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Gaming Guru

 

Just Ask A.P.

29 January 2000

Dear AP: Please give me the rules for doubling down on hard hands. Also, my friend and I are having this debate. He says that you should double down on anything under 12 if the dealer is showing a bust card. So if you have a three and a two and the dealer's up card is six, should you double? He says "yes" because the dealer is in a very vulnerable position.

OV

Dear OV:
Before I give you any rules for doubling let me tell you that your friend is mistaken. Yes, the dealer is in a vulnerable position when he shows a six but to double your bet you have to be in a somewhat advantageous position yourself. Thus, five is a weak hand to draw only one card to—there's absolutely no chance you can beat the dealer unless he does indeed bust. However, in the following doubling strategies, you'll notice that quite often even if the dealer doesn't bust, you have the opportunity to improve your hand in such a way that you can beat the dealer anyway.

Here are the generic basic doubling rules for hard hands, taken from Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete, that can be used for either single and multiple deck play.

  • Double an 11 against the dealer's two through 10. (Single deck double vs. ace)
  • Double a 10 against the dealer's two through nine.
  • Double a nine against the dealer's three through six. (Single deck double against a dealer's two.)
  • Double an eight against a dealer's five or six. (Single deck game only.)
  • Never double down on a seven or less, or a twelve or more. Unless you're counting cards, these moves are usually suicidal for your long-range expectations.

Dear AP:
The biggest craze in the casinos where I go is Caribbean Stud. Sometimes the jackpots can go over one-hundred thousand dollars. Is this a good game to play?

HJ

Dear HJ:
No. Although that's not a satisfying answer, it's the truth. In recent years the casinos have introduced various table card games that have heavy house edges. Some of these are double-down stud and Let It Ride, as well as Caribbean Stud. These games have all been introduced with one thing in mind: to wean players from blackjack, a game which can be theoretically beaten by skilled players, and get them hooked on games with a high fixed house percentage.

Unfortunately, Caribbean Stud is just such a game. Perfect play on the part of the player will still give the house a strong 5.3 percent edge on the ante and an overall edge of around 2.8 percent on the total amount wagered. The only time it is even worth considering playing is when the jackpot goes over the three- hundred thousand mark—a rare occurrence.


Dear AP:
Do the casinos really have "loose" and "tight" machines. If so, how do you tell the one from the other?

SP

Dear SP:
According to Frank Scoblete's breakthrough slot book, Break the One-Armed Bandits!, the casinos in fact have "loose" and "tight" machines interspersed on their floors. The "loose" machines are defined as those machines returning more of the player's money in the long run; the "tight" machines return less. Although these a relative terms—one casino's "tight" machines could be the equivalent of another's "loose" one—all casinos have a mix of both. The "loose" machines have been strategically placed to encourage players to play more. Since these will tend to pay out more often, people near them will be excited by the sound of winners and pour their coins into the machines they're playing.

It is impossible to distinguish machines by look or type. Two exact machines sitting side by side could pay out drastically different percentages. However, Scoblete interviewed a casino executive and discovered the reasoning behind the slot placement. He then gave detailed guidelines on how to find these "loose" machines. The problem with slot play is, of course, that rarely is a "loose" machine a winning overall proposition.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete

For more information about Caribbean Stud, we recommend:

Bold Card Play: Best Strategies for Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride & Three Card Poker by Frank Scoblete

For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.
Alene Paone
Alene Paone is the publisher of Paone Press which specializes in gaming books, videos and audio cassettes. For a free brochure call: 1-800-944-0406.