Discount Gambling

Buying Surrenders @ Spanish21

Posted in spanish21, sycuan by stephenhow on April 12, 2009

I’ve been shooting an angle at the Spanish21 blackjack tables at my nearby Sycuan Casino for the past few weeks, but finally “management” got wise to it, and shut me down :( However, it’s still good, and you’ll probably have the chance to do it yourself, provided your casino isn’t retentive about these types of things.

Here’s how it works. I noticed that people tend to over-surrender at Spanish21, because they get used to surrendering from rescue after double, and they figure if its good then, it must always be good. Of course, there are people that never surrender, even after double (they’d rather redouble a 14 against a dealer Ace), but that’s a different story. So I’d see people surrendering 14 against a dealer Face, and all kinds of nonsense. It was okay to pass chips around the table to back someone’s double, and play someone else’s match, so I figured they’d let me “buy” people’s would-be surrender hands.  So, they surrender to me, I pay them half their bet, and they play the hand out for me.  I own the hand at this point, and if it wins, I get all the proceeds, including the original bet. It’s very simple in practice. When you see someone start to signal for surrender, you say “I buy” and show them the money. They say, “ok, you buy”, take the chips, and now its your hand.  Of course, they have to signal to the dealer for the hit, because of the house rules.  Hopefully, you improve the hand with the hit, and stand.  If you bust, the player feels good about their surrender.  If you win, make sure the player doesn’t feel like a sucker (say something like “I gambo”).  This transaction is somewhat normal for the Asian players, because of the concept of “color buy” in Paigow.  They’re also very adept at keeping track of various intra-player transactions (e.g., “come-come” bets). With American players, hopefully you can simply explain the proposition. Usually though, just have the right amount of chips ready, and use hand gestures to demonstrate your intentions.

Of course, every such opportunity (except for the 16 & 17 against a dealer Ace) is positive EV. Here’s a few examples of what I was getting before they put the kibash on it:

Hand EV(hit) Cost Profit
16 vs Dealer Face .516306 0.5 3.26%
15 vs Dealer Face .566478 0.5 13.3%
14 vs Dealer Face .61956 0.5 23.9%
16 vs Dealer 9 .546484 0.5 9.30%
15 vs Dealer A .543541 0.5 8.71%
doubled 13 vs Dealer 7 .532753 (stand) 0.5 6.55%

There’s one guy (an Italian guy named Robert), who surrender more than anyone could fathom. We got along well, so he’d gladly surrender to me. Unfortunately, he’s a bad chronic donor, so I didn’t see him enough. Besides, he would have caught on sooner or later.

From the table, the worst offer is the 16 vs. the dealer Face. Of course, it’s the most common opportunity, and only yields 3.26%. That’s a great return, but might be more variance than you like to assume.  Maybe you can only buy the small bets on these hands.  Anything else is pure gold.

Anyway, the retard floor manager on the day-shift saw me doing it, and sternly told me I couldn’t do it. I guess that means if I continue doing it, I’ll get in more serious trouble. Plus, they’ll probably have a staff meeting / memo on the issue, and all the dealers will be instructed to prohibit it. Geez, what a bunch of killjoys.  This was the best thing ever.

2 Responses

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  1. Ted said, on July 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Hey, love the blog! Would like to see more in the future. I’m a big proponent of cheap gambling.

  2. Grumpy said, on June 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Great job Steven. Would love to see something about blackjack. Viejas dealer who I adore told me that it is better for the player,that you can’t surrender, and not split aces up to 4 times, like Barona because you will lose more. I guess by her reasoning it is better to be dealt a hard12 than a single ace! She also pushes the insurance bet with the line if you owned a Mercedes you would insure it, maybe she pays 50 percent of her cars value every year on insurance. Met you at Viejas Wednesday,you were playing 6 card poker. how did you do? Next post I will give top ten clichés blackjack dealers say. Will be unable to find a 5 dollar table at Viejas,so off to Barona where at least I will get a comp. Tempted to break my self imposed ban and swipe my card at Sycuans free play Friday. I know I will not see you at either place, so enjoy your weekend.


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