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The cost of blackjack decisions

1 Apr 2017

By John Marchel
When we play casino blackjack we are always trying to improve our odds and ultimately win more hands from the casinos. To help us better understand "the odds," Edwin Silberstang, the author of "Playboy's Guide To Casino Gambling, Volume Two, Blackjack," explains the science of odds in blackjack as "gains and losses" to the player. The example he uses is based on 100 plays at $1 each. He then tells us how much the player will gain or loss for any given hand.

  • The player standing on a hard 12 against the dealers 2 gives away $4.
  • Standing with a 12 against dealers 3 loses $1.
  • The player hitting a hard 14 against the dealers 3 loses $11.
  • The player who stands on all 15's against the dealers 7 gives away $12.
  • Standing on all 16's against the dealers 7 loses $10.
  • The player hitting a hard 17 against the dealers 7 loses $31.
  • The player hitting a hard 16 against the dealers 10 gains $4.
  • Hitting a hard 16 against the dealers ace, will gain the player $15.

Silberstang gives additional examples that include doubling down and splitting. You can also multiply the value of $1 wager he uses by what your bet is. For example, if you are betting $5, simply multiply the above action by 5.

If you are betting $10 a hand just add a zero to the numbers above. These examples bring to light what basic strategy blackjack instructional charts already tell us when they say to hit a 12 versus a dealer's 2. Basic strategy for blackjack has been analyzed and validated by computers thousands of times since Dr. Thorp first did it in at MIT in 1961.

Don’t try to reinvent the strategy. Basic strategy should be your starting point in every hand. If you are a card counter, you still start at that fundamental base than modify it. Trust that basic strategy is the best strategy in the long run. Try it — it works.


• One of the wisest people of gambling was Foghorn Leghorn. Mr. Leghorn, despite the disadvantage of being a cartoon chicken, made one of the most profound observations of the modern age. He once noted the following, “You can argue with me, boy, but you can’t argue with math.”

• Las Vegas set a new record in 2015 with 42,312,216 visitors. It also hosted 21,306 conventions and trade shows that year.

• Dr. Edward Thorp worked with Claude Shannon in the late 1950s and early 1960s on the world’s first pocket-sized computer. It was built to forecast the resting place of the ball in roulette. Their system gave them an expected profit of 44% per spin of the wheel.

• By 1942, each week more than 4,000 soldiers were graduating from the Las Vegas Gunnery School, later known as Nellis Air Force Base. The government spent more than $25 million building and operating the facility.

• In the 19th century, faro became the No. 1 banking game of chance in the U.S.

• It wasn’t until around 1919 that special green-felted gambling tables were designed.

• All slot machines play the same music; they are all tuned in to the musical key of “C” so that when slot machines are near each other they won’t clash in their music.

• The reason dice have dots on them instead of numbers is because dice were invented long before most people could read numbers.

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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