Bootcamp for Blackjack

Tony

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Mar 30, 2017
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I wanna be a blackjack player
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Okay, troops, so you think you got what it takes to be a player? I don't mean no sniveling, bed wetting, mama's boy of a GAMBLER! What I'm talking about is a tough as nails, never say die, lean, mean, card playing machine. Well, you better get one thing straight, recruit. If you're going to make the grade and get your stripes you're going to have to live, eat, drink, and breathe this game. You're going to have to make this the single most important thing in your life. Because when the artillery is pounding and the bullets are flying, there's only one thing that's going to stand between you and defeat. And that one thing is D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E. What did I say? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!

WEEK 1: Calisthnics

The first thing you're going to do is get rid of some baggage and work off that baby fat. What I'm talking about is learning I mean m-e-m-o-r-i-z-i-n-g your basic strategy. The picture perfect basic strategy. Not any of that panty waist half-assed scribbled on a napkin weany strategy that you have been getting by with for the past ten years. I'm talking about how the right play time in and time out, just as God and Dr. Julinan Braun meant by basic strategy. Or, rather I should say basic strategies, for all you gamblers who fancy playing both pitch and shoe games.

Why is it important to memorize perfect basic strategy, you ask? Well, I'll tell you why. Basic strategy is the only thing on God's green Earth that can have a direct effect on the mathematics of the game. Players who have mastered perfect basic strategy can effectively reduce the house edge to as close to an even bet as one can find an a casino. Gamblers who use imperfect basic or no basic strategy at all are looking at anywhere up to a 9.9% disadvantage over the house. If you troops take nothing else with you from bootcamp, I want you to tattoo this fact onto your brain: No-one has ever defeated an enemy by purposely tilting the odds in their favor.

Below you will find the proper basic strategy for both pitch and shoe.

PITCH (Single and Double Deck)

HARD TOTALS
  • PLAYER HAS 8......DOUBLE VS 5 & 6
  • PLAYER HAS 9......DOUBLE VS 2-6
  • PLAYER HAS 10.....DOUBLE VS 2-9, HIT VS 10, A
  • PLAYER HAS 11.....DOUBLE ALL
  • PLAYER HAS 12.....STAND 4-6
  • PLAYER HAS 13-16..STAND 2-6
  • PLAYER HAS 17-20..STAND ALWAYS

SOFT TOTALS
  • PLAYER HAS A2, A3....DOUBLE VS 4-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A4, A5....DOUBLE VS 4-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A6........DOUBLE VS 2-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A7........DOUBLE VS 2-6, HIT 9-A
  • PLAYER HAS A8........DOUBLE VS 6, ELSE STAND
  • PLAYER HAS A9........STAND ALWAYS

SPLIT PAIRS
  • PLAYER HAS A,A OR 8,8...ALWAYS SPLIT
  • PLAYER HAS 10,10........NEVER SPLIT
  • PLAYER HAS 5,5..........NEVER SPLIT, DOUBLE VS 2-9, HIT 10,A
  • PLAYER HAS 4,4..........NEVER SPLIT, DOUBLE VS 5 & 6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS 2,2..........SPLIT VS 3-7
  • PLAYER HAS 3,3..........SPLIT VS 4-7
  • PLAYER HAS 6,6..........SPLIT VS 2-6
  • PLAYER HAS 7,7..........SPLIT VS 2-7
  • PLAYER HAS 9,9..........SPLIT VS 2-6 & 8,9; STAND VS 7

SHOE (4-8 DECKS)

HARD TOTALS
  • PLAYER HAS 8......ALWAYS HIT
  • PLAYER HAS 9......DOUBLE VS 3-6
  • PLAYER HAS 10.....DOUBLE VS 2-9
  • PLAYER HAS 11.....DOUBLE 2-10, HIT VS ACE
  • PLAYER HAS 12.....STAND 4-6
  • PLAYER HAS 13-16..STAND 2-6
  • PLAYER HAS 17-20..STAND ALWAYS

SOFT TOTALS
  • PLAYER HAS A2, A3....DOUBLE VS 5-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A4, A5....DOUBLE VS 4-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A6........DOUBLE VS 3-6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS A7........DOUBLE VS 3-6, HIT 9-A
  • PLAYER HAS A8........STAND ALWAYS
  • PLAYER HAS A9........STAND ALWAYS

SPLIT PAIRS
  • PLAYER HAS A,A OR 8,8.........ALWAYS SPLIT
  • PLAYER HAS 10,10..............NEVER SPLIT
  • PLAYER HAS 5,5................NEVER SPLIT, DOUBLE VS 2-9
  • PLAYER HAS 4,4................SPLIT VS 5 & 6, ELSE HIT
  • PLAYER HAS 2,2 OR 3,3 OR 7,7..SPLIT VS 2-7
  • PLAYER HAS 6,6..........SPLIT VS 2-6
  • PLAYER HAS 9,9..........SPLIT VS 2-6 & 8,9; STAND VS 7
Now that you know perfect basic strategy, how are you going to memorize it? Simply by taking a stack of three by fives and writing the question on one side, (Example) TEN and the answer on the other. (Example) DOUBLE 2-9. Make one flashcard for each line in the basic strategy and then run them down one after the other until you can answer them all correctly in less than 20 seconds. Then shuffle them up and run them again. Once you commit basic strategy to memory you won't have to waste time and energy when the heat is on, trying to remember just when it was that you were supposed to split those sevens. It shouldn't take you more than a a few hours of practice to get the strategy down cold.

