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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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Reader takes this writer to task

10 March 2003

Dear Mark,
When playing blackjack, it seems like all casinos nowadays check if the dealer has blackjack with an ace showing, before any additional cards are dealt to the players. If the dealer does check, and he does not have blackjack, is it a good bet to double an 11 (say an 8+3)? All basic strategy cards that I have seen suggest to Hit. But, I am inclined to double down. Would you agree? Darrell L.

Not all strategy cards do, Darrell. Experts have gone both ways on this question, whether to double down with an 11 against an ace. With no clear-cut unanimity, you have to make up your own mind as to just how expert the experts are.

As to whether you should double down once you know that the dealer does not have a blackjack, I say YES. Granted, a dealer ace versus the player's 11 is cause for considerable disagreement among masters of blackjack, But think: when the dealer checks early and continues play, you know there's no to beneath the ace. We can predict the experts' royal debate will rage on over an 11 versus the dealer's ace ... MINUS THE PEEK; BUT WITH THE PEEK, the consensus would be to double down knowing there's no lurking snapper.

Dear Mark,
I would like to take a moment to write to you and respond to your article; "Baccarat has roots in blonde virgin tale. Even though it was well-written, I did take great offense at your mention of "How many wet, blonde virgins do you know?" As a teacher, and a mother of two daughters, I felt this was an inappropriate and disgusting remark for all women whether they are blonde or not. For an extremely gifted writer, you showed a side that was extremely sexist. Concetta C.

Thank you, Concetta, for your reflective correspondence. Allow me, without malice, to reprint what I wrote.

"The game's (Baccarat) roots are in the old Etruscan ritual of the nine gods, who prayed to a blonde virgin (a tourist, obviously) on their tiptoes, waiting for her to pitch the nine-sided die. The die toss decided her fate. If an eight or a nine were thrown, she would become the priestess; if she threw a six or seven, she would be banned from any further religious activities; if she threw any number less than six, she would walk into the sea." "(Possibly, the origin of loaded dice - how many wet, blonde virgins do you know?)"

Though you didn't initially see the quiet point I slipped in, as a poke in the belly of the moron who loves dumb blonde jokes, (and, Concetta, I'll try to do better), I hope you understand that I was making a humorous sally in defense of the blonde — she was tossed the underside of a five-to-four bet, which she handily won by being smarter than the tippy-toe clunks that thought they had dominion over her. However she did it, she did it, and she did not wind up in the drink.

I didn't go quite so far as to point out plainly that the Mediterranean guys (Etruscans) were picking on a female not of their coloring - double duty discrimination; I limited myself to the tourist comment.

Meandering a bit here, it might be instructive fun at school or at home to see if the kids can turn jokes or legends that rest on hurtful cliches around so that they bite their own rumps. That is the waggish intent of this columnist; poke a little fun at us gamesters, and of course, take an occasional jab at an ill-humored casino proprietor. Because you, and possibly others, interpreted my words to be inappropriate and sexist, I truly apologize. Again, I will try to do better!

Gambling quote of the week: "Playing games where the casino has a big edge is an expensive hobby. But lets be real, many of you are going to play anyway." Frank Scoblete

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.