Gaming Strategy
Featured Stories
Legal News Financial News Casino Opening and Remodeling News Gaming Industry Executives Author Home Author Archives Search Articles Subscribe
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles

Just Ask Scobe and AP

16 September 2002

Dear Scobe and AP:

I was playing blackjack the other evening and I received a pair of tens. The dealer was showing a seven. I split the tens. Several people at the table got upset because they said it was a stupid move. One obnoxious woman was adamant that I had changed the order of the cards and we would now all lose. Up to this time we were all having a good session as the dealer was busting a lot. Sure enough, from the point where I split those tens, the dealer started to make her hands and we all started to lose. I felt like an idiot. The other people at the table thought I was an idiot, too. Was I an idiot? Give it to me straight!


Dear N.W.:

Yes, you were an idiot for splitting those tens. It is one of the worst moves you could make at blackjack for several reasons. However, the reason given by the "obnoxious woman" that you would change "the order of the cards" is not one of them. This is nonsense and easily shown. Let us say that there are only four cards left in the shoe, two tens and two fives. The dealer has a 16--the weakest possible dealer hand. If she hits and gets a ten, she busts; if she hits and gets a five, she makes 21 and wipes out the board. You have two tens and you split them. What cards are you going to get? The two fives? The two tens? Or one five and one ten? You have no idea. Why not? Because there is no set order that those four cards are in. It could be you take the two fives and then the dealer busts on a ten. Everyone thinks you're a hero. Or, you take the two tens and the dealer gets a five and makes 21. Everyone wants to kill you. Or you get one ten and one five and the dealer gets...a ten? a five? What order are those next two cards in? No one knows.

There is no "flow" to the cards. In retrospect, you can say this or that shoe was good or bad for the player. In advance, there's no telling whether what is to come will be good or bad for the players. The fact that, from the point where you split those tens, things went bad is irrelevant. It was just a (un)lucky guess on the "obnoxious woman's" part that things would go bad. It is possible that the dealer had been busting because high cards had come out of the deck. Now she started making her hands because low cards remained. We don't know unless we are counting cards and are aware of the remaining composition of the decks.

Now, why is it bad to split tens? Because a 20 is a winning hand over 66 percent of the time! It is a powerful hand. Since the shoe has been depleted of two good cards for the player, there are more of the small cards remaining. Thus, the likelihood is good that you'll get hands that are not as good as 20. The other players benefit by your taking those two tens and splitting them because it is likely that two crummy cards are going to come out. This is the basis of card counting, after all. It is better for the other players that you split those tens than stay on them as you're spreading out a potentially bad draw over more hands. They should thank you!

We recommend that, before you play another blackjack session, you get one of the recommended blackjack books and learn the basic strategy for the game. You'll save a lot of money and a lot of aggravation.

For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

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
Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.
Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.