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Blackjack: Splitting Pairs

Any blackjack player who’s studied basic strategy has this pair-splitting maxim deeply ingrained: Always split Aces and 8s. Never split 5s or 10s.

There’s one minor exception. With two or more decks in play in a game where the dealer hits soft 17 and late surrender is offered, it’s better to surrender 8-8 against a dealer’s Ace.

Some hands are closer calls than others. Let’s check out some numbers for six-deck games where dealers hit soft 17 — the most common blackjack games around today.

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Casino Knowledge: Questions From the Vault with John G.

I field hundreds of questions from readers every year. They cover a wide range of topics including strategy basics, bankroll needs and even gaming history. A few catch my eye as being of special interest.

Right now, with the expansion of sports betting, there are things players need to know that were outside their usual domain before last year. Here are a few from the vault you might find interesting.

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Blackjack: Myths of the Game

It was an unbelievably hot afternoon in the summer of 1968 when the young couple arrived in Las Vegas. It was their first trip ever to this gambling Mecca and they didn’t know what to expect. Certainly the 120 degree temperature was nothing they had ever experienced in their native New Jersey. When they arrived at the Aladdin Casino Hotel, they were taken aback by the elegance of the casino. The adrenaline was already flowing through the young mans body as he couldn’t wait to play blackjack. They agreed that she would stand in the hotel check-in line and he would “check out the casino”.

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Smart Strategy: Taking it to the Casinos

Blackjack is the most popular casino table game and has been since 1965, shortly after Edward Thorp’s book Beat the Dealer became a sensation. Thorp correctly wrote that blackjack could be beaten by keeping track of the cards; in short, card counting. The general purpose of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21.

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Blackjack: The Insurance Debate

 

A friend of mine was watching me play blackjack in a casino. I was playing heads-up against the dealer in a double-deck game. He didn’t say much to me while I was playing other than to give me an “atta boy” when I beat the dealer, or offer condolences when the dealer pulled a miracle draw to beat me.

After about forty-five minutes of playing, we broke for lunch. My friend is a typical casual blackjack player and he queried me about some of the insurance bets that I made. “How come you sometimes insured your 20s and other times you didn’t, and why in hell did you insure your 7? I always thought you’re supposed to insure your good hands and not your bad hands?” I proceeded to explain to him the following.

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Casino Q&A with John G. : Get the Answers that Help You Win!

As a game that allows players to exercise their skill along with having a strong element of chance, blackjack has more subtleties than most casino games. It also leaves plenty of room for question and comment. Let’s try to answer a few questions and relay a few comments submitted by readers.

 

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