DrEntropy
DrEntropy
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August 1st, 2011 at 8:38:36 AM permalink
When friends come to Vegas, they often want to play blackjack, but won't take the time to learn basic strategy. After I finally get them to understand the concept (sometimes a task in itself!), I used to start them off with the simplified strategy stated here:

http://www.deepnettech.com/article3.html

Usually they could remember rules 1-4, so they ended up with a 1.0% house edge against the typical low limit rules (6D, H17, DAS, RSA, NS). The soft doubles and additional splits beyond Aces and 8's was too much for them. 1% is not so bad though, and they can usually get this down pretty good.


But then discovered the wizards strategy:
https://wizardofodds.com/blackjack

This definitely seems easier to learn, and CVData sims predict a house edge of 0.70% against the rules above. Pretty good, as full basic strategy does about 0.56%.

HOWEVER, my friends keep getting hung up on the soft 18 exception. Also, it is a bit odd to hit A7 vs a dealer 7, and the other ploppies might give you dirty looks. So I ran a sim with a slightly simpler rule for Soft 18: Always stand. Result:0.73%. Am I missing something here? If not I am going to start teaching them this slightly simpler version:)
"Mathematical expectation has nothing to do with results." (Sklansky, Theory of Poker).
DonPedro
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August 1st, 2011 at 8:57:00 AM permalink
when I 1st started , I remembered soft 18 as the most complicated hand, because you have 3 options.

Stand vs 2,7,8

Double vs 3-6

Hit vs 9-A

Also you can goup hands together:

A/2-3 double vs 5/6

A/4-5 double vs 4-6

A/6-7 double vs 3-6

A/8 double vs 6

Same w/ splits and hard hands

Good luck !! Help your friends understand that w/ good BS, they should lose less.

I would suggest, they find the BS for the rules they will be playing, and study that before the trip .

Also review the LVBJS, so you will have a good idea of the game offered .
" If I had the money and the drinking capacity, I'd probably live at a blackjak table and let my life go to hell." Don Pedro
FleaStiff
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August 1st, 2011 at 10:24:22 AM permalink
Quote: DrEntropy

When friends come to Vegas, they often want to play blackjack, but won't take the time to learn basic strategy.

Even if they do learn it they won't remember it when they sit down to play much less after the first cocktail. Sometimes its just better to accept that your visiting friends will be playing at a higher house edge than you will be playing even though you are at the same table.
Paigowdan
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August 1st, 2011 at 11:58:36 AM permalink
A very simple and doable strategy for BJ is:
1. Against a dealer's 7 or better - hit 16 or lower, and soft 17, else stand.
2. Against a dealer's 6 or less, hit nothing that'll bust.
3. Split aces and 8's.
4. Double 10 or 11 against a 7 or less, else hit hit.
5. Double soft 14 to 17 against a dealer's 6 or less, else hit.

No table charts required. Not 100%, but 97%, and nothing looks or is really stupid.
This is what casino dealers answer whenever asked - "what does the BOOK say?"
It's a very decent coverage of basic strategy is 5 steps, and actually plays better than most BJ players.
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes - Henry David Thoreau. Like Dealers' uniforms - Dan.
Wizard
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August 1st, 2011 at 12:51:05 PM permalink
Quote: DrEntropy

Result:0.73%. Am I missing something here? If not I am going to start teaching them this slightly simpler version:)



Good point. For the benefit of other readers, my Wizard's Simple Blackjack Strategy says to hit the soft doubles when doubling isn't allowed, except to stand on soft 18.

I show if we have the player stand on all soft 17s it costs the player 0.016% compared to the current simple strategy if the dealer stands on soft 17. However, if the dealer hits a soft 17 it goes up by 0.028%. Most recreational players are likely to find themselves playing against the H17 rule. If we just remove the exception, and have players hit a 3+ card soft 18 vs 2-6, the house edge goes up by only 0.006%. However, it seems terribly unnatural to hit soft 18 against a low card, and the player will surely get scolded, although the cost to the error is not much.

