I am playing BJ tonight for the first time at a casino.
  • I have 2 questions. The first one is that i keep hearing how the odds are against you and that you will lose more than you win. Then why is this game so popular? It seems that the strategies are out there just to minimize your loses.

    Secondly, when you double down, do you just put the chips behind the chips from you original bet? Do you have to tell the dealer that you are doubling down?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  • 1. BJ is the most popular table game because most know that (a) it can be beaten (although mainly by card counting, which very few take the time to learn to do) and (b) it has the lowest house edge in the casino (.5% on average).

    2. To double, you typically just put another bet in the circle beside the first. If the two cards are not the same, the dealer will know what you want to do, although you can say "double" if you want and it won't offend anyone. The only time he might stop and ask is if you have a pair where you could be splitting or doubling (say 5-5). Even though you never split 5-5, he will give you the opportunity to do so to avoid making an assumption that would cause a problem. Another common "signal" is to place a second bet and hold up "two" fingers indicating a split, or "one" finger, indicating a double. They much prefer such signals as the eye is watching and they often want clear hand signals for the record, which is why you have to "wave off" the dealer rather than just saying "stand"..

    For my personal play, the dealer quickly learns that if I put my second bet close to my first bet, it is a double, if I put my second bet on the opposite side of the betting circle, it is a split.

    The only gaffe to avoid is do _not_ touch your original bet. Don't put your double bet on top of it. Etc. Once you place your original bet, and the first card has been dealt for that round, you should not touch your existing bet again until after the payoff if you win. To do so will usually get a warning from the dealer or pit. They worry about "bet capping" which is illegal.

    Hope that helps...
  • Thanks alot. That helps alot. I am just trying to learn as much as i can so i don't annoy the other players. I played on a cruise once and i hit on 12 when the dealer had a 4 facing up. The guy next to me yelled at me and told me not to play if i didn't know the basic rules.
  • If you don't know what you are doing,taking a card in the wrong situation will do one of only two things.
    1) help the dealer
    2) hurt the dealer.

    In the long term,its a 50-50 proposition,so tell your nosey neighbor to piss off. Is he sharing his winnings with you?
    that said,you should learn Basic Strat to help you make your money go further.
    When I encounter a player who doesn't get basic strat,I tell them (once) that if they are uncertain what to do,feel free to ask the more experianced players what they would do.If that player chooses not to take my advice,so be it. He'll help me as often as he hurts me,while losing his own money faster.
  • I always put my bet behind my original bet if I want to double and then alongside it if I want to split. I think that's commonly recognized.

    Don't worry you are doing the wrong thing -- and you can always ask. The worst that happens is the dealer tells you not to do something. Forget about the morons. Usually when they are yelling at you, they are making bad plays themselves.
  • Is it okay to put it in the circle beside your other bet before it is your turn? I have a habit of putting my double down chips just to the left outside of the circle immediately after the deal since I know what I want to do to at that point - not waiting until my turn comes. When it comes to my turn, the dealer always just pushes them into the circle. I always thought that if you put them right in the circle the dealer may assume you are trying to add to your orginal bet mid-game.
  • Yes, Redstar, it is OK to place your double down chip before your turn comes. The dealer will know what your intention is when she sees the extra chip(s). Just don't try to place the chips on top. You cannot touch your original bet once the dealer starts dealing.
  • bej0520 said:
    I played on a cruise once and i hit on 12 when the dealer had a 4 facing up. The guy next to me yelled at me and told me not to play if i didn't know the basic rules.


    Nothing wrong with hitting a twelve but the dealers 4 up is a good odds for a bust. If you were playing 3rd base thats why you may have got the response you did. I hate playing woth people that think they know it all :roll:
  • Most dealers and house would like for you to put your second bet to the
    left of the first bet on a double. Don't say/do anything unless you have
    something like 55. In that case signal one card (by hand). Same for splits,
    but signal two by hand. At times, on splits, you will see the dealer arrange
    your cards/bet in some special way/location. This is for their benefit and is
    a result of table conditions. They want all the ducks lined-up so as to avoid
    mistakes.
  • Is there a good book for all the "rules" or do's and dont's for BJ etiquette?
  • Actually 12 vs. 4 is very close. If you happened to see as many face cards as all other cards, you did the right thing. (Example: playing at a full table, if you saw 8 face cards plus 8 cards NOT face cards when it was your turn to hit/stand.)
  • I noticed differing opinions on splitting 5-5. I do know that popular strategy is to never split cards starting with F (4-4 & 5-5).

