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A Trick to Know the Dealer's Hole Card at Blackjack

24 May 2000

Hole card play is very valuable. If you were a psychic and knew what the dealer's hole card was, you would have an edge of 10 percent on every hand.

Blackjack professionals developed many methods of determining the dealer hole card. These methods, front-loading, first-basing, tells, spooking etc., are often now obsolete because the casinos wised up and instituted a range of countermeasures.

However, there is one method that can still be used in many casinos. Maybe you have been to a casino at some point and observed that after the shuffle when new cards are brought into play, some sequences remain in new-deck order. New-deck order is usually ace to king, ace to king, king to ace, king to ace.

You can use this information. With the simpler casino shuffles, cards do tend to remain in sequence. This effect is not just chance. Suppose you know that the card preceding the hole card would precede a 10-valued card in new-deck order, and that the card after the hole card would succeed a 10-valued card in new-deck order. Then, unless the shuffle really is random, you know the hole card is very likely to be a 10-valued card.

This will let you know when to make insurance bets. Depending on how good the shuffle is, you will get between 0-2.1 percent advantage over basic strategy. You get 2.1 percent when your prediction is always correct. You get 0 percent when your prediction is no better than chance. It is possible the shuffle you see is really random and the cards are just arranging themselves in new-deck order by chance. For this reason, only play against simple shuffles and keep a record of your results.

You can get more than 2.1 percent by making other strategy deviations due to knowledge of the dealer's hole card, but the subject then becomes much more complex because you need to know a lot about when you should depart from basic strategy for each play, and there is a different level of predictive accuracy required for each one. An excellent book which covers these nuances is Stanford Wong's Basic Blackjack.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Twenty-First Century Blackjack: New Strategies for a New Millennium by Walter Thomason
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May

John May
John May is one of the most feared gamblers in the world. He has developed "advantage play" techniques for many games that are considered unbeatable.

Books by John May:

> More Books By John May