Card counting and basic blackjack strategy are two factors that contribute to blackjack success. The best players also use adjustments like the Fab Four blackjack variation to fine tune their playing style. Making these small adjustments to basic strategy can lead to an increase in blackjack profits. Here’s a closer look at the Fab Four.
A Useful Variation to Basic Blackjack Strategy
The simple definition of the Fab Four is a basic strategy variation for blackjack. It is a special set of rules that are meant to be applied only in certain circumstances. We will expand on this definition shortly.
The unique thing about the Fab 4 is that it specifically relates to a player option in blackjack known as surrender. The surrender option is becoming harder and harder to find, making the Fab Four a strategy that is becoming obsolete.
As long as there are still live casinos that offer surrender you will be able to use the Fab Four. You’ll need to be using a card counting method, preferably one that was developed by Don Schlesinger.
About Don Schlesinger and the Fab Four
We have written extensively about Don Schlesinger on Counting Edge. This would be a good time to briefly mention that Schlesinger is a world famous blackjack player and author. He has created several card counting methods, and his books still sell well today. Schlesinger’s mathematical background gives him the expertise needed to craft his blackjack methods.
Something Schlesinger is known for is variations to basic blackjack strategy. He created the Illustrious 18, a set of 18 expert plays that can be used to lower the house edge even farther. His Fab Four indices are similar to the Illustrious 18, but they only deal with situations in which the player is asked to consider surrender as an option at the blackjack table.
Before we list the Fab Four indices, let us take a quick look at surrender as an option in blackjack. This weapon is often overlooked, but it can be used by the player to great effect.
Surrender – What it Is and How to Use It
If you see the word SURRENDER on the blackjack table, this refers to a special rule which allows the player to forfeit a portion of their original bet and surrender their hand. When the option was first introduced to the live casinos in Las Vegas, there were two different types of surrender.
In an early surrender the player was allowed to execute the move before the dealer checked to see if they had a natural blackjack. This was a huge advantage to the player, and it worked to lower the house edge in a large fashion. Over time the casinos mostly phased out early surrender. The smartest players were using it to their advantage.
Late surrender allows the option to be used after the dealer has peeked for blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack, you will still lose all of your original wager because surrender cannot be done until you act on your hand.
There are still a few live casinos that offer late surrender, although they are becoming harder and harder to come by. In online blackjack it is rare to find the surrender option.
Surrender is accomplished by forfeiting one half of your original bet to the house and giving up your hand. The option is meant to give the player a way out when they seem to be up against overwhelming odds. Here’s an example. If you hold a total of 16 and the dealer shows a 10, making a surrender would often be a good play. In this situation you are probably beaten. Better to lose half of your bet than all of it.
Card counters have developed rigid opinions on surrender. Most card counting methods and systems advocate against the move. Don’t do it, they say. This is where Don Schlesinger makes an adjustment by offering the Fab Four, a list of four situations where surrender is a valid option.
The Fab Four Surrender Strategies
The Fab Four calls for the player to surrender in four specific circumstances. The variation assumes that the player is counting cards and playing in a game where late surrender is allowed.
- Surrender when your total is 15, the true count is +3, and the dealer shows a 9
- Surrender when your total is 15, the true count is 0, and the dealer shows a 10
- Surrender when your total is 15, the true count is +2 (S17)or -1(H17), and the dealer shows an ace
- Surrender when your total is 14, the true count is +4, and the dealer shows a 10
Note that in the third instance there is an adjustment for standard blackjack as well as rules where the dealer has to hit the soft 17. You should also note that these adjustments require you to be using a card counting method with a true count.
What is the Purpose of the Fab Four and Basic Blackjack Strategy Variations?
At this point you may be wondering why these adjustments to basic blackjack strategy are needed. After all, you may have been doing just fine using a card counting method and no changes to basic strategy.
The answer to this is that you may want to elevate your game to a higher level where the profits are greater. To do that you need to lower the house edge against you, make a few tweaks, and also adjust your betting. The Fab Four and the Illustrious 18 can help you accomplish some of these goals.
There are some potential disadvantages to using variations to basic blackjack strategy. Many of these techniques will mark you as an advantage player in the eyes of the casino. It is also true that the Fab Four has limited application to online blackjack.
We suggest that you explore our recommended online casinos if you want to stick with basic blackjack strategy. You will still have an excellent chance to win, and you’ll be able to play all your favorite casino games without leaving home and get a nice casino bonus. Good options can be Lucky Red Casino or Casino Max, or Las Vegas USA.
Check out the following from Don Schlesinger:
- The Illustrious 18 Card Counting Indices
- Risk Analysis in Blackjack “Score”
- Back Counting in Card Counting
- Fab Four Blackjack Variation
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