Jan

17

2018

# Blackjack is the Game of Changing Odds

One thing I like to stress to players trying to learn the games is that the odds are unchanging.

No matter how long it’s been since a 7 was last rolled in craps, the odds are 1 in 6 on the next roll, and no matter how long it’s been since the ball landed on 00 in roulette, the odds are 1 in 38 on the next spin.

The exception is blackjack. There the odds change on every hand as cards are dealt and removed from play until the next shuffle.

Not long ago, I received an email from a reader on that subject. “Why does tracking cards work in blackjack but tracking doesn’t work in other games?” he wrote. “If it matters what happens in blackjack, why wouldn’t it give you an edge to know how many rolls since the last 7 in craps?”

The answer is that counting cards in blackjack works because the odds are constantly changing, unless the game uses a continuous shuffler.

Removing high cards from play decreases the percentage of high cards in the remaining deck, and that decreases the likelihood that you’ll get blackjack or will draw a 10 on your double downs. Removing low cards while the 10s stay in the deck increases the likelihood of blackjack and of getting a 10 on your doubles.

In craps, if it’s been a long time between 7s, no one is changing the number of spots on the dice to make 7s more likely. Neither is anyone blocking off roulette numbers that have come up recently to shift the odds toward other numbers.

In card games such as Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud and Caribbean Stud, there are no discards. The games are dealt from a freshly shuffled deck on every hand, so the odds are the same for every hand.

Baccarat does have odds that change as cards are dealt, but effect is too small to get an edge in any practical way. There, blackjack stands alone as a game where it’s possible to take advantage of changing odds.