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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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The best and worst blackjack hands

25 Aug 2018

By John Marchel
We know a 10 and ace is the best hand we can have in blackjack. You and the dealer can expect to get one in about every 20 hands or about 5% of the time (that is the math).

Twenty is the second-best hand. That is why you shouldn’t split 10s; it’s a winning hand, just take the money.

There are two types of players that split 10s: card counters and foolish people. When you get two 10s, think about that. Are you a counter or the other type?

The third best hand is an 11. Most players will double down on that hand regardless of what the dealer's up card is, some will even double with an ace up card after the dealer looks at the down card and doesn’t have a blackjack. There are those that think you shouldn’t double against the ace, only when a 10 and below is showing, it’s just too much of an aggressive of play to make. However, it’s your bankroll, you decide.

When it comes to the bad hands, 16 is the worst hand to have. It just doesn’t get any worst when you have 16. That is a good reason to surrender it against a dealer’s hand of 9, 10 or ace. If the 16 is made up of two 8s there is some hope, you can Split them.

The basic strategy chart tells us to always split aces and 8s. In reality, we hope to win one hand and lose the other resulting in a push. We also hope the dealer has a busting card (2, 3, 4, 5 or 6) showing so we can stay on 16 and hope the dealer goes over 21.

On the other hand, when the dealer has a six showing, the dealer is in bad shape. In this case we want to split more and double down more, particularly when we have those soft hands like ace-2, through ace-6.

The second worst hand is 15. The same things apply to this hand as they did with 16. If the dealer is showing a big hand (7, 8, 9, 10 or ace) all you can do is hit, if surrender is not offered. On the other hand, just like having 16, we want to split or double because the dealer has such a bad hand.

A player really can’t say he has a good or bad hand until the dealers up card is looked at. One of the basic keys to playing blackjack is to always look at three cards before any action is taken. It’s your two cards PLUS the dealers up card that makes all the difference in the game of blackjack.

• What does a 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2 payouts mean when a player gets a blackjack? It means a 6 to 5 payout for a $100 bet gets paid $120, a 3 to 2 blackjack payout gets paid $150.
• Five Card Charlie win in blackjack – known by some to be a winner if a player doesn’t go over 21, but that is only in “kitchen” games at home. However, it is a very advantageous rule popular in some casinos in Asia. If the player succeeds in getting five cards without going over 21 he shows his hand, receiving back his original wager plus winnings of one-half his original wager.
• Over a six-month period in 2011, blackjack player Don Johnson took Atlantic City casinos for over $15 million, including a $6 million win at Tropicana casino-hotel.
• In 1976 Washington state authorizes commercial card rooms. Initially, the games were player-banked games. This meant that blackjack had the dealer rotating among the players. The legislation approved house-backed games in 1997 which ended player dealers.
• The Nevada Gaming commission has a listing of 929 approved games allowed in the states casinos. They include blackjack, craps, roulette, keno and many others. They also allow Benny’s Roulette, Big Injun, Bull’s Eye, China Doll, Copy Cat, Flop-A-Lock and Blazing Blackjack.
• In 2016 McCarran airport in Las Vegas ranked 26th in the world for passenger traffic, with 47.3 million passengers passing through its terminals. The airport ranked 8th in the world for aircraft movements with 527,739 takeoffs and landings, that relates to 1445 a day.
• It is well known that while Thomas Jefferson was drafting the Declaration of Independence during the day, he was gambling at cards, backgammon and lotteries at night. He also kept detail records of all his wins and losses.
• Montana has more gambling facilities (1700+) than any other state, with the exception of Nevada.
• In the 1870s it was estimated there were 150 professional gamblers operating in Dodge City Kansas. It was the greatest concentration of professional card players ever assembled, at least until the World Series of Poker started in the early 1970s.
• 1898, one of the first programs to be broadcasted on radio was a yacht race that took place in British waters.

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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