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Total Blackjack Hands

14 May 2023

QUESTION: A while ago you wrote there were 34 possible starting hands in blackjack, or 55 if the composition mattered. You explained that some advanced players made different plays if a hard 12 was an 8 and a 4 than if it was a 10 and a 2.

What about the order in which you receive the cards? Does it matter if you get the 10 first and then the 2 instead of the 2 first and then the 10. That would increase the number of starting hands, wouldn't it?

ANSWER: Order of your first two cards doesn't matter for players. You see both cards before you have to make a play.

Dealer card order does matter to players. You see only one dealer card before you play, and you'll often make a different play if the dealer has a 10 face up and a 2 down vs. a 2 up and a 10 down. In the case of dealer soft hands, you'll be offered insurance if the dealer has an Ace face up, but not if the Ace is face down and another denomination is up.

Another reader emailed to point out that in some blackjack games with special rules, there are extra hands to consider. It's been a long time, but I once played a game that paid 2-1 if a both cards in a blackjack were diamonds. The 34/55 numbers consider all blackjacks to be one possible starting hand, but under that rule a diamond blackjack would have to be considered as a separate hand to boost the numbers to 35 and 56.

QUESTION: I have an almost back-to-back jackpots story for you that still has me in shock.

I was playing Deuce Wild video poker and was dealt one deuce and a bunch of mismatched cards. I held the deuce and three away the rest. To my amazement, the draw brought the other three 2s. I was playing for quarters, so that was $250 -- plenty to make my day at the level I play.

My brother-in-law Ed was playing right next to me, so we high-fived and I promised drinks later were on me.

Then I hit the deal button, and Ed said, "You're not going to keep playing that, are you?" I said of course I was, and he said something about lightning not striking twice. He kept up as I finished the hand, which was a loser.

I don't believe in hot machines and cold machines, but maybe Ed got to me or maybe I just had a feeling. I stayed at the same machine, but changed to Bonus Poker Deluxe. I made another change, too, without even realizing it. I must have brushed an icon, because I suddenly was playing for dollars instead of quarters.

I knew nothing about that until after the first hand. I was dealt Ace-King-10 of clubs and a couple of low cards in other suits. I held the high clubs and up popped the Queen and Jack.

The royal flush alone was enough to floor me, especially so soon after the deuces. But when the screen started flashing "$4,000" and the machine locked up, I thought my stomach was doing flip-flops.

I'd NEVER won that much before. I texted my wife to come over and look, and she was in shock, too. My brother-in-law just looked smug, certain I'd won because of his advice,

AANSWER: Congratulations! I'm stubborn enough I'd have stayed with the Deuces Wild game no matter who was bending my ear, but there's no arguing with your results.
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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski