Here are some questions that I received from blackjack players.
QUESTION: Should you hit a hard sixteen against the dealer's 7 thru Ace, if the 16 consists of three or more cards?
ANSWER: You should stand on a 16 consisting of three or more cards only against a dealer’s 10.
QUESTION: How often does a player receive blackjack? What percent of the hands in the game does the dealer bust? What is the name of the game where all the 10's are removed? What does it mean by “mimic the dealer?” Under what condition will card counting be effective?
ANSWER: A player can expect to receive a blackjack once in every 21.92 hands (six-deck game). The dealer will bust about 28% of the time. The name of the game where all the 10’s are removed is called Spanish 21. “Mimic the dealer” is a playing strategy used by some players in which they mimic the dealer’s strategy, namely, they hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 and more. Card counting is effective when the casino deals about 60% or more of the cards before reshuffling, and the casino will tolerate a reasonable betting spread. I recommend the book “Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge!” It has just about everything you need to know about all aspects of beating the casinos at blackjack.
QUESTION: Am I allowed to hit or double down on a blackjack hand if I consider it as 11 instead of 21?
ANSWER: Some casinos will allow you to hit or double down a blackjack and others will not. It’s best to ask before you play. However, I would not recommend to double down on a blackjack in a normal game (it’s best to take the 1.5 to 1 payoff). However, in the first blackjack tournament ever held in Atlantic City, I lost to a player who doubled down on his blackjack hand on the last hand to beat me (he won his double down). Doubling was the only way he could wind up with more chips than me (doubling his blackjack was a smart tournament play).
QUESTION: What do you mean when you say, soft 19, soft 13, etc? Could you please explain?
ANSWER: A soft hand in blackjack is any hand that contains an ace counted as an 11. For example, an ace-6 is a soft 17. So is ace-3-3. If you were dealt a 2-5 and drew an ace, you would have a soft 18 hand. The soft hand in blackjack is played much differently than a hard hand (a hard hand either doesn’t contain an ace, or if it contains one or more aces counted as 1). For example, a 10-7 is a hard hand and you should always stand, whereas an ace-6 is a soft hand and you should never stand.
QUESTION: Why is it wrong to double down on hard 12 if the dealer has a bust card (4, 5, or 6)? Granted you risk busting, but even if you're not counting, the odds of busting are less then 50% so doesn't this mean you'll win enough on your doubles to make up for the ones you bust on?
ANSWER: No, you will never make enough when you double down on 12 against 4, 5, or 6 to make it a better play then hitting. On average, if you stand on 12 against a 5 you will win 42% of the hands and lose 58%. If you hit, you only win 40% of the hands and lose 60% of them. If you doubled down you would never do better then winning 40% of the hands and the times you break you would lose double your bet. Trust me that you will never make enough on the winning double down hands to compensate for the amount you lose when you break. Standing on 12 against 4, 5, and 6 is the better play because you will lose less in the long run compared to hitting, and much less compared to doubling.
QUESTION: Would you ever double down on a soft 19 or should you always stand?
ANSWER: In a double- and six-deck game where the rules specify the dealer must hit soft 17, you should double down on a soft 19 against a dealer’s 6 up-card. (In a single-deck game, you should always double soft 19 against a 6).
QUESTION: Some casinos charge a hand fee on every hand you play. This fee is in addition to the bet you make (the casino keeps the fee). For, example, my local casino charges 50 cents per hand when you make a $10 bet. What’s the house edge on the game with this hand fee?
ANSWER: You can use this handy equation from wizardofodds.com to calculate the casino advantage. (x *b+f)/b where x=normal house edge; b=bet size; and f=fee charged. For example, if the normal house edge on the game is 0.4 and a 50 cents hand-fee, the house edge zooms to 5.4%. (.004)*$10+0.50)/$10 = .54/10 = 5.4% CA. Never play these games!
Got a question on blackjack? Send it to FSCOBE@OPTONLINE.NET and he’ll send it to Henry.
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