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Ask the Wizard #51

In your blackjack appendix 6, concerning late surrender you advised surrendering a 10+5 and 9+6 against dealer’s 10. In the basic strategy of Unified Gaming, you advised hitting 15 against dealer’s 10. I don’t understand why hit instead of surrender in this case because the 9+6 and 10+5 are much more probable way to have 15 than 8+7.

Moisan from Paris, France

This is an interesting situation. Although you should surrender 5/6 of the time with 15 against a 10 in single deck it is still better to always hit than always surrender. Following is the expected return by hitting each way to compose a 15.


There are 4 ways to make a 10+5 and only 1 each of the other two. So the overall expected return by hitting is 15 against a 10 in single deck is (4/6)*-.501091 + (1/6)*-.509827 + (1/6)*-.474794 = -.498164. In other words the odds just barely favor surrendering a 10,5 and 9,6 but the odds favoring hitting 8,7 by a much wider margin. The reason the 8,7 has the better expected return is all the 5’s and 6’s are still in the deck, resulting in a greater probability of attaining a total of 20 or 21.

What casinos have super fun 21 could you give me a list?

Moe from Philadelphia, USA

I’ve seen it at the Regent, New York New York, and Palace Station. I hear it is also at the Sunset Station and Santa Fe Station.

Your house edge calculator is excellent. How do you use it for continuous shuffle games? Also, if the shoe is used, how does the house edge change?

Tony from Taylors, South Carolina

My house edge calculator is based on the first hand after a shuffle. So it is perfectly suited for a continuous shuffling machine game. Contrary to popular belief the house edge is actually slightly higher on a hand shuffled game as opposed to a continuous shuffling machine game. I explain this in more depth in my blackjack appendix 10.