Unusual play is tough to fathom
john grochowski firstname.lastname@example.org March 28, 2012 2:52PM
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Updated: May 1, 2012 8:12AM
There are certain plays in blackjack that will draw attention in the pit. “Splitting 10s,” I’ve heard the dealer call out to the pit supervisor. Or “Doubling on hard 12.”
The pit supervisor might just glance over and nod, taking note of the player making the odd move. Or the supervisor might walk over and watch the hand.
Sometimes a play is so unusual that everybody has to see how it plays out. So it went when I found myself at the same Las Vegas table as a player determined to hit hard 17. It’s not an advanced counter’s play, just a bad one. But everybody had to watch.
It started with a player who was dealt a 9 and an 8 while the dealer had a 10 face up. The rest of the table had decent cards. No one busted. I had an 18, while there were a couple of 20s, a 19 and two more 17s. None is guaranteed winners against a 10, but we were all in the game.
When the player signaled to hit, there were groans all around. “You have 17,” the dealer said flatly. The player nodded and signaled again. “You can’t be serious,” one 30-ish man said, while another older gent said, “You really don’t want to do that.”
He insisted he did indeed want to hit, and the dealer called out, “Player hits hard 17.” That brought stares from other dealers and players throughout the pit, and brought two supervisors over to watch the outcome.
A 3 came out of the shoe, and now the player had 20. I laughed, others shook their heads, and the older fellow said, “Someone watches over fools, I guess.”
It was the dealer’s turn. Her face-down card was a 2. The next card was a 9. She had 21. The entire table lost.
Now the older fellow was shaking. “Do you see that? If you hadn’t taken that 3, she’d have had it, and then that 9 would have busted her.” He picked up his chips and stormed off.
I just took a deep breath and stayed put. Others’ bad plays help you as often as they hurt you. This was just a time that it hurt.
I watched as the same player hit hard 17 twice more, once against a 9, once against another 10. He busted both times. The supervisors and everyone within viewing distance watched every time. Sometimes, you just can’t look away.
John Grochowski is a local freelance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casino answerman.com.