Blackjack is a game of strategy. There’s a set of rules you can use to increase your odds of winning. There are also things you need to avoid to minimize your losses. Understanding how blackjack works is the first rule of the game. Learning Basic Blackjack Strategy is the second rule.
The goal of blackjack is to beat a dealer at forming a hand of twenty-one (21). You can also win with a hand close to 21 provided it’s better than the dealer’s hand. A hand of 22 or more is called a bust—a loss for you. Tying with the dealer for a hand of 21 is called a push—a draw.
In light of that information, below is a list of things you should avoid if you want to be a successful blackjack player.
1—Playing Before you Read the Rules
This is a common mistake among new blackjack players. They create an account at a random casino, find blackjack and boom—they start to play. The problem: there’s more than one blackjack type. Different blackjack types have varying rules and payouts.
If you play before you grasp the rules of a game, you’re likely to make an illegal move and lose your winnings. Or you could get confused and lose your money unnecessarily. Reading rules is important for several reasons.
For starters, you get an idea of how a game works. More importantly, you can discover whether a casino has player-friendly rules or not. Join top-rated, recommended blackjack sites for a smooth gaming experience. Best-rated operators have a solid reputation of providing high-quality games. They payout fast and show you the rules of different games before you play.
What’s the best blackjack type? It depends. Most variations of them game have the same goal—beating the dealer at a hand of 21. Differences come in terms of rules. For example, Pontoon blackjack hands the dealer a win during a push. However, you’re paid 2:1 if you get a hand of 21 in all other cases.
2—Playing at a Table that Pays 6:5
The standard blackjack game pays 3:2. This means you get paid $3 for every $2 you gamble. This translates to $6 for a bet of $4 or $12 if you wager $8. By comparison, a table that pays out 6:5 pays you $6 for $5 wagered or $12 if you bet $10.
The difference is clear: you make more money at a blackjack table that pays out 3:2. The figures might look small. But when playing blackjack multiple times, the small monetary differences can add up quickly. Precisely, if you were to win ten hands of blackjack on a 3:2 table, you would get paid $60 after wagering $40. By comparison, you would make $60 after wagering $50 at a 6:5 table—a difference of $10 for just ten hands.
Statistically, playing at a table with a 6:5 pay ratio increases the house edge by up to 700%. In turn, this reduces your overall profits over time tremendously. And if you bet amounts that can’t be divided by five, the extra stakes are paid at a ratio of 1:1.
Let’s say you wager $9 at a table that pays 6:5. If you win, you’ll get paid $6 for the first $5 you wagered. Then for the extra $4, you’ll receive a profit of $4. In other words, you get paid $10 for a bet of $9. Had you wagered $9 at a table that pays 3:2, you would get $13.5.
3—Guessing instead of using Strategies
As we mentioned, blackjack has rules and strategies that can help boost your odds of winning. The most popular strategy is basic blackjack. It’s so popular than many experienced players believe it’s the only blueprint you need for winning blackjack.
It’s legal to carry a basic blackjack cheat sheet and you can refer to it at your convenience. In light of this information, you should never do guesswork at a blackjack table. Refer to your basic blackjack cheat sheet to discover whether you should hit, stand, double down or split cards.
With that in mind, basic blackjack isn’t the only strategy out there. There’s card counting—the profitable albeit challenging system of counting cards to lower the house edge. Then there’s progressive betting: involves increasing your bet sizes over time.
Let’s get things clear. Counting cards is not cheating even though some casinos might frown upon it. Using strategies like basic blackjack and Martingale isn’t cheating either. Cheating involves special software that can help you see a dealer’s cards illegally. Bribing or partnering with a dealer also amounts to cheating.
At online casinos, cheating will not only lead to the suspension of your account bit a casino could also confiscate your bankroll. At land-based casinos, cheating can land you in jail and consequently get you a criminal record.
If you’re don’t seem to win at blackjack, you’re better of not playing it rather than cheating. You could also take time to perfect your skills and win legally. It’s not a hard game—some players have bankrupted casinos by winning too much at blackjack.
An example is Don Johnson, a professional gambler who nearly bankrupted the Tropicana Casino in 2011. He also won so much money at Caesars Casino in the same year and they banned him. Johnson aside, the famous MIT group of card counters is another example of people who found ways to beat the house without cheating.
Chasing losses is an emotional reaction to losing money in blackjack. It happens mainly when playing without a plan or budget. Let’s say you have $200 to spend in blackjack. You have no plan and so you get into a blackjack game that costs $20 per hand.
After five hands of not winning, you decide to double your wager. That means you spend $80 on the next two hands, leaving you with just $20. If you continue to chase losses, you would likely lose your $20 too. Blackjack is best played with a budget and plan. For example, you can choose to reduce your stakes after a few losing hands. Or you could quit playing altogether.