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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, April 2004, #51

Tempted to Minimum-Bet the Last Hand? Donít.

By Kenneth Smith

Blackjack Info

Ken Smith hosts the popular website and the new site for tournament players Ken has written tournament articles for Blackjack Confidential magazine. You can subscribe to his free email newsletter for blackjack players at

When youíre in the lead at the end of a tournament round, you may be tempted to make a minimum bet on the last hand. The reasoning is simple: Make the other players win their hand to catch you. And, itís not a bad plan. For that reason, making a minimum bet is often a good bet, but itís almost never the best bet, especially in a game that is dealt face-up. You can usually accomplish the same goal, while still putting enough chips on the felt to give you more options.

Letís start by looking at the simplest possible situation, a two-man race on the final hand. For our example, weíre on the final hand in a $5-$500 betting tournament. You have $1500, your opponent has $1400 and youíre on the button, forced to bet and act first. Many players in this seat will push out a $5 bet, in effect saying "Come and get me if you can." And, honestly, any reasonable bet you make in this position offers your opponent the same shot at taking the high by making a large bet.

By betting only $5, you guarantee that the only possible way you can advance is if your opponent pushes or loses the hand. Heís guaranteed to make a bet large enough to cover a possible win by you, and heíll probably cover your doubles as well without even thinking about it. If he bets $200, or $500, or in fact anything over $140, your $5 bet is absolutely meaningless.

Now, consider what happens...

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