Feb 11, 2009

Double Down. You're here to gamble, aren't you?

My daughter sent me an e-mail this morning. She is in the upper peninsula of Michigan for work. (That is if you can call testing brakes, abs and traction control in the snow and ice, work. It’s basically snow sledding and ice skating in a big expensive vehicle.) Anyway, she is staying at an Indian casino and won $55 from the complimentary chips she gets every day from the hotel. She is thinking about trying her luck at some blackjack when she goes back to the hotel tonight.

My daughter is no dummy. She knows that if you need advice you ask the expert, hence the email to me. I have cultivated my blackjack skills over the last 15 years or so. I first saw a blackjack table in Reno Nevada when my husband and I drove there from San Francisco for an overnight trip. I didn’t play any blackjack on that trip. It was too intimidating with me not knowing anything about the game. When I got home I bought a book and studied the rules of the game. The rest is history….well not really. I have had a few good nights at the table but overall I don’t bet big enough to win big. Of course that means I can’t do much damage either. It’s all about the fun of the game for me anyway. That’s why I tend to not walk away when I should. Oh, I read the money management chapter I just don’t adhere to the advice 100%.

Below is the short version blackjack advice I gave my daughter. I’m such a bad mother!

The important thing to remember is the game is about beating the dealer, it's not about getting close to 21. Everything depends on what the dealer has. There are more 10s in the deck than any other card so you pretend the dealer has a 10 underneath his up card. He has to hit if he has a 16 or lower. So if his up card is 2-6 chances are high he will bust with a 22 - 26 when he has to hit. If he has a 7 through ace he will have a 17 to 21 so you can't even compete with him until you get to at least 17. Therefore:

General Rule
Dealer's 2 - 6 = Stand on 12 or higher (some people hit a 12 against a 2 but this is your choice)
Dealer's 7 - ace = Hit until you get to 17 (Don't be a wuss and stand on 16.... take your cards. It doesn't always work out but this is a math game, not a hunch game)

Always splits Aces and 8s (Again because there are so many 10s your aces could turn into two 21's. You split 8's because 16 is a sucky hand)
Never split 4s, 5s, or 10s (4's just cuz they say so. Two fives equal ten so you have a good chance to draw a ten for a total of twenty. Two tens equal 20 - how will you improve that hand? Leave it alone)
If the dealer has (2-8) you can split cards up to what he is showing. For instance if he has a 8 you could split 2,3,6,7 if you wanted to.

Double down
After the first two cards you can put out another chip to double your bet. Don't be afraid to double - You are there to win money and doubling is how you do it.
Your Total is 9 = double if dealer has a bust card (2-6)
Your Total is 10 - double on dealer's 2 - 9
Yout Total is 11 - double against everything except a dealer's ace.

Now go out there and make your mother proud.


  1. Don't fotget to tell her about 'Insurance'..It's a sucker bet.

  2. Crap - I forgot that. Hopefully she will be so confused she won't do it anyway.