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

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Strategy Is Just One of Blackjack's Advantages

10 February 2006

A few nights ago, my husband and I were having dinner with two other couples. The conversation eventually turned to blackjack, and someone asked me why I like that game so much.

My answer was because it's one of only three games where you actually have a good chance of ending up either almost even with the casino or maybe even ahead a little. And because you can do it with skill, not luck.

One of the guys seemed a little intrigued by that statement and asked, "Why? What is it about blackjack that makes it so beatable?"

And, of course, all it takes is a little interest from one of my victims to set me off lecturing on my favorite subject - gambling.

The first thing you have to remember about blackjack is that the player has to make his decisions first, before the dealer plays out his own hand. That one fact is what gives the house its biggest advantage - a whopping 8 percent over the player. Think about it. Because the player acts first, if he breaks, the house wins right away, even if the dealer subsequently busts also.

But that's the casino's only advantage. Everything else about blackjack gives the player a chance to regain some of that 8 percent. Now, we're not talking detailed, perfect basic strategy, nor are we talking about the benefits of some table rules. We're talking about generalities, the way the game of blackjack is structured.

For example, when you are dealt a "natural" or a blackjack, you're paid 3-to-2. For every $5 bet, you'll win $7.50. But if the dealer gets a blackjack, he doesn't get to reach into your stack of chips and pull out an extra $2.50. That advantage alone gives you back 2.25 percent.

Also, you're allowed to hit or stand at will. No one forces you to take a card or to stand pat. The dealer, however, does not have that option. He must hit cards totaling 16 and must stand on 17 and higher. This one is your biggest advantage; hitting or standing correctly gives you back 3.25 percent.

So, where are we now? You've just regained 5.5 percent. The house started with 8 percent, so you need another 2.5 percent.

You may double down if you wish; the dealer may not. You've just regained another 1.5 percent if you know the proper times to double. You're closing in on the house.

And, finally, you have the option to split pairs. The dealer doesn't have that option, which gives you another half percent. You've almost closed the gap with your 7.5 percent of advantage regained. That means that when push comes to shove, the casino has roughly only a half percent advantage over you.

Notice, however, that only one of these advantages, the 3-to-2 payoff for a natural, is the only one you can't mess up. It's a given. The other three advantages do depend on you and how wisely you make your hit, stand, double and split decisions.

And you guessed it. That takes some studying on your part. And recognizing good table conditions.

When I first started this column more than five years ago, the very first subject was blackjack, and one of those first columns contained the chart that I use to play blackjack. It had more than 200 decisions on it for more than 200 situations you'll find at a blackjack table. Plus, I had a chart for single-deck, double-deck and six-deck games. Plus there was a chart for each one of those games for double after splitting and dealer hitting on a soft 17.

Okay, you can wipe that look of horror off your face. I'm not going to do that to you again. I've found a simpler way to teach blackjack basic strategy that I think will make the game more enjoyable and less stressful. We'll start next week.

Until then, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com