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John Marchel

John Marchel is an author, speaker, teacher and player -- what John plays are casino games. He’s been a casino player for over 25 years and has played successfully in Europe, Panama, the Caribbean, Canada, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, on Indian reservations, cruise ships and in over 350 casinos throughout the US. He is also the author of six books about gambling, and has written numerous magazine articles and is currently a columnist for three gambling magazines and one internet magazine. Since 1988 John has combined his experience as a manager, teacher and player to present seminars and lectures about gambling. In addition, John has had an Internet website since 1995 that offers books, special reports and tips about gambling. He also publishes a monthly Internet gambling newsletter. The newsletter keeps subscribers alert to trends, information and winning techniques that allows them to be more successful when visiting casinos.

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'No-bust' blackjack

27 Oct 2018

By John Marchel
Many blackjack players have learned a strategy called “no-bust.”

The idea is if a player has a busting hand, 12 through 16, they should always stay and hope the dealer will bust. The player will win the hand if the dealer hits and busts, mainly because the player is still in the game.

These players also will not hit even when the dealer has a strong hand, seven through ace. These types of no-bust players will point out how high the odds are against them if they do hit. However, consider reversing the numbers as seen on the chart below.

A player will have a reasonable set of odds hitting the 12 through 16 even when the dealer has a strong hand. We know 16 is the worst hand in blackjack, followed by 15, but when we run them through the computer millions of times (since Dr. Thorp first did it in the early 1960s), we find the player is still better off hitting those stiff hands even when the dealer shows a powerful up card.

What I tell my students “By staying you have no chance, by hitting you got a reasonable chance.” The no-bust strategy is not one any blackjack player should adopt, because it is a bust.

Player's Stiff Hand: 12 13 14 15 16

Probability of Busting: 48% 52% 55% 58% 61%

Hitting to
Improve The Hand: 52% 48% 45% 42% 39%


• The house edge decreases dramatically when using a smaller number of decks in blackjack. In a one-deck shoe, the house advantage is less than .05%, while using an eight-deck shoe increases the house edge to approximately .07%.

• March 15, 2004: The first event of the World Series of Blackjack from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut airs on TV.

• At one time, Vegas World Casino in Las Vegas paid double on a blackjack hand with an ace and jack of spades.

• The little mirror device that the blackjack dealer looks through on the table while checking for a blackjack is called a peeper or peeker.

• There were few games in different countries of Europe that used the concept of the target number as the core idea of the game. In “Thirty-One” the target number was 31. In “Baccara,” which was the ancestor of Baccarat, that number was 9. In “Vingt-Un,” the players were looking at 21 and “Quinze” had 15 for its target.

• March 22, 1630: The first colonial legislation in Boston prohibits all gambling in the colony.

• Virginia City, Nevada, got its name from one of the original discoverers, a degenerate drunk who christened the camp with a bottle of booze, naming it after his home state.

• On January 2, 2008, “The Four Horsemen of Aberdeen,” Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott, were inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Known as the Baldwin Group, they were the original team who pioneered basic strategy for blackjack and devised a strategy for card counting.

• In 1989, the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas was the most expensive hotel/casino in history, with a construction cost of $630 million. It was reported that the resort would have to bring in a million dollars a day to pay off a seven-year construction loan. But in fact, The Mirage did so well, the loan was paid off in just 18 months.

• In March 1964, Life magazine publishes a nine-page article about Dr. Edward Thorp’s book Beat The Dealer and his work about blackjack strategy and card counting.

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

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