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Hitting that 12 against a dealer's 2 or 3

17 December 2015

On a crisp November morning, I stopped into a casino near my home, found an empty seat at a $10 blackjack table and did my level best not to get drawn into the argument that was raging.

A two-against-one discussion was going on with two players joining forces against the man sitting at third base. The points of contention were:

  • Should you hit hard 12 when the dealer's face-up card is a 2 or 3?

  • Should the third baseman be willing to stand rather than hit for the sake of the team?

  • Is there a team at all?

The third baseman was a cool customer. Apparently he’d had a couple of hard 12s before I arrived at the table, and shortly after I arrived he was dealt hard 12 against a 3. That started his tormentors.

“You’re not going to hit that AGAIN, are you?” said a 40-something fellow wearing Green Bay Packers sweatshirt?”

The third baseman shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s what I do.”

Another man, in his late 20s or early 30s, grumbled, “And you’ll probably take the dealer’s bust card."

At third base, the player drew an 8 for a 20. I also had 20, and the two complainers had 18 and 17.

The dealer had a 6 down for a two-card 9, then drew a 6, a 10 and busted. The whole table won.

The younger man said, “Well, that wasn’t so bad, but it could have been. When you’re sitting at third, you have got to give the dealer a chance to bust.”

I kept my mouth shut through the entire exchange. I learned long ago not to jump into other people’s arguments, but the other players seemed to think it should be a tablewide discussion.

“You’re awfully quiet over there,” the man in the Packers shirt said. “Don’t you think he has to stand on that?”

I’m more than happy to discuss strategy away from the tables, but sitting there in front of a dealer and pit supervisor I didn’t want to chime in, “Hitting 12 against 2 or 3 is the correct basic strategy play.” So I just said, “I think he has a right to play his own cards.”

That wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear. He muttered, “Another one,” and the younger man said, “Even when he’s at third base? That’s a team position. You have to admit that.”

I said, “No, sorry, I think he should do what’s best for his own hand.”

The dealer seemed amused by it all. He nodded, smiled and dealt an uneventful hand. There was no controversy over what the third baseman should or shouldn’t do. But the two players didn’t want to drop it, and turned on me.

“I take it you’re not a team player, either,” the Packers fan said.

“I don’t see us as a team,” I told him. “We’re not covering his losses or splitting wins.”

Left unsaid was that the play of another doesn’t affect us in any predictable way. Sometimes the third baseman taking a card will hurt other players, but just as often it will help. Nonetheless, the other two were sold on the team idea, the environment was uncomfortable and I cashed out and moved on.

Later on, I saw the third baseman in the coffee shop. I nodded to him, and he beckoned me over.
“If you could have held out 15 minutes, they were gone,” he said. “I hit one too many 12s.”

“It’s the right play,” I said.

“Of course,” he replied, “but you’ll never convince them.”

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski