either!"

That phenomenon is true, but there's a good reason why. The dealer makes more clutch hands than you do because she's forced to try. When was the last time you saw a dealer stand on 13, or on 16 for that matter? She can't. As a result, she breaks 28% of the time. But along the way she also makes a lot of hands that you and I would never have tried to make.

A basic strategy player busts his own hands only about 16% of the time. That's because he stands on so many 12s through 16s against a dealer's small card up. But that's the proper thing to do considering that you have to act first. Because of the different hand-playing strategies between player and dealer, you should expect the dealer to make more "miracle" hands. The bad thing is, so many players don't give themselves the chance to make their own miracle hands in every spot they're supposed to. Want a few examples? Here are six. Most players simply won't hit with:

3/4/2/2/A against a 2 up
any 12 against a 3 up
5/9/2 against a 7 up
3/A/3/A against a 10 up
A/2/A/2/A against a 5 up
A/7 against a 9 up

If you know your basic strategy and are on your game, you'll hit every one of these. And what'll happen when you do. To your surprise, you'll make some pretty good hands every now and then, just like the dealer does. But you have to give yourself the chance!

So the next time the dealer pulls out a five or six-card 21, before you moan, ask yourself if you would have taken as many hits as she did to get there.

NO HOLE CARD 21

That same day, another player at the table had just returned from the Caribbean Islands. "They play weird there!" he commented, "The dealer doesn't get a hole card. He gets only an up-card, then finishes his hand after everybody else is done."

That concept isn't new. In fact it's pretty standard in Europe. For that reason, many players call it "European 21." Be careful however -- there's a significant difference between true European blackjack and regular "No Hole Card" blackjack.

With traditional European rules, if you double with 11 against a face-card and the dealer turns out to make blackjack, you lose your doubled bet! The same happens with split pairs. If that's the case, you shouldn't double with 11 against a 10, nor should you split 8s against a 10 or Ace -- nor split Aces against an Ace. That format costs 0.13% off your game even when played perfectly.

It's different in most U.S. and Caribbean casinos where they either don't give the dealer a hole card -- or don't check beneath a 10 to see if there's an Ace in the hole. There you lose only your original bet if you double or split against a dealer's subsequent blackjack. Your second bet gets returned to you. When it's done that way, there's no difference at all and you should play your standard basic strategy. Here's why there's no difference.

Let's say you're playing alone at the table and double with 11 against a 10 up. You catch a 6, then the dealer pulls an Ace out of the shoe to give herself blackjack. You must understand that the 6 and the Ace were just as likely to come out in reverse order as the way they actually came -- and both events will happen just as often as each other. Hence, the odds are the same as if she'd taken her hole card before you doubled. And since your second bet gets returned when she makes blackjack, nothing's changed.

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