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Faced With Two Bad Choices, Take the Better of the Two

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: I never hit a hard 12 against an up card of two because it seems I always draw a 10 and bust. You have stated hitting a 12 is a winning move. Based on my personal results, I respectfully disagree. Gary Z.

Who said anything about winning, Gary? Not me. What I said is that hitting a 12 against a two is mathematically the correct move, and even though a 12 is a crumby hand that appears 6,230 times per one million hands, you'll win more hands and lose fewer in the long run when you hit.

Discarding for just a moment your anecdotal gambling evidence of always busting, the math I learned from Sister Cyrilla states that your chances of NOT busting when you HIT a 12 are 9÷13, or 69.23076%. The good Sister would tell you that the 9 represents the cards ace, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine, none of which will send you over the top. So why, Gary, would you want to stand on a 12 when simple arithmetic states that if you hit it, the odds significantly favor some improvement of your hand?

As for what I meant by “win more and lose less hands,” that comes from the plain fact that if you do hit a hard 12, you are going to win 37% of the time outright and lose 63% of the time. Your being fearful of busting and deciding to stand will win 35% of the time and lose 65%. In my humble opinion, I figure it is much better to win 37% of your hands by hitting a hard 12 than 35% of them by standing.

Dear Mark: Years ago I purchased your Hooked on Winning audio series from QVC. My husband and I have played them so much on our drive two-and-from the casino that Tape Two has ceased to work. In addition, two of the three strategy cards, Best Bets and the Blackjack Strategy card have gone missing. Any chance I can get them replaced? Also, is Hooked on Winning available on CD? Anna B.

I’ve got you covered, Anna. Coming your way is a new set of tapes and all three strategy cards.

As for Hooked on Winning on CD, I leapfrogged the CD format and decided to make the series available for digital download at iTunes and Amazon. Just search “Hooked on Winning” at either web site for the MP3 download.

Dear Mark: Without going into lengthy detail, or to be honest, any detail for that matter, I have a very sticky legal situation concerning gambling. Do you know of any legal counsel that knows the law in regards to gambling that you could recommend? Anonymous

If I were in a pinch, I would look to I. Nelson Rose, the leading legal authority on casino gambling in America. I suggest you first go to Rose’s terrific website,, search his extensive database of columns, and something might pop up regarding your dilemma, then contact him directly.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “There is no such thing as luck. It is all mathematics. That is not a contradiction.” —Nico Zographos, Renowned 1920s and 30s baccarat gambler