Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part VII

Raise your hand if you like losing money?

No hands? I didn’t think so.

We’re going to take a look at a bad play that is also another player contrived blackjack philosophy. It’s also a no-no.

In your time playing blackjack you are bound to come across other players who are set on insuring a 20. There are only two hands that you can have to have 20 and be in the position to take insurance: an Ace-9 and 10-10.

Both of those are two of the strongest hands that you can have. The only thing that can beat them is a dealer blackjack or a dealer hitting to 21.

Really quick, let’s review what insurance is. Insurance is offered to you when the dealer is showing an Ace. Insurance is offered because blackjack is played with everyone assuming that the dealer’s hole card is a 10. Hence insurance is offered. And hence insurance is really a bet of whether the dealer’s hole card is a 10. That’s what insurance really is.

So let’s say that you have been dealt 10-10 and the dealer is showing an Ace; do you take insurance?

No. Insurance is a side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is a 10. And you have two of those 10s in your hand. Not a bright move.

Insurance overall will cost you more money than you will save, and it’s best to be brave, not take it and play on.

Insuring a $10 bet means putting $5 more out on the table. If the dealer has blackjack you’ll get your $5 insurance back and half of your bet–$5. At the end of that round you get to keep $10 but you have given up $5 to keep that $10.

Overall, insurance is designed to give the casinos more of your money. And unless you know the principle inside and out and know the only times to insure your hand, just decline and play on.

Delaware—If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em, But Do It Better

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have them. Okay, Pennsylvania doesn’t have them yet, but they were approved for them a few weeks ago. What is ‘them?’ Table games. Blackjack included.

While Delaware may have been the very first state they are not the first to allow table games or legalize online gambling for their residents to give their revenue a boost. And that’s exactly what led Delaware Governor Jack Markell to propose the allowing of table games, blackjack, poker and craps, in the state’s three slots parlors. He also wanted Delaware to be able to compete with nearby states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and their gambling offerings.

The breakdown of how the revenue from Delaware’s blackjack, poker and craps tables will be as follows: 66% will stay with the slots casinos, the state will receive 29%, and 4.5% will to the horse racing purses. Not quite sure why revenue from casino games is going to horse purses, other than maybe to keep them from fussing about lost revenue to table games…perhaps Florida should keep that in mind.

And while 29% may not sound like a lot to most of us, Markell estimates that blackjack, poker and craps will give the state around $40 million a year—a nice boost to their revenue.

The other thing of note to Delaware’s decision to allow table games is that it took less than two weeks. It was cleared in the House last week; and approved by the Senate and signed by Markell on Thursday. We can all recall how long Pennsylvania went back and forth. And Florida is still going round and round with the Seminoles refusing to give up.

Perhaps other states should look to Delaware as an example. They understand that they needed the revenue. If the 4.5% that’s going to the horse purses is to help balance out potential lost revenue, then they made a bit of a compromise so that they could allow table games. And this bill was approved in less than two weeks.

Also to be looked at admirably is that Delaware has another table games related bill. It is a bill aimed at preventing and punishing those who cheat at this table games. So not only is Delaware acting quickly and smoothing the opposition’s feathers to get the revenue the state needs, they’re also trying to make sure blackjack, poker and craps stays fair for those who play.

All states who are considering allowing table games—take note of Delaware. They weren’t the first state for nothing!

Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part VI

Now we find ourselves back on the subject of those blackjack player contrived philosophies. And thus far we have learned that they can all b debunked. Perhaps I should have called this blog series ‘Blackjack Philosophy Busters.’ No, that would be unoriginal.

Anyway, today we’re going to take a look at the philosophy that you must play an extra spot to preserve the rotation of the cards.

Like all other blackjack philosophies, this one isn’t true as well.

This scenario usually comes about when there’s an expert at the blackjack table. A card counting expert. When this card counting expert has counted the deck to be rich in high cards, he starts playing a second hand. And when the count starts to go south, he will return to playing only one hand.

Now chances are the blackjack players that believe in this philosophy are generally on the novice end of the scale. They’re still learning the game. They also believe things like third base being able to influence the dealer and that no one should enter a game mid-shoe. They, in other words, believe in the order of the cards.

But there is no order.

Since you have no idea whether the next card will be the best for you or the one after it, there is no need to worry about preserving any order.

The thing that these novice blackjack players are doing is absorbing high card hands that they might not be able to play out in the most advantageous way. This shortens the run of high cards. And that upset the expert.

Keep an eye out for Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part VII

Florida Government Still Bickering Over Blackjack

I’m a little astounded by Florida’s Legislature. And I can say they defiantly must be on the side of all the pari-mutuels. Look at them: they are against allowing the Seminole tribe to expand their gambling offerings with blackjack tables, yet they are just fine looking at legalizing online gambling for Florida residents. But then the pari-mutuels would be able to host online gambling operations for the state. Not surprised at all.

And normally, other than wondering whether Florida will ever have blackjack tables at the tribal casinos, I wouldn’t really pay all the much attention to Governor Crist bickering with the Legislature. But there is an aspect to allowing blackjack tables that genuinely interests me: the money the Seminoles would be paying to have blackjack and a percentage of the proceeds would go into the state’s education budget—you know, to educate children.

So really what the Legislature, and Crist as well since it takes two to bicker, are really missing is that Florida has a chance to improve the education of Florida’s children. It’s not just the blackjack players in Florida that would miss out if the tribe and the Legislature can’t agree—it will be the children.

As a push, Crist is proposing a $535 million increase to the state’s education budget. And that money can easily come from the Seminoles paying for blackjack. But the Legislature, who seems to be favoring the pari-mutuels, are bulking at that increase, and saying that the increase would be nice, but are unwilling still to allow the Seminoles to have their blackjack.

It makes me want to ask the Legislature if they’re really okay letting the education of Florida’s children suffer for whatever incentive there is in fighting Crist and the Seminoles. Thoughts anyone?

Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part V

Sorry that I got side tracked with betting strategies. Couldn’t help it. But betting is just as much a part of blackjack as knowing what to do with your cards is.

But we’ll go back to player contrived blackjack philosophies now.

This one is one of my favorites: Try to avoid bad blackjack players.

Seriously, this is one of those so-called blackjack philosophies.

The reason that I love it is that it gives me such a funny visual. Imagine being in a casino. You’re sitting at a blackjack table, and the guy next to you can’t play a hand worth anything. He’s too proud to use a basic strategy chart and is talking like he knows blackjack in and out. However his playing style betrays his lack of knowledge of the game. He is—cue scary music—a bad blackjack player!

You leave you table, and sneak off to another one. But he follows you. You leave to go to another one, and he follows you again. And again and again. You can see why this is funny to me.

The truth is that there’s very little sense in trying to avoid bad players. For one thing they don’t have an impact on how you play your cards—unless you’re making the mistake of taking his advice on how to play your hand. Like how third base doesn’t make or break the dealer. A bad player doesn’t affect your hand.

But what if he takes the card that would give you 21? The truth is that you don’t know if the card he hit for or the one after is better for your hand. But a bad player isn’t going to make or break your hand.

And you really can’t avoid a bad player. Truthfully, it would be disruptive for you to be changing tables to try to get away from them. It would also mean less time for you to play as well.

Keep an eye out for Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part VI

Online Blackjack and Card Counting

If you play blackjack in a land based casino it is to your best advantage to teach yourself card counting, and to become good at it. Not only do you want to be good so that your counting skills are more sound, but you don’t want to get caught either.

So you would think that card counting when playing blackjack online would be the most opportune place to do so. Nobody’s watching. No one will know. You could even open up your computer’s calculator and do your math there so that your adding and subtracting is free of errors.

But before you get too carried away imagining the glory and money to be had from card counting in online blackjack there is something you should know first.

You cannot count cards in online blackjack. At all.

