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# Use Simple Logic to Remember Your Blackjack Basic Strategy

12 November 2000

There is some truth to the belief that the higher the stakes, the better the blackjack player. But even at the \$25 minimum tables, hands still get misplayed. The thing I've noticed, though, is that serious-money players nearly all misplay the same few hands! Here are some classic examples:

 DEALER9 3rd BASE6/4 SEAT 2A/7 1st BASE4/3/6/2/A

Now, how should you play those three hands? First base must hit, seat 2 must hit also and 3rd base has got to double. Let's try one more round of cards:

 DEALER3 3rd BASE10/2 SEAT 26/3 1st BASEA/4

Okay, what about these three holdings? First base should just hit, seat 2 must double, and 3rd base positively has to hit.

All six of these hands are generally misplayed for green and black chips! And these aren't the only ones. So today, I'll try to supply the logic behind the correct plays, so that through your understanding you'll remember the right moves.

STIFF HANDS: A stiff is a hard total of 12 through 16. The thing to realize is that once the dealer's up-card is 7 or higher, she'll bust a combined average of just 23% of the time. When all she needs is a 10 in the hole to be pat, you're simply going to have to hit 16! Yeah, if you do hit it you'll bust 8 times out of 13 —- but if you don't hit, the dealer will make a hand 10 times out of 13. So just grit your teeth and do what you know you've got to do—hit the stupid 4/3/5/3/A against a 7 every time! (Exception: with 16 against a 10, specifically, you need a 4 or a 5 so badly that if there's one in your hand, or a couple of them spread around the board, you should stand. Other than that, always hit any kind of 16 against any kind of high card.)

Now, playing 12 against a small dealer's up-card is simple--you must hit it against a 2 or a 3 showing. End of story! I know you hate to bust yourself out against a weak looking up-card, but even with a 3 up the dealer will break only 3 times out of 8. But if you hit, 5 cards (a 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9) will make your hand and only 4 (a 10, J, Q or K) will bust you. Remember that.

SOFT HITTING: No hands are misplayed as much as the "soft" ones (those containing an Ace). You must understand that 18 is an odds-on loser against a dealer's 9, 10 or Ace. But since a soft 18 is an open-ended hand, you improve your chances by hitting against those three up-cards--no matter whether it's an A/7 or A/2/A/3/A. Don't let those slip by when they pop up in surprise. Here's a black-and-white example: with a soft 18 against a 9, you'll win eight times out of 20 if you stand, but nine times out of 20 if you hit. So, take your pick.

DOUBLING DOWN: Most players double down too seldom, period. I'm continuously flabbergasted by players who are all too willing to put \$50 out there to be dealt a blind hand on which they're a 101-100 underdog going in, then are unwilling to put up the extra \$50 when they see that they have 11 against a face-card and are now a 6-5 favorite! You simply must put more chips out there when you're holding the longer end of the stick. That means boldly doubling with 11 against a 10, with 10 against a 9 and with 9 against a 3. You'll win all of those more often than you'll lose them.

SOFT DOUBLING: The average \$100 bettor will double with Ace/4 against a 3, but stand with Ace/7 against a 3. That's backwards! Look at how many cards will leave you with an unmade hand when you double with Ace/4. There are eight. Any 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace gives you 12 through 16. But as soon as your soft hand is an Ace/6 or Ace/7, you can only catch five bad cards! Those are your main soft double moneymakers (A/6 and A/7). The smaller your soft hand is, the less you should double. For example, you should double with Ace/deuce only against a dealer's 5 or 6. But you want to double with Ace/7 against a 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Hopefully, these lines of reasoning will ring a bell in your head the next time you're thinking of standing pat with a 16 against a 7 or just hitting with 11 against a 10.

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