Even Money?
  • Simple question: You have blackjack, the dealer shows an ace. Should you take even money?

    I've been playing for years and never really known the "correct" answer.
  • jrzalman said:
    Simple question: You have blackjack, the dealer shows an ace. Should you take even money?

    I've been playing for years and never really known the "correct" answer.


    If you have a natural/BJ, insurance should be automatic unless the true count is very negative. It costs you very little in the long run, and reduces bankroll fluctuation. If your hand adds up to be 20, the correlation of taking insurance will be highly positive. In this case the insurance bet probably will be lost, but the original bet will probably win. With a hand of 15 or 16, however, the correlation is highly negative: If the insurance bet loses, the original bet will probably lose too and bankroll fluctuation is increased. I also recommend that a player with a hand total of 10, 11, 19, or 20 in a neutral deck should take Insurance, in particular if your 19 or 20 is made from A8 or A9, but not with any other hands.
  • If you have a natural/BJ, insurance should be automatic unless the true count is very negative. It costs you very little in the long run, and reduces bankroll fluctuation. If your hand adds up to be 20, the correlation of taking insurance will be highly positive. In this case the insurance bet probably will be lost, but the original bet will probably win.


    I have to disagree Alex. What you say goes against absolutely everything I have ever read. Maybe I am totally brain-farting though. My understanding was that for anyone doing simple BS, NEVER take insurance. For counters, there are only a few cases where one should take insurance.
  • slimeo said:
    If you have a natural/BJ, insurance should be automatic unless the true count is very negative. It costs you very little in the long run, and reduces bankroll fluctuation. If your hand adds up to be 20, the correlation of taking insurance will be highly positive. In this case the insurance bet probably will be lost, but the original bet will probably win.


    I have to disagree Alex. What you say goes against absolutely everything I have ever read. Maybe I am totally brain-farting though. My understanding was that for anyone doing simple BS, NEVER take insurance. For counters, there are only a few cases where one should take insurance.


    :wink: Just a few words. I will not get into arguments and long explanations but the bottom line is this:

    :arrow: It depends upon “reducing fluctuations”. Peter Griffin, in his The Theory of Blackjack, shows that there are occasions when a player would insure a natural with less than one third of the unplayed cards being tens. Theoretically, this criterion could also be used to analyze whether to insure a 19 or a 20 and other favorable holdings like 10 or 11. However, the answer is very dependent upon the size of your bet in relationship with the bankroll.

    :arrow: An approximate calculation based upon what would seem a reasonable assumption in this regard suggested that a 19 or a 20 should be insured, especially if you have A8 or A9. Another, more tractable, principle to reduce fluctuations also appears in The Theory of Blackjack. The text continue to suggest that when confronted with two courses of action with identical expectations (the insurance bet here is hypothesized to neither increase nor decrease expectation), prefer that one which reduces the variance of the result.
  • Jrzalman IMHO as a BS player you should never take even money or insurance. Most all the times you would be throwing your money away. I don't know how many times I've sat at the tables only to see some player insist on buying insurance only to collect on it once out of ten. Insurance is another way for the casino to take your money.
    Unless you are a card counter (when on rare occasion) insurance is the right play, then I would just play my hand without it.

    Good Luck
  • jrzalman- Never take even money, counter or B/S player. If you know
    enough about the deck to make the insurance play, then make the play.
    If you're the average guy playing B/S, forget about insurance and EM.
  • I NEVER take even money. The other players make remarks and sounds when I do, but they just don't understand how insurance works. When I get PAID 3:2 on MY blackjacks, they get quiet in a hurry. The dealer tells the rest of the table, "See, he wants that extra chip on his blackjacks!"
  • Peter Griffin, in his The Theory of Blackjack, shows that there are occasions when a player would insure a natural with less than one third of the unplayed cards being tens.


    Alex, please correct me if I'm wrong, but your logic appears to be backwards. Statistically, the odds of a dealer having a 10 under their ace are higher if more than one-third of the unplayed cards are tens. In that case, I would be more inclined to take even money. However, with less than one third of the unplayed cards being tens, the odds are lower that the dealer has a ten, ie, there are less tens in the deck. Actually, with a brand new deck or shoe, less than a third of the unplayed deck is 10s (about 31%).

    Back to your original comment,
    If you have a natural/BJ, insurance should be automatic unless the true count is very negative.
    again, this seems to be totally backwards. NOT taking insurance should be automatic, unless the true count is very high.

