Blackjack myth's more mental than mathematical

Dec 4, 2012 3:00 AM

One of the most confusing blackjack strategy plays is what to do when a player is dealt a 12 and the dealer has a 2 or 3 showing.

While a 2 or 3 can both be seen as a “bust card” this situation isn’t quite that simple. A bust card for the dealer is when they have a 2-6 showing. These cards give the dealer the greatest chance of busting with a hand greater than 21. The odds of a dealer busting with one of these cards showing is between 35%-42%. By contrast the odds of the dealer busting with a 7-Ace are as low as 11%.

When the dealer has a “bust card” players will typically stand on their cards if they total more than 10. Standing with this hand is usually done without question. However, blackjack players often question what the correct strategy is when they have a 12 against a dealer showing a 2 or a 3. One of the most common questions players will ask a dealer is “Should I hit my 2 against yours?” The answer is simple.

Always hit your 12 against a dealer with a 2 or 3 showing.

There are a lot of myths when playing blackjack that aren’t true. One is to assume the dealer always has a 10 hidden as their hole card. This isn’t close to being a valid assumption. Only 16 cards out of the 52 in a deck are 10 (4 suits with a 10, jack, queen and king) making it much more probable the hole card isn’t a 10. In fact, this works out to only about 30% of the cards in a deck being a 10.

Not all blackjack strategy is difficult but knowing what to do when a dealer is showing a 2 or 3 seems to be one of the things that stump many novice players. You can find this information on any blackjack strategy card, but it’s so simple you shouldn’t even need a card to direct you.

Another blackjack myth you shouldn’t worry about is that “bad players at the table will hurt your chances to win.” This myth is more mental than mathematical.

Mathematically, a player in front of you won’t affect the cards you’re dealt in the long term. In the short term your hand may be affected negatively by their poor play but over time their poor play will give you a winning card as often as it gives you a losing card.

It may be frustrating to play at a table with people who don’t know proper strategy but, by the numbers, it won’t have any effect on you. If you don’t like it, just head to another table.

One Step at V

There will be a celebrity charity poker tournament this Saturday at The Venetian for the One Step Closer Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization whose main goal is to impact the lives of those who suffer from cerebral palsy.

Celebrities and poker pros scheduled to appear include Donny Wahlberg, Jennifer Tilly, Mike Matusow and past WSOP winner Jamie Gold. See for more information.

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at Contact Marc at [email protected].

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