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Ask the Wizard #13

I am a 18 year-old from South Africa and I have recently become very interested in blackjack. In all the casinos I have been to in South Africa (a grand total of 4), early surrender is offered. I was wondering if there are further situations when you should surrender with early surrender apart from the four situations for late surrender. I also wondered how much it cuts down the house advantage, and how effective it could be to exploit this rule while using a card counting system. I would be grateful for any sort of help or direction regarding these matters.

Paul from South Africa

My blackjack appendix 6 has a full strategy for early surrender.

If the dealer checks his hole card, and does not have blackjack, then why hit a soft 18 against an ace. Also, why not double on an 11?

Randy from Columbus, Ohio

In blackjack there are seldom simple answers. You have to consider everything that could happen and weigh every outcome by their probability. The best play is the one with the greatest expected return. According to my blackjack appendix 9b, the expected return in a double deck game of hitting a soft 18 against an ace is -0.1004 and the expected return of standing is -0.1005 . So hitting is just a hair better. 11 against an ace is also a very borderline play. It is actually composition dependent in both single and double decks, in other words depending on which two cards that total 11 determines how to play the hand. However if you don't wish to memorize the composition-dependent basic strategy exceptions, then you should double on 11 against an ace in single and double deck and hit with four or more decks.

As a moderate craps player who is of course interested in receiving every "comp" possible, could you give advice on the best betting (craps) strategy. Tried to find it in your GREAT web site.

Ernie from Hernando Beach, Florida

Unlike most gambling writers, I don't put much emphasis on betting strategies. Assuming the same game and bet, there is no one right or wrong strategy. They all behave differently in the short run, but in the long run you will give the house the same percentage of total money bet.

Found your site through bulletin board. I'm finding it fascinating. Can you tell me the odds of the dealer qualifying in Caribbean stud. I've heard anything from 40% to 55%. I've been playing "blind" and therefore taking the human element out of the game, and have been successful, by not going out of hands that I would ordinarily go out on. Please advise. Thanks a lot.


According to my probabilities in poker there are 1,296,420 ways out of 2,598,960 to form a pair or more. I also indicate at the bottom of that page that there are 167,280 ways to form an ace/king. So there are 1,463,700 ways to qualify, or a 56.32% chance.

By playing blind you are bucking a house edge of 16.607%. If you used my three rules of thumb in my section on Caribbean stud you would lower the house edge to 5.225%.