    Does this logic only take into account the bankroll critereon and NO card counting? Or does it take into account both? The only way you can possibly know how many tens are left is due to counting, so one must be counting... Sorry to ask for a longer explanation from you, but I'm confused.
  • Thanks for the tips. I never take insurance, but I have on occasion taken even money just so I didn't lose a blackjack. Like I said, I was never really sure what the "right" way to play it was.
  • slimeo said:
    Peter Griffin, in his The Theory of Blackjack, shows that there are occasions when a player would insure a natural with less than one third of the unplayed cards being tens.


    Alex, please correct me if I'm wrong, but your logic appears to be backwards. Statistically, the odds of a dealer having a 10 under their ace are higher if more than one-third of the unplayed cards are tens. In that case, I would be more inclined to take even money. However, with less than one third of the unplayed cards being tens, the odds are lower that the dealer has a ten, ie, there are less tens in the deck. Actually, with a brand new deck or shoe, less than a third of the unplayed deck is 10s (about 31%).

    Back to your original comment, [quote]If you have a natural/BJ, insurance should be automatic unless the true count is very negative.
    again, this seems to be totally backwards. NOT taking insurance should be automatic, unless the true count is very high.

    Does this logic only take into account the bankroll critereon and NO card counting? Or does it take into account both? The only way you can possibly know how many tens are left is due to counting, so one must be counting... Sorry to ask for a longer explanation from you, but I'm confused.[/quote]

    This is from Peter Griffin text.

    Here now, to lay this controversy to rest, is the final word on whether—and when—you should insure “good” hands. This article will give nightmares to players who consider attempting to work out Griffin’s insurance formula when playing. Griffin shows that sometimes is advisable to insure good hands—in order to reduce fluctuations—even when the insurance bet has a negative expectation! So, the simplest answer is: Insure your good hands when it’s a dead even bet.

    :arrow: Reduces variance,

    This proves particularly easy to apply. Let W, L and T stand for the probabilities of winning, losing, and tying the hand assuming insurance is not taken. In this case the average squared result is
    ENx2 = 1 – T
    If insurance is taken the average square becomes
    EIx2 = 1/3 02 + W(1/2)2 + T(-1/2)2 + (L-1/3)(-3/2)2 = (W + T + 9L – 3)/4
    Insurance will have a smaller average square if
    W + T + 9L – 3 < 4 – 4T
    Equivalently
    W + 5T + 9L < 7
    Or, subtracting
    5(W + T + L) = 5
    4L – 4W < 2
    L – W < .5
    L < W + .5

    :arrow: This will clearly be the case for player totals of 20, 19, 11, 10 and 9 if the dealer S17.


    :wink: :wink: :wink:
  • Jrzalman – Your question has been answered correctly by Ray, J.C., PJ, and Slimeo. The same answer will be found in books by Braun (a good explanation complete with the math), Humble, Wong, Carlson, etc., etc., etc…….that correct answer is this:

    “Never take insurance unless you are counting cards and you have a TC of +3 or more.”

    That’s it. There is nothing to discuss. If you take “insurance” you are increasing the house advantage, and you are not playing basic strategy.

    I put “insurance” in quotes above because it is not insurance at all. You are not insuring anything. You are making a “side bet” that the dealer’s hole card is a ten !!

    Alex, I am not even going to pull Griffin’s book off the shelf because I won’t dispute that fluctuation (variance) will be reduced minutely with the plays you are advocating, but that does not make them the correct play. If you are that concerned about variation that you are willing to “give the house money” and take the insurance, then by all means do what you are comfortable with: but that does not make it the correct play.

    Regards……Grifter
  • Thank you, Grifter!

    Everyone please notice he said nothing about the cards you have while considering whether to make the side bet known as "insurance". You either think the dealer has a ten in the hole, because you're a card counter, or you don't. This is totally unrelated to whether you have a "good" or a "bad" hand. If you have to think of it as insurance, you're insuring your bet, not your hand.

    Just wanted to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Thank you.
  • Grifter,
    Keep in mind that Basic Strategy expectations from all blackjack books is explained without the :twisted: draconian financial requirements :twisted: necessary to make it work. If people would really be aware of the truth that the Basic Strategy will improve player’s game, they will NEVER commit the time nor the money to make Basic Strategy work.

