buffs rarely make grossly outrageous
decisions, like hitting hard 19 or standing on soft 14 regardless of the
dealer’s upcard. And some doubt, but few flout, edicts such as stand on 10-10
rather than split the pair against a dealer’s stiff. This, despite passing
fancies that doing so might actually be wise.
course, you can lose by playing strong hands perfectly, and win by starting
weakly and picking the worst available option. But, mainly, situations that
separate proficient players from duffers entail fine distinctions. It’s worth
knowing what the laws of probability proclaim as proper on the close calls, but
also rewarding to recognize the narrow leeway.
of eights against a 10-up are among the hands most hotly debated by solid
citizens who toe the line precisely, and those who can’t believe the gurus got
it right. You’re the underdog no matter what. Statistically, the least of the
evils is to split the pair, so this is Basic Strategy. On the average, splitting
is projected to lose $6.02 and $6.06 less per $100 bet than hitting with eight-
and six-deck shoes, respectively. It beats standing by $6.15 and $6.20 in the
corresponding games. Not much, when you realize you have to risk at least $100
more to split the pair.
aside, pairs of eights aren’t the most tenuous entries on the wallet-sized
charts. Consider a two-card 12 against a dealer’s 4-up. Neither standing nor
hitting is promising, as is sadly evident from the accompanying
“expectation” table. The data show theoretical losses ranging between
$20.249 and $21.539 per $100 bet. Almost everybody stands, and it’s a better
choice ”” albeit marginal at under $1 per $100 bet for any particular
situation. Better, except for one little irregularity.
all but one instance, standing is predicted to average less of a loss than
hitting and is therefore recommended. The exception, which you surely spotted,
is on 10-2 in a six-deck game where hitting beats standing by $0.076 per $100.
Most Basic Strategy charts don’t even point out this anomaly, chiefly because
it’s such a small amount and involves the composition of a hand rather than
just its total. But there it is, and hitting is “correct.”
can picture intuitively why 10-2 might be unique. Starting with 9-3 or 8-4, one
nine or one eight ”” ranks that could complete strong hands ”” are already
gone from the shoe; this cuts prospects of success. Beginning with 7-5, one
seven and one five, two ranks that could complete moderately good hands, are
unavailable; this also trims chances of triumph. The desirable fives through
nines are all still available when you have 10-2, and one 10 ”” which you
don’t want ”” is removed from the supply.
six- versus eight-deck difference is more obscure. Chances of finishing with
various totals, shown in accompanying probability table, suggest the effect.
You’re slightly more apt to end up with a 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21 and less under
17 or over 21 with six than eight decks. This, plus a minor shift in the
likelihoods of the dealer’s ending hand, account for the disparity.
next time you’re tempted to grumble at someone for “playing wrong and
ruining the table for everyone else,” remember: 1) Basic Strategy involves
expectations and not some mystical flow of the cards; 2) the difference between
right and wrong is often minuscule; 3) a decision you think is stupid may be
astute. Or, as Sumner A. Ingmark, said:
Accomplishment’s the best rebuttal, When dealing with distinctions
And lines ”˜tween what won’t work and what’ll.