Hitting 12 vs. 4 : Article by Fred Renzey...
  • Blackjack Players Who Know the Least Criticize the Most
    By Fred Renzey
    15 October 2005

    I was playing blackjack at one of the local casinos yesterday in their high limit room. There was one other man at the table playing third base. Right off the top of a six-deck shoe, I was dealt 10/2 and he had 10/9 while the dealer showed a 4 for an up-card.

    I know this will come as a shock to most of you, but under these circumstances the correct play is to HIT – which I did.

    "Man, that's just plain dumb", the other player criticized as I caught a 5 to make 17. "Why was it dumb? I only had 12.", I replied innocently, taking the subservient position.

    While we were speaking, the dealer turned over a 6 in the hole and pulled a 10 to make 20. As she swept the board, it was apparent that if I stood, the dealer's first hit card would've been my 5, followed by the 10 which would've busted her. Third Base promptly exploded!

    "She had a bust card up there, buddy! What do you want to take a chance on breaking for when she's supposed to bust?" So I asked him; "Does the dealer usually break when she has a 4 up?" Without a moment's hesitation, he shot back, "Absolutely! That's why it was stupid to hit that!"

    I pushed things a step further by questioning, "How often does the dealer actually bust with a 4 up? His reply was, "Listen, I'm not gonna' give lessons at the table. Simple logic tells you she'll break a 14 more often than you'll help your 12.

    "Where was 14?", I asked. "I only saw 4." "Okay, fine." he said, "Play your own money any way you want; but you're not gonna' take mine down with you." And with that he switched tables.

    This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I've been berated and called an idiot by more players than any five of you put together. The amusing thing is, most of these condescending players can't play a lick. To them, their losses are always somebody else's fault.

    On one point, though. The man was part right. If the dealer really had 14, she'd break it 56% of the time. Problem is with that 4 up, she'll have some other hand 9 times out of 13. And because of that, she'll actually break the 4 only 40% of the time. That makes 12 against a 4 an extremely close decision.

    As for you, don't be like the average loser who believes that hitting 12 against a 4 is a sucker play. Hitting it can never be that big a mistake (you can only BUST 31% of the time), and when there are just as many (or more) 10s in sight as "babies" (2s thru 5s), hitting is actually the right play!

    You see, shallow players look at a basic strategy chart and ASSume that all the correct plays are equally correct. If the chart says to stand with both 16 against a 6 and with 12 against a 4, they assume it would be equally sacrilegious to hit either hand. In reality, though, standing with 16 against a 6 is correct by a wide margin – where 12 against a 4 is almost a coin flip. But the chart doesn't spell this out.

    Are you finding this hard to accept? Well, have you ever played the game of Spanish 21? Ever seen a basic strategy chart for this game? Proper basic strategy is to hit 14 against a deuce! Why? Because the shoe has no 10-spots. Oh yeah, all the Jacks, Queens and Kings are still there, but instead of 96 total 10s, there are only 72 – no 10-spots. Because of that, it's correct to hit a lot more hands.

    Now try to understand this. In regular blackjack, if they took two measly 10s out of a six-deck shoe, left the other 94 intact and played with that, proper basic strategy would be to hit 12 against a 4. And there will be many times when you'll be able to see that this is, in effect, the case. When that's true, take a HIT.
  • I play very much like this and boy do I get the looks and comments from the people loosing at the table. Most of the time I do all right but saturday ant Ansa in California I would get 19 the dealer 20... if I got 21 the dealer pushed...... spent $110.00 at a five dollar table and left..... maybe tuesday at Pauma I'll do better........
  • I categorize people into three classes at the BJ table:

    1. advantage player (counter, tracker, hole-carder, etc.) If I see one at a table, I pass the table by as two counters at the same table can be bad news since their bets will tend to ramp similarly.

    2. civilians. People that like to gamble, do not do any advantage plays at all. But who are polite, interesting to talk to, know Basic Strategy reasonably well (some even perfectly), don't complain about others and how they play, don't start the "screwing up the flow of the cards" junk, etc.

    3. ploppies. Rude. Obnoxious. Usually don't play BS properly but some do it perfectly. Criticize other players, particularly when the player does something that affects the table. Taking a 10 at third base that would have broken the dealer. When someone splits incorrectly, or sits out a hand, or joins mid-shoe, they complain about "screwing up the flow of the cards" and so forth.