    Understand that Basic Strategy can reduce the house's advantage, but it takes lots of serious money and time, not just the knowledge of the right strategy plays in respect to the game conditions. My argument of reducing the variance is very valid.

    To drive the point home, here is an example of what I’m talking about:
    :wink: If you wagered 50% of your bankroll on a single bet, and you received a hard 14 versus a dealer 7,8,9, Ten or an ACE, would you be better off hitting (like basic strategy says) or violating basic strategy by surrendering and wagering what’s left after surrender on the next round?
    :wink: Or, if you have the same bet out and get a A9 while the count is negative and the dealer shows an ACE, would you be better off taking Insurance and be winner with soft 20 if the dealer doesn’t have BJ or breaking even in the case he does have one? (here remember that only three 9s can push your bet and make you lose the insurance, anything else you will win)
    :wink: Or, if you have the same huge bet out and get a AT/BJ while the count is negative and the dealer shows an ACE, would you be better off taking Insurance and be 100% winner for a full bet amount? – Or not insuring a all and taking a small risk of getting nothing if he’s got the BJ?

    :idea: There are situations where other plays would be much better than using Basic Strategy. The question is HOW MUCH of a final negative expectation should a Basic Strategy player expect? The -0.50% or the REAL 100% loss if the player does not have enough bankroll to make the Basic Strategy applicable?

    Actually, Basic Strategy is mostly a con game. The only way basic strategy could insure that you will lose less is if you are willing to commit a tremendous amount of money to the game. Only a complete idiot would commit the amount of money and time that it takes to make Basic Strategy effective, especially when it insures that you will end up losing anyway. That is why the casinos allow to bring a basic strategy cards to the tables. Before one you thinks Basic Strategy is the right way to play Blackjack, first find out how much money you will need to make Basic Strategy work. Basic Strategy is worthless and even dangerous unless you are willing to commit lots of cash to the game. That is why the casinos know that 99.99% of the people that use Basic Strategy do not understand how much money it takes to make it work.

    Best Regards,
  • An attempt at risk management at the expense of accuracy is never a
    good idea. The amount of chips bet should never alter the rules or our
    resolve to follow thru with the correct play. A conservative player has
    difficulty avoding these two problems and assures the casino of a good
    profit, year after year.

    A good B/S player with the right bank can expect to win nearly as much
    as he loses. Add a little more to his tool box and he can beat the house,
    but he can not play blackjack conservatively. Observations that, I'm sure, we all have made....................
  • You pretty well said it all, Ray.......One does not deviate from BS because of bet size, and a well prepared player knows the variation of the method he is playing and has established his bankroll accordingly.........Grif'
  • Although I don't agree with you Alex, I do appreciate your response and input. Everyone's opinion is what keeps this forum alive.

    THANKS!
  • Ray said:
    An attempt at risk management at the expense of accuracy is never a
    good idea. The amount of chips bet should never alter the rules or our
    resolve to follow thru with the correct play. A conservative player has
    difficulty avoding these two problems and assures the casino of a good
    profit, year after year.

    A good B/S player with the right bank can expect to win nearly as much
    as he loses. Add a little more to his tool box and he can beat the house,
    but he can not play blackjack conservatively. Observations that, I'm sure, we all have made....................


    So very true. I see people who have BS down to a fine art... but as soon as they start throwing those large bets out there, they can't help but play it more conservatively. I saw this guy who was betting $10 as his base. After 3 winning hands, he was up to $25 in his progression. He was dealt 15 v. Ace... and stood after much hesitation, only to lose the hand.

    I must admit, I've fallen pray to "conservative play" plenty of times and it has only cost me big in the long run. Sure, it might save a couple of hands here and there, but as the hours dwindle on, standard deviation will eventually catch up to you and rob you of all your money.


    Regards,
    -Vile
  • I'm with Alex.

    I'm no statistician and haven't read Griffin's book. I'm a believer in (and dedicated user of) basic strategy. I'm a huge fan of Grifter's -- in spite of his highly questionable sailing skills. I'm also a smart and practical person who has played a ton of blackjack over the past fifteen years. I'm not a counter but have dabbled with a couple of different progressions including Thomason's. I'm a green chip minimum guy, mainly because I can't get too fired up about a twenty-two unit win when playing reds. I am at the tables to enjoy myself, sure, but I'm also there (primarily there) to try to make a little money. Only recently did I start tracking my results (a couple of years ago). I figure that over the span of my life I am way down at the blackjack tables. Pretty big. I estimate that in fifteen years I've lost thirty thousand bucks -- most of it in the past five. And I've had a few decent wins thrown in there during that time. And I would say that I blow away most of the yahoos that I've played with over that time in terms of knowledge, understanding of the game, study, etc. Unfortunately though, I'm a really lousy dresser.

    Renzey recently convinced me on this board (I'm also a fan of Renzey's and have read his book a few times, though I confess that I haven't put the necessary time in to master any counting system) that unless you're planning on never playing again, there is no point to setting win goals and loss limits. (I apologize if I make this statement slightly out of context, Renzey.) The odds are the odds and anyone's long run session is simply comprised of all their short run sessions combined. You just pick up where you left off when you sit down again. Perfect logic.

    I also know from personal experience that when I play a controlled game (similar to the game described by Alex above) I (seem to) walk out a winner. Part of control to me is control of my bankroll. And sometimes what this means is passing on splitting eights when I have a huge bet out there. How many times have I "played it by the book" because I don't want to anger the blackjack gods and then gone down in flames on a sketchy multiple split play or a marginal double? How many times have I had to work really hard to get back to where I was, or even halfway back, because I crippled my bankroll on that one play, just because basic strategy told me to do so. I don't know how many but suffice it to say "lots." Perhaps this means I bet more than my bankroll would justify (but I don't think so according to everything I have read here) and perhaps if I were to opt out of these basic strategy moves that would mean that I'm a cowardly gambler. But sometimes he who fights and walks away lives to fight another day. I haven't been playing much lately but will get back to it and when I do I'll bring my own version of "beyond basic strategy" with me back to the tables. My ever-expanding game will include accepting less expected return (in some cases) based on percentage of bankroll exposed. I'm not an even money on blackjack guy generally (unless I've got a good idea that the deck is rich in tens) as I can't lose my bet -- just my winnings -- on a dealer blackjack and I understand the math. But on some plays I will be moving off of basic strategy in the future, especially if I'm in an exposed position.
  • Zebra-Why don't you just do what you know you should do? You can still
    be a social animal. It's not exactly Calc III, now is it?
  • I think "what I should do" is use my brain to my best financial advantage. That may mean backing off basic strategy in situations where financial exposure is high. My goal isn't to impress other players with my steely resolve in the face of tough odds. And I don't see any need to take one for the team. We zebras can be damn ornery and unpleasant. Here in San Diego, at the Wild Animal Park, most of the animals run free in a huge plain in imitation of their natural African habitat. Truthfully, we were a serious pain in the other animals' asses -- continually kicking them and biting them and chasing them away from the food. Eventually, they had to move us off into our own pen. Which kind of sucks from a social perspective but has given me time to bone up on my calc III. Theoretical math is still theoretical. In the casino, I'm trying to shape a more practical approach.
  • Zebra - Yes, but being in your own pen gives you more time to just stand around and eat hay 8) .....Grif'
  • I have to agree with the majority of the board here and say that, Alex and Zebra's opinion are wrong. We all know there are certain hands that when dealt make us cringe, some hands are going to be losers no matter if we stand, hit, split or whatever. The point of basic strategy is make the best percentage play (even if it is still going to be a losing hand). The reason for this is in the long run you will make up for it by making the right decision. By making the right play you might lose 65% of the time on a certain hand, but making the wrong play you could lose even a higher percentage. By making the right decision you might still lose, but not quite as often.

    We all know what would happen if a zebra (non-bs player) gets thrown in with a hungry lion (casino)!
  • Better a zebra than a sheep. I miss the bug. At least I could tell when I was being insulted.

    (Just talking shit here -- not really taking offense.)
  • I'm a statistician; a basic strategy player and a green chip player. I beleive the stats and I'm going to the casino to make one bet for
    1200 and go home win or lose. At an empty table, I sit down and place
    my bet. Right off the top comes a BJ and the dealer turns up an ace.
    What to do? Even money makes me a winner; taking insurance makes me
    a winner. So what do I do. Well, the deck is neutral and that means the
    dealer has a 30% prob. of having a hidden ten. Hmmmm 30% vs 70%
    what's a gambler to do.

    My answer is this: Before you went to the casino, you better be the man
    with a plan. I think you must know what your strategy is and all the factors
    that make up that strategy. What would you do?
  • Great example, Ray..........Zebra, ya' better wander over to the waterin' trough and talk this over with the other Zebes.....That's a tough question following your post above. :wink:
  • Take insurance? Fuhgedaboudit! Go for the GUSTO! Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead! Never mind it's 70-30 in your favor!
  • Zebra

    Not trying to insult you, just trying (key word trying) to be funny!

    I guess I never have liked zebras that much, remind me to much of referees!
  • I would never take even money in the situation described. I would actually never (or very rarely) take even money in any situation. But I think the question is kind of irrelevant because this is not a situation in which my bankroll would suffer damage no matter what card the dealer turns. Therefore, the rest of my session strategy (as governed by my predetermined win goal and loss limit) would not be affected by a play in which I could lose a disproportionate percentage of my bank on a single play. In your example I am leaving after one hand. More theoretical zebra pucky. I wouldn't bother going to the casino to play one hand and furthermore wouldn't risk my entire bankroll on one play. Let's keep it real brother Ray.

    A man with a plan? That's exactly my point. I (and you, and any other intelligent gambler) has to be a man (or woman) with a plan in order to have a shot at winning. To me that means that I have to play within certain parameters -- what I call playing with control. Blindly following a basic strategy card may not be the best plan (in terms of financial risk and return) in every situation. For me to play at my best, I have to understand my likelihood of winning and losing in every situation. When I pull up next to Ol' Zippy at the hay trough, I know the chances are pretty good he's gonna give me a nasty kick to the ribs, but it's worth it, because that's where they put out the fresh hay every morning and otherwise I'm stuck eating the stale stuff down at the other end. If it's four in the afternoon and most of the fresh green hay is gone already anyway, I don't see the value in taking a near-certain kick just for the prospect of salvaging a few scraps of new hay. I don't need to beat my chest for all the other zebras quite that badly.

    If you put a bunch of bees in an open milk bottle and face the bottom of the bottle toward the light and the open end of the milk bottle toward the dark, the bees will go to the bottom of the milk bottle and try to escape toward the light. Eventually they will starve to death. They are possessed of some higher insect basic strategy card that tells them this is the way out of the bottle. Put flies in the same situation and they'll fly around at random bumping into the walls about a thousand times before they randomly find their way out the open top. They have no such strategy. But which result would you prefer?

    This is the kind of crap we talk about in the paddock all day when we're not eating hay or humping.
  • No offense taken jumpover -- by the way the jumpover is one of my favorite humping techniques.
  • And suppose that if dealt 88 vs. X, you surrender every time you had it.
    Automatic loser... get half a bet back (50%).

    If you split'em you lose 23.5% of two bets (which is equal to 47% of 1 bet).

    If this is your only deviation from BS, it won't cost a lot in the long run in terms of the House Advantage. I don't hold it against anyone. But add a few more compromises in there, like no DD on 9, A6 or A7 vs. 3, or no hit 12 vs. 3, or no surrender except 16 vs. X, and you get in trouble.

    N&B
  • It's not uncommom to see an individual walk up to a table with two or
    three large chips and bet it all on one hand. An individual at your table
    for the last hour, gets up, bets every chip that he has and walks away,
    win or lose. It may not be realistic, but it happens often and everywhere.
    The spot bettors do some strange things as well............................
  • Yup, I've seen that many times. Recently, a fellow plopped 300 on a hand and lost.... came back 15 minutes later for 600 and tied, then lost... came back 15 minutes later for 900 and got Blackjack. He made 450 in three hands. I played 2 hours on a good day, and won the same. But I got comported about 40 extra.

    N&B
  • Maybe those kind of players have the right idea. After all you have almost a 50/50 chance of winning your one hand. I have seen the same thing myself, (1) large bet then gone. I bet you the eye in the sky is checking those guys out! I think I'll stick to my traditional way of playing B.J.
  • Nickels_n_Bullets said:
    And suppose that if dealt 88 vs. X, you surrender every time you had it.
    Automatic loser... get half a bet back (50%).

    If you split'em you lose 23.5% of two bets (which is equal to 47% of 1 bet).

    If this is your only deviation from BS, it won't cost a lot in the long run in terms of the House Advantage. I don't hold it against anyone. But add a few more compromises in there, like no DD on 9, A6 or A7 vs. 3, or no hit 12 vs. 3, or no surrender except 16 vs. X, and you get in trouble.

