How Not to Play Blackjack


Jul 2011

Ken Tucker | POSTED IN Blackjack | NO COMMENTS

Even though blackjack players like to brag about the game’s tiny house edge, throwing out the old “0.5%” number and muttering about basic strategy, it is more than possible to lose lots of many at a blackjack table. If blackjack were an easy win for players, casinos wouldn’t offer it, or would alter the rules until it became a profitable game. It isn’t uncommon to see blackjack tables in Vegas with rules geared so that any possible player advantage has been eliminated.

Casinos count on people not knowing basic blackjack strategy and not being aware of the rules of a particular table. If you want to lose your shirt (and your pants and your shoes) in the casino, blackjack dealers are willing and able to help you out. Here’s are three quick steps to losing a ton of money playing casino blackjack.

1. Leave Your Strategy Card at Home

If you’re a student of blackjack and don’t have a strategy card or printable blackjack strategy chart, what’s wrong with you? They’re available for free online and for sale on the cheap at the casino gift shop.

If you own a strategy card and choose not to bring it to the blackjack table with you, you’re setting yourself up for big losses. Casinos don’t care if you bring your strategy card–they wouldn’t sell them if they didn’t want you to have them. Maybe you’re afraid to bring the card along because of what other gamblers will say. Who cares?

The blackjack strategy card will help you win, plain and simple. It gives you the mathematically appropriate play for any game situation you’ll come across. Since the game of blackjack is set up to favor of the house, playing with perfect strategy still won’t automatically turn you into a high roller, but leaving it at home is asking for trouble.

2. Use Betting Strategies

We’re not talking about card counting here–if you can count cards, by all means tailor your bets. But if you aren’t trained in counting cards, using one of those ludicrous betting strategies based on winning and losing “streaks” will drain your bankroll faster than anything else.

Betting strategies that base your bet size on whether you’ve been winning or losing make one huge mistake–they ignore maximum bet limits. Let’s say your doubling your bets after losses. Your first bet was $2, and you lost, so you doubled it to $4. Another loss, another doubled bet, so now you’re betting $8. It only takes four more losses and doubled bets before you’ve hit the max bet at most blackjack tables. Since you can no longer double your bets, your system has failed and you can’t recoup your losses.

3. Play Like a Sucker

There are any number of other habits that you could take on to lose money at blackjack, all of which fall under the umbrella of “playing like a sucker.” Though this isn’t by any means a complete list, playing like a sucker means taking insurance, ignoring the table rules, drinking too much, forgetting to tip the dealer, splitting every pair you’re dealt, and being too scared to double down. Playing like a sucker means ignoring everything you’ve ever read about how to play blackjack, pretending like you’re God’s Gift to Gambling.

Casinos are more than happy to host players who think they know all there is to know about blackjack. If you’re unwilling to use your strategy card, plan on incorporating a betting strategy you read about online, and forget the basic rules of blackjack play, the casino will be happy to ask you to visit again and again.

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