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Three faces of eight

5 July 2004

Dear Mark,
I have not seen any basic blackjack strategy that suggests doubling down on a hard eight. All I have read or seen on basic blackjack strategy states you only hit the hard eight. Do you have a professional's view of the decision to double down on eight? I do not remember you addressing this issue. Dan J.

Because single-deck games are harder to find than the proverbial needle in a haystack, current writings on blackjack (as well as on blackjack basic strategy cards), are created for multiple deck games. Usually they all suggest the same thing: Hit your hard eight against any card the dealer is showing. However, Dan, if you happen to stumble upon a single-deck game, it is commonly recommended that you double down on a hard eight when the dealer is showing a five or a six.

Dear Mark,
Do all casinos use the same dice size on their craps games? Mickey H.

Most dice on craps games today are the size of a three-quarter inch cube, but the size can vary up to a sixteenth of an inch because different companies make dice.

Up until the early sixties, dice were somewhat smaller, measuring about five-eighths of an inch. The increase in size was for a few different reasons, the foremost being complicate life for the cheaters. It is much harder to "palm" or "switch" the bigger dice. Another reason is that as craps tables grew larger to accommodate more players, it became advantageous to have larger spots, making it easier for the dealers and players to read the numbers.

I once positioned a five-eighths inch die next to a three-quarter inch cube at the end of a craps table, and what a difference an eighth of an inch makes! Even with my botched lasik surgery.

Dear Mark,
A quick question about Texas Hold'em: Let's say the five community cards are all hearts. For example, the board shows the 6, 7, 8, 10 and jack. In my hand, I have the ace of hearts. Do I get to play my ace of hearts and take the pot, or am I screwed and the pot is split? Our poker group had a minor argument the other night and would like clarification. As long as I have played, we have played that if you can make a higher flush, then you win. Andrew R.

Correct you are, Andrew, in that your pocket ace of hearts ranks supreme and you can marry it with the just four of the other hearts on the board (the five face-up cards in Texas Hold'em). Your ace-high flush would be higher than any other flush whose highest card ranks lower than the ace. If ever the highest card in the flushes of two opponents is the same, the hand is counted down to the next highest card to see which flush is higher. This countdown can continue until the final card of the hand determines the higher flush.

One exception (there's always one, n'est-ce pas?) to your specific example would be if someone were holding the nine of hearts as one of their two pocket cards. They trump your hand because that player would have cards in sequence, making their hand a straight flush.

Gambling quote of the week: I believe that some good poker players actually employ a degree of extrasensory perception (ESP). While I've never studied the subject in depth, it seems to me there's too much evidence to ignore that ESP exists or that most people have it to some degree. Doyle Brunson, How I Made $1,000,000 Playing Poker (1979)

Three faces of eight is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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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.