WEEK 2: Reconnaissance

The mark of a Player as opposed to that of a Gambler is that a Player will look before he or she leaps, whereas a Gambler will jump at the first chair that opens up at a table. (And just why do you suppose that is?) Reconaissance is vital to your success or failure at the tables. Instead of jumping into the first available seat, players will take the time to gauge several factors which are key to their continued fiscal health.

THE RULES

All Blackjack games are not created equally. Before you lay one red nickel on a table, you had better be cognizant of the rules of the game. Small rule changes can have large effects on your wallet. Below you will find the effects of various alterations in the rules of play.

VARIATIONS THAT ARE IN THE PLAYER'S ADVANTAGE

  • Doubling Permitted after Splitting +0.14
  • Late Surrender +0.07
  • Six-Card Bonus +0.17

VARIATIONS THAT ARE IN THE HOUSE'S ADVANTAGE

  • Dealer Takes Pushes -9.00
  • No Soft Doubling -0.13
  • No Splitting of Aces -0.16
  • No Resplitting of Pairs -0.03
  • Doubling Only Allowed on Elevem -0.64
  • Dealer Hits Soft 17 -0.20
  • No Hole Card -0.11

THE DISPOSITION OF THE TABLE

One of the easiest ways to judge how a table is likely to treat you is to first look and see if the players are awash in chips and the dealer is awaiting a fill, or if the players seem to be continually digging for folding green. Just watching one half of one shoe before sitting down can be a real eye opener that is worth the five minutes it takes to determine whether a game is worth investing your hard-earned money in. If the dealer seems to be giving the players pat hands that pay off more often or not and/or busts out more than once or twice per shoe, this is probably a game which you want to join after the shuffle. If you're worried about someone stealing your spot, simply sit down and inform the dealer that you will wait until the shuffle. The only time I reccommend jumping directly into the fray is if the dealer is in a bustout mode where he or she busts three or more times in a row.

On the other hand, if all the dealer seems to do is draw twenty and twenty-one, you'd be advised to look for greener pastures elsewhere. This is the very reason why a Player will never jump into the first seat that opens up on a table. As they say in the Used Car Biz, "Those that don't look, sometimes get took!"

WEEK 3: The Obstacle Course

Obstacle #1: Table Limits and Bankroll Requirements

If you only have $100 in your pockets, you had best avoid the quarter ($25) tables. Bankroll requirements should be set such that you never enter a game with less than 20 units. This means that if all you have in your pocket is a hun, you should look for a $5 or better yet a $3 table. If things start humming right along you will be able to parlay your bet to $10, $15, or even $25 bets. However, should the going get tough, at a $3 or $5 table the tough won't neccesarily need to get going. Also, should the pitboss come up to your table with a big smile on his face and announce that the table will be going to $10 in a half an hour, you had better start your stopwatch and get the hell out of Dodge before 30 minutes have elapsed, or you might find out the hard way about the direct correlation between Newtonian physics and your bankroll.
(ie: What goes up, Must come down.)

Obstacle #2: The Insurance Wager

There is yet one more wager common to Blackjack that we have yet to discuss: The Insurance Bet. Each and every time the dealer has an ace up, the house will allow you to wager on whether the hole card is a ten. The highest paying of all wagers on the table (2 to 1), is the least understood of all Blackjack wagers.

The very term "INSURANCE" conjures vision of protection, though of what, I know not. The house wants you to believe that this side bet is tied to your original wager. It isn't. Whether the cards you possess total twenty or a stone cold sixteen, the insurance bet has absolutely nothing to do with protecting it. The sooner you recognize this fact, the sooner you can turn the Guess-the-ten-in-the-hole Game to your advantage.

Even worse are those players who insist on "taking even money" when they have Blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace. What they don't realize is how much money they are in fact throwing away. The greatest advantage of having Blackjack is that you get paid 3 to 2. When one one realizes that the odds of the dealer having a ten in the hole is 9 to 4 against, suddenly it isn't so "even" afetr all.

In 104 uninsured tries with a $10 bet, you would win 72x$15 for a grand total of $1,080.00. By insuring your $10 bet, you will be correct only 32 times in 104 tries, grossing $320 on insurance (you can only take insurance up to half your bet). Add to that $720 in "even money" payoffs that occur when the dealer doesn't have a ten in the hole and you will wind up grossing $1040.00. Your "even money" bet just cost you $40. And that's at a dime table.

The bottom line is that no matter whether the cards you possess are a natural or stone cold stiff, you, as a basic strategy player, should never, ever take insurance.

WEEK 4: Graduation

So you finally managed to make it through bootcamp, Player. Think you're tough? Well, think again. Because all that four weeks of sweat and muscle aches and memorizing until you're blue in the face has done is give you the ability to play ALMOST even with the house. Tough? Don't make me laugh.

Now DROP and GIVE me Twenty!
 
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