Michigan “hide” rule


I understand that in a few Indian casinos in northern Michigan, blackjack dealers show the player their hole card only when necessary to decide the winner of a hand. Current Blackjack News describes it as the “hide” rule. It is difficult to imagine this without having seen it in practice. Can anyone describe this in more detail, perhaps with an example or two? Presumably it is designed to harm the play of advantage players. Is it possible to position oneself at the table so as to see all cards in play?

MWP: It really is only an issue if playing heads up. It doesn't happen all that often with more folks at the table. Here is an example: Suppose you are playing heads up at the start of a new shoe. You were dealt a 10 and 4 and the dealer is showing a face card up -- the running count in hi-lo is -1. You hit your hand and get an 8 to bust. The dealer picks up all the cards but does not show you his bottom card. If the dealer had another 10 or face as his down card the running count would now be -2, but if he had a 6 as his down card the running count would be zero, and if the dealer's down card was an 8 the running count would still be -1.

Now imagine what could happen if you end up busting 4 or 5 times in a row which could easily happen. However, with more players at the table, it is more likely that someone will have a pat hand so the dealer will have to show his hand.

Here is another example. Suppose again you are playing heads up and you were dealt a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace up. The dealer asks for insurance or even money. If you take even money, the dealer will not check for blackjack and just pick up the cards without showing the down card.

Random Player: Thanks for those examples. Sometimes in other locations (Las Vegas, elsewhere), you come across a dealer who performs a crafty little move when it comes to their bottom card -- they try to turn it over and scoop it up very quickly with minimal exposure. When I've come across this, I have found it challenging, but certainly possible to always see the bottom card. I wonder if this is the action you are describing. Perhaps these dealers learned their trade in northern Michigan.

21forme: Here's what I once did in a similar situation: I was playing a double-deck pitch game and the dealer knew I was counting. He thought he'd mess with me by not showing me his down card. Next hand I busted, and I kept drawing cards. When I had more than 21 face up, he figured out something wasn't right. At that point I said, "You want to be a jerk, I can play games, too." He didn't do it again. Unfortunately, this wouldn't work if it's casino policy. I presume this is an Indian casino, so there are no enforced rules governing the game. If there were state rules, it would be worth checking to see if they can legally do that.

Nevada Resident: Isn't an unseen card just an unseen card? Isn't this effectively just a game with slightly worse penetration than it otherwise would appear; same as the pen being reduced by the number of unseen cards that normally would be seen?

Flyboy: Yes it’s just an unseen card. There seems to be a game protection downside to this silly policy: Surveillance can't ascertain whether or not that blackjack payoff is legit when the dealer has an ace showing. Wouldn't it be easy for a crook to collude with a dealer who would pay off player naturals no matter what the hole card was? Or are there just not enough natural vs. ace situations for this to be a concern.

Dog Hand: Happens just over 0.1% of the time, so probably not a gold mine.

Figure player's BJ probability = 2*(8/104)*(32/103) = 0.04779686...

times simultaneous dealer's A-up BJ probability = (7/102)*(31/101) = 0.02106387...

gives the joint probability = 0.001006786..., or once each 993.258... rounds.

If we assume basic strategy (so no insurance taken), this'll add 0.15% to the player's EV.

Originally published on Green Chip, edited for this format.


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