Blackjack: I’ve got 13 Dealer showing a 3 – Hit or Stay?

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After my poor performance last trip to Vegas one of the areas of my game that I’ve been examining is my range.  Specifically how aggressive should I be on the lower end of the deck.  In this case if I have 13 and the dealer is showing a 3 what is the right play?

The book says stay in this situation.  In the past I’ve always followed that advice without any question since in general I play a conservative game and it basically made sense.

In reviewing my last trip I started looking at some of the low-end cards since I seemed to run into more than usual 12/13 vs. 2/3 and ended up on the losing end more often than not.

The low-end cards provide a lot of coin-toss situations and I often see novice players working hard to make decisions every time they face them.  I’ve usually played it conservatively and stand when holding a 13 vs. a dealer showing 3 as the book recommends.

Today I’m looking at the 13 vs 3 since I may start testing out a more aggressive strategy going forward.  According to the great folks at Wizard of Odds the dealer has only a 37% chance of busting when he starts with a 3 showing.  On the flip side if I’ve got a 13 my odds of busting when taking one card are only 38%.

So in this situation I have >60% chance of staying in the hand when taking a card vs. 100% of staying in the hand without hitting.  My odds of improving my hand to a quality hand (18+) are 31%.  So I’ve given myself a reasonable chance of improving while the dealer is only going to bust 4 out of 10 times.

I’m going to try this out in my next sessions and closely track the impact to see how it affects my results.

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