Perhaps what I should do is just reword what I have now, removing the word "exception," instead saying something like, "If you have a soft total, but may not double, then hit soft 17 or less, otherwise stand.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
DrEntropy
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August 1st, 2011 at 1:08:26 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Perhaps what I should do is just reword what I have now, removing the word "exception," instead saying something like, "If you have a soft total, but may not double, then hit soft 17 or less, otherwise stand.

Would this be a slight change, i.e. standing on soft 18 vs. 7-A vs hitting? Or did I misread that? If so, it would be like adding separate line just for soft 18 that says to D/S vs 2-6, S vs 7-A, which is not really such a bad idea.

However, I am thinking telling my friends who find this too hard to start out by simply not doing any soft doubles, and then they can add them when they want.

EDIT NOTES: I edited to harmonize with the Wizards edits.
"Mathematical expectation has nothing to do with results." (Sklansky, Theory of Poker).
algle
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August 1st, 2011 at 1:45:18 PM permalink
Rules, rules, and more rules!
This is supposed to be SIMPLIFIED basic strategy!
Those who can't or won't learn proper basic strategy are going to struggle with only five rules too.

Here is the ultimate simple blackjack strategy - ONE RULE BLACKJACK:

1. Assume every remaining card in the shoe is a ten, and play to win accordingly.
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
DJTeddyBear
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August 1st, 2011 at 1:56:30 PM permalink
Quote: algle

Here is the ultimate simple blackjack strategy - ONE RULE BLACKJACK:

1. Assume every remaining card in the shoe is a ten, and play to win accordingly.

You forgot to include: "And the dealer's hole card is also a ten."

It's SO basic, that it gets quickly abandoned for being wrong too often.

FYI: It's not "ultimate basic" but "absolute beginner's strategy."
I invented a few casino games. Info: http://www.DaveMillerGaming.com/ 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧 Superstitions are silly, childish, irrational rituals, born out of fear of the unknown. But how much does it cost to knock on wood? 😁
DrEntropy
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August 1st, 2011 at 5:49:07 PM permalink
Quote: DrEntropy

Would this be a slight change, i.e. standing on soft 18 vs. 7-A vs hitting? Or did I misread that? If so, it would be like adding separate line just for soft 18 that says to D/S vs 2-6, S vs 7-A, which is not really such a bad idea..



I ran some simulations with CVData, against 6D H17, DAS, RSA (pretty standard low limit rules) and find that the 'slight change' (always stand on soft 18, except when doubling) above had no measurable effect (0.693+-.006) on the results. It is a matter of debate whether it is simpler or not.

I also looked at dropping the soft doubles all together, and that yields 0.777+-.006, which is probably good enough for my friends to start with.

If you drop all splits except A's and 8's, it goes up to 0.944+-.006, which does go too far IMHO.
"Mathematical expectation has nothing to do with results." (Sklansky, Theory of Poker).
Wizard
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August 1st, 2011 at 7:36:31 PM permalink
Quote: algle

Here is the ultimate simple blackjack strategy - ONE RULE BLACKJACK:

1. Assume every remaining card in the shoe is a ten, and play to win accordingly.



For one thing, what do you do when the dealer is showing an ace? The dealer peeks and confirms no ten, so what do you assume?

That issue aside, it also calls for doubling any hand under 11 against a 2 to 6, because the dealer must bust. For example, doubling 4 against a 2. Maybe there is no better one sentence strategy, but I can't advocate it.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
algle
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August 1st, 2011 at 9:31:43 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Quote: algle

Here is the ultimate simple blackjack strategy - ONE RULE BLACKJACK:

1. Assume every remaining card in the shoe is a ten, and play to win accordingly.



For one thing, what do you do when the dealer is showing an ace? The dealer peeks and confirms no ten, so what do you assume?

That issue aside, it also calls for doubling any hand under 11 against a 2 to 6, because the dealer must bust. For example, doubling 4 against a 2. Maybe there is no better one sentence strategy, but I can't advocate it.



I'll admit I hadn't thought of the no-ten hole card - but that's only because I've never played blackjack where the dealer draws a hole card. I suppose you would have to assume it's a ten anyway - or at least a total of ten, e.g. 5+5 for 21 - otherwise I would have more than one rule (and that was my own challenge - one rule only).

I am nonetheless heartily chuffed to hear the Wiz himself speculate that maybe there is no better one sentence strategy!
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
MarkAbe
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August 1st, 2011 at 11:34:49 PM permalink
Quote: algle

Rules, rules, and more rules!
This is supposed to be SIMPLIFIED basic strategy!
Those who can't or won't learn proper basic strategy are going to struggle with only five rules too.

Here is the ultimate simple blackjack strategy - ONE RULE BLACKJACK:

1. Assume every remaining card in the shoe is a ten, and play to win accordingly.



Even worse, it would have you hit a hard 19 against a 10 in an attempt to beat the dealer's guaranteed 20!

My own favorite version of 'simple for newbies' goes like this:

"Always" rules:
Mimic the dealer by standing on hard 17 or soft 18
Double 10's and A's [I know always double 10's is wrong, but easy to remember. Always double A's is actually correct against H17 or double-deck]
Split A's and 8's.

Against 2-6, explained as 'when the dealer is more likely to bust'
Don't bust first! (stand on hard 12)
Double 9's and soft 16, 17, 18.
Split everything except 'fours, fives, and faces'

I don't explain about 'surrender' because most LV casinos don't do it and almost all newbies won't remember it.

I only wish I could remember who told me this...
algle
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August 2nd, 2011 at 5:32:37 PM permalink
Quote: MarkAbe


My own favorite version of 'simple for newbies' goes like this:

"Always" rules:
Mimic the dealer by standing on hard 17 or soft 18
Double 10's and A's [I know always double 10's is wrong, but easy to remember. Always double A's is actually correct against H17 or double-deck]
Split A's and 8's.

Against 2-6, explained as 'when the dealer is more likely to bust'
Don't bust first! (stand on hard 12)
Double 9's and soft 16, 17, 18.
Split everything except 'fours, fives, and faces'



That's at least six rules. My point is that the (literal) Ultimate Basic Strategy would be one rule only. Obviously it's not going to be as good as a 2-rule strategy, let alone a 6-rule strategy. However I can change the wording to improve it as follows:

1. Assume every remaining card is a ten, and hit to 17 or let the dealer bust first.

Can anyone do better in one rule? I would suggest it has to be one sentence only, with no more than one "AND", one "OR", and one comma.....
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
Wizard
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August 2nd, 2011 at 8:34:41 PM permalink
Quote: algle

1. Assume every remaining card is a ten, and hit to 17 or let the dealer bust first.



I think just "mimic the dealer" might be better.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
algle
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August 2nd, 2011 at 8:47:48 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I think just "mimic the dealer" might be better.


Possibly, but you would never get the opportunity to split, or double, or stand on a hard 12-16.
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
Wizard
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August 2nd, 2011 at 9:01:10 PM permalink
Quote: algle

Possibly, but you would never get the opportunity to split, or double, or stand on a hard 12-16.



True. How about something like "Double all 10 and 11, otherwise hit to 17 against a big card (7 to ace), otherwise hit to 12."

It is a run on sentence, but I think your rules were to allow for two conjunctions/commas. Splitting is actually that not much benefit to the player in the big scheme of the game. Where I think this sentence lacks in addressing soft hands.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
DrEntropy
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August 2nd, 2011 at 9:17:20 PM permalink
Here is my attempt at a one line strategy:
Print out the strategy card AND bring it with you to the table, OR memorize it.

<* GRIN *>

But, in all seriousness, buying/printing a card and at least spending some time learning how to read it quickly is one approach.... I know many casino's let you use a card, though I think I heard some might restrict you to only use 'store bought', I have not tested that experimentally.
"Mathematical expectation has nothing to do with results." (Sklansky, Theory of Poker).
Wizard
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August 2nd, 2011 at 9:19:21 PM permalink
Here is yet another extra simple strategy. Use the first rule that applies:

1. Always splits eights and aces.
2. Always double 10 and 11.
3. Hit hard 9 or less.
4. Hit hard 12 to 16 against a 7 to ace.
5. Hit soft 17 or less.
6. Otherwise, stand.

