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Blackjack bullies

Blackjack bullies

A few weeks ago, I relayed the frustrations of Kristy, a woman in her 40s who has played in casinos since she was 21. She likes to play many games, but hates blackjack because of bullying by other players when she makes a strategy mistake.

A number of readers have responded with their own tales. Most have been sympathetic, though one fellow was adamant that weak players deserve a pile-on. “They always cost me money,” he wrote.

I told him some selective memory was probably involved there, that mistakes by others are as likely to help you as to hurt you, and that he probably wasn’t noticing the helping hands, his response was something I can’t publish verbatim.

Let’s move on to a few I can publish:

Gord: I’ve never been the target of blackjack bullies, but I’ve seen it happen lots of times.

Once I was at a $5 table and an obvious beginner sat down with a rack of $1 slot tokens. He was betting five tokens on every hand.

Just a few hands in, he hit a stiff against a low card – something like 14 against 5. So here’s an obvious newbie who didn’t know anything about strategy. I took a deep breath and let it go.

The guy at the center spot wasn’t about to let it go. He was right in the poor guy’s face. “Take that [stuff] and get it out of here,” he snarled. “Let the big boys play.”

The dealer didn’t say a thing. He just dealt the cards. A couple of the pit crew were laughing. But the newbie got all red in the face, picked up his rack and left. I was really sorry for him. I hope he learned strategy and tried again, but I wouldn’t blame him if it put him off the game, like Kristy.

Kendall: The heck of it is that the critics aren’t always right. One guy really let me have it when I hit soft 18 against a 10. That’s the correct basic strategy play, but he got really angry when I drew a Queen.

“You hit on 18,” he said. “Are you going to hit another one? You just better hope that Queen isn’t the dealer’s bust card.”

As luck would have it, the dealer had a 10 down. I didn’t take his bust card, but his 20 beat my hard 18 just as it would have beat my soft 18.

The grumbles kept coming anyway. After the next shuffle, another player joined our table and asked how things were going. My critic said, “OK, except we have a guy here who hits 18s,” and he nodded toward me.

No distinction between soft 18 or hard 18, or mention of the dealer card. I was just “the guy who hits 18s.”

Lindsey: “I’m with Kristy 100%. I knew more strategy than she seems to, but maybe I’ve always been a little fuzzy on the soft hands.

“My great mistake was standing on soft 15 against a 6. Everybody at the table tried to convince me to hit, but letting the dealer bust seemed right to me. I know better now, but back then I insisted on standing.

Everybody else stood, so the dealer got the 5 I would have gotten. She had a 10 down, so her 21 beat the table. I heard a whole chorus of, “You should have had that 21. You cost everybody money. You lost a hand everybody should have won,” and so on.

It took six months before I could muster the courage to play again.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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