Playing blackjack online means that there isn’t a dealer to shuffle the cards. For that matter, there aren’t any cards either. What you see on your screen is an image sent to you by the game’s software.

Because online blackjack is entirely electronic with no real cards, cards are not discarded at the end of a round. Yes, they fly off the opposite of the screen from where they are dealt, but it doesn’t mean that they are out of play.

Online blackjack can be compared to playing blackjack at a land based casino with a continuous shuffle machine (CSM). When a round of blackjack ends, the cards that were just played are returned to the deck, shuffled and then dealt for the next round. Since none of the cards are discarded and all are in play, it’s impossible to have an accurate count. And since none of the cards are discarded the rest of the deck can’t be rich in high or low cards.

The best you can do online is control your betting by betting the same amount each time. A progressive betting system might seem like a good idea here, but it isn’t because you can still run through your bankroll like you could at a land based casino. Stick with betting the same amount in online blackjack since you can’t count cards online.

Parts of a Blackjack Strategy—The Second Half

So now that we’ve covered the first half of what you need for a blackjack strategy, how to play to impact the house edge and your odds, let’s take a look at the other half—the money part.

The money part is better known as your betting strategy. This is how you control the flow of your bankroll. It has an impact on your blackjack game because blackjack is a gambling game. It’s because of the gamble that you need a playing strategy in the first place. So it’s not wise to overlook your betting strategy.

A betting strategy is used so that you know how much to bet and when to bet it. A fair number of blackjack players advocate using a betting system, usually a progressive one.

There are two progressive betting systems that are most often used. In one you would double your bet each time you lost until you won, then returning to your original amount. This one is designed to overcome a losing streak. The other is the opposite—you would double your wager each time you won, returning to your original amount when you lose. This one is designed to make the most of a winning streak.

But there’s one problem that both of these general betting systems have.

They both assume that previous hands have an impact on future hands. That if you lose or win enough you will make up for what you have lost. And there is no guarantee that you will win enough to cover your losses and still make money.

So what can you do?

What you need to know in order to turn a profit in blackjack is know when to bet higher and when to bet lower. And there’s only one way to know that: card counting.

While card counting won’t guarantee that you will win all your larger bets, it will let you know when the remaining cards are rich in high cards that are good for strong player hands, or rich in lower cards. If you know that the remaining cards are rich in high cards, you have a stronger chance of winning so this is when you bet more. And you would reduce your bets when the remaining cards are rich in low cards.

The other benefit of card counting is that, if you are using basic strategy (and you should be), you can even out the odds, and even get a bit of an edge on the house.

Yes, card counting requires more practice and effort. But is by far a better betting strategy than using a progressive system that isn’t as accurate and can cause you to run through your bankroll—which doesn’t really allow you to control the flow of your bankroll. Card counting allows you to control it and also impact the game at the same time.

Parts of a Blackjack Strategy—The First Half

In light of my post from yesterday on a betting strategy that works, I got to thinking about blackjack strategy. I’ve gone over what could be used as part of strategy, and do’s and don’ts, and just blackjack tips. But I don’t think I’ve ever really written about what makes up a blackjack strategy.

So what does make up a blackjacks strategy?

Really it’s not too complex. You can think of it as having two parts: one that you use to impact the odds in your favor, and the other to control your betting.

Let’s take a look at impacting the odds. Blackjack is a game of skill, meaning that you how you choose to play can have an impact on your odds of winning. You can play poorly or you can play with some smarts. Serious blackjack players will opt for playing with smarts.

One of the smartest things you can do in terms of playing this game of skill smartly is to utilize basic strategy. This is the easiest strategy that you can use. While many serious players will work to memorize the chart, it is possible to have the chart with you and refer to it while playing.

Basic strategy is a statistical compilation of every possible hand in blackjack versus each and every dealer up card. This statistical compilation gives you the best play to make. Each play has been tested to have the best odds versus another play that you could make. This is why basic strategy is the only real tip in how to play blackjack to your best ability.

