Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
John Grochowski Archives
More Strategy Experts

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Splitting 4's in Blackjack

29 March 2015

By John Grochowski
QUESTION: I have a question about splitting 4s in blackjack. When I learned basic strategy, I memorized that you always split the 4s if the dealer has 5 or a 6. That’s what I’ve done for years and years. Lately I’ve been seeing others hitting instead of splitting, even guys I know a little bit. I never noticed them not splitting before. Am I missing something?

ANSWER: Without knowing the specific rules where you play, it’s possible that your casino has toughened conditions. Specifically, we play a pair of 4s differently if players are allowed you to double down after splitting pairs than if we aren’t.

In multiple-deck games where doubling after splits is permitted, your best play for a pair of 4s is to split if the dealer shows a 5 or 6, just as you learned, and to hit against all other dealer upcards.

However, if the casino does not allow doubling after splits, it limits the profitability of starting two hands with 4 each against a dealer 6, and turns the play into a net loser against a dealer 5. Hitting 8 against a 5 or 6 is a play with a player edge, and it’s the play to make if you can’t double after the split.

Summary: Split 4-4 against 5 or 6 and hit against all other upcards if you can double after split, and just hit against all upcards if you can’t.

In a single-deck game, there’s another wrinkle. In one-deckers, the best play is to split against 4, 5 or 6 if you can double after splits. If after-split doubling is not allowed, then just hit 4-4 against 4, but double down against 5 or 6.

Single-deck games are rare, and I find most unplayable because of 6-5 payoffs on blackjacks. But if you should ever find a playable single-deck game, remember to adjust your 4-4 strategy.


QUESTION: When I play craps, I make a pass bet with odds, then make come bets on 6 and 8, or whichever one of them is not the point on pass. I’ve been poking around on the Internet, and see some people recommend that after the pass, I should make come bets instead. What’s the advantage?

ANSWER: You can back come bets with free odds, just like you can take the odds on a pass line bet. There is no house edge on the odds, and that lowers the edge on the pass-plus-odds and come-plus-odds combinations to less than 1 percent, compared with 1.52 percent on 6 or 8.

Let’s say you’re at a casino that permits 3x-4x-5x odds, a pretty common offering nowadays. That means if the point is 4 or 10, you can back a $10 pass or come bet with $30 in odds; if the point is 5 or 9, your odds bet is $40, and if it’s 6 or 8, the odds bet is $50. Since true odds are 2-1 on 4 or 10, 3-2 on 5 or 9 and 6-5 on 6 or 8, any winning $30 odds bet pays $60.

If you have a pass bet and two come bets, all backed with 3x-4x-5s odds, you have three numbers working, each with a house edge of 0.37 percent. If you have pass plus odds followed by place bets on 6 and 8, you have one number with a house edge of 0.37 percent and two with house edges of 1.52 percent.

Which direction you go is between you, your bankroll and your personal preferences, but the house edge is lower if you bet pass and come with odds than if you make the place bets.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

 

Penny Slots and Combination Betting

26 March 2015
QUESTION: My question has to do with the lack of single-line, 25-cent reel slot machines in many of the casinos I look to play at in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. They’re tough to find, the once popular Red White Blue; Wild Cherry; and Double Diamond slots ... while rows and rows of various penny slots sit idle. ... (read more)
 

Answering Video Poker Questions

19 March 2015
Carl is a video poker player who has written to me off and on for many years. I’ll sometimes go a year or two without hearing from him, but then a question will pop into my email box. In the latest, he wanted to some information about progressive games, where a percentage of each wager is added to the usual 4,000-coin jackpot on royal flushes. ... (read more)
 

Penny Slots and Roulette Nots

15 March 2015
QUESTION: I live in the Las Vegas area and frequent several locals casinos. I play mostly video poker, but I keep my eyes open as I walk through the casinos. It seems that lately the turnover of penny slot machines has increased, with more titles and themes being introduced more often. This has led me to ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

  • Featured Articles

Craps Systems

Craps players love systems, trying to mix and match bets in hopes of finding the magical formula that will beat the casino. Just about any system will work sometimes, and when a player wins with a system, it encourages another try, and another, and another. In the long run, of course, the casino comes out on top. ... (read more)
 

Multi Strike Poker

It was a Friday morning in Joliet, and I'd been playing a little video poker aboard Empress II, waiting for the 11 a.m. opening of Empress I and its video poker room. Soon, if it hasn't already happened by the time you read this, Empress' new barge will open, ending such little scheduling inconveniences, but on this day, I found myself passing time with a little quarter Triple Play Poker. ... (read more)
 

Comps - The Basics

A colleague of mine likes to refer to casino comps as "free stuff." And for those who know their basic strategy in blackjack, optimal strategies for certain video poker games and who know how comping systems work, the "stuff" really is free--the value ... (read more)
 

Basic Strategy for Spanish 21

In the last couple of weeks, we've looked at basic strategy in blackjack. Sit down at most blackjack tables in any jurisdiction, play basic strategy and you'll narrow the house edge to a half-percent or so, perhaps a little more or a little less depending on house rules. ... (read more)
 

Single-Deck Basic Strategy

Those whose casino memories stretch back far enough may recall a time when the standard "Las Vegas Strip" blackjack game was dealt from a single deck of cards, with the dealer standing on all 17s. That started to change in the 1960s as operators grew ... (read more)
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago, with podcasts at www.wlsam.com/sectional.asp?id=38069. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski