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Ten mistakes blackjack players should avoid

14 October 2011

Do you want to improve your blackjack game? You can by avoiding these common mistakes made by blackjack players.

Not Checking the Rules
Most players just plop themselves down at the first open blackjack seat that they spot. That can be a big mistake because not all blackjack games are created equal. Some games have good rules for players, while others have terrible rules. And the casino manager isn't going to point you to his better blackjack games. What you should first do when you enter a casino is scout the tables and check the playing rules. Do they pay 3-2 on a blackjack? Does the dealer stand or hit on soft 17? Can I double down after splitting a pair? Your goal is to find the game with the best playing rules.

Playing 6-5 Games
Unfortunately, many casinos offer blackjack games where a player blackjack pays only 6-5 (instead of the traditional 3-2). This is a horrible game for players even when it's offered on a single-deck game. Stay away from any blackjack game that doesn't pay 3-2 for a blackjack. (If you are unsure what a blackjack pays, before you sit down and buy-in ask the dealer. If she says "6-5," tell her adios.)

Playing with a Continuous Shuffling Machine (CSM)
A CSM is an automatic shuffling device used by many casinos. It's different from the traditional automatic shufflers that have been in use for many years. With a CSM, the dealer takes the discards from each round (or several rounds) and puts them back into the CSM, where they are randomly mixed with the rest of the cards (usually a CSM holds 4-5 decks). Every round with a CSM is like playing a round from a freshly shuffled deck of cards. Because there is no pause in the action for a dealer hand-shuffle, the casino can deal roughly 20 percent more hands per hour with a CSM. This increases the player's exposure to the house edge and the average player's theoretical hourly loss will correspondingly increase. Therefore, CSMs will put a hurt on your bankroll. Don't play on tables that have them!

Using a Progressive Betting System
If I've said this once, I've said it a hundred times ... progressive betting systems will not change your odds of winning one iota. Some of them are dangerous; others will have you betting more than you normally would and, therefore, your theoretical loss will increase. Whether or not your previous hand just won (or lost) has no bearing on whether your next hand will win (or lose). The only variable that affects your chances of winning in blackjack is the ratio of high cards to low cards in the unplayed deck(s) of cards. Therefore, the only time it makes mathematical sense to increase your bet is when the unplayed cards contains more high cards than low cards. Therefore, you should be watching the cards on the layout on each round. If you don't see many picture cards or aces in the early rounds, now would be a good time to increase your bets. Better yet, learn a simple card counting system like Speed Count.

Not Using Basic Strategy
Playing by hunches is the biggest mistake I see players make at blackjack. In this day and age, the correct basic playing strategy for blackjack is readily available in books and on the Internet. Why, you can even take a strategy card with you when you play. You'll face a 1 percent or higher house edge if you play by hunches and only a half a percent house edge if you play by the basic strategy. Enough said.

Making Side Bets
Players can make numerous side bests when they play blackjack. Match Pair, Lucky Ladies, you name it, you'll probably see it on the table the next time you play. All of these side bets have one thing in common: The house edge is high. Sure, it only costs a buck to make one of these side bets, but those dollars you bet on every hand keep adding up, and unless you are very lucky, at the end of the day you'll wind up a loser. Stay away from side bets!

Overbetting
Blackjack is a volatile game. This means your bankroll will swing up and down no matter how well you play. Therefore, you need a sufficient bankroll to whether the "downs" in your bankroll, at least 100 times your minimum bet.

Not Getting Rated
Casinos want to reward their players with free comps. But you need to get rated in order to receive these freebies. Get a Players Card and hand it to the dealer every time you play blackjack. Then wait and see what comes in the mail from the casino.

Taking Your Bad Luck Out on Others
If you start losing, don't take it out on the dealer or the player at third base. How they play their hands has no long-term affect on your chances of winning or losing (that's a fact). So stop the blame game and instead focus on how to play your hand accurately (and start watching the cards that you see on the layout).

Drinking Too Much
Have you even seen a drunken player winning at blackjack? In 30 years of playing, I've seen just the opposite -- players who drink too much when they play (after all the drinks are free) and manage to lose all their money. You need a clear head when you play blackjack because you have to use your brain to make playing decisions. And drinking too many alcoholic beverages (just because they are free to players) will cloud your thinking process. Play first, drink later. That's the best advice I can give you.

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