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================================================ Thursday, April 5, 2001

Feedback on REWARD Roulette and Tough Choices in Blackjack

Hello everyone,

The REWARD Roulette system announced last week has received a lot of enthusiasm. Numerous inquiries were answered. Feedback has been very positive. Here is a testimonial by Duane M.:

"Hi Izak,
I'm having incredible success with the REWARD system.  I've tested it against 16 Baccarat shoes from the Baccarat System Tester and it beat all of them.  I'm up 633 units after commissions.

I've also tested it against my Expert Casino CD-ROM Roulette game (double zero).   It won 108 units in 76 spins.

I've also played it one time in live casino play at the Sunset Station in Henderson, NV.  I won 33 units in 34 spins."

This is very encouraging. It shows that REWARD keeps beating Roulette as consistently as possible, as my own tests and experience has shown.

Here are a few inquiries and answers:

"You acknowledge this formula that determines if you have enough wins to win the session.  It obviously involves a betting mechanism that is straight mechanical in nature and brings you to the end of a session once you obtained the required wins the formula dictates.  Now I've used other purchased methods with designed loss catch-up formulas, but required a number of consecutive wins to catch up and end a session if you amassed a lot of losses along the way.  Sometimes the loss bets amassed so much you would never end the session or otherwise run out of bankroll.  Does your system require consecutive wins?"

"No, there is no such requirement. Wins and losses during the run can occur at any stage, as long as the number of winnings equals the number of losses plus 3 divided by 3. If you have say 7 losses and 4 wins any time you close the run.   You can even have 9 losses and 4 wins and the run will close as (9+3)/3 = 12/3 = 4.  So, any permutation or combination of 7-9 losses and 4 wins, regardless of when they happen will yield the same result of 3 unit profit, unless of course, the wins occur up front, then the run will not even extend to 7 losses.  It will finish in 3-4 spins.

"Your reward system looks interesting.  However you state that "The longest session may require bets as large as 141 units."  That's playing with a $1 starting unit. That would preclude playing with any higher units wouldn't it? Not only that, but most casinos have a $5.00 outside minimum these days."

That is correct.  With $5 minimum bet tables, I would presume one would not go into very long sessions. Under those conditions, one would wait until the choppiness of the table is over, before applying the system. Otherwise, with the $1 minimum bets, you can start betting at any sequence, the system will sustain even long losses before the run is finished with a winning session.

$1 bets can be applicable for on-line betting. VegasUSA for instance has $1 minimum and $250 maximum in both inside and outside bets in Roulette. With this site $141 bets are not a problem even when you start with $3.

For brick and mortar casinos, it is not a problem to start with $5. The first bet determines how much you will win at the closure of the run.

Click to order REWARD.

The VegasUSA promotion is launched for April. One Let’s Talk Winning customer is guaranteed to cash $1000, if you open an account for real money wager, send your account name to, and wager for a couple of weeks. This is sufficient to be eligible for the draw. The winner will be announced on April 26.

 Tough Choices in Blackjack

Is there always one "right" way to play a blackjack hand? Many players will say yes, that basic strategy is invariably the way to go. Study those tables that tell you when to hit, stand, split pairs and double down, and you'll be on your way to trimming the house edge down to the bone. Other players recognize that some situations require a more complicated approach, but never quite get the fundamentals down and end up making basic mistakes at the tables.

To help you avoid falling into either of these traps, here are solutions to the eight most commonly misplayed blackjack hands as well as two "borderline" hands where deviations from basic strategy can save you a few bucks. When you can play these 10 scenarios correctly, you may not always be right, but you'll definitely be a better blackjack bettor.

Soft 18 vs. Dealer's 9, 10 or Ace:
The first thing to remember is that blackjack players must always differentiate between "hard" and "soft" totals. A soft total uses an Ace as an 11 and can't be busted with a one-card draw. If you're dealt an Ace and a 7, that's a soft 18. If you then draw a Queen, you don't bust the hand; you just read the Ace as a 1 instead of an 11. So your soft 18 of Ace-7 becomes a hard 18 of Ace7-Queen.

If there's a single most frequently misplayed hand, this is it. An 18 is going to lose more often than it wins when the dealer's upcard is a 9, 10 or Ace. You can't do anything about that if you have a hard 18 - your chance of going bust is far too great to hit. With soft 18, you can try to improve the hand without fear of busting in one card. That's just what you should do. Hit soft 18 whenever the dealer shows a 9, 10 or 11. Stand only if the dealer shows a 2, 7 or 8. Against a 3 through 6, double down.

Soft 17 vs. Any Dealer Upcard:
This hand isn't misplayed as often as it once was, although there always seems to be one player at any full table who hasn't gotten the word.

When you have 17, you can't win unless the dealer busts. If the dealer makes 17, you push, and if he makes anything better, you lose. So with soft 17, why stand? The worst you wind up with by hitting is another hand that can't win unless the dealer busts. You have a chance to improve the hand, and all you give up is the potential push against a dealer's 17. With that in mind, never stand on soft 17. If the dealer shows a 3 through 6, double down. Otherwise, hit. 

Hard 12 vs. Dealer's 2 or 3:
Players often fall into the trap of basing strategy on the assumption that the dealer has a 10-value card in the hole and that another 10 is coming next. That leads them always to stand on hard totals of 12 or more whenever the dealer has a "bust card" of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

The 10-values are the most common cards in the deck, but they make up only 30.8 percent of all cards. How often will a dealer's face-up 2 be accompanied by a 10 face down, then another 10 on the next card face up? Only about 9.5 percent of the time. And as for bust cards, well, the dealer busts only 35 percent of the time with a 2 up and 38 percent of the time with a 3 up. (The dealer's biggest "bust card" is a 5, and he busts only 43 percent of the time with that start.)

