Most Important Card in Blackjack Strategy

We know what this card is. You see it all of the time when playing blackjack. But you might not think that this particular card packs the punch that it does in terms of blackjack strategy. Or maybe you do and you just do not realize it.

There is one card in all of blackjack, be it casino blackjack, online blackjack, Spanish 21, Pontoon, etc, that all blackjack strategy is based on. Players act upon this card and they may not even be fully conscious that they are doing so. To them they are just going with their strategy.

But strategy has to be based on something even blackjack strategy.

In the case of blackjack strategy the most important card, the card that all of your strategy is based on is the dealer’s up card.

Before you say anything stop and think about that idea for a moment. When you are looking over your basic strategy chart you have to see what play is recommended for your hand based on the dealer’s up card. The play is not always the same. The up card impacts everything.

If you are still skeptical pull out a basic strategy chart and look at one of the stiff hands. Let’s focus on Hard 12. You will notice that the play changes depending on what the dealer’s up card is. If the dealer is holding a 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace you are told to hit; and if the dealer is showing a 4 through 6 you are told to stand.

The play changes even though your hand does not.

If the dealer’s up card were not all that important you would merely have a list of plays based on your hand, such as ‘If you have a hard 12 then hit,’ regardless of what the dealer’s up card is. But the truth is that we have a chart that tells us what play to make depending on what the dealer’s up card is.

Even if you were playing without basic strategy you would still be basing you play on the dealer’s up hand and how close he is to 21. The dealer’s up card is that influential in blackjack strategy.

Attracting New Players to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a well established casino game. The reason for this is because this is an easy to learn casino game, and it has the reputation of being beatable. But along with these positives about blackjack new players are not as easy to come by as you might think.

Casinos of late seem to be focused on their bottom lines. It is all about bringing in the money. Especially with the economy being in that state it is. As a result some pretty awful house rules have sprung up and table minimums have been raised.

Nowadays you walk into a casino and mind the blackjack minimum on a game in which the dealer can hit soft 17 is $25. No new player or a person who is thinking of learning the game will pony up $25 to learn to play. Those would be some very expensive lessons.

But all those high rollers who are out at the blackjack tables are not going to be around forever. Eventually the house rules will get to the point of ridiculousness that those blackjack players hop over to online casinos to play—which would be a boon to the United States if lawmakers remove their personal feelings about gambling, put the needs of the country first and legalize online gambling.

Or the high rolling blackjack players will keep playing until they die. But since the younger new players were too intimidated by high table minimums and shoddy house rules to learn how to play blackjack, there will be no one to replace the high rollers who have gone to the great blackjack table in the sky.

What are some of the things that casinos could do to make it a little easier for new blackjack players to learn the game? Here is a list:

Offer blackjack lessons. In the evening. Most people work during the day so obviously they cannot make a morning blackjack class. Blackjack class is not an acceptable reason to call out of work. Evening blackjack lessons would allow for more new blackjack players to learn the game.

Put a learners’ table out on the floor. Designate it as a special table with either funny money or a very low minimum so that new blackjack players feel comfortable in making the wagers necessary to get the playing experience they need to move up to higher table limits.

These tables should have a friendly dealer who conducts the rounds at a slower pace and answers questions about blackjack rules. The point here is to let players learn how to play the game, not try to squeeze money out of them. If the casinos really desire to squeeze money out of players, wait until they know how to play the game and are comfortable playing with higher limits.

And will someone get these new blackjack players some basic strategy cards please!

Casinos seem to believe that blackjack is beatable and that they should not encourage new players out of fear that they will lose money to blackjack players. However, few players have the drive and discipline to put in the effort to truly beat the game. Casinos will still make their money off of blackjack players.

Blackjack Strategy: Strategies vs Systems

Being that it is a game of skill, it is no surprise that blackjack is played with a strategy. Unless you wish to lose scads of money and in that case you play however you want. But for blackjack players who want to turn a profit, they will use a strategy.

