Ask the Wizard #32
Second question, does the number of hits one takes effect the outcome? For example, if I have five cards that total 15 against a dealer's 10, am I pressing my luck by taking a sixth card? In other words, are the odds of busting on a 5-card 15 the same as busting on a 2-card 15?
Chris from Gaithersburg, USA
Thank for the compliment and I'm happy to help your bankroll last longer. When I gamble for fun I keep playing until it isn't fun any longer. Usually the fun ends when I have lost too much or have played too long. With the ups and downs of blackjack it takes hundreds of hours before regression toward the mean will cause actual results to look like expected results. Furthermore, the player who puts a conservative cap on their winnings is never going to experience the fun of a long hot winning streak. Keep in mind this is just what works for me. You should do what you are comfortable with. Everything I have to say about money management can be summarized by the following two rules (1) don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose, and (2) don't gamble if it isn't fun.
Regarding your second question, there is something to be said about the composition of a hand. The fewer the decks the more this is true. My blackjack appendix 3A and appendix 3B show the exceptions to single- and double-deck blackjack, based on the composition of the hand. These appendices show that the more cards that are in your hand the more inclined you should be to stand. Regarding your 15 against a 10 example, there are two situations in single deck blackjack where you should stand when the 15 is composed of 5 cards, A+A+A+6+6 and A+A+3+5+5. Note that in both of these situations either two fives or two sixes have left the deck which are the two most helpful cards for the player. The two situations where you should be the most inclined to stand if you have a multiple card hand are 16 against a 10 and a 12 against a 3.
Jim from Widdleton, Wisconsin
Since you asked I added a blackjack strategy for European blackjack to my site. I also discussed this topic in one of my recent newsletters.
Brian from State College, USA
Most online casinos shuffle after every hand. Others shuffle at random times but do not indicate exactly when to the player. I have noticed Microgaming casinos flash the word "shuffling" about one hand in four.
However, if you track the cards between these announcements you will sometimes see the same card twice, which is impossible in a single-deck game, assuming you believe them about when they shuffle. As far as I know, they actually shuffle after every hand, but for reasons I do not understand, only indicate a shuffle occasionally. If I remember correctly, Cryptologic casinos do indeed indicate when they are shuffling their eight-deck shoe.
K from USA
As long as you stay away from the 0-00-1-2-3 combination, the house edge on any combination of bets is always exactly 1/19, or 5.26%. There are ways to increase your probability of winning, but at the cost of winning less relative to your total wager.
Ed from Lynnwood, USA
Let n be the number of decks. The probability of a blackjack is 2*(4/13)*(4n/(52*n-1)). If n=6 the probability is 192/4043 = 4.75%.
Michael from Fort Worth, Texas
My Java games are based on the random number generator that comes with Visual J++. For personal play, it should be quite fair. I speculate that any bias would only show up over millions of hands. Your results are not the result of a biased random number generator but of both luck and a progressive betting system.