Tonight I was faced with a dealer error that wrong-footed me and left me deep in thought. I'm not morally averse to taking gentle advantage of dealer errors. But I'm not a mean and deliberate cheat.
Here's the scenario:-
I was playing recreationally head to head at my local provincial casino in the UK. Table stakes £2-£1,000, No DAS. It was quiet with just me playing and the pit supervisor was paying no attention. No pressure, no counting, no heat. I'd bought in for £50 and was intent on playing about 2 hours at £2 - £10 per hand. I was initially messing about, playing £2 hands and doubling twice on wins. After about an hour I was at £130 or so BR and playing £5 or £10 a hand, all the time heads up. After a while, as is my habit, I said to the dealer that I would stop and take a few minutes break. It might seem like odd behaviour, but I sat facing the dealer, swigged my coffee and didn't bet. There was no intent to trick, hypnotise or confuse the dealer. The table was red and so were my chips.
Then, to my surprise, he dealt to my empty box. I got 2 aces to his 8.
I looked up and said. "Erm, I didn't bet, I'm resting.... Oh well, don't worry about it". I expected him to discard the cards, but he looked a bit phased, scooped up the three cards and called over the pit supervisor. We explained what had happened. She asked the order of the cards and said that they should go back in front of the shoe (auto shuffle) to be played in same order at the next hand. i was well shaken and said that I expected them to be discarded and that it felt like I it was a bit unfair that I now knew the next cards. She explained that they weren't allowed to burn cards and that it was just my 'advantage' that I knew the order. As it happened, she had put the cards in the wrong order, so I said 'OK. but you've put the cards wrong and they will come out A8 for me against A for dealer.' She checked, apologised and put them right. I'm 50:50 about whether she made that error intentionally, but that's by the by.
At this time I was a bit at a loss as to what to do. I made it clear that I did not want to take any unfair advantage, but she said " No: sorry, it was our mistake and this is what we have to do". If I was to play another game, I had to play those 3 cards in that order. Wow! Irritated, bemused, and staring at what seemed like an easy AP*. I had about £150 in red chips and much more in cash, what should I do and what might be the consequences? I considered popping £50 into each of three boxes and take my chances, and I considered pushing £50 into the one box with the intent of splitting those aces. I even considered walking away.
My eventual play was to push my normal £5 forward and split those aces. I got two tens against dealer bust for two easily won hands. Without hesitation, I tossed the dealer a £5 tip for treating me fairly. We all smiled and carried on. I played about 7 more hands, winning 5 of them and coloured up for a nice successful fun two hour session.
Now: Opinions please: How could I or should I have played it? What if I'd played mean and whacked an uncharacteristically big bet on this pre-determined good hand? What if the misdealt cards had been absolutely favourable, such as a Blackjack against his 8? From a technical standpoint, would the casino have forced me to play with that advantage and would they have let me thrash them with a big or even massive pre-won bet?
I want to be ready for next time ;)
*Also, How big was my advantage, if any?
Embrace the Variance
Good news: I was once at a lifetime Blackjack Profit of £18K
Bad News: Gravity prevailed.