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# Hit that hand!

7 May 2015

QUESTION: I disagree with the basic strategy charts, mainly on one hand. When I have 16 and the dealer has a 7, it makes no sense to me to hit the hand. If the dealer doesn’t have a 10 or an Ace down, he has to hit and has a good chance of busting. What does make sense to me is standing and making the dealer draw instead of hitting and taking a chance on losing before I even know what the dealer has.

ANSWER: Look at it this way. There are four 10-value card denominations, and together with the Ace that means five of 13 denominations give the dealer a standing hand. If you stand, the house wins 38.5 percent of the time without the dealer even needing to draw. On the other 61.5 percent of hand, the dealer is drawing from no worse a position than you are. Often, the dealer is in much better shape, such as when a 2, 3 or 4 down means the dealer is drawing to 9, 10 or 11.

Overall, the dealer will make 17 or better about 74 percent of the time when starting with a 7 face-up. If you stand, you are accepting that you will lose about 74 percent of the time.

To improve on that, you have to hit. There’s nothing you can do to turn 16 vs. 7 into a favorable situation. You’re going to lose that hand more often than you win. But if you hit, you can lose a little less.

How much less? At wizardofodds.com, Michael Shackleford has a blackjack hand calculator that will give us the answer. If you start with 10-6 and the dealer has 7 up in a six-deck game in which the dealer hits soft 17, you will lose about 48 cents per dollar wagered if you stand. If you hit, you can reduce the losses to 41 cents per dollar wagered.

You actually reduce your losses by more when hitting 16 vs. 7 than you do when hitting 16 vs. 10. Some players regard that as counterintuitive, because the chances of the dealer busting are smaller when starting with 10. However, if you hit and make a standing hand, the chance of it beating the dealer are greater when the dealer has 7 up that if the dealer has 10. The potential gains are greater. So if you stand vs. 10, you average 54 cents in losses per dollar wagered, and if you hit, you reduce that only to 53 cents in losses.

Your best play is to hit hard 16 whenever the dealer has a 7 or higher, and to stand when the dealer shows 2 through 6. But the hand where hitting brings the biggest gain is the one you want to stand on, 16 vs. 7.

QUESTION: This is probably a dumb question and I’m probably missing something obvious, but my friend and I have been arguing over why the craps box numbers are numerals – 4, 5, 8 10 – except for spelling out six and nine. He thinks it’s just tradition and breaking things up to look interesting. I think it wouldn’t be that way on every table unless there was more reason.

You’re correct that there’s a practical reason for spelling out six and nine. Players stand all around the craps table, and something that looks like a numeral 6 on one side looks like a 9 on the other. They’re spelled out to avoid confusion.
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John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

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Winning Tips for Casino Games
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.