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Best of Henry Tamburin

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Blackjack misinformation

1 June 2012

It amazes me how many blackjack players believe the misinformation dispensed by fellow players, and even dealers, about the game of blackjack. Here are a just a few nuggets of misinformation.

"Picture cards always follow picture cards."

Some players will refuse to hit their stiff hands if they just saw a picture card come out of the shoe. They believe that "a picture card always follows a picture card." Clearly that can't be the case and, in fact, the opposite is true, Once you see a picture card the chance that the next card will be a picture card has decreased. The reason? If you just saw a picture card there must be less of them in the unplayed deck of cards, meaning your chances of drawing another has decreased (not increased).

"Always figure the dealer has a 10 in the hole."

Really? In a standard deck of 52 cards, there are 16 10-valued cards (the four 10s, jacks, queens, and kings). That leaves 36 non-10-valued cards left in a deck. So roughly only 31 percent of the cards in a deck are "10s" and 69 percent are non-10s. Basically, there are roughly twice as many non-10s as 10s, so it is more likely that the dealer will have a non-10 in the hole rather than a 10.

"The objective of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible."

I really believe a casino manager made this one up and it has perpetuated for umpteen numbers of years among players. The objective of blackjack is not to get as close to 21 as possible. Rather, the objective is to beat the dealer in one of two ways: either having your hand total higher than her hand, or having a total of 21 or less when the dealer busts. Beating the dealer is the objective of blackjack.

"That third baseman is killing me."

Many players believe the play of the third base player can "bring down" the entire table. Some honestly believe that the third base player should "sacrifice has hand" for the good of his fellow players. The reality is this: how your fellow players, including the third baseman, play their hands really doesn't make any difference on your chances of winning (or losing). No question the outcome of the round could be different if the third baseman takes a card when he shouldn't, but his lack of skills could result in everyone winning their hands as well as losing. In the long run it's a wash, and your chances of winning and losing aren't going to change. You may not like to hear this, but you could play with six chimpanzees and your chance of ultimately winning and losing will not be affected.

"Always insure the good hands."

Most players will insure a 10-10 but never a 5-3. Guess what? Insuring the 20 is a worse play than insuring an 8. Why? Because when you make the insurance bet you are betting that the dealer has a 10 in the hole (for a blackjack). The fact that you are holding two 10-value cards (with your 20) means the chance that the dealer's hole is a 10 is less than if you held a 5-3. Insurance is a bad bet, but it's an even worse bet when you hold a "good hand."

"A deuce is the same as a dealer's ace."

I've heard dealers spout this logic at players many times when they have a deuce upcard and a player is trying to decide whether to hit. The point the dealer is making to the player is that when he holds a deuce, he is just as likely to make a pat hand as when he holds has an ace upcard. This is simply not true. The dealer's strongest card is an ace, with only about a 12 percent chance of busting. With a deuce, the dealer is more likely to bust (about 35 percent). Sorry, dealers, but a deuce is no way the same as an ace.

"Don't mess with the order of the cards."

Many players cringe when a new player enters a game in mid-shoe. Why? Because the order of the cards that will be dealt to players changes and they believe that this works against the players. This of course is nonsense. You don't know what the order of the cards is in the shoe and if a new player changes the order, it could help you as much as hurt you. The order of the cards is not sacred!

"Press your luck."

Many players who win two or three hands in a row will start pressing (or increasing) their bets to take advantage of their luck. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just because you won the previous two or three hands, this has no bearing on your chances of winning the next hand. The odds of winning any hand at blackjack is roughly 42 percent regardless of how many hands you just won. So "pressing your luck" might be a fun thing to do, but it isn't going to win you more money in the long run. In fact, by betting more money you expose more of your bankroll to the house edge.

"Card counting is illegal."

This is another myth perpetrated by the casino folks. Using your brain when you play blackjack is not illegal (and that's what you do when you card count).

If a dealer or a fellow player offers you a piece of advice that sounds intriguing, e-mail it to me and I'll analyze what was said in a future column.

Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin