Players familiar with the grand old game of Black Jack as a back room pastime may be surprised to learn that it has become the only card game in many gambling houses and that in some, it has topped all other games in popularity. Experienced players often follow some procedure like the following:
The Play-Safe Method
Here, the player tries to chop down the dealer's advantage by never going bust. The rule is very simple: Never draw to a total of 12 or more. In that way it's impossible to total more than 21. Every time the dealer goes bust, the player sits back and collects.
What's more, in Black Jack as played in the gambling casinos, the dealer can't do a thing about it. The rules say that the dealer must draw to 16 or less so he can't sit tight and try to beat the player at his own game the way he could if he ever played Black Jack in his own home.
With 16 as the dealer's count, there are (theoretically) 32 out of 52 cards that will bust him. At 15, there are 28 out of 52; at 14, 24 out of 52. If his count adds to 13, there are only 20 chances out of 52 that he will go bust on the next draw, but other hazards are looming up where the dealer is concerned.
There are 12 chances out of 52 that he will draw an Ace, Two or Three, raising his score from 13 to 14, 15 or 16. In that case he still has to draw another card, with a slightly increased chance that it will bust him. This, of course, is highly helpful to the player.
On the contrary, in "playing safe," the player is forced to sit by idly when the dealer's first two cards total 17 or better. Also, his faint-heart policy looks bad when he stands, for example, on a total of 12 and watches the dealer, with a score of 16, draw himself a Five.
That five-spot would have given one player a neat 17. But he let the dealer take it and instead of going bust the dealer came under the line with a juicy 21. However, such heartbreaks have to happen, if you decide never to go bust yourself. The "play safe" method helps the player's odds by eliminating that factor. That's why players who prefer this method insist on following it to the letter.
The direct opposite of the "play safe" policy is:
The Dealer Method
This is exactly what its name implies. The player copies the exact procedure of the dealer. That is, if his cards show a total of 16 or less he says "Hit me." The moment his score comes to 17 or above he says "Stand."
What is the advantage? Simply that the player is meeting the dealer on his own ground, or in a sense trying to beat him at his own game, which is regarded as a dangerous procedure in ordinary life.
But in a gambling casino, a player expects to have the odds against him. He figures it this way: "The house has set the rules for the dealer because they give him the best advantage-so why shouldn't I do the same?" So he does and meets the dealer on even terms, except on those occasions when he and the dealer both go bust, which happens comparatively seldom.
This makes Black Jack about the same as Roulette or Craps as played in the best gambling casinos. The "double bust" in Black Jack works against the player about like the Zero, or the Zero and Double Zero in Roulette. Meanwhile, the player hopes for a lucky run or utilizes some system - or does both - in his customary effort to beat the house.
Both "playing safe" and "imitating the dealer" are automatic procedures.
Good luck using either of these methods!
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