So you can use basic strategy to affect the odds of blackjack. While basic strategy will not win every single hand for you, it is the best play to make odds-wise even if you do lose the round. So what does it do? If you play blackjack according to basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to 0.05%. That percent is the best percent of all casino games—but only if you are playing basic strategy exactly as it tells you to.

This covers the first half of your blackjack strategy, the part that covers how you play.

Keep an eye out for Parts of a Blackjack Strategy—The Second Half

Blackjack Betting Strategy that Can Work

I was thinking about my post from this morning about quitting early so that you can win more the next day. Specifically I was thinking about the part about the betting strategy.

Blackjack players will often try to find a good betting strategy. For that matter, so do most gamblers, but then a good many of them think that gambling is easy money. And they would be wrong. Gambling isn’t easy money. It’s a fun activity to do.

As for betting strategies and blackjack, the one I was talking about in my last post was the Paroli method. In short, blackjack players who use the Paroli method double their wagers every time they win. If they bet $10 on a hand and win, the next round they will bet $20. And so on until they lose, at which point they return to $10.

The problem with this betting system is that you stand to lose as much as you win. Using the above example, let’s say you have won five hands in a row. You would be betting $160 on round six. And if you lose, you just lost $160.

There is also a betting strategy in which you double your wager each time you lose. This one might be a little better because you’re doubling on losing. However if you wind up on a losing streak, you can run through your bankroll very very quickly.

There are many other betting strategies for blackjack. The one thing they have in common is the idea that they are an easy way to make money off of blackjack: do exactly as they say and make money. And you shouldn’t be fooled.

You betting strategy is just as much a part of your overall blackjack strategy as your strategy for how to play your hands is. And strategy requires practice and effort.

The best thing that you can do for if you want to use a betting strategy is isn’t going to break your bankroll is to count cards. Yes, it takes some time to learn this skill, and to become good at it. But if you can count cards you will know whether the remaining unplayed cards are rich in high cards or not. And when you have counted a deck to be rich in high cards, you pretty much know that those high cards are there—after all, the low ones have been played.

This is when you raise your wager because when you have a greater chance of getting or building a strong hand. And while card counting isn’t a 100% fool proof way to make money in blackjack, it is a lot more accurate than the Paroli and other betting systems. And you won’t run through your money too fast either.

Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part IV

This one is kind of similar to the last blackjack philosophy no-no. You remember? The one about playing two hands at the same time. Yes, that one.

But this one is about outsmarting the game. Or Lacy Luck if you will.

Some players believe that if they quit after winning a little that they will have greater chances of winning more the next day. Yes. There are players who believe and play according to this philosophy.

There are no cards or computer gaming programs that will keep track of what you win. But the casinos and online casinos will of course. They want to keep tabs on how much of their money you’ve won and how much you’ve given them. But as for the game itself, no. Cards and blackjack software don’t have the ability to recall how much you won. Nor are they capable of adjusting themselves so that you will win more the next day.

And, no, Lady Luck won’t remember either. She has a lot of blackjack players to watch over to remember each and every one.

There is nothing that you do on one day that will influence how well or how poorly your games the next day will go.

The thing that I see about this blackjack philosophy is that it’s most likely used by progressive betting players. In fact, they’re probably using a system where they double their bet each time they win. Say, they’re betting $10 and win; the next hand they would bet $20. And so on until they lose a hand.

The reason I think a progressive betting blackjack player says to walk away when you’ve won a little so as to have a greater chance of winning the next day is that other betting systems double on consecutive losses; or players are betting randomly or according to the count of the cards.

A player who is building their money on doubling on their winnings will be concerned about stepping away when on a winning streak. Because if they don’t, they’ll lose quite a bit when they do lose.

But understand that there is nothing that says if you quit a winning streak early that you’ll do better the next day. The best that you can do is beat evenly or learn card counting and bet according to the count.

Keep an eye out for Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part V