THERE IS ALWAYS A BETTER BET, SWINGS, SURRENDER AND MIND MUGGLING
By The Babe
‘The Babe’ is a dedicated Blackjack Tournament Competitor. He was attracted to the game at the start of the 80’s and has undoubtedly participated in more major blackjack tournaments than anybody. He has made $800,000 in tournament prize winnings, and has won his way to the televised tables of The Million Dollar II Tournament, the Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS, and the new 2007 season of the World Series of Blackjack. He still continues to compete, and has three major titles to his credit in the past two years.
The Babe is back to Blackjack Insider! Hello again to all you tournament blackjack lovers, fans, experts, and wannabes. BJI readers of long standing will remember the series of articles that I wrote in the BJI about the Tortoise and the Hare, and why their racing style can be compared to tournament strategy. You might have noticed that these treatments had little to say about the bet, but emphasized instead the play of the hands. This is no accident. For years experts have stressed the importance of the bet, until today, some players think that is the only real factor in good tournament play. Not so! Playing decisions based on knowledge of the underlying game, and affected by comparisons to bankrolls of opponents are more important. Having said that, I will not hesitate to admit the bet is also critical.
Using specific examples, this article will deal with both the bet and the play of the hand, showing that the two should not be isolated, but must be used together in order to promote great competitive play. The core example chosen comes from the March, 2007 issue of "Blackjack Insider" in "Elimination Blackjack’s Magic Number," by Kenneth R. Smith.
In his treatise, Ken, a champion of, and for, tournament blackjack, gives you his magic number for a specific lead he hopes to attain in a tournament with a $25,000 maximum bet. A lead of $8,750 is the goal, allowing you the opportunity to make a large enough bet on the last hand to cover the high, (the win-win event); yet surrender out for the low if necessary. Standard Ultimate Blackjack Rules apply, with dealer hitting soft 17, double after splits, and late surrender. Our opponent leads out with a $10,000 bet. We are supposed to bet $7,500 or less, or $12,500 or more in order to best capture our goal if both hands lose to the dealer (in the case of the smaller bet), or both hands win (in the case of the larger). Most excellent advice! Then, Ken says later on in the article that he would prefer to bet $14,000, but leaves it up to readers to figure out why.
If you have a curious mind, you may have rooted out the answer. Suppose your opponent successfully doubles his $10,000 bet and wins $20,000. Your $14,000 win, coupled with your $6,500 lead, will still leave you the minute, yet all important minimum bet lead going into the last hand.
Now that I have boldly stolen Mr. Smith’s example, I might as well go ahead and steal his ‘slogan’ as well! "THERE IS ALWAYS A BETTER BET"! This time I think it is...
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