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Best of John Grochowski

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Even money — NOT

24 December 2015

I don’t do a lot of backtracking and explaining past columns. For the most part, they can stand on their own, and when readers e-mail me to say they didn’t understand a point, I try explanations via e-mail rather than readdressing the topic for all.

It seems I had one column a few months ago that was so widely misunderstood that I figured I’d best circle back around. During the summer, I wrote a column about being pressed by a player and a blackjack dealer over my refusal to take even money on blackjacks, which they saw as the only sure winner in the casino.

I didn’t want to go into odds and math there at the table and call attention to myself as someone who knows the odds and the math. So I just used the line, “I’m here to gamble” as a way to get them off my back. It worked. They accepted that and stopped pestering me about even money.

Immediately afterward, I received a few e-mails asking if I was encouraging risk taking against the odds. I answered the e-mails, and things died down for a few months. Then in November, the column was linked on Twitter, and I got a deluge of e-mail, as well as a Tweet from an online casino saying I sounded like their kind of player.

Response has been great enough that this time, I should revisit the issue. If that many people misunderstood my point, it means I wasn’t clear enough in making it.

In no way do I mean to recommend take on extra risk because they’re there to gamble. As always, I recommend making the plays that cut the house edge as far as possible, thereby minimizing risk.

“I’m here to gamble” is not the actual reason I stand on my blackjacks instead of taking even money when the dealer shows an ace. “I’m here to gamble” is just a phrase I thought the other player and dealer would accept as a reason for not taking their incorrect advice.

But the real reason I stand on blackjacks instead of taking even money is because it’s the best play. If you stand on the blackjack, you’ll win more money.

When the dealer has an ace up, there’s roughly a 4 in 13 chance he’ll have a 10 value down to complete a blackjack. Precise numbers depend on cards that already have been played and the number of decks, but 4 in 13 will do as a starting point.

If you’re betting $10 a hand and play long enough to get 13 blackjacks, then you’ll have $130 on the table for those hands. If you take even money, you’ll win $10 on each for a total of $130. If you stand, then you’ll push on the four hands when the dealer gets blackjack. But with 3-2 payoffs, your nine winning blackjacks will bring $15 each, or $135 – $5 more than if you take even money.

You don’t win every hand when you stand, but you win more money. Unless you’re a card counter who knows more than a third of the remaining cards are 10 values, then the play that’s better at reducing the house edge is to stand on your blackjack.

That’s the real reason I shrugged off the player/dealer advice to take even money. “I’m here to gamble” was a handy phrase to get them to back off. It worked, and I’d use it again. But my real reason was math, not any reckless tendency.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
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. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

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. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski