Use It or Lose It!

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Should I use my basic strategy card for blackjack on a game or try to memorize all the rules? Larry F.

Quick, Larry, let’s see whether you can answer three simple questions. What should you do with a 12 against a three? How about an ace/3 facing a five? Should you split a pair of 7s eyeing a seven? Your replies should be “hit, double, and yes.”

What I ask all blackjack players who want to go it alone without a casino cheat sheet is: “Do you really know your basic strategy cold?” I have found, in 18 years of casino-work, that most players who believe they are experts at basic strategy misplay about 15% of their hands. The basic strategy chart, my crib card being a matrix of 270 hand situations, is designed to give you a concise and definitive play for every starting hand you will be dealt. Using a card will drop the casino edge to less than 1%. As long as you do not bring a blackjack game to a dead halt, Larry, most casinos will allow you to use your strategy card right at the table.

I highly recommend referring to it with the tough decisions. You mean you are reading this and playing blackjack without a strategy card? Allow me to send you a laminated Blackjack Strategy Card FREE. Send a Self Addresses Stamped Envelope to: Mark Pilarski, ATTN: BJ Strategy Card, P.O. Box 1234, Traverse City, MI 49685

How do you know that using your slot card does not affect your chances of winning? There are times when I am playing with a slot card and cannot get a darned thing. Then I take it out, try without the card, and win. I sometimes wonder. Dixie K.

The main reason casinos offer slot clubs is to promote loyalty to their joint. Shorting Dixie on her paybacks is not a smart way of making you a devout regular.

Be assured, Dixie, that the magnetic reader on the back of slot club cards is not in any way linked to the random number generator. The “RNG” chip has no way of knowing whether you are using a slot club card or not. If you think your one-armed bandit is ice-cold, regard it as a bit of bad luck and move to another machine.

Although, I occasionally dabble in games of chance, I still believe in the following quote: “Show me a gambler and I’ll show you a loser.” Do you happen to know where this quote originated? Also, where do you find the gaming quotes you use at the bottom of your column? Jeb R.

Many, Jeb, come from readers like yourself; friends that send me their favorite nuggets; quote databases on the internet like Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations; my obsessive appetite for reading anything about gambling adds to the heap; and finally, I owe a lot to two outstanding gambling quote books: The Quotable Gambler by Paul Lyons and Graham Sharpe’s The Essential Gambler.

The quote you mentioned in your question comes from Mario Puzo’s book, Fools Die.

Gambling thought of the week: “The typical gambler might not really understand the probabilistic nuances of the wheel or the dice, but such things seem a bit more tractable than, say, trying to raise a child in this lunatic society of ours.” -Arthur S. Reber, The New Gambler ‘s Bible

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