Over the course of yesterday and today I compared flat betting in blackjack against progressive betting. I showed how progressive betting is not all that it is said to be and that it can cost you more money in the long run. What I did not talk about is what a progressive betting system in blackjack is.

First off, let’s you and me get one thing straight—a strategy and a system are two different things. A strategy is a plan of a blackjack player plays his hands. Strategy can be worked with to fit different situations in the game. For example, if the cards are running high, the blackjack player who is playing with a strategy can adapt his playing accordingly.

A player who plays by a system does not have that adaptability. He must abide by his system. Which means he plays the same way no matter how the cards are flowing, and in doing so, he loses opportunities along the way to make blackjack even more profitable.

An example of a betting system that is commonly used in blackjack is the Paroli progressive betting system. This is the betting system that Player B used in the comparison I spoke of.

In the Paroli betting system, a player will begin with a base wager. If he wins he will increase his wager by double. He will then keep increasing his wager by doubling until he loses a round, at which point he will return to his base wager.

If a blackjack player were using a progressive betting system like the Paroli system and happened to notice that the cards were running high, he would be unable to deviate from his betting system to take advantage of it because he cannot upset his system.

That is the difference between a betting strategy for blackjack and a betting system. So while a betting strategy may require more time to make a larger profit, it is safer in the long run to use than a progressive betting system in blackjack.

The Epic Tale of Progressive Betting in Blackjack Strategy—The End

Throughout yesterday we followed two blackjack players—Player A and Player B—through a few rounds at the blackjack table. Or it could be both of them playing blackjack online. Whether they are playing blackjack online or in a casino does not matter since the effect of progressive betting is the same no matter where you play.

After all, you still stand to win around 42% of the time and lose the other 58% regardless of whether you prefer to sit at a blackjack table or play online.

And that brings us to the conclusion of our tortoise and the hare version of blackjack and progressive betting.

We learned that in Part I that Player A and Player B both won four rounds, leaving Player A with a gain of $40 and Player B with a gain of $100. This shows that a progressive betting system can be profitable in blackjack.


In Part II we learned, with a win-loss-win-loss streak that Player A broke even; he won $20 and lost $20 in those four rounds. But Player B, because of the progressions of his betting system, wound up with a net loss of $20.

Looking at Player B we see that while his progressive betting system pulls in money on a winning streak, he stands to lose what he gains and then some if he does not hit a winning streak.

And playing without a winning streak is a more realistic approach to blackjack considering that, like I said above, you stand to lose around 58% of the time in blackjack. Knowing that you stand a greater chance of losing, even if you are using basic strategy, means that your chances of hitting a winning streak are not high. And without several winning streaks and not a lot of losing, the profitability from using a progressive betting system will not payout in the long run.

While it will take longer and might not be as thrilling, flat betting is the safer and more enduring way to earn a profit in blackjack, your best odds at making money in other words. Which makes Player B our tortoise and Player A, with his snazzy betting system, the hare of blackjack.

The Epic Tale of Progressive Betting in Blackjack Strategy—Part II

Where did we leave our players in our tale of progressive betting for blackjack strategy?

We left our Player A and Player B—our tortoise and hare—at the blackjack table. Both players had each won four rounds. Player A had won $40 as a result, while Player B had won $100 as a result of his progressive betting.

Clearly Player B is feeling quite relaxed and enjoying his blackjack playing. And he is probably feeling pretty confident that his progressive betting strategy will put him ahead in blackjack—unlike poor Player A who is flat betting.

See how it is reminiscent of the Tortoise and the Hare?

With the $40 compared to the $100, progressive betting has the edge. Not unlike the hare’s edge over the tortoise.

Now we are going to take our players for a little up and down playing. The next four rounds go like this: win, loss, win, loss. For Player A, he will be wagering $10 each time. Player B’s wagers will look like this: $10, win and increase to $20, lose and drop back to $10, win and increase to $20, and lose.

When you break the math down you can see that Player A will break even. He will have won $20 and lost $20 overall, and his bankroll be exactly where he started.

