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READERS WEIGH-IN ON "SNOOKERING"

OTHER PLAYERS

By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey is an "advantage" blackjack player, and author of the highly rated "Blackjack Bluebook II Ė The Simplest Winning Strategies Ever Published", a vividly detailed 217 page handbook for casino "21". BJI readers can purchase the book at 10% discount in our store by clicking here.

 

In the May issue of BJI, I wrote an article describing how to apply "hand interaction" techniques with other fellow players on your table. These techniques involve selling-off half of your disadvantageous splits, doubling down on other playersí hands, and buying other players hands that look like losers but are actually favorites to win (to read the article, click here).

With each of the above "hand interaction" plays, the initiator improves his own EV, but it often comes at a cost to the other player. The moral theme of my May article was, "Is this an ethical way to play blackjack?" Several Blackjack Insider readers responded via e-mail with their own perspectives and opinions on this "extracurricular" blackjack strategy. Following are some of their feedback.

 

Hi Fred,

Talking someone into taking half of a losing split hadnít occurred to me, but I would feel guilty about taking advantage of a player who knew less than I Ė even an obnoxious know-it-all. I vote for unethical on that one.

Buying half of an unfilled double however, is different, as long as the other player is willing. Iíve had too much negative reaction though, when Iíve asked if I could double for another player when he was going to pass it up, since heíd be limiting himself to just one hit with nothing to gain by doing so. Sometimes the others at the table get involved, on that playerís side. In general though, I vote for ethical on the doubles.

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Thanks Fred,

I read about hand interaction in your book Bluebook II, and at the time, I knew right away it was a strategy that would not fit in with my personality or playing style. I guess I prefer the more laissez faire style of play.

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Hey Fred,

If youíre an advantage player, I see nothing at all wrong with optimizing your EV by making use of the others at the table. Itís no different than wonging in and wonging out, or opening up a second box or taking it out. Each of those moves will have a negative impact on the incumbents at the table, although not for the reasons they expect.

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Fred,

I follow your columns and have been particularly intrigued by the hand interaction strategies you have espoused. I have often been faced with situations where the opportunity to use those strategies arise, but have seldom engaged the other player in an arrangement because I feel it disadvantages him, and he is not my opponent. While I find your thought intriguing, I generally follow through only when the player does not have the potential funds for a correct double or a split. About this, I have no reservations at all. But most of the other plays I feel are plain wrong.

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Fred,

We are all at the blackjack table to come away with as much of the casinoís money as possible. If we were to add a little extra money by snookering a side transaction, where is the harm? I have many times bought other playersí blackjack hands when they were about to accept even money. Iím sure I am well ahead of the game by making this move. Although I have not yet applied any of the snookering plays you wrote about, I will definitely look into the practice on my next trip.

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Hi,

My personal option is to use any winning strategy that is legal. Since you feel sympathy towards your tablemate, you may refrain from affecting his/her earnings. But if he is a recreational player, he will likely lose all his money anyway, so a few percent of the bet can doubtfully affect him. As for an advantage player, he will decline the offer for a "snooker" play anyway, so thereís nothing to lose by either of you.

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Dear Sir,

I can see filling in the rest of somebody elseís double for less, because that will in no way affect his own outcome. But as for any other hand interaction ploy that will carry a negative impact on the other playerís EV, I think itís wrong. People sit down at a blackjack table with the understanding that the enemy is the house. They shouldnít have to worry about being "sideswiped" by the predator sitting next to them.

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Fred,

Making deals at the table with other players is legal. My view is to let each player offer, accept, or reject deals with other players according to their own evaluation of the situation. In most deals of any kind anywhere, both parties usually feel they have something to gain or they wouldnít make them. Often, somebodyís right and somebodyís wrong. I donít see this being much different.

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Mr. Renzey,

Iíve pondered this rather provocative form of blackjack play at some length. At first, it struck me as just a sharp, effective way to improve oneís bottom line. Then I began thinking, "What about when I have a pair of 8s against a dealerís 10? It would surely help me to sell one of my 8s to someone, but who would buy it? Itís an obviously bad hand!"

Yet, I might succeed in selling one of my 7s to somebody against a dealerís deuce. This too, you say is a bad hand, but doesnít look like it. So the only difference between successfully selling one of my 8s against a 10 and one of my 7s against a deuce is the deceptive wrapping, which makes me feel like a used car salesman.

Then again, why would a player refuse to by an 8 against a 10, but accept a 7 against a deuce, unless it was because he expected to gain a profit on the 7. To do that, he'd have to be willing to cut in on what looked like my own good hand.

This whole strategy seems to bring out the "dog eat dog" in all of us, and Iím not sure I like that.

EPILOGUE: And there yaí go. Many different views on the same controversial topic. Thanks to all for your input.

 

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