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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Taking Advantage of Key Blackjack Playing Situations

24 May 2006

Those who play blackjack according to the principles of basic strategy maximize their potential to have a profitable session because they drastically reduce the house edge.

The more incorrect decisions you make and the more favorable situations you fail to capitalize on during the course of play, the more you are contributing to the edge that casinos wield over players.

Knowing when and how to capitalize on key situations while playing six and eight-deck games can make the difference between winning and losing. Here are some of the areas to concentrate on:

DOUBLING DOWN ON SOFT HANDS - When the dealer shows a weak up-card (4, 5 or 6) while you're holding a soft hand (an ace plus any card 2 through 7), you are in prime double down territory. Here's what to do: Double down on A-2 and A-3 against a 5 or 6. Double down on A-4 and A-5 against 4, 5 or 6. Double down on A-6 and A-7 against 3 through 6.

HITTING SOFT 18 - Soft 18 (A-7) takes some players off guard. It's a good hand, but won't beat a 19 or higher. Since you can't bust by taking a card, always hit it against a 9, 10 or A. Stand against a 2, 7 or 8.

SPLITTING AND RE-SPLITTING – Being dealt a pair doesn't always merit a splitting opportunity, except for aces and eights, which you always split mainly as a defensive maneuver. Never split fives and tens. Split twos, threes and sevens against the dealer's 2 through 7. Split fours only against a 5 or 6. Split sixes against 2 through 6. Split nines against 2 through 6 and also 8 and 9 but never against a 7. If you are dealt another card of the same value, always re-split.

CAPITALIZE ON A HOT STREAK - Consistently betting the minimum at a $5 table restricts your potential to turn a profit. You're just making yourself more vulnerable to the "grind" if you play long enough. Progressively increasing your wager during a winning streak can make the difference between breaking even and winning. It becomes particularly effective in double down and splitting situations, and when you are dealt a blackjack. When the streak is over, drop back to the minimum.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE TABLE - If you concentrate only on your cards, you're failing to seize maximum opportunity toward improving your play. Observing how many tens and aces have been dealt, for example, can assist you in your end game when there are only a few deals left in the shoe.

EVEN MONEY ON BLACKJACK – Being paid 3 to 2 on blackjack is one of the biggest advantages players have. Unless you count cards, never settle for even money on a blackjack when the dealer is showing an ace. You're simply giving up too much in return for a guaranteed, albeit smaller, profit.

INSURANCE – Again, unless you're keeping track of the cards, taking insurance on a strong hand against a dealer's possible blackjack (ace up) is going to eat away at your profit potential.

CASINO NEWS & NOTES:

The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin celebrated a "Craps for Cash" $1 million milestone on April 17 when the cash bonus of $4,000 was awarded for the 250th time since the popular promotion was launched in August of 2003. The bonus is paid any time a player shooting the dice at a craps table makes all six points (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10) on the same roll. All that's required to be eligible for the bonus is for the player to make a minimum bet on the pass line.

Good fiction with a gambling related theme is a rarity. A most refreshing exception is the new release from novelist Richard Armstrong titled God Doesn't Shoot Craps, published by Sourcebooks Landmark. It's a thought-provoking and riveting journey into the casino world as seen through the eyes of a con man whose dealings with characters straight out of the Godfather and the Sopranos prove quite entertaining. Check it out at www.goddoesntshootcraps.com.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp