Classic Blackjack Mistakes: Need To Know Blackjack Info Before You Hit The Table
By Henry Tamburin
Ive been playing blackjack in casinos for some 35 years. In Vegas, Mississippi., Louisiana, New Mexico, Midwest, Canada, Atlantic City, Connecticut, and many more places that would just bore you if I listed them all. So Im not kidding when I say Ive watched a lot of blackjack players during my life time. The good ones all have one thing in common. They know how to play their hand and they know when to increase their bets. The bad players on the other hand posses one or more of these five characteristics.
Charcacteristic #1. Dont Know the Basic Playing Strategy
You would think that in the 21st century all blackjack players would know that to win at blackjack they must learn and use correctly the basic playing strategy. This is no secret. Its readily available in books, in magazine articles, and on the Internet. For a couple of bucks you can even purchase a plastic strategy card that you can bring with you when you play. How easy is that? But I would venture a guess that at best 20% of playing public know basic strategy perfectly. Yes, even the experience players who tell me, "Sure I know basic strategy," rarely know all the plays. Its just not good enough to know half the strategy and guess at the rest or worse, deviate from the right play because you get a "feeling" an alternate play might be better in a particular situation. When you play blackjack you need to play like a robot. This means every time the dealer gives you a 16 and he shows a 7 you must hit the hand regardless if you lost the last time or last ten times that you made this play. Ditto for a pair of 8s against a dealer 10. You shove out more money and split. Why? Because these are the correct plays to make, the ones that in the long run will either save you money or get you more money.
Characteristic #2. Trying To Beat The House with a Betting Progression
I see this all the time. It seems players have a fascination with betting progressions because they mistakenly believe that what happened on previous hands will somehow affect their chances of winning future hands. Well it wont. It cant. You are fighting a losing battle with progressions for one simple reason. In the history of blackjack, there has never been any study to prove that your chances of winning the next hand increase based upon what happened (won or lost) in previous hands. There is no magic bullet here. Using betting progression in blackjack might be fun because sometimes in the short run you get to make some adrenalin-pumping big bets which you will win. But in the long run guess what? The house edge doesnt change one iota. And whats worse you will lose more using betting progressions in the long haul then just betting the same on every hand because your average bet increases when you use a progression (remember even with basic strategy the house still has the slight edge so the more you bet the more you stand to lose). Nope, betting progressions alone dont work in the long run so forgetaboutit.
Characteristic #3. Betting More Because You Are Due to Win
Player bets $5 a hand and loses four or five hands in succession. Now he increases his bet to $10 because he figures he is "due to win." You are not due anything in the casino and certainly not a winning hand just because you lost the previous hands. Remember what we said earlier: the results of previous hands have no bearing on the outcome of future hands in blackjack. So dont bet more thinking you are due to win.
Characteristic #4. Not Knowing When to Quit
The Casual Player gets ahead by $100. The tide turns and he starts losing. What do you think the player does? How many say, "Im going to quit with my profits?" How many instead keep playing? Probably 90% of all casual players will keep playing. Why? Greed and the desire for action. I ask you, is it better to play three hours and wind up losing your profits back to the house or quit with a $100 profit after playing one hour? I know what I would do.
Characteristic #5. Believing That the Game of Blackjack is All Luck
These players put blackjack in the same category as slots. Its all luck, so why bother? You can say that about slots and roulette and most other casino games but youd be dead wrong about blackjack. Why? For the simple reason that blackjack is a game of skill and the odds can be changed in your favor if you know how to play the game skillfully.
You can be a successful blackjack player that plays the best game the casino has to offer if you just understand these facts about the game.
- There is a mathematically correct way to play every hand dealt to you. This playing strategy has been developed by millions upon millions of computer simulations by countless number of blackjack mathematicians. This strategy is the basic playing strategy. Its the only playing strategy that will allow you to improve your chances of winning. Learn it cold and use it on every hand dealt to you.
- The only factor that correlates your chances of winning the current or future hands is the composition of the undealt cards. When the latter contain an abundance of small value cards, the odds shift to the dealer. However, when the composition of the undealt cards is rich in 10s, picture cards and Aces, the odds of winning shift in your favor. In order for you to take advantage of this fact about blackjack you need to watch and keep track of the cards that are played from round to round. Those cards that are on the table for everyone to see contain valuable information that astute players take advantage of. If you see more small cards on the layout compared to big cards then their must be more big cards in the undealt cards and this is when you should bet more.
There are formal techniques that you can learn to track the cards as they are played. This is known as card counting. However, most card counting systems require 20-40 hours of diligent practice before you would be ready to play accurately in the casino. However, this has changed thanks to Dan Pronovost (DeepNet Technologies)who invented Speed Count, the easiest method that I know of that will allow average players to play with the edge over the house. I teach Speed Count in the Golden Touch Blackjack 2-day course and Speed Count is explained in Frank Scobletes latest book, Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution (details go to www.goldentouchblackjack.com).
So when it comes to being a winner at blackjack, you know what you have to do. You can either to continue to play with the characteristics of a losing player or you can once-and-for-all spend some time and learn how to win. The choice is yours.
Henry Tamburin is the Lead Instructor in the Golden Touch Blackjack course (www.goldentouchblackjack.com) and editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free.