THE VALUE OF ADVICE
Sometimes other players can’t keep their opinion to themselves
Some players like to give advice at the tables, some will give it only if asked, and some don’t like to give advice at all. By the same token, some players like to receive advice, while some take it badly. Here are a few more stories from readers, received via email:
I’m not the advice-giving kind of guy. Even when asked, I try to shrug it off.
But one day, a dealer put me on the spot. I was at a conference, and had time just for about 45 minutes at a blackjack table before the opening seminar. Two guys at the table obviously had been losing money and obviously didn’t know what they were doing.
I got on a pretty good run betting green chips and before you know it I was up a couple of hundred dollars. The other two guys kept losing, but one of them said, “More power to you brother. I have to hand it to anyone who can beat Frank here.” And he nodded toward the dealer, Frank.
Frank told them, “He’s just a good solid player. You should follow his lead. He’s going to have a nice session here.”
After that, anytime they had a close call hand, they asked me what to do. I couldn’t tell them I didn’t know. Frank had already tipped them off, and I knew Frank knew I knew basic strategy. (Sorry for all those “knews”!)
So until it was time for me to go, they made basic strategy decisions, too, and did a little better. I couldn’t be too upset with Frank. I left for my seminar $500 richer and left Frank a nice toke.
This one guy wanted to tell everybody how to play their hands. He was mostly OK on basic strategy, I guess, but he wouldn’t shut up even when his advice was clearly unwelcome.
He wasn’t perfect, though. I was dealt 7- Ace, soft 18, and the dealer had a 10 up. I signaled to hit, just like the basic strategy tables say you should. Before the dealer could give me a card, he practically screamed: “DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE HITTING 18?” I just said, “Yes, I can see that,” and got my card. I wound up drawing once or twice more, but won the hand, and the advice man said, “I guess luck sometimes is all you need.”
I let it pass, but then another player signaled to stand on 16 against a 10. Mr. Advice said, “Oh, you’re supposed to hit that one,” and the other player finally snapped. He said, “Look, I can play my own cards, got it? Just save your damned kibitzing.” Two other players gave it a little soft clap. Mr. Advice didn’t totally stop, but he wasn’t yapping on every hand after that.”
I used to not mind giving advice, though I usually didn’t volunteer it. I basically stopped after one late night when I sat down next to a woman who’d had a few drinks. She wasn’t sloppy drunk or anything; she was just having a good time.
She had a 14 and the dealer had an 8, and she just couldn’t decide what to do. Three players were telling her to hit, a couple of others weren’t saying anything, and the dealer just told her it was her hand to play.
It’s not like she needed me as a tiebreaker or anything, but she wanted one more opinion. She looked right at me and said, “I just don’t know what to do.” I said, “If it were my hand, I’d hit.” She said, “You really would?”
That did it. She hit. And, of course, she drew an 8 and busted. She lost the hand, left the table. I knew my advice was correct, but it still had lost her the hand. And somehow, that did it for me. Somebody has to really press me before I’ll give any advice at the table.
I joined a blackjack table where there already were three other players. I bought in and said, “I hope everybody’s winning.” One guy said, “Welcome to the game,” one lady said, “It’s not too bad here,” and this other guy said, “You have to watch Tom” – Tom was the dealer – “Every time Tom has a 6, he makes 21.”
I laughed, and figured it was just the usual complaint about dealers filling in low hands. But after a few hands, I had a 7 and Tom had a 6. Before I could signal to stand, this guy says, “You’ll want to hit that against old 21 Tom.” I said, “No, I think I’ll stand.” He said, “Seriously? At this table, you have to hit.”
Tom had a 9 down and busted, so I won, but still the guy said, “You got away with it this time, but watch out.” Fortunately, Tom didn’t start any other hands with 6 before the other guy left.
You don’t really think of Caribbean stud as an advice game. There’s not all that much strategy. Nevertheless, I got on a little roll, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world in Caribbean stud. I had about six winners in nine hands, which is pretty amazing in that game. They included a three of a kind and a straight, so I was doing really well.
This other dude was playing every hand, without even looking at his cards. He was losing every hand, too. A lot of them where hands he should just have sat out, but he was betting away.
Toward the end of my run, he said, “Hey, you’re winning a lot. Any advice for us losers.”
I said, “Sure. Don’t bet every hand. Look at your cards first.”
He said, “That’s no fun. I’m here to play.”
He kept doing what he was doing. My streak ended, as you’d expect. His didn’t. I suppose you’d expect that, too.