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WINNING AT BLACKJACK:

HOW VULNERABLE ARE BLACKJACK

DEALERS WITH FIVE OR SIX UPCARDS?

by Alan Krigman

 

Alan Krigman, and his poetic sidekick Sumner A. Ingmark, has been illuminating the dark recesses of casino gambling for more than a dozen years. Mr. Krigman is especially well known for sharing his insights into the mathematics underlying the various games (including blackjack), the influence of volatility and skewness as well as edge on bankroll during the course of a session, and the impact of betting as well as decision strategies on expected performance. A searchable archive of Mr. Krigman's prose and Mr. Ingmark's muse is online at http://www.iconworldwide.com/winningways/search.php.

 

Most blackjack buffs breathe a sigh of relief when the dealer pulls a five or six upcard. These are, indeed, the weakest dealer upcards. If nothing else, sophisticated solid citizens know that proper basic strategy is to stand against them on any non-paired hard total of 12 or above, waiting out the dealer's actions and not risking a premature bust by hitting a feeble 16 or below.

Many bettors, however, start counting their money when they see these cards, then find they have the short end of the stick after the dust finally settles. Does this mean they're in an unusually cold game? Or were their expectations of triumph too optimistic?

The fundamental problem is rooted in false perceptions. Players see a five or six upcard and think "the dealer has 15 or 16, has to hit, and will bust more often than not." It's the same conceptual error that causes players to hesitate before hitting a 12 against a two upcard; in that situation, folks tend to consider themselves on equal footing with the dealer with a total of 12.

Plain and simple, a dealerís five upcard becomes a 15, a six upcard a 16, and a two upcard a 12 in less than...

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