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June 28, 2003

Blackjack Advice

I play blackjack as well as anyone does. I am a good player because I know the "right" plays, called the basic strategy, and am careful with my money. I never make a lot of money because I play it more for fun. I do not like to risk a lot of my hard earned greenbacks. The old saying that you have to risk a lot to make a lot is especially true when it comes to gambling.

Over the years I have seen lots of odd things happen while seated at a blackjack table. I could fill this page up with stories about Louise, Hot Damn Harry, and the kid with a million dollars in bills that was neatly stacked next to him on a cart. Rather than do that I am going to let some of you benefit from my years of experience. No hot tips on how to beat the game. No big insights about strategy or money management. Just one piece of advice for those of you who have never gambled before or have been doing it for a short time. Write this down. LEARN HOW TO PLAY!!

Everytime I play somewhere I see someone who has no idea what the game is about sit down and literally give their money away. If you really want to give money away give it to me or some worthy charity, don't give it to the nice people at the casino. Find someone who knows what is called the basic strategy and have them teach it to you as you learn how to play. There are even computer programs that can teach you. It is not hard.

Sometimes you will see people at the blackjack table smiling at you after you have asked for a hit or told the dealer you want to stay. It is not because they are friendly. It is because they think that you are a fool. If you do not know the basic strategy of blackjack they know that you are giving your money away.

I have seen people who do not know squat about blackjack win serious money because they have an incredible lucky streak. One beautiful young lady (blonde, of course), who had just turned 21 the night before and was very drunk and had no idea what she was doing let alone where she was, won thousands of dollars at a table where I was playing. She started with $20. She made every bad play in the book but she was about as lucky as anyone I had ever seen. It can happen but if you play blackjack very long without knowing the basic strategy most of the time you will leave one heck of a lot poorer than when you sat down. Those will be some very expensive lessons.

Rather than learning how to play at the table with real money, it would be cheaper and smarter for you to pay me or some other knowledgeable person, $200 to teach you to play using the basic strategy. You would be completely helpless in your friendly local casino without the basic strategy guiding your playing. Money goes fast when you hit 13's against the dealer's 6 showing or you sandbag with 12 or 13 when the dealer has a 10 or face up. I could tell you why those plays are bad mathematically but if you learn the basic strategy then you do not have to worry about the math. There are small pocket cards that most casinos or bookstores sell that show what the basic strategy is for each situtation at the table. Casinos have no problem with you using them at the table. The casinos will always have an edge even if you and everyone else uses the basic strategy. Using the basic strategy makes their edge over you smaller.

There are a lot of different basic strategies that call for slightly different actions in different situations. If you are a casual player there is no need to learn every one of these. Any one of them will help you. For example the house edge for the two deck strategy is .2% and for the six deck strategy .36%.

Notes: try to play against 1 or 2 decks. 6 decks might give you long runs of unfavorable situations (lots of small cards in the deck is extremely unfavorable to a player). I would never play against on-line casinos because they are unregulated and the geniuses that program these websites could easily program card sequences that would be dependent on your betting levels and who knows what else and you would never know. I haven't read of cases of this happening but it could. Relatively easily. Insurance: never take insurance unless you know there are a lot of 10s or face cards left in the deck.

- posted by Mad Jayhawk and Seven @ 6/28/2003 11:51:00 PM    |

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