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19 September 2015
By Henry Tamburin
I’ve been playing blackjack in casinos for nearly 40 years. That includes casinos in the Midwest, Las Vegas, Mississippi. Louisiana. Atlantic City. Connecticut. New York, and New Mexico. (And many more places that would just bore you if I listed them all.) Therefore, I’m not kidding when I say I’ve played a lot of blackjack and watched many blackjack players during my lifetime. 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, possess one or more of these five characteristics.
Characteristic #1. Don’t 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 correctly use the basic playing strategy. This is no secret. It’s readily available in books, in 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? Nevertheless, I would venture a guess that at best 20% of playing public know basic strategy perfectly.
Yes, even the experienced players who tell me “Sure, I know basic strategy,” rarely know all the plays. It’s 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 10 you must hit the hand regardless if you lost the last time or last ten times that you made this play. (Assuming the surrender option is not available; if it is, you should surrender the hand.) Ditto for a pair of eights against a dealer's 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 earn you more money. Don’t believe me? I have billions of computer-generated hands to back me up.
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 won’t and it can’t.
You are fighting a losing battle with progressions for one simple reason. In the history of blackjack, there has never been any study that proved 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 progressions in blackjack might be fun because sometimes in the short run you get to make some adrenaline-pumping big bets that you will win. However, in the long run, guess what? The house edge doesn’t change one iota. And what’s 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 don’t work in the long run, so forget about it.
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 don’t bet more thinking you are due to win.
Characteristic #4. Not Knowing When to Quit
Player gets ahead by $100. The tide turns and he starts losing. What do you think the player does? How many say, “Quit with his profits.” How many say, “Keeps 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 end 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. It’s all luck, so why bother? You can say that about slots, roulette and most other casino games, but you’d 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:
1. 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 a countless number of blackjack mathematicians. This strategy is the basic playing strategy. It’s the only playing strategy that will allow you to improve your chances of winning. Learn it cold and use it for every hand dealt to you.
2. The only factor that correlates your chances of winning the current or future hands is the composition of the cards in the undealt deck(s). 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. Those discards that are on the table for every one 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 there must be more big cards in the undealt cards and now 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 who invented Speed Count. You can read about Speed Count and what players have said about it by reading Frank Scoblete's book "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack."
Therefore, when it comes to being a winner at blackjack, you know what you have to do. Either you can continue to play with the characteristics of a losing player, or you can finally spend some time and learn how to win. The choice is yours.
Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. His website is www.smartgaming.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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