    I recently purchased a book "Blackjack, Take the Money and Run" by Henry J. Tamburin and have played using the strategies outlined in it. My winnings have gone up as a result. It is laid out very logically with each combination of hands given and all possible results. This gives the number hands you can win/lose with the combinations and this tells you whether to hit, stand, etc.

    Two major changes in my play: Split 4-4 against dealer 4,5,or 6 and split 5-5 against dealer 5 or 6. Those two changes alone have increased my winnings considerably. I have lost just one time in 6 sessions of play using this method. Twice I doubled up on both splits and won them. Wish I'd had larger bets out...

    I created a "cheat sheet" (you see them in gift shops) from this book and it is different than the standard. So far the book is paying for itself many times over.

    I would add the Fremont in Vegas as a good place to play DD. Won $600.00 in less than 5 hours my last visit there.
  • Does Tamburin endorse splitting 5"s against 5 or 6? This defies the math, right? Why use a strategy with diminishing returns?
  • I've chatted with Henry multiple times via email. I doubt he advocates splitting 5's, since that is an EV killer play. Your most likely hand with 2 fives ends up at 20. If you split 'em, you most likely end up with two 15's.

    Tek_Freek:

    As far as 4 4 goes, don't forget that splitting 4's against a 5 or 6 is basic strategy, so saying "never split fours" is not correct...

    Also note that there are _no_ "mystery plays" that will get you to a +EV game. In fact, splitting 4's against a 4 is a slight EV harmer, not to mention increasing variance since you have to double your bet... Stick with well-known basic strategy. wizardofodds.com has them clearly laid out...
  • My apologies. I went back and checked. Wrong book. John Patrick's Blackjack for the 21st Century should have been the reference.
  • Before all the denials start I do have to tell you this:

    When I played from the Basic Strategy chart (the one Wizard of Odds shows on the site) I was lucky to break even at BJ. I play at number of locations in the midwest as well as Vegas.

    After changing my chart to match the advice given in Blackjack for the 21st Century, I have won consistently. I went from losing or taking $0 home to walking out of casinos with $300 - $700 in my pocket. And my wife sitting to my left has done the same. The only change I made was to use a different chart when deciding what plays to make.

    With the results I've seen I'll stick with his strategies. Yours aren't working (for me).
  • As long as you are having fun, do whatever you want. However, don't think that your experience over a few years can combat with two centuries of statistics and millions of hands in computer models.

    Allow me to make an analogy. Consider a coin. "Basic strategy" will tell you that if you flip it ten times, you are going to get 5 heads and thus that is what you should bet on. However, you have reported analogously that you never get 5 heads and have been losing money (i.e. you have been using basic strategy and have been losing money).

    Now, you are deciding to bet that the coin will land only 4 times on heads in the 10 flips because the old strategy hasn't worked for you. Doesn't make sense to me.

    Why have you been losing in the past? Because while you can expect 5 heads to turn up, variance creeps in. You often get 4 or 6 heads, sometimes you get 3 or 7 heads, and very few times you get 0, 1, 2, 8, 9, 10 heads. That doesn't change the fact that over the long run you are going to get more 5's. Its just a matter of what the "long run" means.

    If you were to deal millions of blackjack hands to yourself and used basic strategy versus using a different strategy, you will see that basic strategy will give you more money.

    Its hard to conceptualize math, though, especially when you have your own experiences arguing with it.
  • If you flip a coin 6 times, the probability that you will get exactly 3 heads
    or 3 tails is about 30%. Why so? See Chickens variance/luck example.

    Regarding another post: The probability that the dealer will bust is 28%,
    period. When you walk into the casino and face the dealer for the first
    hand, the probability that he will bust is 28%. If you play five hands and
    the dealer does not bust, the probability that he will bust on the sixth hand
    is 28%. The fact that he did not bust in 5 hands means nothing. Probability
    gives us a number that will average-out TRUE over time. It does not allow
    us to capture a moment in time and apply something to our advantage.
    Anything else is pure voodoo.

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