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# How Often Will the Dealer Bust That Blackjack Hand?

25 July 2008

Say you're sitting at the blackjack table and are dealt an 11 as your starting hand. The dealer has a wimpy-looking 5 up. The obviously correct play is to double down. So you put another chip next to your original bet and take your one card for a double bet. Woops – you catch an Ace to finish your hand with 12.

"That's okay – that's okay", the fella' next to you consoles. "The dealer's got a 5 up. She's gonna' bust – no problem", he continues. The dealer then turns up a 4 in the hole and quickly pops a 10 to make 19. So much for your "no problem" hand.

So what about it? Just how often does the dealer bust when she has a 5 up anyway? In fact, how often does the dealer bust, period? Let's give you a chance to answer those two questions yourself. Following is a two-question multiple choice quiz. Give it your best shot.

When the dealer has a 5 up, she will bust:

1. 3 times out of 7
2. 4 times out of 7
3. 5 times out of 7
4. 6 times out of 7

Overall, the dealer will bust:

1. 1 time out of 7
2. 2 times out of 7
3. 3 times out of 7
4. 4 times out of 7

The correct answers are A and B, respectively. Surprised? It's funny that so many players think the dealer should bust more often than she actually does just because she has to hit 16. Remember that plenty are the times when the dealer doesn't even take a hit at all because she's dealt 17 through 21 on her first two cards. And lots of other times she'll be dealt a good drawing hand like 8, 9, 10 or 11.

There really is a pretty big difference, though, in how often the dealer will bust (in a standard shoe game) depending upon which up-card she has showing. The following list breaks that all down for you.

 UP CARD DEALER BREAKS 2 35% 3 37% 4 40% 5 42% 6 42% 7 26% 8 24% 9 23% 10 23% A 17%

Because of the considerable differences from up-card to up-card, that's the first thing you should notice when the cards are being dealt – even before you look at your own hand. It sets the stage for how you'll play your cards.

After all the smoke clears, the dealer will bust 28% of the time on all her hands combined. Two notable things should be learned from this chart. The first is that there's such a profound drop between the 6 and the 7. This is why you should stand with 12 when the dealer shows a 6 – but always hit 16 when she shows a 7.

The second thing to notice is that there's no up-card with which the dealer will bust as often as she'll make a completed hand. So when she's showing a so-called "bust card", such as a 4, 5 or 6 – it's really not a bust card at all. That's why you shouldn't get overconfident and start doubling down with 7 or 8, or split a pair of 10s just because the dealer shows a "bust card".

The old "bust card" fallacy is just another bogus piece of folklore that goes along with the "sacred order" of the cards, the "curse of the bad player", and "figure the dealer for a 10 in the hole". But those are lessons for another day.

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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

#### Books by 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