    The latter group I tend to try to drive away. If he complains about the "flow of the cards" I will switch from 1-2-3 hands (if possible). I will split 10's against a 4-5-6 if the count suggests it. At negative counts I might split badly, 22 vs 10. Doesn't cost much, eats a few negative cards, and "totally screws up the flow of the cards." Doesn't take much to run such clowns off.

    My philosophy at the table is anyone that places a bet can play his/her hand the way they want. If they ask about the proper play, I may (or may not) tell them the proper BS play. It doesn't hurt to help, but then again you really don't want the pit/dealer to know just how much you know about the game...
  • Hi i am new to blackjack, and clearly you know so much more than me.

    But i cant find out on http://wizardofodds.com/ any basic strategy chart that says to hit a 12 versus 4. Or any on this website.

    Can you please show me a site that says this. I believe you though, i just want a SITE so i can justify the move to other players if they question it etc

  • ljd47...the MATH justifies the move,
    because the ONLY CARDS that can BREAK a 12 are a 10, J, Q, or K = 31% of the DECK...
    69% of the time,
    you will NOT BREAK when you HIT a 12 no matter what the Dealer has.
  • What about the overall board count? Would you hit the 12 if there was babies all over the place? :?: Its a toughie that for sure.
  • You missed his point.

    12 vs 4 is _stand_ according to BS. 12 vs 4 is "stand at zero or higher" for a hi-lo counter. If you see _one_ extra high card then the TC will be less than zero, where the correct play is to hit.

    In Fred's case, I don't understand his "hit is correct" unless I missed a card or he forgot to mention another hand. It seems that the running count was exactly zero, which is "exactly stand" according to my hi-lo strategy. Now it is possible that for a different counting system, with different card tags, this might not be the case...

    Perhaps he was talking about the "floating advantage" (where the advantage per count rises more toward the end of the shuffle as opposed to near the front). If that is the case, then "hit" might well be the right play (I don't personally use this "floating advantage" but know of some that do, where you "correct" the TC depending on how close you are to the next shuffle point...
  • The "absolute" correct basic strategy play when holding a 12 vs 4 is to "hit" if you hold a 10 and 2, and to "stand" with any other combination of 12.

    Note.....See how few words that took.... 8)
  • I've never paid much attention to "composition-dependent" BS plays, for obvious reasons. That way I get to ignore the "Dr. Pepper" discussions and the like also. :)
  • My notes say 10-2 vs 4 is hit at 0 or less. However, one running count
    want make much difference. The same can be said for 16 vs 10 which
    is stand at 0 or higher.

    Also, comp hands can be used with counting early in the shoe. When
    you have no other motivation from counting 10-2 vs 4 is hit. Same for
    16 vs 10 as related to 4's and 5's, stand. This could be Renzey's take from
  • stainless steel rat said:
    I've never paid much attention to "composition-dependent" BS plays, for obvious reasons. That way I get to ignore the "Dr. Pepper" discussions and the like also. :)

    Excuse me?......Composition dependent?.......Dr Pepper?.....What I stated is simply the totally correct basic strategy (which was the topic of this thread). Refer to Braun, or Griffin's "Theory of Blackjack" for full explanation).

  • Grifter:
    so you are saying that 12 vs 4 is hit if you have a 10 and 2, whether it is 1 deck or 8?

    My books all say hit on 12 vs 2 or 3, stand vs 4 5 or 6, if you don't count either playing indices for counting, or composition-dependent plays... I just checked the 1 deck, 2 deck and 4+ deck BS cards and mine all say "stand" on 12 vs 4??

    Perhaps I am confused??


    My HiLo index says "stand at 0 or higher" not "hit at 0 or lower", for 12 vs 4...
  • SSR- Yes I know what H/L uses....If you are a counter and you are in
    the middle of a neutral shoe, what do you do with 10-2 vs 4? I say you hit because being a counter does not exempt you from other advantage plays. All of us play B/S most of the time and 10-2 vs 4 is an extention of B/S in 6 or less decks(not so in 8 deck due to card volume). This concept/play originated in the "real" single deck days........................
  • How about this: 12 has many faces. Like: 9-3, 8-4, 7-5, etc and the index in balanced counting systems, regardless of tags, is stand on 0 or
    higher. But, we are not talking about those hands now are we? If 10-2 vs 4 is a hit at neutral, then the index must be hit at 0 or less. This is a simple adjustment to this individual hand, counter or not.
  • I'm not about to argue about this.