But Player B, well that is a different story. He won $10 in the first round, then increased his wager to $20 and lost. He then dropped back down to $10 and won. So he then increases his blackjack wager back up to $20, but he loses that round too. So in rounds one and three he won $20, but in rounds two and four he lost $40, which gives us a net loss of $20.

This is the moment when the hare realizes that he has goofed off far too long in the race and that the tortoise is ahead him, heading for the finish line.

As for you, you are beginning to see the down side of using a progressive betting system as a part of your blackjack strategy. But how will the story end for Player A and Player B? Check back tomorrow to find out!

The Epic Tale of Progressive Betting in Blackjack Strategy—Part I

It is not uncommon to see players using a progressive betting strategy when at the blackjack tables. They seem content with their system but I am not sure they are aware that a progressive betting system just does not pay off in the long run in blackjack. And how you bet is a big part of your blackjack strategy since your aim in blackjack is to make money.

Like usual let’s take a look at an example and compare flat betting in a game of blackjack to using a betting system in the same game of blackjack.

In this example players A and B are playing at a $10 minimum table and both start out betting $10. Player A is our flat bettor and player B is our progressive bettor.

Both players have played four rounds of blackjack. This could be online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. It does not matter where it is being played considering the effect of both bettering strategies will work the same in both types of blackjack.

In four rounds player A has wagered and won, brining in a total of $40. Player B has also won all four rounds but because he has wagered $10, $20, $30 and then $40, he has won $100.

In this instance the point goes to the player B and his progressive betting system.

This example shows us why players tend to resort to progressive betting systems when playing blackjack. They see it as an easy way to win money and make a profit when playing blackjack. Not to mention faster.

Do you recall the tale of the tortoise and the hare? The hare assumed that because he was the naturally faster animal he would win the race; he goofed off and played around with confidence. He figured he had the better method.

Check back and find out what happened to player B and his progressive blackjack betting system, and which player is the hare and which is the tortoise when it comes to blackjack.

Card Counting and Reducing Losses Per Hour

Yesterday I began talking about reducing your losses per hour in blackjack. While it is possible to reduce your losses per hour in online blackjack by slowing down your rate of play, some of the other ways of reducing losses are limited to playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino.

One of those ways was discussed yesterday: making bets on another player’s hand. Between playing at a full table (same as slowing down your rate of play in online blackjack) and making wagers on another player’s hand, you can reduce your average loss per hour of $7 down to around $3.

But for blackjack players who are also card counters, they can reduce their losses per hour a little more.

This might sound a little backwards but bear with me. If you are playing at a table that has had a few hands of high cards leave the table. Save your spot, leave and then go play at another table. The reason for this is that, after a few rounds of high cards, you can expect that the run will be coming to an end. And you do not want to be making larger wagers when the run ends and the low cards start running. Low cards favor the dealer and you stand to lose more then.

On the other hand if the cards run low for several hands, say you see more than eight low end cards in a row and passing out of play, it is then time to start upping your wagers again.

This bit of blackjack strategy takes more time to work with and become good at but it can pay off in the end in reducing your losses per hour in blackjack from the average of $7 down to around $1. These are the best odds for a blackjack player who is trying to reduce their losses per hour.

Remember—play at a full table, make a few bets on another blackjack player’s hand and balance when to play at a blackjack table and when to bow out.

Reducing Losses Per Hour

In blackjack—be it online blackjack or casino blackjack—the point is to make money. That is where your blackjack odds come from, your opportunities to make money in blackjack.

So logically it stands to follow that the more you lose per hour the les opportunity you have and the more your odds decrease. So it follows that if you can cut down your losses per hour you can in turn increase your odds a bit.

So what can you do to reduce your losses per hour?

For starters play at a full table, or as full of a table as you can find. A full table, meaning seven players, will average around 55 hands per hour, which comes to around $7 lost per hour. If you were to play one-on-one with the dealer you would be looking at 220 hands per hour with about a loss of $28 per hour. So knock of the seemingly macho one-on-one stuff and pull up to a full table.

