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Articles in this Series
Best of John May

Gaming Guru

 

Popular Fallacies Which Aren't - Part 1

22 December 2002

Some notions gamblers have about gambling are both common and completely misguided.

These ideas often have a basis in truth, however, though the connection between the idea and the reality is often tenuous.

To begin with lets look at the familiar curse of blackjack players the world over: "Third base took the dealer's bust card".

The reasoning is: The player at the third base took the card which would have busted the dealer allowing the table to win.

The fallacy is: The player at third base didn't know what card he was going to receive. Taking a card can also prevent the dealer from getting a pat hand. Gamblers tend to forget it when that happens. The two possibilities cancel each other out exactly. The truth is, without specific information about the next card he is going to get, the third baseman has no control at all over the dealer's hand.

Exceptions: In a ten-rich pack, third base (or indeed any other seat) taking an extra card can cause the players at the table to all get one less hand in a shoe where they have the advantage. This doesn't affect the dealer's hand on that specific round, but it does lower every player's advantage slightly over the whole of the shoe. Conversely, taking an extra card in a ten-poor pack can cause the players at the table to have a slightly higher advantage.

If the third baseman knows something about the dealer's next card, then he can damage the expectation of other players at the table. Say the dealer is sloppy and exposes his next card to third baseman before it is dealt: say the next card is a 7, and say the dealer has 10 for an upcard while the third baseman has 14. The third baseman should take the 7 giving him 21 and insuring a win or at worst a push. However, if he had not taken the card, he would have guaranteed a win for anyone at the table who had stood on 18 or greater.

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