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That blackjack argument

26 May 2019

By John Grochowski
Several weeks ago, a reader shared a blackjack experience in which several players criticized a man over a basic strategy mistake.

The reader was amused when the error – standing at the wrong time – helped the table by leaving a bust card available to the table. As for taking heat for NOT taking the dealer’s bust card, that seemed contrary to normal patterns.

In the wake of that tale, other readers have shared their own tales of advice given at the blackjack table, not necessarily for the better.

DEAN: I don’t think it’s any secret anymore that some card counters always stand on hard 16 against a dealer 10. It’s a low-cost play for cover, letting them think you don’t even know basic strategy. It’s pretty close to a tossup hand anyway, and with the count it’s the right play a lot of the time.

I was doing my thing when this dude started giving me grief.

I stood on 16, and he said, “Don’t you ever hit 16 vs. 10?” I said, “Maybe sometimes.”

That was not what he wanted to hear. “Maybe sometimes? Really? When is hitting 16 against 10 NOT the right play?”

That was a loaded question. I could have told him EXACTLY when the odds favor hitting 16 against 10 and EXACTLY when they favored standing. I could have told him it was a close enough call that it makes little difference either way.

But the last thing I wanted to do was call attention to myself. I wasn’t that thrilled he was calling attention to my play, to be honest. But I decided to try to make something of it and play dumb.

“I just didn’t feel it,” I told him. “If I don’t feel it, I’m not hitting.”

I could see him straining to control himself. “You’re costing yourself money,” he said. “The book says to hit.”

The woman next to first base caught my eye. She said, “Don’t worry about him. He’s been trying to pull rank with that book for the last hour. Play how you want.”

I told her, “Don’t worry. I will.”

EMMA: I’m almost 30, but maybe I look young enough that everybody thinks I’m a beginner. Guys young and old are always trying to give me advice.

My favorite was when an argument broke out between these two guys over insurance. I was dealt an ace of spades and a 10 of clubs, and the dealer had an ace of hearts.

I declined insurance, and the guy to my left said, “You have to take even money there. It’s the one sure thing in the casino. You win even if the dealer has a blackjack too.”

The guy to my right stepped right in and said, “That’s crazy talk. Even money is a TERRIBLE bet.”

Mr. Left said, “Terrible bet? Are you kidding me? A sure thing is not a terrible bet,” and Mr. Right – only in the sense that he was to my right, mind you – came back with, “Yes. Terrible bet.

"Your blackjack is going to win a lot more than it pushes, and taking even money instead of the 3-2 payoff is just giving away money.”

I said, “Guys, I’ve already made my decision. I’m not taking even money. If it turns out to push, I’ll live with that. Trust me. I’ve played this game before.”

That didn’t really end anything. The pair of them kept sniping back and forth for the next few hands.

The dealer had a 7 down and my blackjack won, by the way.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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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