    I simply said that all my BS charts, from the newest book by "Bootlegger" (his handle on multiple blackjack sites) to Arnold's newest BB in BJ, all give 12 vs 4 as stand. No matter how many decks, No matter whether H17 or S17.

    As I mentioned earlier, if you are _specifically_ addressing 10+2 vs 4, and you are saying that hit is the correct strategy, that's fine. I call that a "composition-dependent strategy" since it depends on the composition of your hand, in specific cards, not just the total. I simply never learned them since they vary from SD to DD to 4D+ anyway, and at a count of zero, what I do is not very relevant, since that is a minimum bet anyway. I assume the EV for 10+2 vs 4 is slightly higher for hit than for stand, based on the comments. Any idea exactly how much better than stand this actually is???
  • For a 2d Dealer Stands Soft 17 game its lose 23 to stand and lose 22 to hit 10-2 vs. 4.
    For a 8 deck game its lose 23 to stand and lose 23.1 to hit.

    For Dealer hits Soft 17 2d its lose 23 to stand, and lose 22.5 to hit. With 4 decks or more, its slightly better to stand than hit.

    All the above base on 100 occurances.

    Composition dependant hands are a fine point to Basic, and not in most published charts. Most will not tell you to stand with 4 card 16 vs. a 10-value. Most will not tell you to generally stand with 3 card 16 vs. 10-value. These are accurate plays that the Basic Player SHOULD be aware of... they happen.
  • Ray/Nickels - Good posts, especially that last paragraph above.

    SSR - "I'm not going to argue about this."...There is nothing to argue about. The fact that you were uninformed about these plays or the fact that you don't personnally use them is meaningless..........The point Ray/Nickels/I are making is that these are the mathematically correct basic strategy plays

  • My "I am not going to argue" was a direct indication that this is simply a play I do not use, and have not used. Wasn't trying to be confrontational or anything. I've simply learned to use the hi-lo BS departure indices, which simply says "stand at zero or higher" in every book I have, including every CVBJ and CVCX simulations.

    Not much more that I can say, since I don't play basic strategy on that particular hand anyway, I simply hit at < 0, stand at 0 or higher.

    Hope my comments were not taken as "confrontational". It wasn't intended. I was simply trying to understand the "context" since even Shakleford's site has "stand" for 12 vs 4, but does not include sub-classes such as 10-2 vs 4 and other composition-dependent BS plays...

    as far as the other composition-dependent hands, that doesn't apply to a card counter for the most part, as if you remember all the hi-lo indices, and then multiply that by a couple of dozen composition-dependent changes, it would be more than most could handle. At least more than I can handle for sure.. It really doesn't matter that a bunch of small cards have come out on this round, if way more big cards came out on previous rounds to drive the count "south". I'd bet the "gain" or "loss" is so small, and then the hand happens so infrequently on top of that, that this is one of those 3rd decimel place decisions overall if that...
  • Some clarifications and corrections to this thread....

    - In Renzey's example 10-2 vs 4 as posted, his running count is -2.

    - There are not two dozen hand comp hands...not even close.

    - The hand comp hands that we have discussed apply to decks 1-6...
    don't know about 4 deck, but I think they are history.

    - I support N & B's view on when to stop hitting.

    - It's round ball season, at last
  • May this thread rest in peace! :wink:
  • I have seen +many+ "composition-dependent decisions" over the years.

    10-2-4 vs 10

    doubling 5-6 vs A but not 9-2.

    Now 10-2 vs 4.

    There actually are quite a few. I even had a chart a few years back that gave _many_ such hands, produced by someone that had a lot more computer time than family life. In fact, many BS hand could be slightly tweaked with a composition-dependent variation, when the basic BS play is _very_ close.

    If you think about this, the index plays become pretty complex. for example

    12 vs 4, stand at zero
    10-2 vs 4, hit at zero or less, stand at +1 or higher.

    I suspect there are probably other composition-dependent hands adding up to 12 vs 4 that could have different hit/stand indices depending on the composition of the player's hand. That one play might well turn into 3-4-5 _different_ index numbers that depend on the actual cards in the player's hand. If you take the dr pepper hand, and do the same, then the double 9 vs 7 or 9 vs 2 hands, or double 10 vs A, you arrive at a pretty good batch of additions to the already 70 or so hi-lo indices a proficient HiLo player has memorized...


