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# Beating the Blackjack Dealer Is Tougher Than It Looks

22 June 2007

I was playing blackjack and the player next to me had a pair of 7s against a dealer's 7 up. He split them, which was the correct play even though he ended up losing both hands.

"How do they do it? I'm supposed to get two pushes there", he complained. "Or at least win one and lose one", added third base as they both shook their heads.

I didn't stick my two cents in, but in reality the player is a definite underdog with 7 against a dealer's 7.

Why would that be, when you're going to play your 7 just about the same way the dealer will play his? In fact, if you should make 10 or 11 on your first hit after you split, you'll even get to double down. So where does the dealer come off having an edge?

Well, suppose you hit your first 7 and catch, say, an 8 to make 15. What'ya gonna' do? You're going to hit, just like the dealer. But what if your next hit busts you, then the dealer turns up an 8 just like you, then he hits and busts also. He's already got your money. There's the dealer's edge.

So the fact that you're playing your hand first gives the dealer an edge on what looks like an even matchup. The same is true when you have 8 against an 8, or 9 against a 9. Yep, when you get to play last, hitting everything until you reach 17 or bust is a tough strategy to beat. Following is a table of "Dealer's Probabilities". It shows you how many times out of 100, on average, he'll make each total out of all his possible up-cards. In cases of a dealer's 10 or Ace up, it's assumed that he's already checked his hole card and does not have blackjack.

DEALER'S PROBABILITIES

…..…..17……18…..19……20……21….BUST

...2…..14….…14…...13…….12…...12….…35.

...3…..13…….13…...13….....12…...12…….37

...4…..13…….12…...12…….12…...11….…40

...5…..12…….12...…12…….11...…11….…42

...6…..16….....11…...11…….10…...10.........42

...7…..37….....14…….8…..….8….…7….…26

...8…..13…….36...…13……...7…….7…….24

...9…..12….…12…...35…….12….…6….…23

..10….12…….12…...12…….37…….4…….23

...A….19…….19…...19...…..19…….7…….17

You can learn a lot of things from looking at this table. Say you have 17 against the dealer's 6 up. Are you a favorite or an underdog to win? Well, you can see that you'll push 16 times when the dealer makes 17. You can also see that you'll win 42 times when he busts. Now add together all the times you lose to 18 through 21 and you'll find that you're an even money shot with this hand (42 wins, 42 losses and 16 pushes out of 100). You can do the same thing with any completed hand against any dealer's upcard.

Now look at that dealer's 7 up-card. We already discussed why you're at a disadvantage if you also have 7 with him. But even if you already have your 17, you're still an underdog. As you can see from the table, you'll push 37 times out of 100, and you'll win 26 times when he busts – but you'll lose to a better hand 37 times. Winning 26 and losing 37 out of 100 ain't gonna cut it.

Overall, there's absolutely no way you can win as many blackjack hands as you'll lose. Yet, you can win at the game overall by betting more money when the right cards are out of the shoe.

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

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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

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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