Top Ten Blackjack Mistakes

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It’s human nature to assume we’re pretty good at what we do. Accordingly, many people sit down at a blackjack table and assume their losses are due to bad luck, rather than their own bad play. Double Check your game with the below Top Ten Blackjack Mistakes, and see if there is still room for improvement:

1. Playing by “Feel”. I could understand this mistake better if you were Jeanne Dixon or had a job working for a cold case police taskforce. At least your psychic powers might have some use there. But at a blackjack table, it is a big mistake to play “because it feels right.” We’ve all seen the freshman blackjack player who announces “I’m splitting these tens because I feel it’s the right thing to do.” or the guys who says “I know the ‘book’ says no, but I’ve got a feeling.” If you want to make more money, stop playing by feel, and start playing exactly according to your blackjack strategy card.

2. Taking Insurance. We’ve all seen the articles that tell us, statistically speaking, not to take insurance. We’ll make more money in the long run, they say, if we never take it. So why do we sit there and accept even money? It’s that old dealer admonition that “Insurance is the only sure bet in blackjack.” The dealer was wrong then, and he’s wrong now. Only if you’re a card counter who knows the precise count on the deck, should you even think about it. If you’re just another BJ player, fuggedaboudit!

3. Not Doubling Down Enough. Blackjack is an interesting mix of odds and formulas. Sometimes, after receiving your cards, you must play conservatively to avoid more losses. But sometimes, the right play is to double your bet. Why? When you have an A-2 against the dealer’s 5 upcard, (and other double-down situations, too) you’ve got a nice statistical edge to win the hand. Take the plunge! Double your bet and take what’s rightfully yours. If you’re too timid to take this advantage, go back to the nickel slots. Or better yet, study your basic strategy card and memorize every double-down combination of cards. It will time well spent.

4. I’m Due. No, you’re not. If you’ve been losing, trust me, you can lose again. And if you’ve been winning, it can go on that way. It is human nature to assume the tides of change will turn on the next hand, based on the last several hands. The previous hand history does not have any influence upon the outcome of the next hand. Got it? Your odds are unchanged, whether you’ve just had 16 winners in a row, or 16 losers. The next hand is unaffected by history. (By the way, I’m not taking about card counting here. Card counters monitor a shoe’s odds on an ongoing basis using advanced statistical techniques.)

5. Bad Table Position. Sit anywhere at the table. Third base is the same as first base. If you’re not a card counter, it won’t affect your earnings either way. We often hear people talking about a third base player that “made lots of poor decisions, and made me lose.” Get over it. That same third base player might save you from losses with his erratic play, too.

6. Never Surrender. So you never surrender? Too bad. There are times when you should cut your losses. Over the long run, some surrenders are a good call. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, study your blackjack strategy card, and reap the benefits.

7. I’m Ashamed to Bring My Strategy Card. I know you don’t gamble every day, and memorizing a chart is boring. OK, I can accept that. But why do you think it’s un-cool to bring your blackjack strategy card to the table? Did you know almost every casino allows you to consult with your card? Did you know they sell strategy cards in the casino gift shops? Did you know your play will instantly improve to “Pro” status if you use it? Stop being ashamed and make more money. Bring the card and do what it says to do.

8. I’ve Got A Great System Get this through your head: There is no winning system available in blackjack except card counting. There is no winning system available in blackjack except card counting. There is no winning system available in blackjack except card counting. Everything you otherwise see advertised is rubbish. There are only three tiers in blackjack play. The best odds belong to good, accurate card counters. The next group is those who play by statistically proven blackjack strategy cards. And the biggest losses belong to everybody else who plays without counting, or using a strategy card. You think you have a great system? So did the other hundred thousand suckers.

9. All Blackjack Games Are The Same Blackjack varies widely all over the globe. Whether you play on a cruise ship, or a major Las Vegas casino, it’s a good idea to evaluate the odds of each game before you sit down. Some BJ games have added features that (surprise) are not improvements for the players. Does the dealer draw on a soft 17? If he does, the casino edge is probably higher than if he stays put on any 17. If the game only pays 6 to 5 on blackjacks, you’re losing money. Take the time to study the BJ game differences and play only those games giving you the best odds. Lord knows it’s hard enough to win, so choose your game carefully. The rules that help the player are: Early surrender, doubling down on any two cards, 2-1 payout in blackjacks, double down after splits, drawing to split aces. The ones that hurt the player are: rigid double down rules, dealers hitting soft 17’s, 6 to 5 blackjack payouts, adding more decks. (Eight decks are worse than one deck.) By shopping for the right game, you’ll start off with the best odds.

10. I Never Take A Break. Perhaps you think you’ll cut short your winning streak. Or you might just think you’ll miss some winning hands if you get up from the table. Well, surprise! You’re wrong here, too. A player’s mental clarity and number counting faculty is often eroded by stress and being tired. So why not go get a sandwich and a cup of coffee before venturing back to the battle scene. By the way, do you think the casinos give dealers twenty minute breaks after every hour because casino managers are very nice guys?

January 28, 2014: posted in Blackjack No Comments

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