    In my counting system, 10-2, 10-9 and 4 add up to a running count of zero.

    If you are using a level-2 or something unbalanced, perhaps you have a different RC of course. So for me, we are discussing a hand where Wong's BS departure index (confirmed in CVBJ) says "stand at zero"...

    If you/Grifter like composition-dependent index plays, more power to you. I'm afraid my head would explode if I tried to add much more. It's hard enough for me to keep the normal hi-lo indices "mentally accessible" since my playing time is way more limited since Biloxi got blown away by Katrina...
  • SSR – O.K., lets assume you are right and there are “+many+” and/or "quite a few" as you state…….What are they? Remember we are discussing the fine points of basic strategy which is the player’s hand vs the dealer’s up card…… We are not discussing total board composition or counting.

    Here is the question: What are the composition dependent (player’s hand) changes to basic strategy other than 12 vs 4 and 16 vs 10?

    Since you say there are "many" or "quite a few", just a list would be sufficient.

  • Basic Strategey: deck, Hit 17, Late surrender you surrender

    all 15's vs 10 except 7-8 vs 10.

    Source: The Wizzard http://wizardofodds.com/blackjack/bjapx6.html
  • Even better:

    Go to www.wizardofodds.com, click "blackjack" then go to the bottom of that page and click appendix 3a. There are 105 (if I added correctly) BS composition-dependent playing changes. Then hit appendix 3b and 3c. That's bad enough.

    Then go to (I think) appendix 9 and look at the expected value for composition-dependent hands to see how close many actually are.

    Now factor in the true count (which he does not do since (as I wrote previously) if you factor in the CD playing strategies along with true count values, this must multiplies the total number of CD decisions by some number that is certainly > 1.0, meaning you end up with even more indices with CD exceptions...

    that was my only point. And the above are only for single-deck. Similar results for DD and up have been done from time to time, although I don't know if Mike has ever posted any. Several years ago a friend of mine gave me a xeroxed copy of a xeroxed copy of a bunch of such hands. Including 6 decks. I used my own simulation program to test a few and found that (for example) after running 4 billion rounds, than a CD strategy might improve the EV for that particular hand by .0003 or something tiny like that, and in my case, I decided that memorizing all those exceptions was simply not possible.

    I play a lot of SD bj, and I'd hate to try to commit Mike's 100+ CD plays to memory, and they don't even take a count into consideration, just pure BS...
  • SSR - Good list......Thanks......G.
  • Wasn't trying to be confrontational, but informative. Sorry, if misunderstood. After reading the rest of the thread, Mike's site has quite a listing of shaved hairs.

    IMHO there are a few fine points to Basic that one should consider noteworthy, due to the frequency of occurance. Namely:

    Stand on 3-card 16 vs. 10-value unless you hold A69, 267, or 368.
    Stand on any 4-card (or more) 16 vs. 10-value.
    Hit 10-2 vs. 4 if playing Double Deck. (SD also if H17) Gain 1.3/100

    Stand 5-7 & 4-8 vs. 3 in Double Deck. (SD also if H17) Gain 1.5/100 ea.

    IMHO these fine points are above and beyond.
    Good Cards.
  • From a practical point of view, I don't think the variations referenced
    are something that you could take to the casino with you. The difference
    in single and DD highlight this fact and I doubt the application of same
    in any shoe game. Hitting 12 vs 6 in the special case of the first hand
    after a shuffle and only for single deck does not strike we as a variation
    that is in the same vane as 10-2 vs 4 or 16 vs 10 where 4's and 5's are
    involved. These two are real variations that fit the real world.......
  • Here's why I mentioned them.

    Teach a new counter the way to count cards. Then break him in on the I-18 departures, or actually probably start with the top 6 or whatever. Which leaves out the goodies like 9 vs 2 and 9 vs 7 doubles. And lo' and behold, the new counter gets a big count, has a big bet out, doesn't double but hits and gets the A or 10, and wins. And later says "wait a minute, dammit, SSR, you said that index was not that important for starters... yet it cost me a big bet in potential winnings that I didn't make..."

    Of course, the fact that particular index play came up once in an hour is immaterial to him/her. :)

    (if that sounds real, it was. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt).

    All of the many CD BS plays are extremely rare. Until you draw that particular hand and blow it when you would have won had you remembered the CD strategy correctly... And those are the ones we remember, of course...

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!