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Best of Henry Tamburin

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Blackjack myths revisited

18 September 2009

The myths of blackjack are alive and well. No matter where I go, when the conversation turns to blackjack players ask me about the same myths that have been repeated umpteen hundred times over the past 50 years. So I thought it would benefit readers if I once again reviewed the common myths and fallacies about the game to set the record straight. You may not like what you read, but these are the facts.

The objective of blackjack is to get to 21.
This is not the objective of blackjack. It's to beat the dealer by either having your hand total higher than the dealer's hand or by not busting when the dealer's busts. Remember you can win at blackjack even with a 12 if the dealer busts.

Only play at a blackjack table where the dealer is cold.
We all know that blackjack dealers sometimes get lucky and can do no wrong and beat you no matter you hold. Although it's easy to tell if the dealer is hot or cold right this minute, what you can't tell or predict is whether he will be hot or cold in the future. That's because the cards don't know and quite frankly don't care what has happened in the past. Just because you lost the last five hands in a row, it doesn't mean you are more likely to win the next hand. So picking tables where the dealer seems cold is a waste of time.

Bad players at the table will cause you to lose.
Oh, really now. Let's assume that's true and you are I are going to open a new casino. If we were smart entrepreneurs we'd hire a bunch of players and have them on our blackjack tables playing poorly so that we would win more money from players. Of course this is ridiculous. Casinos don't hire bad players to make regular players lose more. In fact the bad play of players will even out your fortunes over time -- sometimes you will win because of their poor playing decisions and sometimes you will lose. What usually happens is that players have selective memory and only remember the times they lose.

A player at third base should always take the dealer's bust card.
Many players believe that the anchor or third base player should play his or her hand in a manner that will cause the dealer to bust so all players will win. However, just as in the above myth, it doesn't make any difference, as far as your expectation, how the third base player plays out his hand. In fact your expectation is not affected one iota by the skill level of your fellow players. So if you've got a bunch of "ploppies" on your table, you shouldn't worry about how they misplay their hands (but if it bothers you then it's wise to get up and leave and play elsewhere before you start making playing mistakes).

Betting progressions can overcome the house edge.
Just about every blackjack player at one time or another has tried using a betting system that is based on what happened on the previous hand. Unfortunately, betting progressions will not change the house edge in the long run. Remember: The cards have no memory and they don't know or care whether you won or lost the previous hand. You've got about a 49 percent chance of winning your next hand in blackjack (excluding ties) regardless of what has happened in the past. Betting progressions might be fun and exciting in the short run, but in the long run they can't and won't give you the edge at blackjack.

A new player entering a game in the middle of the shoe screws up the order of the cards.
Most players dislike a new player entering a game in the middle of a shoe because they believe this new player will change the order of the cards and cause them to lose. It's true that the order of the cards changes when a new player enters a game, but how can you predict whether the new order will be better or worse for players? You can't and that's the point. In fact in the long run it doesn't make any difference how many players might jump into and out of a shoe. Your expectation remains the same.

Always insure a good hand.
Many players will always make the insurance bet when they have a 20 to guarantee that they won't lose should the dealer have blackjack. The insurance bet in blackjack is a bad bet and it's worse if you are holding a 20. The reason is that you are betting that the dealer has a blackjack when you make the insurance bet and you happen to have two of the cards that the dealer needs to make a blackjack. Overall, insurance is a sucker bet that you should always decline.

Taking even money guarantees that you will win.
This is a true statement. If you are a dealt a blackjack and the dealer shows an ace up card, you have the option of taking even money before the dealer checks for a blackjack. That means you win even money on your bet right then and there, which is why the majority of players opt for even money. However, the dealer is more likely to not have a blackjack, so that in the long run you will win slightly more than even money per hand if you decline the even money. The bottom line is that you will wind up with more profits in your pocket over time if you decline the even money.

You have to have a photographic memory in order to count cards in the casino.
The casinos would love for you to believe this, but it's simply not true. Anyone can card count if they just put their mind to it and practice. In fact the new Speed Count that I teach in cities across the US is so easy to learn that average players who attend my course learn it in just two days and can play blackjack forever with the advantage over the casino. If you don't believe me, read our student testimonials that are posted on www.goldentouchblackjack.com.

Card counters have a big advantage in blackjack tournaments.
False. The technique of card counting gives players the edge in the long run. A round in a blackjack tournament usually lasts 20-30 hands. That is too few hands to give the card counter a big edge over their opponents. What's more important in tournaments is knowing how to bet and how to keep track of your opponents' bankrolls so you know whether you are ahead or behind and by how much. Think of this -- the last three champions who won a million dollars in the Las Vegas Hilton's Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament were not card counters but just average basic strategy players.

You can't win at blackjack. It's all just luck.
That may be true for players who make playing decisions by the seat-of-the-pants or use some sort of progressive betting system. But you can gain the edge over the casino in blackjack through card counting. Card counters don't win every time they play but in the long run they win more than they lose. You can take that to the bank (which they do).

Recent Articles
Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin