Do you cringe when someone at your table splits 10s? Do you preach about the sacred "book" of blackjack and instruct others of its teachings? Do you sometimes feel the need to "take one for the team?" If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, this booklet is dedicated to you.
Introduction (AKA: You Know Nothin')
I can't just come out and tell you you're a moron. You've gone through your entire ignorant life in oblivion, so you probably won't believe me. Instead, I'll prove it to you with a quick little quiz. It is imperative you do not skip or skim these ten questions. Decide how to play each hand before peeking at the answers. Use standard Vegas casino rules (dealer hits soft 17, surrender available, double after split allowed). These questions aren't the world's toughest blackjack scenarios; they're more like a list of the most common mistakes.
BASIC STRATEGY QUIZ
(1) Six decks, A-7 vs. 10.
(2) Six decks, 7-7 vs. 10.
(3) Six decks, 2-2 vs. 7.
(4) Six decks, 5-6 vs. 10.
(5) One deck, 7-7 vs. 10.
(6) One deck, A-7 vs. 3.
(7) One deck, 5-6 vs. A.
(8) One deck, 9-9 vs. 9.
(9) Six decks, 9-9 vs. 8.
(X) Six decks, 7-8 vs. 10.
Just for fun (and because I know you won't get these right), here are a couple bonus questions to help you bulk up your score.
(11) One deck, 4-4 vs. 5.
(12) Six decks, 10-7 vs. Ace (dealer stands soft 17).
(13) Six decks, 10-7 vs. Ace (dealer hits soft 17).
ANSWERS: 1) Hit; 2) Hit; 3) Split; 4) Double;
5) Stand; 6) Double; 7) Double; 8) Split;
9) Split; X) Surrender; 11) Hit (if DAS allowed,
then split); 12) Stand; 13) Surrender.
Give yourself 10 points for every question you got right. Add 25 points if you answered bonus question 11 correctly and add 70 points if you got both number 12 and 13 correct. How'd you do? I'm going to guess (with confidence) you didn't score higher than 30 points. It's not the low score that makes you an idiot; it's your insistence that you know it all that convinces me. But now that I've established that you are a whining piece of shit know-nothing moron, I think you'll get more out of this booklet. You'll absorb my teachings, rather than smugly assuming I'm talking to everyone except you.
"The Book" Explained
A few years back some curious people simulated gazillions of blackjack hands and determined the best strategy for playing each combination of cards. They condensed their findings into a chart, and although you've never properly studied this chart, it is what you refer to as "the book." Every variation on casino rules has a different "book." Change a rule (like disallowing double after split) or add another deck and you get a new chart.
If players had an edge using basic strategy, the house a) wouldn't offer blackjack and b) wouldn't sell "the book" in their gift shop. Sticking to basic strategy gives players the best possible odds in the long run. These odds are not positive, they're simply better than any other method.
Did you catch that part about the long run? It's important. Do not complain if you asked me what the book said, followed the advice, and would've won if you'd ignored that stupid book like you wanted to. I can't tell you the next card in the shoe, but I can tell you after one million times, "the book" will be correct more often than not.
What's Dumber than Splitting Face Cards?
I'd ask if you beat me to the part where I make fun of your superstitions, but that requires deprogramming your feeble mind and I know we're only on the third section. I'll go slowly...
Idiot, you sound like such an idiot when you refer to blackjack as a "team sport." Basic strategy dictates the best odds for your own hand. Another player's decisions have an equal chance to hurt or help you. People can't "mess up the cards" because they were never in order to begin with.
You don't believe me because you remember that one time when you had a really big bet out there and some guy made a bonehead move and it cost you big. Well, you suffer from a selective memory. You've forgotten all the times you've won because of another's bonehead play.
Not convinced by logic? I'll try perspective. Let's take your favorite "bust card," a six (which, by the way, isn't always the best depending on the rules), and look at the odds. I deal from an eight deck shoe every night and the probability I'll bust when showing a six is 43.9%. I'm not an odds defying super freak when I make a hand; the odds are in favor of it. So shut up when a player hits his 12 against a dealer's six. It's his money, his decision, his vacation. It's not the best idea, but he still has better odds of winning that hand than the morons playing Let It Ride. And I don't see you running to Let It Ride yelling at those players for being stupid.
