Close Call Blackjack Hands

 Close Call Blackjack Hands

While playing blackjack one morning, I ran into one of those situations we all see from time to time. One player was making unconventional plays. And it was driving another player nuts.

Sometimes Mr. Unconventional would stand on 12 against a dealer’s 4, as the basic strategy chart says to do, and sometimes he’d hit. Sometimes he’d hit 16 against a 10, and sometimes he’d stand.“What would make you do something like that?” the basic strategist demanded after the other fellow drew a 10 and busted his 12 against the dealer’s 4. “That should have been the dealer’s 10.”

The dealer, who had a 10 down, drew another 10 to bust anyway, but the angry player was convinced it was a bad play. I wasn’t so sure. It’s possible we were seeing an advanced player reaching beyond the basics.

The basic strategy chart calls for you to hit on a hard 12 when the dealer is most likely to make a 17 or better. It makes no distinction between standing on 12 vs. 6 and standing on 12 vs. 4. But the dealer busts 4 percent less often with a 4 than with a 6, and that makes a difference in the way advanced players approach the hand. It’s close enough that if there is one more 10-value card than cards of 6 or lower on the table for one hand, the balance shifts toward standing on 12 vs. 4.

A non-card counter makes only tiny gain with that unconventional play, but it’s not a bad play. It’s a good one.

I doubt that any of that would have calmed the angry basic strategy player at my table. But it’s just possible the other guy had the right stuff.

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