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Mythological Blackjack

27 November 1999

Wally's Words of Wisdom
Copyright 1999
Walter Thomason

I've just returned from a short vacation "up north" and played 11 hours of blackjack at Foxwoods, in (or near) Ledyard, Connecticut over a three day period. Several of the "myths" regarding this game were evident during my hours of play.

My primary casino gaming memories from this trip relate to the comments made by other players and dealers who were part of my overall experience. Many of the players (and dealers) had serious misconceptions about how the game should be played. A few examples:

  • Many of the players seemed to be concerned about how many hands were being played when they entered the game. They didn't want to alter the flow of the cards, and would only enter the game if the same number of hands were being dealt.
  • Many players wouldn't sit down to play while a shoe was in progress -- a polite effort on their part -- but not based on the win or loss pattern of the players at the table. They seemed to believe that you couldn't win unless you started with a new shoe, or that entering a game in progress would cause them to lose.
  • Several players became angry if they lost a hand, and were elated when they won a hand. They blamed the dealer for lousy cards on losing hands, and complimented themselves for expert play when they won a hand (even though their play was often far from "expert").
  • My favorite dealer informed me that not taking even money on a blackjack was a foolish mistake, and that I shouldn't play out a shoe dealt by the relief dealer if she shuffled the cards. He also advised me that hitting 12 against a 3 was a very risky move, and that I was likely to lose the hand. He also told me that he was a player at the "other casino" down the road, and that employees at Foxwoods are not allowed to gamble at Foxwoods (which is true of most casinos -- the management doesn't want dealers or other personnel mixing with customers.) I asked him if he'd ever read a book about how to play, and he said, "No, but I know the game."
  • On several occasions, players left the table when I split 9s against a 6, or refused even money when I had a blackjack against the dealer's ace.
  • On several occasions, players left the table if another player made a serious Basic Strategy error, such as hitting a 13 against a dealer's 5, or splitting 5's against a dealer's 6. It didn't seem to matter if they won or lost; it was "the principle of the thing."
  • One player was asked to leave the gaming area because he kept using the "F" word every time he lost a hand, and kept hitting the table when he won a hand. On one occasion, he slammed his cigarette lighter on the table and it hit me in the face!

Here's the interesting part of this story: I was playing in the "High Stakes" blackjack area of the casino, and all of these events occurred within a ninety minute period! The minimum bet was $25, and many of the players that left the table were wagering $100 to $300 per hand. Amazing!

The bottom line is this: The foolish or stupid plays by other players don't alter your long-term results. The "flow" of the cards may be altered, but the final results offset; you're as likely to win a hand or lose a hand as the result of a player's mistake in playing Basic Strategy.

The number of players at the table doesn't alter your long-term results, except that you play fewer hands per hour and lower the potential house advantage if the table is full.

The advice offered by most dealers is usually "hog wash," since most dealers -- even those that choose to play the game -- don't know the correct Basic Strategy. Read a book or two, and you'll be a better player than most dealers.

I ran across several card counters during my 11 hours of play. They were trying to count an eight-deck shoe, with very good penetration -- I'd estimate 80% -- but I didn't see any winners. Several times I picked up on the count, increased my normal progressive bet, and didn't profit from my efforts.

The other bottom line is this: I had 10 hours of winning blackjack (ahead of the house) and lost money in my last hour of play. The casino rated me at $18.40 per hour in comps, which was deducted from my hotel bill -- a fair exchange from a casino that has almost a monopoly on the market in this area.

I like Foxwoods, but I don't go there unless I have other reasons to be there. My wife, Cynthia Thomason, writes historical romance books (which are available at your local book store) and had to do some research in New England, and I was forced to accompany her! It's a tough life, but I get by...

Remember: Play basic strategy perfectly, ignore the actions of other players, don't believe the dealer, and you have a good chance of winning! The myths associated with the game are just that: Myths.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Twenty-First Century Blackjack: New Strategies for a New Millennium by Walter Thomason
The Ultimate Blackjack Book by Walter Thomason
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason