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Ask the Wizard #13
Paul from South Africa
My blackjack appendix 6 has a full strategy for early surrender.
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.
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.
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%.