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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > The hand that should have been (part 2)

The hand that should have been (part 2)

10 February 2018

By Henry Tamburin

[This is part 2 of a two-part series from the book You’ve Got Heat – The Vegas Card Counting Adventures of LV Pro. The book chronicles the true story of a low roller named Barfarkel (pseudonym), who set a goal of increasing his playing bankroll from $2,000 to $10,000 by becoming an advantage blackjack player. Over the course of four years, Barfarkel made 26 trips to Las Vegas and on each trip he describes real people, real places, and real incidents with amazing attention to detail. You’ve Got Heat is a fascinating glimpse at the life of a card counter, and it shows how it’s possible for an average guy to take on the casinos at their game while enjoying free Las Vegas vacations. For more information on the book, go to www.youvegotheat.com.]

Well, I didn’t get the big win at Flamingo, but had a good session there nonetheless. I was alone at the table. The dealer was constantly turning up weak up cards, and I was able to forge ahead by $500 at my high point. Having lost back $200 of the winnings, the key moment arrived. The running count was +10, with 1.25 decks left to deal, and my true count was +8. I shoved out a max bet — two hands of $100. The dealer turned up a seven. On my first hand I had six, four and quickly pushed out another $100 for the double down. I got my 10 as expected. I picked up the second hand. A pat 20.

Now I was sitting pretty with two 20s and $300 on the layout. He revealed his hole card, which was an eight. I knew there were nothing but nines, 10s and aces left, so he must bust his 15.

I was already counting the money, so when he hit with the last six in creation for 21, I let out a loud, “Noooo!” that could be heard all the way to Arizona. A $600 turnaround on one freaking lucky draw! It must have been the last low card left in the deck. It turned out that I won only $100 at this session, but for one lousy six, it could have been $700. Damn, what a heartbreaker!

The Flamingo pit has always been unusually frugal with comps, and they made me wait 15 minutes for one, but even that hard-won Lindy’s comp those tight-asses finally gave me didn’t make up for The Hand That Should Have Been.

My last session of the trip was at my former hotel. I was alone at the $10 double-deck table, going from one hand to two. Having bought in for $200, I was up $100 or so when The Big Hand arrived. I had a running count of +12, with three-quarters of a deck dealt and a true count of almost +10. I pushed out two $100 bets and the dealer turned up a two. My first hand was a pair of deuces, so I split them, pushing out the last $100 in chips. On the first hit, I got another two and resplit, pulling another Benjamin out of my pocket.

On the first two, I got ace, two and 10 and had to stand with 15. On the second deuce, the same cards appeared in the exact same order, and I had another 15. On the third deuce, I got an eight and reached into my pocket for another $100 for the double down. I got a seven for 17. Picking up the second hand, a hard 17, I stood. Now I was worried. I had $500 on the layout against a dealer’s two and all I had was a pair of 17s and two stiffs. Where the hell were the 10s?

I wish I could tell you the dealer had a 10 in the hole and busted, but I can’t. She did have the 10 but drew a seven for 19 and wiped me out. Once again I let out a sustained “Noooo!” and staggered away from the table.

A $1,000 turnaround on one freaking round! That was the most cash I’d ever bet on one round in this game in my life. I wasn’t that sick about losing the hand though. Actually, I was kinda proud of myself. I bet and played the hand the way I was supposed to and, after my initial reaction, had accepted the results philosophically. After all, I had only lost $400 on the session and came away with an all-time high bet and a good story to tell.

I met with the team to break the bank. I had hoped the others had won enough to offset my $1,100 losses, but no such luck. Jack H was down $1,400, The Grifter was down $200 and Kevin, our only winner, was up $1,000. So the bank was down $1,700 and I had to kick in $500 to cover the percentage of loss of my 30% of the bank. After I threw in the $500, they handed me back my $1,100.

So my personal results were plus $50 for the first two-man team and minus $500 for the second team for a net result of minus $450 for the trip.

I was only 18 units down after 21 sessions totaling 25 hours of play over five days. According to Auston’s Blackjack Risk Manager 2000, this result or worse will happen 31% of the time. My standard deviation was less than half of one SD to the left.

What was amazing to me was how dramatically the outcome of those two max bet hands affected my results. Had I won the $300 high count bet at Flamingo, our two-man team would have shown a tidy $600 profit instead of breaking even. I would have kept $300 for a $350 net profit. And had I won that last hand with the $500 bet, our four-man team would have been down only $700 instead of $1,700 — a big difference.

I would have had to throw in only $210 to cover my 30% share of the loss, thus coming out $140 ahead instead of $450 behind. At first I found it hard to accept that those two hands determined the difference between winning and losing, but those are the breaks. I’m just glad it wasn’t too bad of a loss.

After all, it’s not like someone was twisting my arm, forcing me to play blackjack. It’s what I really want to do and I have to accept the statistical swings that occur, as we all do. That seems to be true in blackjack as well as in life.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Henry Tamburin
For a FREE three-month subscription to Henry Tamburin's Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, which includes full membership privileges, sign up at www.bjinsider.com/free. For a free copy of Tamburin's Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or go to www.smartgaming.com. For information on the Golden Touch Blackjack course taught by Tamburin call 1-866-WINBJ-21 or visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com.

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