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Best of John Grochowski

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Splitting 4s in blackjack

29 March 2015

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 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.
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:

> 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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski