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The finer points of dealer hand strength reading

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I was in a game recently where the dealer had a low card up, and I correctly predicted there was a low card in the hole, and yet I read the dealer as weak.


The up card was a two, and in that particular hand I thought the total of the dealer's hand was less than 7. I turned out to be right, and the dealer broke.

Sometimes I imagine the cards preceeding and following the hole card as the value of the hole card. I mentally try each one, to see how well it goes with the up card in terms of hand strength. So rather than classifying each low card as simply low, I think about the exact value of the cards.

Do you guys do that?

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Guest CarlosM

Explain in more detail. Say the cards before the hole card is 3, 6, 4. The 4 being right before her hole and plaayers hit, and the cards after the hole card are, 6, 2, 4. What card value then would you call the hole? Explain why? This sounds very interesting!!!! Any other tips above the manuals?

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OK. I will try to explain the idea a little further.

The main idea is that I look at a few cards preceeding the dealer hole card and a few following and mentally pair them up with the dealer's up card to see how strong the combination would be. This gives me some idea of the dealer's strength.

For example if the dealer is showing a 2 and the first of the hit cards is an 8, that is a strong combination. If there are enough other strong combinations, I would bet that the dealer is strong. Like say the third base player was showing a 7 immediately preceeding the dealer hole card. That would be another strong combination, since it adds up to 9 when combined with the 2 that the dealer is showing in this example.

I mentally slide these cards over to the dealer and tally strength and weakness. If there are 4 strong combinations and two weak ones, I treat the dealer as strong and thus do not bet that the dealer would break. I need pretty strong evidence of dealer weakness before I bet that the dealer will break.

I find myself doing this kind of analysis at the table sometimes, and it arose from my home training. Your brain will pick its own strategies if you ask it to analyze what you could've done to win a hand that you lost. There is no better instruction than home training. Everything becomes self evident.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's another. Sometimes I will play out the hand in my head using various combinations of visible cards on the table to substitute for the "unknown" cards. This is usually easiest to do head to head. In other words, I not only try to predict the value of the hole card, I try to predict the outcome of the hand, including hit cards for me and the dealer. As I do this, I am keeping a rough tally of the outcomes for hit and stand.

The number of combinations can be large. It is hard to do this in a rigorous way. Don't go nuts trying, just consider using it to get a feel for your various card play moves.

What you are trying to do is to approximate which move will get you the best financial outcome.

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  • 1 year later...

I have used this method with great results. Another example:

The dealer is showing an 8 up:


a,5 7,8,3 10,7

So let's add it up to see what to do. What is the hole card? This is how I add it up:

8 would give the dealer a 16

a would would give the dealer a 19

5 would would give the dealer a 13

7 would would give the dealer a 15

8 would would give the dealer a 16

3 would give the dealer an 11

10 would give the dealer an 18

7 would give the dealer a 15

So now we have the following strong dealer hands:

11, 18, 19

and the following weak dealer hands:

13, 15, 15, 16, 16

Not only does it tell you strong or weak, it tells you how strong or weak, and you can forecast dealer breaks based on the above outcomes combined with hit cards using the cards you are seeing on the table as the hit cards.

There's more to teach, but let me say this: This method works well in clumped cards and in random cards. You are designing your own play strategy for this hand based on the cards you are seeing right now, rather than falling back on the basic strategy chart which is based on a lot of cards you are NOT seeing right now.

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  • Users

Usually, in spite of the teachings of Basic Strategy, a dealer 2 up is strong. We would never double against it or stand with less than 17, EXCEPT in the instance Mad Dog refers to, a down card we think is 4 or less. Now she is decidedly weak esp. if highs are running. That's a fine finer point.

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Note that I have only used this method against a six deck game. It is often the only star I have to steer by because the cards can be very random. When that happens, I use the whole table, not just the cards around the hole card. The best type 1 games seem to respond to this method. Combine it with farming, 1-4-6 and fibonacci. Try it in your home practice before you deploy it.

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