That is just 32 words, and that counts the numbers (but not step numbers) as words. The cost above perfect basic strategy is 0.44%. That is about half of the average blackjack player.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
algle
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August 2nd, 2011 at 9:31:36 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

True. How about something like "Double all 10 and 11, otherwise hit to 17 against a big card (7 to ace), otherwise hit to 12."

It is a run on sentence, but I think your rules were to allow for two conjunctions/commas. Splitting is actually that not much benefit to the player in the big scheme of the game. Where I think this sentence lacks in addressing soft hands.


Agreed. That's getting quite close to my original "basic basic strategy" - before I started on "one rule blackjack" - which went something like this:

Follow these steps in order for each hand, assuming every remaining card is a ten:

1. Never bust if the dealer will bust.
2. Double 9/10/11 if you will win.
3. Split if both hands will win.
4. Hit to hard 17.
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
MarkAbe
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August 3rd, 2011 at 10:11:12 PM permalink
Quote: algle

Agreed. That's getting quite close to my original "basic basic strategy" - before I started on "one rule blackjack" - which went something like this:

Follow these steps in order for each hand, assuming every remaining card is a ten:

1. Never bust if the dealer will bust.
2. Double 9/10/11 if you will win.
3. Split if both hands will win.
4. Hit to hard 17.



Hmm...Double 9/10/11 if you will win sounds pretty good, it's close for 9 and right for 10 and 11 (as the Wiz's simple strategy uses).

I have a problem with split if both hands will win - it's going to get you to split 10's pretty often.

You didn't do anything about soft hands - what would your strategy be for them?

Mark
algle
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August 3rd, 2011 at 10:25:50 PM permalink
Quote: MarkAbe

Hmm...Double 9/10/11 if you will win sounds pretty good, it's close for 9 and right for 10 and 11 (as the Wiz's simple strategy uses).

I have a problem with split if both hands will win - it's going to get you to split 10's pretty often.

You didn't do anything about soft hands - what would your strategy be for them?


I would say that any 'Basic Basic Strategy' shouldn't include the word "except...".
So the split rule has to be all-encompassing.
Similarly, adding a soft hand rule has too many parameters - if a player can remember multiple parameters and exceptions, then they're ready for Basic Strategy.

The objective here is to simplify basic strategy as far as possible, while minimizing the inevitable HE trade-offs.

The ultimate goal is one-rule blackjack, e.g.:

"Mimic the dealer"
or
"Assume every unseen card is a ten, and let the dealer bust first"
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MarkAbe
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August 6th, 2011 at 12:44:34 PM permalink
Algle, I'm pretty sure if one-rule blackjack were possible the Wizard would have posted it by now.
The best super-short I've seen is the "30 word" (6 rule) strategy in Ask the Wizard #274. It's the "32 rule" strategy from earlier in this thread with "always" removed twice.
I believe it can actually be shortened by two words:
Remove "hard " from "hard 9" since 9 is always hard.
Remove "hard" from the hard 12 to 16 rule since you would stand on a similar soft total.
For ease of newbie memorization, I would change that to "hit 16 or less against a 7 to Ace"

For newbies who know the rules but still hate memorizing strategy, I can reduce to:
Split eights and aces
Double 10 and 11
Stand on hard 12 or more against 2 through 6
Mimic the dealer
21 words, 4 rules.

For those who know the rules, understand the game, and still can''t remember anything, rule #3 can become:
Assume 10s and never bust first.
17 words.

(Yes, I enjoyed "Name that Tune" as a child)
algle
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August 6th, 2011 at 3:25:11 PM permalink
Quote: MarkAbe

Algle, I'm pretty sure if one-rule blackjack were possible the Wizard would have posted it by now.


