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Thursday, October 10, 2002
Ten Sins of Blackjack
Blackjack requires more knowledge and skill than any other game in the
casino. At the very least, you should have your basic strategy moves down
perfectly. Ideally, you should be an accomplished card counter.
Unfortunately, very few people can justifiably claim to be perfect basic
strategy players. Even fewer are expert card counters.
Walk into any casino
and watch the play at the blackjack tables. You'd be lucky if you could find
more than a handful of players who make the right basic strategy decisions,
hand after hand, shoe after shoe.
Statistics published by the gaming industry itself offer some pretty good
proof there are an awful lot of bad blackjack players out there. Most
reports I've seen show that casinos consistently rake in between 15 and 20
percent of all the money bet at their blackjack tables every month.
If every blackjack player in a casino had their basic strategy down cold,
the true house advantage would be closer to 1 or 2 percent. That's a
differential of 13 to 18 percent - a huge spread for the casino. Are
blackjack players really that bad?
It would seem so. Peter Griffin, a leading theoretical mathematician, and
author of a scholarly book titled The Theory of Blackjack, has compiled a
dossier of the most common sins against proper basic strategy. He also
determined mathematically, in percentage terms, the exact penalty for each
of these basic strategy errors.
Obviously, no one individual makes all of these errors, but enough people
make enough of them to give casinos that big 15-20 percent win-rate.
Griffin discovered (based upon more than 11,000 real game observations in
Nevada and New Jersey) that the public misplays about one hand in every six
or seven dealt. The most common sin by far is the failure to risk busting
stiff hands against the dealer's up cards-of 7 through Ace.
Griffin conjectured the main reason people were so reluctant to draw to
stiffs was the fear of losing. Even though they might know in their hearts
they should draw, players want to stay alive in the hand just a bit longer.
They want to postpone the inevitable moment of truth just a few seconds
longer until the dealer reveals his hole card.
Be honest with yourself. How may times have you committed this, or any other
of the 10 listed sins against basic strategy? Add up the penalties you have
been paying and see what it cost.
After you've calculated your tab, perhaps you'll be motivated enough to sit
down with that strategy chart again. Because only by mastering it will
you ever stand a chance of being a winner at the blackjack table.
The 10 sins of
1) Always splits and
re-splits two 10-value cards. Penalty: 8.0%.
2) Hits stiffs against
dealer's small up-card. Penalty: 3.2%.
3) Stands on stiffs
against dealer's high up-card. Penalty: 3.0%.
4) Fails to hit Ace
and small card. Penalty: 2.0%.
5) Never doubles down.
6) Always re-splits
4,4 and 5,5. Penalty: 0.4%.
7) Always insures
everything. Penalty: 0.3%.
8) Fails to hit soft
17. Penalty: 0.2%.
9) Makes other
incorrect pair splits. Penalty: 0.2%.
10) Doubles 9 or 10
vs. dealer's 10 or Ace. Penalty: 0.1%.
So, you can see the
advantage you can gain by avoiding the 10 sins above.
Good feedback was
received on Edmond Petitjean's Pattern 12 system
announced a couple of weeks ago. This is what I extracted from the
"Pattern 12 is very cool...it actually makes a lot of sense....essentially
you are playing the thirds, and without going into too much detail you are
playing the sleeping thirds for a short "attack" period and then restart and
You are using a slight progression but nothing that would seem to get out of
System easily got to +10 most times with very little drawdown....
Strategic gaming has one like this called the floating 12 which also works
here to read more about it. Now an FAQ
section has been added.
Wishing you all the best,
Until next week,
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