Basic Blackjack Strategy

21 April in Articles

Some of you must think I’m one of those patient types that suffers fools gladly. But what would you have me do? Drive them off? Get a rep so fearsome that only the bravest of the brave would ever come near me? Well that’s never been my style. The fact that more’n a few of them’ll stump up for a drink is payment enough for my time. And, anyway, it’s more than a passing fascination of mine to see just how deluded some folks can get.

So there’s me on my high stool at one of my regular casino bars, just nodding and grunting enough so’s they all keep talking. You have to give them just enough face so they don’t catch on you’re only humoring them in the hope of another free drink. And, sooner or later, they all come round to the Basic Strategy in blackjack.

These folks are all into urban myths and conspiracy theories. They just know when they’re true. It’s instinctive, just like their play at blackjack. They’ll not have it that a one-size-fits-all approach can work with a game like blackjack. “Blackjack,” they say as if the Red Sea’s about to part in front of them. “Blackjack is all guesswork.” And to prove their point, they’ll give you a hand from the last time they were playing online. With a crafty smile born of desperation, they give you stiff 14. Dealer’s upcard is a Jack. “So this here blackjack strategy, what’s it say?”

Well, right about this point when they interrupt the monologue with a question for me, I usually empty my glass. Just as a friendly hint, you understand. To push them, I adopt the look of a crazed loon out of my cage, and say, “Hit!” with the certainty of a man about to join the lemmings as they jump off a cliff. Come to think of it, I was born looking like a loon. That’s why folks who don’t know me so well underestimate me.

So as they buy me that second drink, they give me a look of pitying triumph. It seems the next card out of the shoe was an 8. “You busted youself,” they chortle. Do folks still chortle? I’m getting kinda old for this writing game and don’t rightly know if this word’s still used by anyone under the age of fifty. Anyway, whatever noise it is they make when they’re talking to a loon, the Dealer’s downcard’s a 6. And now the story can be told. The Dealer’s gotta hit and draws your 8. So all those wiseacres out there who stood on your 14 were winners.

Well, wup my ass with whatever you like so long as you buy me another drink to make me feel better about it afterward.

And they’s slapping me on the back ’cause I’m all choked up with happiness that the Basic Strategy’s led me astray. According to them, blindly following this so-called blackjack strategy forces you to lose the hand every time the next card busts you. Well, we can all see the logic in that. But why can’t they see that their logic is to guess every time. Sure, some of the time, their guesses’ll be good. But following their hunches the rest of the time is forcing them to lose just as surely as the Basic Strategy forces me to lose; ’cept that’s not what the Basic Strategy does at all.

These folks are what I call the cherry pickers. They’re only picking out the hands that’ll prove they’re in the right. Never mind all the millions of hands that’ve been dealt by the math-guys who nailed down the Basic Strategy years ago. They’ve gotta be right. Still, they can’t be all bad ’cause they’re clustering round me like flies, buying me drinks. But you gotta ask yourself, “Where’d they get the money to buy me those drinks?” They’re high enough in the feeding chain to be winning some money from someone else.

Now me, I don’t play blackjack for fun. Whether I’m in a casino or playing blackjack online, I’m playing the long game. Anyone with a lick of sense can pick the hands that lose no matter what system you play. That’s the way probability theory works. You accept the losses ’cause, over time, you’re playing the right game.

So right about this time, I’m fixing to move out of the bar to add to my winnings in the casino. I usually thank them for their inspirational words. Can’t think why I never saw it before so clearly. Perhaps I can pay some little grey men to come and abduct them when they’re next asleep.

But that’s all human nature. We all play the way we play. If the basic Strategy gives you the best chance of winning, I can’t see any reason not to play it. You’re giving yourself the best odds against the House. Why would anyone turn that down in favor of blind luck unless they really do believe in little grey men?

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21 April Articles

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