Q: What's dumber than a player who splits face cards?
A: The person who complains about him.
Asking Your Dealer for Advice
It's pretty common for players to ask a dealer how to play a hand. You suckers assume a dealer managed to stumble upon a basic strategy card sometime during his thirty years in the industry. And you definitely believe a pit boss's advice is gospel, right? Trust no one. Casino staff (for the most part) won't purposely misinform you, but unless they've done some outside reading, they don't have a clue. They learned "the book" from the same game of telephone you've been playing. Think about it: casinos make more money when players stray from basic strategy. They want their employees as ignorant as you players so why would they teach dealers "the book?"
"The Book" in the Gift Shop
So you can't trust the dealer's advice and can't trust the pit bosses, but you think you can trust the advice of "the book" you bought in the casino gift shop? Take a close look at that strategy card before assuming anything. The majority of strategy cards are for four-deck blackjack. They differ in basic rules (allowing double after split, surrender, dealer hits soft 17), so a strategy card sold at the Rio may differ drastically from one sold at the Palms. And where did they come up with four-deck blackjack? I've never seen a four-deck game of blackjack in my life. Do your homework before you get to Vegas.
Insuring Your 20 and Taking Even Money
I'd almost forgotten what morons you morons are, but then I typed the title of this section and was quickly reminded. You know-it-alls are quick to parrot "sucker bet, sucker bet" when a player takes insurance, all the while swearing by "even money." You misunderstand the concept. Insurance is a side bet, completely independent of your hand. I'll give two examples that should make it simple:
Ex 1: You bet $10, are dealt two tens, and the dealer shows an ace. Full insurance is half your bet ($5). If the dealer has blackjack you win $10 on your insurance bet (paid 2-1) and lose $10 on your hand of 20. If the dealer doesn't have blackjack: lose $5 insurance bet and play out the hand.
Ex 2: You bet $10, are dealt a blackjack, and the dealer shows an ace. Insurance is $5. If the dealer has blackjack you win $10 on your insurance bet and push on your blackjack. If the dealer doesn't have blackjack: lose $5 insurance bet and win $15 on your blackjack (paid 3-2).
Did you see where I was going with the examples? When you have 20, taking insurance doesn't "protect your hand." If the dealer doesn't have blackjack, he can still draw to 21 and you lose. Then there's the "even money" situation -- did you notice the striking resemblance to insurance? If a player is dealt a blackjack and makes an insurance bet, win or lose they net $10. No dealer blackjack: lose $5 (insurance), win $15 (BJ), net $10. Yes dealer blackjack: win $10 (insurance), push on the BJ, net $10.
Am I insulting your intelligence by breaking insurance into bite-sized pieces and making you chew it again and again? Well, stop annoying the hell out of me. Every time one of you "sucker bet, sucker bet" morons gets a blackjack against my ace on single deck, I have to listen to a ration of bitching because you can't take "even money." If you really understood insurance, you wouldn't ask. Here's the last of the second grade math lessons: A $10 blackjack is paid $12 (single deck pays 6-5). No dealer blackjack: lose $5 (insurance), win $12 (BJ), net $7. Yes dealer blackjack: win $10 (insurance), push on the BJ, net $10. $7 and $10 are not the same number, therefore there is no such thing as "even money" on 6-5 blackjack.
Better Odds on Single Deck
Given the same set of rules, the odds on single deck are slightly better than a shoe game. Did you notice that I prefaced that statement with "the same set of rules?" Good luck finding a single deck blackjack game offering rules comparable to a shoe. Casinos take the stereotyped better odds single deck games and pervert them so badly that you may as well play Let It Ride. First, they almost always pay blackjacks 6-5 instead of 3-2. (I've even seen casinos pay 1-1.) They typically don't allow double after split and some only allow doubles on 10 or 11. These single deck games have such crummy rules that people haven't bothered making "the book" for them. Basic strategy dictates you should find a game with better rules.
