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Blackjack or Bust

Blackjack players share some oddities

by John Grochowski


Given enough trials in blackjack, any hand that can be dealt eventually will.

Of course, some hands are a lot more likely than others. The truly rare ones stick in our minds and we tell other players about them.

For this month’s “Table Talk,” blackjack players share some oddities.

BOB: I had a hand for the ages last week, and not in a good way.

It involved both splitting pairs and doubling down. I played it by the book, but it was an unmitigated disaster. We know that happens.

I played it right, but I lost SEVEN BETS.

It’s one of my favorite hands that a lot of people miss. You turn the probability from loss if you hit or stand to a small profit if you split.

I bet $25 and I split my original 2-2. On hand No. 1 was dealt another 2 and resplit.

Back to hand No. 1. Next card was a 9. I doubled and was dealt a 5 for 16.

On hand No. 2, I drew a 4, then a 5, then a 3, for 14. The basic strategy play is to hit 14 against 7, as you know. I did what I must, drew an 8 and busted.

On hand No. 3, ANOTHER 2 came up. I split those, and another $25 was on the line. I drew an 8. Time to double down again. This time I drew a 7, so I had 17.

Finally, I drew another 8 on the last 2, doubled down again, and drew a 3.

I could hope for a dealer bust, and if she turned up 10 for 17, I’d at least salvage a push on one double.

No such luck, but at least it was quick. The dealer had an Ace down, so she had 18 and beat all my hands. So the final outcome: I lost two $25 bets on the first double down; one $25 bet on the bust hand; two $25 bets on the double down that was a 17; and two $25 bets on the double down that was a 13.

That’s a $175 loss on what started as one $25 bet.

This isn’t my first go-round and we’ve all seen those swings before. But man, it’s still exasperating.

YVONNE: I had one of those hands that made me wish they really paid Charlies. The dealer had a 10 up. I had a 2 and a 4.

Next was a 3, then another 3. Four cards, and I only had 12. Then I drew another 2, then an Ace. So that’s six cards and 15. The dealer still has that 10 up and I’m thinking, wow, I have to draw a seventh card.

I really struggled with that. There were so many low cards out already. But I bit the bullet and signaled a hit. Miracle of miracles, it was a 5. That gave me 20 and I’m thinking it was all worth it.

Naturally, the dealer flipped up another 10. All I got out of all that  was a push. Beats losing, but why couldn’t it be a 6?

SAM: The casino was allowing only three players at the table and there were only three chairs, all spaced out.

As the cards were being dealt, the first player got a King, I was in the middle and got an Ace and the last player also got an Ace. The dealer’s card was face down.

Then the first player got an Ace, I got a Jack, the last player got a 10 and the dealer turned up an Ace.

The dealer asked if anyone wanted insurance. No one did, and the last player said, “If there’s any time you’re not going to have a 10, it’s with all this on the table.”

He couldn’t be more wrong. The dealer had a Jack down and what we had was a table full of pushes.

I know it would be a lot less likely with seven players, but I think this was the only time I’ve ever seen a “full” table where every player and the dealer all got blackjacks on the same hand.

HECTOR: I started six hands in a row with an Ace. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could the dealer. By the fourth hand she was saying, “There’s the automatic Ace.”

I wish I could say I got a bunch of blackjacks and won big bucks, but that didn’t happen. There was only one blackjack. There also was a pair of Aces I split and won both hands. I lost three of the six hands. So there was a little profit with the split and the blackjack, but it felt like a letdown after all those Aces.

KATIE: A guy next to me was playing the match game for a few hands, or at least it seemed like it. We were getting the same cards for four hands in a row. The first time we pointed and laughed about it. The second time the player on the other side of him said, “Oooooh, again!” and everyone picked up on it.

It wasn’t just that I’d get 17 and he’d get 17. I’d get a 9 and an 8 and he’d get a 9 and an 8. I got a King of spades and a 10 of diamonds and he got a King of spades and a 10 of diamonds. We both had 6 and 5 against the dealer’s 9, and we both doubled down and drew 9s. Then we both had 9-7 and stood against a 6, but the dealer pulled out an 18.

The dealer said it must be destiny, and the guy said, “My wife would go for my destiny going beyond cards.”


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