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Best of Henry Tamburin

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Readers' blackjack questions

26 October 2001

I continue to receive a lot of good questions from readers, so I decided to share with you some of their questions and my answers.

"When playing in a six-deck shoe that allows late surrender, it is proper to surrender on 15 vs. a 10. But if the 15 consists of a 7 and 8 we should hit. Why?"

The specific rule is that with 4 or fewer decks, you should surrender 9+6 and 10+5 against a 10, but not 8+7. The reason you surrender the 9+6 and 10+5 is partially that a 5 or 6 is already played. Those are the two best cards for you. With the 8+7 all the 5s and 6s are still in the deck, which give you a 20 or 21.

"Should a basic strategy player hit on soft 18 when the dealer shows a 9, 10, or ace up card when the soft 18 consists of more then 2 cards?"

Yes, even if your soft 18 consists of 2 or more cards you should hit. It's a tough play but you are slightly better off hitting rather than standing.

"What changes to the normal basic strategy should be made with the European no-hole card rule"?

You can use the normal basic playing strategy except do NOT double down or pair split any hand when the dealer shows a 10 or ace up card.

"What is the probability of the dealer busting when he shows a 4, 5 or 6 up card?"

The dealer will bust 40 percent of the time when he shows a 4 up card, 43 percent when he shows a 5, and 42 percent when he shows a 6 up card.

"Can I use a cheat sheet at the blackjack tables?"

Yes, they are perfectly legal. You can purchase a handheld, plastic, laminated strategy card in most casino gift shops. I don't recommend placing the card on the table when you play. It's best to hold the card in your hand on your lap and refer to it when you forget a specific playing strategy.

"I have had a lot of success splitting 10s in the right situation. Is it ever OK to do it?"

It is never correct to split 10s unless you are a card counter and know that the remaining undealt cards have a high ratio of high to low cards. The bottom line -- if you are a basic strategy player, don't split tens!

"Why is splitting a pair of 4s vs. a 5 or 6 the best thing to do? Whenever I do that I get plenty of funny looks from other players, and even most of the dealers seem surprised that I want to split instead of double down. The casinos that I go to in Indiana allow doubling after a split, so I know that splitting is the correct play. I would sincerely appreciate your explanation, so I am better prepared to defend my correct action to other players who think I'm crazy."

In a single-deck game you should double down on a pair of 4s when the dealer shows a 5 or 6. In multiple-deck games the better strategy is to split the 4s when the dealer shows a 5 or 6 (with DAS). The reason that pair splitting isn't as profitable in single-deck games is because of the fragile effect of card removal. In a single-deck game the 4s, 5s and 6s are important cards for the dealer to make his hand and not bust when he has a stiff. By removing the 4s (and 5s and 6s) from the deck, the dealer's chance of busting increases, therefore doubling becomes a profitable play. It could also be that your fellow players are confused on single vs. multiple-deck strategy for this hand.

"If a casino dealer places the dealt cards into a shuffling machine after each hand, is there any advantage to a player in using a card counting system?"

There is no advantage for the counter. However, these automatically shuffling machines also cause the average player to lose more because more hands are dealt per hour (avoid these continuous shuffling machines if you can).

"What are the true odds of getting any blackjack hand and getting one of the same suit?"

The probability of getting any blackjack in a single-deck game is 4.82 percent (1 hand in 20.7 hands) and for any suited blackjack it's 1.21 percent (1 hand in 82.6 hands).

"On splitting aces, what is the payoff if you are dealt 10s to each ace?"

You have two 21 hands and the payoff is 1 to 1 for each hand (assuming the dealer does not have a blackjack or a 21 hand). You get paid 3 to 2 on an ace + 10 hand if they're the initial two cards dealt to you (in the above example the first two cards dealt to the hand were the aces).

"Are the odds of winning better if you play two hands instead of one?"

The odds don't change if you play two hands instead of one. However, when you play two hands you tend to reduce the size of the upswings and downswings in your bankroll. Therefore the greatest fluctuation in your bankroll occurs if you bet one hand of $10 compared to betting two hands at $5 in the same game.

"When is the best time to make the insurance bet"?

The best time to make the insurance bet is when the ratio of non-10s to 10s in the unplayed deck(s) of cards is less than 2. The only way you would know this is to learn a card counting system. If you are non-counter, there is never a good time to make the insurance bet (i.e., pass on it).

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