    N&B


    The average winning hand in Blackjack is about 18.7, in reality is that you need 19 to have a good shot. So keep in mind that 19 is what you should look for, not that it guarantees a winner, but you may have a chance of not losing.

    You are betting $100 on the next hand and get a pair of eights vs. the dealers up card of TEN. You immediately place another $100 for a split those eights. You get a card on the first eight. It could be anyone of 13 cards.

    If you are dealt a 10, J, Q, K you have a hard 18 and that is not a winning hand. If you get a 9 you now have a hard losing 17 by all standards. If you are dealt a 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, you have absolutely nothing and have to hit again risking busting. Only if you get an ACE, 2 or 3 you will end up in good shape. That means 3 times out of 13 you have an average strong total and 10 times out of 13 you will have absolutely nothing to be proud of, and most likely you will be losing. Now do this analysis for the second 8 and tell me when are you better off?


    Splitting? Or Surrender is the best option?
  • If I surrender and leave the table I have $50 in my pocket.

    If I split I'll lose $100 X 23.5% = $23.50 on the first hand and another 23.50 on the second = $47. I leave the table with a $47 loss which is a slight improvement over $50 loss. Its a defensive split because I'm expected to lose less. Now if I'm playing this hand only one time in my life then maybe I'd just take insurance and be done with it since I obviously can't lose a total $23.50 on each hand. But nobody on this board is only playing blackjack once and then quitting, and I'm not referring to someone who randomly steps to the table and bets some huge amount on a whim (there's no hope for that person anyways). We're all unfortunately going to have to play this hand many, many times in our playing lives. So I'm gonna split it because it provides me with a greater expectation over multiple occurrences (unless the count tells me to do otherwise but thats not relevant for this discussion). I don't really care how many cards will give me 19 or greater or a double-down opportunity, etc. That analysis has already been done many times over and the results are called Basic Strategy.

    With that said it doesn't bother me one bit if someone else plays it differently to protect bankroll or whatever... splitting is only a marginal improvement.
  • GH21 said:
    If I surrender and leave the table I have $50 in my pocket.


    If you split, you will leave the table -$200 less in your pocket many times over and over again all the way into the long run when you may save some.
  • Whats important to realize here, is what actually constitutes a 50% loss. So that we're on the same playing field, a 50% loss is incurred when 3/4 of all bets lose and 1/4 wins. So if you split 8's vs X on 2 occasions thats what happens, you lose 3 of the 4 bets and win 1. Occasionally, you might DD and catch a winner. Thats a simplistic look at it.

    Behind the splitting 8's mentality is the correct assumption that the dealer does not always have 20, in fact one should simply expect that 4 times in 13. Once in 13 there's an Ace there, and the point is moot. But 7 in 13 the dealer has 17 or better, and 5 in 13 dealer draws. As Alex points out the average hand when the dealer has a face-card up is 19. This also allows for the fact that the dealer, if forced to draw, might still make a hand. It is also important to realize that when the dealer has an X up, that busting occurs between 1/5 and 2/9 <-- corrected depending upon the conditions (re: # of decks). "Sorry, I miscalculated bust%" N&B<br />
    OK thats the game.... the money angle begs you risk double in order to gain 3%. I don't know exactly how to phrase this, but in several instances in 21 you have a hand that is a much smaller loser to begin. You are asked to either double or split to make what amounts to a much "better" hand than 88 vs. X either lose less or maybe gain fractionally. I think the arguement here is that the loss is so great to start, that you do better risking less money out of hand to improve it.

    Enter surrender and the lower initial risk. Because a 50% loss is nearly the same as a 47% loss, its quite possible to surmise that the "extra financial risk" isn't worth it. Especially in the short-run of occasional play in one's lifetime. You choose between a loss of 50% of 2 bets versus a 47% loss of 4 bets.( if this happens 2 times) <--corrected <br />
    And here is where one's philosophy enters. Plain and simple, there are times when you want that risk of a BIG hand, and there are times when preserving the bankroll seems more in order. Subjectivity of playing conditions abound. Maybe the dealer is busting a lot, maybe you're winning steadily. Maybe the dealer hasn't busted, or always "finds a way to win". When that big bet is up there, and this situation occurs many thoughts occur sometimes.