Not sure what you mean by this - of course it is possible, it's just a question of how good the one rule is!
That aside, I do like your approach. Your four rules look pretty good.
Interestingly, two of your rules are actually my one rule blackjack, and the Wizard's suggested one rule blackjack:

Assume 10s and never bust first (algle)
Mimic the dealer (Wiz)

Maybe the correct challenge for "one rule blackjack" should be "Can one rule improve on the dealer's rules?"
Without knowing the answer, I think the combined power of "assume tens" + "never bust first" is greater than "draw to 17".
Especially when the dealer also has no option to double or split.
If nothing will change then I am nothing.
odiousgambit
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August 7th, 2011 at 4:10:27 AM permalink
Quote: algle

"Can one rule improve on the dealer's rules?"
Without knowing the answer, I think the combined power of "assume tens" + "never bust first" is greater than "draw to 17".



I found where the Wizard has calculated the cost of following such super simple rules.

Quote: Wizard

(near bottom of page)

Never bust: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would never hit a hard 12 or more. All other decisions were according to correct basic strategy. This "never bust" strategy results in a house edge of 3.91%.

Mimic the dealer: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would always hit 16 or less and stand on 17 or more, including a soft 17. The player never doubled or split, since the dealer is not allowed to do so. This "mimic the dealer" strategy results in a house edge of 5.48%.



Now if you could only mimic the dealer in making him go first!!
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: 典hanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
gchang
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December 10th, 2014 at 8:09:45 PM permalink
I agree that it's better to always stand (instead of always hit) soft 18 vs. a dealer 7 through Ace. The cost of incorrectly hitting soft 18 vs. 7 and 8 is 0.027%, whereas the cost of incorrectly standing on soft 18 vs. 9, 10, and Ace is less: 0.020% if dealer stands on soft 17, or 0.023% if the dealer hits soft 17. So it's better have the player consistently stand on soft 18, irrespective of the dealer up card (when doubling isn't possible).
gchang
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December 17th, 2014 at 8:11:57 PM permalink
Quote: DrEntropy

When friends come to Vegas, they often want to play blackjack, but won't take the time to learn basic strategy. After I finally get them to understand the concept (sometimes a task in itself!), I used to start them off with the simplified strategy stated here:
...

HOWEVER, my friends keep getting hung up on the soft 18 exception. Also, it is a bit odd to hit A7 vs a dealer 7, and the other ploppies might give you dirty looks. So I ran a sim with a slightly simpler rule for Soft 18: Always stand. Result:0.73%. Am I missing something here? If not I am going to start teaching them this slightly simpler version:)



When you give your visiting friends a simplified basic strategy to use for playing small stakes, I think simplicity is more important than accuracy. That means sacrificing a lot more correct plays to get a very easy-to-remember strategy:

  • Forget about splitting anything other than Aces and 8s. It's too hard to remember what to split and when, against which dealer up cards.
  • Forget about doubling down on soft totals.
  • Always stand on soft 18, as you suggested. The cost of not hitting against 9/10/A is significant, but it's too hard for newbies to remember this exception to "common sense".
  • Avoid making the player consider the value of the dealer's card, aside from just seeing whether it's low or high (2-6 vs. 7-A).

By following these guidelines, you get the Super-Easy Casual strategy. The cost of incorrect plays is about 0.44 percent. Combined with a base house edge of about 0.6 percent (typical Las Vegas playing rules), you get an effective house edge of about 1 percent, still much better than just about everything else in the casino. I've posted an introductory video on YouTube, Super-Easy Casual Blackjack Basic Strategy -- Memorize in 1 Hour.


This is the entire strategy:

1. If you have a pair of Aces or 8s, split them.

2. Do you have a two-card total of 9, 10, or 11? Double down on 11 always. Double down on 9 or 10 vs. a dealer low card (2-3-4-5-6).

3. Do you have a soft total? Hit soft 17 or less, stand on soft 18 or more.

4. Against a dealer low card (2-3-4-5-6), "never bust" (stand on 12 or more). Against a dealer high card (7-8-9-10-A), "mimic the dealer" (hit until you get at least 17).

If your friends find this too easy, you can direct them to the Simple strategy, which is a little harder to remember but reduces the cost of incorrect plays to about 0.14 percent.
Last edited by: gchang on Mar 9, 2017
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