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Why blackjack players learn basic strategy12 April 2011
For every player who gets serious about blackjack, there comes a big question: How do they give themselves a better chance to win?
That starts with learning basic strategy and knowing when to hit, stand, double down or split pairs. But how does someone who doesn't even know basic strategy exists make that step?
I asked blackjack players what pushed them toward improving their games.
Roy: One of the nicest things a dealer ever did for me was point me to another customer. My friend Paul and I were playing blackjack, and just getting beat up. It was a $5 table, and I guess I was averaging about $15 a hand, Paul a little more. And we were both blowing our budgets. Every time I had a 20, Tom, the dealer, would have 21. That's when I wasn't busting, and that was really often. Same thing for Paul.
How do I remember the dealer's name? Oh, that's easy. It was because of a little table talk when another player showed up. He was betting $25 a hand, and he was WINNING. He must have played for about an hour, and won a few hundred dollars. I asked Paul if we should be jealous, and Paul said, "No, anyone who can beat Tom here is all right with me."
Then Tom threw in his two cents. "He's just a good player. You should watch him. He knows how to play this game."
I guess he was playing some hands different than I was, but I couldn't really spot the patterns. I guess I didn't know enough about the game. When he left the table, Tom said, "I'm not really supposed to give a lot of advice, but you should ask him how he learned to play like that."
I don't usually do things like this, but I asked Tom to mark my spot, and I chased after the guy. It wasn't hard. He was just walking slowly toward the cage to cash in his chips. I told him the dealer suggested I ask him how he did it. He said I should learn basic strategy, that it doesn't guarantee that you win, but it gives you a much better chance than playing a guessing game.
So I asked him how you learn that strategy, and he said lots of blackjack books have it, and he mentioned Blackjack: Take the Money and Run by Henry Tamburin. I bought the book, practiced the strategy and started doing a lot better.
The dealer's noticing and caring and giving good advice ranks high on my list of the best customer service I've ever had.
Jason: It was almost by chance, really. I'd been playing blackjack and lost a little money. I'd catch the occasional look from a dealer and comment from another player, and I knew there had to be something there that I was missing.
When I went to my room, there were a couple of free magazines on the dresser. One of them had an article on when to hit and when to stand on soft hands. It mentioned basic strategy, and I figured this was something I ought to look into.
I went to the casino gift shop. There weren't any books, but the girl at the cash register said they did have basic strategy cards. They had the strategy in a grid form, and it was all new to me, so I didn't figure it out right away. But at home, I dealt blackjack to myself, and compared hands to the card. It's been basic strategy all the way for me ever since.
John: The first time I'd ever been in a casino was on a trip to Las Vegas with my wife. We'd been married less than a year, and we did a lot of traveling that year. We went to Hawaii, and to the U.K., and a couple of short trips around home, and finally to Las Vegas.
We bought a travel guide and tried to be prepared, but I wasn't prepared for the blackjack table. I didn't even know how to buy chips to play with. When it came to playing the hands, I guess I was hopeless. I heard a woman standing behind the table say, "He shouldn't have done that, should he?" And her husband said, "Shhhh."
I left quickly and decided to stick to the slots and video pokers. We had a good time, and decided to come back sometime. When we booked another trip the next year, I got the travel guide back out, and found an article about blackjack. It had basic strategy, and I started practicing with a deck of cards. On that trip, I was a lot more confident. I don't think I won money overall, but I had some winning sessions. It was fun.
Hillary: I started going on bus trips to casinos near home, and decided to give blackjack a go. I had a little beginner's luck, and won some money. My kids laughed about the card shark, and on my birthday they gave me computer software for blackjack. I started to play around with it, and I picked up basic strategy. I'm pretty good now, but boy, did I get a lot of mistake warnings in the beginning!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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