    The philosophy ususally associated with basic Strategy is that one bets flat.... say $25 every hand. There is no variance other than Splits and Doubles. Everyone else that varies their bets by advantage is outside the realm of Basic, and has a set of rules that protect the player. Notably is when to surrender 88 vs. X at a particular count index. A green chip player usually would NOT split, when betting 4 chips and a positive count , but DOES when betting 1 chip at a lower, maybe negative, index.

    My answer to all this is follow your given strategy. advantage players and basic players alike. Advantage players have the ability to play the hand in accordance to risk, as well as statistics. Basic Strategy presumes an even risk and depends entirely on stats. To presume a Basic Strategy player varies the bet, is an incorrect strategy to start, and the splitting of 8's scenario illustrates how one's initial mistake of varying a bet using Basic can be multiplied by having a bad hand.

    My answer for A5 is quite ridiculous, surrender when you bet more than 1 chip.... not by index, but by risk. Numerical engineers are quite probably aghast. But thats what I do, because I don't have a real advantage based index and/or method... just a pointer to who has the edge... and am forced to play Basic Strategy.

    Good Cards.
    N&B
  • I love this guy.
  • One more try then I'll "SURRENDER".

    When faced with an 88 vs X what can we say about the outcome before
    any decision is made. I think all will agree that you can say "nothing"
    as regards the unknown. There are two reason for this uncertainty and
    they are: (1) We have no knowledge of the deck and (2) we can not
    divorce this hand, this session, from our blackjack life cycle. We can't
    say that surrender will reduce our variance nor can we say that if we
    spit to four hands and win all four that we will be a winner for the night.
    Once again, we can say "nothing".

    If you agree with the above and you agree that any gambling situation/
    decision should be based on what you know; what knowledge is available,
    then you must split as basic strategy suggest. End of story...............
  • Ray - Don't "surrender". I am in 100% agreement with you and will try to post a response tomorrow (we have had house guests these past two days :wink: ).

    I don't think Zebra is saying we are incorrect about the "right" play .......he is just saying he prefers to play a little more conservative. Is that right Zebe?

    More later......(give that pretty filly in the next paddock some fresh hay and an carrot for me, Zebra)
  • Grifter- Ok, and I might add: It's not my intent to come accross as too
    curt. There may be some advantage to playing a session as if it were
    your last. I just don't see how....................................
  • Here's an attempt to summarize what I consider the relevant points of this discussion as pertains to my playing style. This is not an attempt to convert or convince anybody -- least of all you guys and gals who are successful in your own approaches. Just an explanation of how I think about things.

    :arrow: the long run is in fact comprised of many short individual sessions
    :arrow: each individual session is comprised of many hands
    :arrow: each hand can be played optimally or sub-optimally
    :arrow: each individual session is either going to be a winner or a loser
    :arrow: making money is more important than playing right
    :arrow: betting more when I'm more likely to win is a key ingredient to making a given session a winner
    :arrow: as a soft counter (semi-educated guesser), I sometimes find myself up shit creek with a big bet out in front of me (I imagine this happens to real counters sometimes too)
    :arrow: I don't have unlimited funds and therefore need some form of money management to stay alive in the lion's den
    :arrow: money management (win goals and loss limits) is critical for me (from an intellectual and psychological perspective) to stay disciplined and focused and to keep winning sessions winning and losing sessions reasonable
    :arrow: losing multiple big bets (especially in percentag losing split and double situations) can bankrupt a good session in one play
    :arrow: deviating from basic strategy protects session bankroll in these shit creek situations

    I know from personal experience (probably some selective memory here but I'm a pretty realistic fellow) that I have from time to time turned winning sessions into losing ones by playing the game by the book -- splitting out eights, resplitting, doubling, and ultimately risking an entire session's profits on a huge pile of dung before flaming out. I'm not crying -- I took the risks with the knowledge that I was playing "optimally" as dictated by basic stratetgy -- but henceforth, I'll risk less on marginal plays when I have big money out in an attempt to keep today's session (the only thing I have any control over) firmly in the black.

    I would estimate that two-thirds of my big losing sessions have flamed out as a result of blindly following the book in big bet situations when I had marginal hands to play.
  • I definitely agree with Grifter's assessment of my philosophy. It's not a disagreement with basic strategy. It's a choice to apply basic strategy or not depending on the situation and risk.

    I tried to give her that "carrot" but she wasn't having any of it.
  • But I do always split'em when I bet 1 unit. I do think that when a progression player bets more than 1 unit on a hand, that Basic Strategy has already been discarded in favor of risk.

