What are the Odds of Losing 6 Hands in a Row?

Among emails I receive, a fairly common question is something like this:

Can you tell me the odds of losing six hands in a row at blackjack?

Sometimes it is 5 hands, sometimes 8, sometimes more.  No matter, I cringe whenever I get this question.

To me, it’s like an airship designer asking a chemist: “Does hydrogen weigh only half as much as helium?”   We all know how THAT turned out.

Read the rest of this entry →

Why Does The Number of Decks Matter in Blackjack?

Fewer Decks are Better. Do You Know Why?

When it comes to the number of decks in a blackjack game, the fewer the better. Most players have heard this fact somewhere along the line, but many of them don’t know why fewer is better.

I often get this question by email, where players will note that the proportion of each rank of card is the same whether the casino uses a single deck or shuffles six decks together. Regardless of how many decks are in play, we start out with one thirteenth of the cards being Aces…

Read the rest of this entry →

The State of Blackjack – Opportunity Amidst the Apocalypse?

A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens may as well have been describing recent developments in casino blackjack…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Rules and conditions at casino blackjack tables have been steadily declining for years, and there are a lot of really bad games out there.

6:5 Has Spread Far and Wide

I just tallied up the games offered in Las Vegas, based on the latest issue of Current Blackjack News. A depressing 40% of the regular blackjack tables in Las Vegas now pay only 6:5 for blackjack.

Read the rest of this entry →

Ken Smith on Gambling With an Edge Podcast

Gambling with an Edge

Earlier this year, I was the guest on the Gambling With an Edge radio show in Las Vegas. I mentioned it in the BlackjackInfo email newsletter, but I just realized that it never got posted here on the blog.

The show includes a couple of stories that I think BlackjackInfo visitors will find interesting. I describe one play where I won over $100,000 on a single hand of cards, and another play at a 2:1 blackjack promotion that yielded a big profit along with an uncomfortable situation.

You can listen to the show, and see more details at Gambling With an Edge.

Learning Card Counting Indexes? Don’t Make This Mistake

Index Numbers

Once you have basic strategy committed to memory, and you have learned to count cards and vary your bet, the next step in fine-tuning your game is to add strategy variations using index numbers.

When I first began to learn about strategy variations, I found them confusing.  Based on the number of emails I get on the topic, I know that I am not the only one.

I was especially confused about the way indexes are presented.  I thought I could see a better way.  But eventually I switched to the standard method, and it definitely has its benefits.

Read the rest of this entry →

Blackjack Player Sues After Losing $500,000 While Drunk

Martini

For players, free drinks are an important part of the casino experience. For casinos, serving free cocktails generates a nice return on investment.

This week, a 52 year old California man filed suit against the Downtown Grand Casino in Las Vegas, alleging that the casino continued serving him drinks and extending gambling credit to him after he was obviously intoxicated. He went on to sign markers for $500,000 and lost it all, not realizing how much he had lost until he awoke the following day.

Read the rest of this entry →

Double Down on a 6:5 Blackjack? Read This First…

Bad Choice

The plague of 6:5 blackjack has been well documented here. (See 6 to 5 Blackjack? Just say No! and The Casino Floor as a Minefield.)

If you have any other game choices available, you should not be playing a game that pays only 6:5 on blackjack.

Yet some players do play these games. Don’t worry, I’m not going to chastise you if you sometimes play these games. But I do want to make sure that you are not making a bad game even worse…

Read the rest of this entry →

16vT: RS WTF?!

Equations

Forgive the cryptic title. I couldn’t resist.  So, what does it mean?  16vT is shorthand for the player hand of sixteen against a dealer upcard of Ten.   “RS” is a strategy abbreviation.  “R” means SuRRender, and “S” means Stand.  So, “RS” means Surrender if you can, otherwise Stand.

And of course, WTF is an abbreviation of the message I often get via email when someone thinks they have found a mistake in the strategy provided by my Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine.

Read the rest of this entry →

Why Splitting Tens is a Bad Move

Pair of 10s

Among my recent emails from players, I have several on the topic of splitting tens.  One player mentioned that he seems to win more often than not when splitting tens against a dealer 5 or 6, so he was wondering if the play could be justified. Actually, his basic assertion is correct. You will win more often than not when splitting tens in those situations. But, winning more than 50% of the time is only part of the story.

Read the rest of this entry →