If you stand on 12 against a 2 or 3, you're throwing in the towel more than 62 percent of the time. The strict basic strategist who knows all the fine points will hit hard 12 against a 2 or 3 and stand against a 4 through 6.

Hard 16 vs. Dealer's 7:
Otherwise players seem to hit the wall at 16, thinking the chances of busting are too great to take a hit. They also figure that the dealer busts more often with 7 than with other high cards, so why not take the chance that he will? But you can't win with a 16 unless the dealer busts, and when the dealer starts with 7 he makes 17 or better 74 percent of the time.

Actually, you gain more by hitting 16 against a 7 than you do against higher cards. If you get a small card and improve your 16, you'll win hands against a dealer's 7 that you'd lose against a bigger card. Hard 16 against a 10 is a borderline hand, as we'll see later on. Hard 16 against a 7 is nowhere near the border. Hit it.

11 vs. Dealer's 10:
Most players know to think double down whenever they see a two-card 11. But when they see that dealer's 10, they back down. The last thing they want to see is the dealer turning up a 10 and taking double their initial bet. You'll lose a little more often when you double down on 11 against a 10 than if you simply hit, but the difference isn't as great as most players think. You'll lose 44 percent of the time if you hit and 46 percent of the time if you double. Bet $10 a hand for 100 of these situations, and hitting wins you $560 and loses you $440 for a net profit of $120. Double down (risking $20), and you win $1,080 and lose $920 for a net profit of $160. It's a little nerve-wracking when you double down and draw a 4, but consider it a character-builder. In the long run, the bigger risk of doubling on 11 against a 10 is worth it.

Pair of 8's vs. Dealer's 10:
Why split 8's against a 10, players wonder, when a 10 on each 8 for two 18's just means a double loss if the dealer turns up a 10 to complete a 20? That's going to happen sometimes, and you're going to lose more than you win when you split 8's against a 10. It's not a winning move, but it's a great defensive measure. Each hand that starts with 8 is in a much stronger position than a hand that starts with hard 16. With the split, you'll win one or both hands often enough that you'll lose only about half as much money by splitting the 8's as you would have by playing out the 16.

Pair of 9's vs. Dealer's 9:
Most players seem content to stand on an 18 that is a long-term loser - a pair of 9's wins against a dealer's 9 only 40 percent of the time. Split instead, and you win close to 50 percent of the time. You'll still lose money overall, but not nearly as much as if you stood. This is a classic situation where the goal is not to win but to lose less.

Blackjack vs. Dealer's Ace:
Players love to take insurance in this situation, passing up the 3-to-2 payoff they get on most blackjacks. Dealers tell you it's the only sure thing in the house: Call out "even money," and you're paid even money on your blackjack even if the dealer has a 10 face down to complete his own blackjack.

That would be an even proposition if the dealer had blackjack one-third of the time he started with an Ace. But he doesn't, because only 30.8 percent of the cards are 10-values. You'll win more in the long term by accepting the pushes and keeping the 3-to-2 payoffs than by settling for even money.

Hard 16 vs. Dealer's 10:
Basic strategy is a closer call on some hands than on others. Card counters track many hands in which the balance of high and low cards may change the way they play. Such "composition dependent strategies" work best for counters who watch all hands at the table, hand after hand. But even for an average player who pays attention only to his own cards, there are a couple of hands where small gains can be made by basing your decisions on not just the total value of your cards but also the individual cards themselves.

In this case, if you have 10-6 or 9-7, basic strategy is right on - you need to hit the hand to decrease your losses. But let's say you have a 16 with more than two cards, something like 8-4-4. Now you've taken two cards out of the deck that could really help you. A 4 would give you 20, and you've already used two of them. That's enough to make the difference, even in a six-deck game. If your 16 includes one or more 4's or 5's, the better play is to stand.

Hard 12 vs. Dealer's 4:
Above, I said to hit 12 against 2 or 3 but stand against 4, 5 or 6. The 4 is barely on the other side of the border. If you hit 12 against a 4, you'll win 39.67 percent of the time; if you stand, you'll win 40 percent of the time.

So what's the right play? If your 12 consists of 9-3, 8-4 or 7-5, you stand. Since that 9, 8 or 7 already has been dealt, it's not there to help you. But if your hand is 10-2, not only have you not taken out a card that could help, you've taken out one of the 10's that could bust you. And even if you're playing with six decks, that makes a big difference. If your 12 consists of a 10 and a 2, hit it; otherwise, stand - just as basic strategy tells you to do.

The gain you see by changing your play will be small, but it's a step in the right direction for those who want to go beyond the basics.

 Doctor's Poker Game

A well-respected surgeon was relaxing on his sofa one evening just after arriving home from work. As he was tuning into the evening news, the phone rang. The doctor calmly answered it and heard the familiar voice of a colleague on the other end of the line.
"We need a fourth for poker," said the friend.
"I'll be right over," whispered the doctor.
As he was putting on his coat, his wife asked, "Is it serious?"
"Oh yes, quite serious," said the doctor gravely. "In fact, three doctors are there already!"

All the best wishes to you,
Until next week,


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