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# Do You Ever Out-Think Yourself at the Blackjack Table?

12 August 2001

The \$50 bettor sitting next to me at the blackjack table seemed to know his basic strategy pretty well. He correctly split his pair of 9s against a 9 up, caught a deuce on each, won both doubles, then let \$150 ride on the next hand. Now receiving a 5/deuce against an Ace up he obediently took a few hits, then agonizingly stood with 5/2/3/2/2/2. The next card out was a 4 and then the dealer turned over a 7 in the hole for a pat 18.

Seeing that he would have won the hand had he played it right, he pounded the table and began to get down on himself. Apparently, the bigger bet along with the long, drawn-out 16 caused him to renege on what he knew was best (which was to hit), and that turned out to beat him.

Just how big a mistake is standing with 16 against an Ace? If you were dealt that hand 100 times and always hit it like you're supposed to, you'd win 24 times and lose 76. But if you stand, you'll lose unless the dealer breaks. And with a playable Ace showing, the dealer only breaks 17 times out of 100! So by losing his discipline, this player gave away seven extra chances to win the hand, and the 4 that came out next was one of those seven chances.

Lots of players can play better than they do play. Don't be one of them -- it'll come back to haunt you. When played properly, blackjack is a game of extremely close percentages and in the end, about 1% makes the difference between long-term winners and losers. That begins with playing all your hands correctly.

Don't fall into that trap of thinking, "Four straight little cards have come out; a 10 has got to be due!" Do you want to know exactly how due a 10 really is after four consecutive small cards have come out? When you start out with 5/2 against an Ace in a six-deck game, your chance of catching a 10 is 31%. If you hit and catch four deuces in a row, your chance of catching a 10 now has zoomed all the way up to 31.5%! That's right; 31.5%. So don't out-think yourself. Only when you're dealt one of the "Magnificent 7" hands (mentioned in earlier articles) should a basic strategy player tweak his play according to the cards on board.

BENEFITING FROM OTHER'S MISTAKES

Players who should know better hurt themselves in many other ways and you can take advantage of their weaknesses. How? Haven't you ever seen the guy next to you get an 11 against a face-card, or maybe a soft 18 against a 3, and get cute by doubling down for less? He's giving up part of his natural advantage on the hand. Get your own money out there and take up the rest! You know up front that you're a 6-5 favorite to win either bet. What more can you ask from gambling?

Okay, here's more. Next to me, a player who'd been taking a beating had \$25 riding on his 19 and the dealer gave herself a 10 up-card. He began to whine, "Aww, I know she's got the 20." Knowing that 19 is an 8-7 favorite over a playable 10 up, I tossed him a green chip and said, "I think your 19's good. Here, I'll buy your hand." As the chip landed in front of him, he hesitated, then tossed it back saying, "Naw thanks". Three seconds later, the dealer turned over an 8 in the hole. This fella didn't sell out, but some will.

There's still another way to pick up an edge from other players' mistakes, but this one's kind of touchy. Nearly everybody takes even money on their blackjacks against an Ace up, and that's a regular "loser" play. What you can do is very quickly offer this player \$31 for his \$30 blackjack, or \$51 for his \$50 blackjack before the dealer pays him even money. You'll have an edge on the deal as long as it's at least a \$30 bet. Some casinos may frown on such wheeling and dealing, but others don't seem to care.

Blackjack Bluebook: The Right Stuff for the Serious Player by Fred Renzey
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
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Best of 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:

Blackjack Bluebook II
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:

Blackjack Bluebook II