When 6-5 single deck started gaining momentum in late 2003, the Las Vegas Sun ran an article. They calculated differences in expected loss for a player betting $10 a hand, averaging 100 hands per hour. With favorable rules on a six deck shoe, expected player loss averages $2.60/hour. On a comparable single-deck game, the loss is $1.80. On a standard strip 6-5 single-deck blackjack game, a player can expect to lose over $14 an hour.
Go Ahead and Count Those Cards, Sucker
I had one of you morons on my game the other night whispering to a buddy about the count. He would honest to god lower his bet on the second hand of an eight-deck shoe if the count was negative one. And this somewhat accurate basic strategy player randomly hit his 14 vs. my six because the running count was -3. Idiot didn't know that the true count was a fraction. He annoyed me tremendously because his little rain dance brought the rain. His short term luck was the evidence he needed to convince himself and his awe-struck buddy that he was brilliant. And the cheap bastard decided he was so important that the casino was out to get him. Players don't often piss me off, but listening to idiot man pat himself on the back drove me mad.
Let me explain card counting. There are many different methods, but the standard is plus/minus. All cards 2-6 are valued at plus one, 7-9 ignored, and 10-ace negative one. This sum is the running count. Divide the running count by the number of decks left and you get the true count. A high true count means the deck is rich in 10s and aces, giving a better chance the dealer will bust and the player will get blackjack. Yes, the dealer is also more likely to get blackjack, but the players is paid 3:2 and the dealer only takes 1:1. Just trust the people who ran the simulations -- a positive count is better for the player.
I can't tell you how many times players allude to counting, then say, "Just kidding -- don't kick me out. I'm not smart enough to really count cards." First, I'm not standing at the metal detector in an airport. I'm not going to take your stupid joke seriously and have you arrested. Second, counting is not difficult. I have to stop myself from keeping a count when dealing games like Three Card Poker. It doesn't take a smart person to count cards; it takes a little practice.
I want to give you stupid "card counters" a pen and paper. Unless you've done a bit of research, you wouldn't know what to do with a strong count. Besides, dealers are instructed to cut two decks off an eight deck shoe, so you're unlikely to do yourself any good anyway.
Now That We're on the Topic of Counting
If you're still tempted to roll your eyes like a know-it-all when another player stands on his 12 vs. the dealer's two, let me give you one more reason to shut up... The "book" that you preach about assumes a true count of zero. If the true count is even a fraction of a point higher than zero, players are supposed to stand on 12 vs. a dealer's two AND a 16 vs. a dealer's ten. It also doesn't take a particularly positive count for a player to hit a 12 vs. a dealer's four. Read up on it a little. You'll be shocked at how often taking insurance is mathematically correct.
Don't be Annoying on Other Casino Games Either
If it offers a progressive jackpot, your odds are miserable. The $500,000 jackpot requires a lot of suckers lose money before some sucker wins. I hate dealing Caribbean Stud and Let It Ride because only the whiniest of you morons play. Save your paycheck and don't sit at that table.
If you're determined to ignore my advice and be that one in a million, at least listen to this... Never complain that the guy who sat in the seat to your right just "took your cards." When he's dealt that straight flush six hands later, it was not supposed to be yours. Every new variable changes the outcome. Go rent Run Lola Run and see what difference a second makes. As soon as that player sat down, the dealer riffled the cards differently than he would have a split second earlier. Not to mention the cards have been going into the muck in a new order.
Poker is no different, no matter how good are you on keeping track the cards and calculating all the possibilities you still lose your ass most of the time right? If you think you are the genious poker player then show your skills over the internet and make bank. Europeans won't be making millions of dollars from american rookies anymore, J.W. Bush passed the law prohibiting all the online gaming for stupid americans! well, if you are outside the USA though, don't get ripped off by playing some shady sites, visit pokerlistings.com to read reputation of these sites before blow all your money.
Your buddy is not "bad luck." It isn't "all about the cut." Casinos don't change the cards or dealer when you cheap ass minimum bet players go on a "run." And lastly (I've tried to refrain from cursing in this article, but I feel a bad word slipping out.), shut the fuck up about karma!
If you need an explanation for any of the above statements, please reread this booklet. You missed the part about statistics.