Obviously a full table is not an option when it comes to online blackjack. When playing blackjack online it is just you and the dealer. In this case you would simply slow down your rate of play. Play a round and go get a drink, check your email, go to the bathroom—something! The whole point is to not play as many hands in an hour.

The less hands you play per hour the less opportunities you have to lose money. Realistically, since the house has the edge even with basic strategy, there are more opportunities to lose money—which is why you want to slow your rate of play down.

Another little trick you can use if you are playing blackjack in a casino is to bet on another player’s hand.

If you know that the guy next to needs to double down on his hand according to basic strategy but he is hesitating, cover the extra money for him. This way if he wins you will win a part of his winnings, even if your hand loses. In this way you can keep from losing as much money on a hand, or even make a little extra.

If in an hour you can work in at least two wagers on another guy’s hand for $30 each, you can make back around $4. I know, it is not a lot, but it is better than nothing; and look at this math: Let’s say you are playing at a full table (and you should be by now) you are losing around $7 per hour. But with wagering on other player’s hand you can make back $4, well your losses per hour are now down to $3 per hour instead of $7.

There is another way of reducing your losses in blackjack, but it is going to have to wait until next time.

Another Step for Online Blackjack

Online blackjack players have just received another point in their corner in the democrats attempt to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

For those online blackjack players who have not been following closely, the last session ended without Representative Barney Frank being able to get his bill, Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, up for debate. Frank’s bill would overturn UIGEA and also set the stage of the United States to regulate and tax online gambling.

Once his committee, the House Finance Committee, finishes their debate on Frank’s bill, it will then be passed on to the entire House. And if the House finishes its debate and passes the legislation guess where Frank’s bill goes next. That’s right, it will go to the Senate and so on. You see how this works.

So what has happened to make another step towards online blackjack being legal?

There is a change in West Virginia’s seat in the Senate: Carte Goodwin will be in place of Robert Byrd. And Goodwin is a Democrat. He is a favorite to take up Byrd’s seat in November vote in West Virginia.

But while Goodwin is the favorite to win the West Virginia seat, it is possible that someone else could be voted in. But for now, Goodwin is in Byrd’s seat which puts another Democrat in the Senate.

If Frank can get his bill pushed through the House Finance Committee and through the House overall, and get it to the Senate before the West Virginia November elections, it will give online gambling one more pro vote.

But while Frank’s bill does have a handful of Republican co-sponsors, he is still going to need each and every Democratic vote. Goodwin will be one more Democratic vote. And that extra vote is happy online gambling news for online blackjack players.

Here is to hoping that Frank will get his bill pushed through and voted on before November while he still has Goodwin in the Senate.

True Odds in Insurance

When it comes to odds in casino games, many are actually quite accurate, or true. I know, surprising considering how the casino like to take money. However, at least in most games the odds are true. One of the exceptions though is an insurance bet in blackjack.

First off, what are true odds?

True odds are quite simple. Odds are true when they are even with the payout. Meaning the payout has to be the same as the odds of landing that payout. Take roulette for example. In a game of roulette there are thirty six numbers. If you were to make a wager on one of those numbers and won that round you would receive a 36-1 payout. And that matches the odds of landing one number, which is naturally thirty six to one.

Now let’s take a look at insurance in blackjack.

If you were to win an insurance wager you would receive a 2-1 payout. However true odds on insurance are not two to one.

As an example we are going to assume that you are not holding any ten value cards; obviously the dealer has an Ace and you do not know what his other card is. We are going to look a single deck game to make the math easier to see.

In a single deck game there are sixteen ten value cards, which means that there are thirty three cards that have other values. This means that there is a 33-16 chance of the dealer having a card worth 10 for his hole card. Reduce 33-16 and you have 2.0625 to 1.

And that means that you should be paid $2.06 for every $1 of your insurance bet. On a $10 insurance bet you should be paid a total of $20.63. Instead you receive $20. Since you do not receive $20.63 the odds on an insurance bet are not fair, which further makes insurance a bad bet in blackjack.

Oh, and the amount that you should be paid goes up the larger your insurance wager is. So the larger your insurance bet is in blackjack, the more unbalanced the odds are.