    N&B
  • We can't say that surrender will reduce our variance


    Ray I agree with what you're saying except for the part above. Surrender does decrease variance as opposed to dropping another bet on the table, which could become a third bet if another 8 comes out and you have to plop down more money.

    In a nutshell I think this is what its all about for Zebra/Alex. They prefer the reduced variance, or we could call it conservative play, to winning a few (very few) extra bucks in the long run on 88 vs X. Its not basic strategy but I don't think its a bad play. Now if Zebra gets nervous with a big bet out and doubles for less holding an 11 against dealer 10, then thats a bad play (IMHO).
  • GH21- Well, yes on the variance comment, but I don't think Zebra and
    Alex are just talking about 88 vs X. If I look back in my memory, I see
    comments about uncommon insurance plays and such things as marginal
    B/S doubles. While I had some bad experiences with doubles back in Jan.
    this year, I don't consider any B/S double as being marginal. N&B made
    the point that at some point these variations cease to be negligible.
    Rather like walking a tight rope.....sooner or later to fall would be my guess, but maybe not if you can manage it.
  • Great posts by all. Letting your wager dictate dictate your play is definitely a "horse of a different color".

    First off, when playing a progression, we have thrown out the window one of BJ's basic law's that progressions do not change anything.

    Next, when at the upper end of your progression, could there be a list of deviations from bs to protect your bankroll(for example: Is 8,8 vs 10 worth splitting when you wager is 4x your original bet?). Advantage players deviate from bs when the count is right, so why can't we progression players do the same? Remember, we are already playing a "different" game the moment we employ any money management tool(raise/lower the bet, quit points, etc.) we have.

    Now that I have ignored two of the immutable laws of BJ above, can two wrongs make a right?
    :? :?
    Why not!
    :) :)
  • This has been a great discussion, but it has not changed my opinion. I still believe the correct play for every hand is to follow BS (for a non-counter). As gamblers we are playing the game to make money, and the most money will be made by following BS. And I stand by my previous post where I said that an intelligent, well prepared player knows the variance of the method he is playing and has sized his bankroll accordingly; so as not to have to ‘back down’ from BS when he gets a ‘bad’ splitting or doubling hand with more money on the table.

    The thing that bothers me most is……If you start deviating from BS, where do you stop? For example, there are 21 hands where the net gain from doubling your bet (splitting or doubling) is 75 or less units/1K occurrences (as a benchmark, 8-8 vs 10 is 57 units)……I agree that simply not splitting 8’s vs 10 will not affect your overall winnings (or increase the HA) significantly, BUT I contend that if deviate from BS on say the 21 hands with < 75 gain, then you are really hurting yourself $$$$$-wise........(the amount and the change in HA can easily be determined by software that allows you to change BS such as “BJ Trainer”, but I can’t find my disk).

    Regards….Grifter
  • Grif... Right on.

    GH21... I don't think Alex/Zebra/ me are under the impression that you win more. Appologies if anyone thinks that what I mean. Variance is the key. Now for having BJ and taking Insurance, thats a no thank you. As rightly pointed out, its a side bet that the dealer has a ten-value hidden. "Homey don't play dat".

    I have simmed the one change to BS of Surrender 88vX when the Ace-5 score is ZERO or more for both 678 and CVBJ/CVCX. The results are almost indistinguishable. Just a few .001% of Player Advantage difference. And the use of an index is not quite right, as you may be at ZERO, +1, or +2 betting only 1 unit, due to not yet winning a hand at those respective scores. Note for CVCX... you must remove the seat effect. Those that have 678, 678v.2003, or CVCX can pm or e-mail me if you'd like details. There is one problem... 678v.2003 does not like a playing strategy that is optioned to "Never Insure". My 'puter locks up when I click on the the player winnings at the end of the sim. Anyone else that has this problem should contact me and stickysoft (I think I'm alone with this problem due to my config.).

    N&B

    -->update: I have found a way around the lock-up problem... allow the players to take ins. at +8 or more, then allow insurance to be offered, and run the strategy development sim including the ins. index. N&B
  • GH21... I don't think Alex/Zebra/ me are under the impression that you win more.


    I don't think you are either, maybe my post was misleading. I also should be saying "lose less" rather than "win more" when talking about splitting the 8's.

    Variance is the key.


    I believe thats exactly what I said - shouldn't be any confusion on that one.

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