John Grochowski

John Grochowski

As far as I know, we all make mistakes.

Maybe there’s a blackjack player out there who always makes the correct strategy play, or, for card counters, adjustments with the count. But fatigue and distraction can lead the best of us into plays we wouldn’t normally make.

A few months ago, I mentioned Bob, an experienced, solid player who misread his hand, played 8-6 as if it were 8, and drew unfriendly fire from the rest of the table.

It happens. In the wake of Bob’s story, I’ve heard from other players about mistakes that made them cringe afterward. Let’s share a couple of them.

JODIE: I know you shouldn’t stand on soft 17. I know that when the dealer has a 6 up and I have Ace-6 I should double down. I always do that, except this one time I didn’t.

My only excuse is that my attention was elsewhere. The waitress brought my drink just as the cards were being dealt. My husband was right behind her, waiting to tell me he’d been winning at craps but that the shooter had finally sevened out so he was going to check in on the games at the sports book.

The dealer could have waited, I’m sure, but instead of holding on till I actually looked at my cards, I signaled to stand.

It didn’t turn out too bad. The dealer busted and I won the hand. But the card that was dealt after my turn was a 4. If I’d done my usual double down, I’d have had 21 and a nicer win.

I don’t think anybody else even noticed, but I did. It made me mad at myself.

PATRICK: I misread a 3 as a 2, and that cost me a bet.

I had 10-3 and the dealer had 2. I thought it was 10-2, and that’s a hitting hand. So I doubled.

The dealer even called out, “Hitting hard 13” for the supervisor to hear, and it didn’t register that he was talking about me. So I had a chance to change my mind if I’d been paying any attention at all.

Naturally, I drew a 9. I even felt pretty good when I saw the 9 come out. I thought I had 21. Then the dealer started to clear my cards and chips, and I saw what I had done. Total failure on my part.

SLY: I always thought I had basic strategy down pat. It turns out I still had some work to do on splitting pairs.

I had a pair of 4s. The dealer had a 3. I split them. You could double after splits, and I thought you were supposed to split 4s against anything 6 or less except 2s, when really it should be only against 5 or 6.

I got another 4 and split again, then another one for the final split.

Then it turned into a complete fiasco. You never saw so many low cards. I had so many cards, the dealer was having trouble keeping hands separate so you could read them.

None of them added up to anything good. I had two 17s, a 16 and a 15. The dealer had a 6 down for 9, then drew a 10 for 19 and I lost all those bets.

Until then, I’d been playing basic strategy, and one of the other players told me, “You might want to check your basic strategy chart.” Ooops. I only thought I knew what I was doing.

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

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