I’m a bar-kind of a guy. When I’m not playing, you’ll find me nursing a glass, watching the world go by. Time was, I used to prop, but the knees are getting a little tired (along with the rest of the body), so now you’re more likely to find me on one of those high stools at the end of the bar. You get the best view of the room from there.
Not that I’m watching out for anyone — never borrowed any money from a loan shark and had to hide from the enforcers — I just find people endlessly fascinating. Of course, I’m really studying them, seeing how they act when they’re happy or sad, excited or calm. Watching lovers lie to each other about why they missed their last date together will teach you a lot about how much people give themselves away. It’s helped me a lot over the poker tables when you’re trying to work out the “tells”, those little signs of a bluff or a good hand.
So, yeah, I gamble a little, when I’m not at the bar.
Some of the most interesting people you meet are the ones who say they’re gamblers, suggesting they’re more professional than not, more knowledgeable than not, and certainly nothing less than than the biggest expert in the room. They’re the ones who talk the most. Offering tips on how to play, giving you the real inside information on how to be a winner.
These guys — they’re so transparent! They’re actually trying out their ideas on you, hoping to use you, get a little free education. They hope you’ll steer them in the right direction when they stray off course. Me? I’m from the old school.
Those as can, do; those as can’t, teach.
Guess I’m a doer. Never been much of a talker about anything.
So what do these apprentices in search of a master say that gives them away? They’re dismissive about blackjack, for one thing. They say things like, “Blackjack’s just a guessing game.”
They’ve not got a lick of sense, lumping all casino games together as guessing games.
With any blackjack hand, there’s a right way and a wrong way to play it. You’d better duck down ’cause I’m going to use some words from the big book now. For every hand, there’s a mathematically optimal blackjack strategy. I like these big words when they mean you’re gonna win more and lose less, not just some of the time, but on all hands averaged over time.
So the other week, this young guy comes over to me at the bar. He gives me his card. He says I’m kind of a legend in casino bars like this. Hard drinker, hard player. He was flattering me — it’s the standard ploy to draw you out — but I listened, we negotiated and here I am. Still not talking, but writing a little to share some of what I know.
He wants blackjack, so I’m gonna give him and all you folks, an insight into Basic Strategy. Notice the capital letters. We insiders call the optimal strategy “Basic Strategy”. It’s going to get quite tough fairly quickly but these clever folks who design web pages have a comment space below. If I’m not making sense, it means I need another drink. Promise me a drink the next time you see me and I’ll answer your questions.