Tipping the Dealer

You probably have heard me talk about my love for blackjack time and time again. I love anything having to do with blackjack. The dealer, whether real or virtual, the smell of the deck, the sound of chips being tossed together.

Being in an actual casino has its many benefits, as does playing online. When playing online you do not have to worry about tipping the dealer, but when playing in a brick and mortar casino you want to make sure to treat the dealer in a proper manner.

Nothing frustrates me more than playing blackjack with a bunch of uneducated rookies. I don’t mind a rookie, someone willing to be taught. But someone who thinks they have it all figured out, it just really chaps my you know what. Here are just simple tips that I use for tipping the dealer, but you can find many different ways of tipping with a simple google search.

Now be weary that although tipping is encouraged, no dealer is going to fault you for not tipping if you lose. But, if you have a nice run from the dealer it’s nice to show him your appreciation. I like to tip around one to two dollars per hand if I’m playing at a lower end table. If I’m playing at a $50 minimum table then I tip five dollars a game.

Use these dealers though, they want you to win. They’ll tell you what to do if you ask. After all they are making the same wage whether the casino takes you money or not, but if you happen to win they know they will benefit from a nice tip from you.

When to Double Down

I have always been a fan of the Double Down ever since I started playing blackjack. Did you know it is actually incorporated into the blackjack odds, and by not utilizing it, it actually increases the house edge. It’s true. You are supposed to double down, whenever you can, of course.

I received most of my information from Google when I first started playing, and wanted to know all of the nitty gritty details.

Doubling down is actually defined as doubling your bet after yo9u have received your first two cards.

This move affects the house edge in a variety of different ways. When doubling down during a normal shoe game (8 decks) the house edge will be .55%. Doubling down after a split reduces the house edge by .13%.

Now comes the fun part: determining when to double down. Double down always works best when the dealer is at his weakest. He is in this vulnerable state when he has the cards: 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6; these cards greatly increase his likelihood of busting.

One of my favorite moves, although one of the riskiest, is doubling down with a ten when the dealer has a nine, or with an eleven, when the dealer has a ten.

The best advice I can give is not to hesitate. Like I said before doubling down is computed into the house edge. Always make your move when the time is right. I’ve scratched the surface of this stellar move, now it’s up to you to go try it out.

Learning Blackjack from YouTube

Did you know there are over 3,500 different blackjack videos on YouTube? It’s true; YouTube has become a valuable instrument to learn pretty much anything. I’ve learned how to play the drums, as well as crochet a scarf. The possibilities are literally endless.

Now the tricky part is finding the best channels on YouTube, simply typing in blackjack can lead you to thousands of time-wasters that aren’t worth your attention.

Some of my favorites are: TheCasinoGuru and BeatingBlackjack do some very informative videos. BeatingBlackjack is lead by some ordinary guys who have a passion for the game, and everything about it. They do stripped down tutorials that is easy to comprehend and follow along with.

When it comes down to it you’re going to choose a video that fits your style. Just make sure you type in “How To” in your search, no matter what you search.

I once wanted to learn different Craps bets so I typed in “Craps Bets” in my YouTube search and ended up watching a ten minute video trying to sell me a DVD about craps. Don’t let this happen to you.

Another great too is to search exactly what you are interested in learning. Try searching “How to count cards in blackjack” or “When to double down in blackjack”. You will find that there are still thousands of videos that will fit your needs.

Any way that you learn the game is going to be beneficial to your wallet, and the more you learn the better you will be. Also practice makes perfect, especially online!

Blackjack Tips

When sitting around a blackjack corner, you know that you are only playing against the dealer, no matter how many players there are. What if there was a way to get an edge on the dealer? What if you could sneak into their head and know the psychology of what is in their hand?

I am going to share with you a few tips about dealer’s “tells.”
Learning the dealer’s “tells” is a skill that must be perfected to be useful. It involves facial expressions as well as subconscious movements. Sitting down at your first table, you will not really know what I’m talking about, but with practice and a keen sense of your surroundings, this skill will become second nature.

Of course every dealer is different, your best bet is to survey the casino and familiarize yourself with the different dealers. Get a feel for which one you think is giving away the most info with their demeanor. Some are stone cold, while others have a more lackadaisical approach to dealing.

Your second step is to figure out the dealer’s hold card, or facedown card. Unlike you, the dealer is not playing with his or her own money, so they tend to be a little less careless with their “poker face.”

Pay attention to how long the dealer looks at their hold card. Also how much the card is bent plays a key role in figuring out what the dealer’s card is.

If the dealer is holding a paint card, they will look at it for almost a nanosecond. They know as soon as they see the color, they have a ten.

If their card is a stiff card (2, 3, 4, 5, or 6) they will bend it more, and higher. They also do this for an ace though, so you have to be careful, and pay attention to the cards that are already on the table.

Ok check back often for more Blackjack tips you can take to the table!

Splitting 10’s vs. Standing on them

A lot of blackjack players wonder about splitting a pair of 10’s, is it really worth it? To give credence to their question, a pair of 9’s is split in most cases. So why split a pair of 9’s and not a pair of 10’s? After all, a pair of 9’s unsplit is a hard 18, and that is more than 17, which is the hand that everyone begins to stand on.

But here is the thing with a hard 18 when compared to a hard 20: there are three hands that the dealer could either hold or hit to that would flat out beat a hard 18 while there is only one hand that the dealer can hold or hit to which would beat a hard 20. Looking at it that way, there is no way to doubt that a hard 20 is stronger than a hard 18.

That is only looking at the strength of a hard 20. To further back up the idea that it is better stand on a pair of 10’s rather than splitting them, let’s take a look at what you can win or loss when splitting or standing on a pair of 10’s.

The two best upcards to come up against with a pair of 10’s is a 7 or an 8. This is the best case scenario. Standing on that pair of 10’s will on average make you $0.77 or $0.79 per $1 wagered. Splitting that pair of 10’s against that 7 will only make you $0.25 per $1; and the 8 will cost you $0.01 per $1.

Worst case scenario your pair of 10’s comes up against a dealer’s 10 or Ace. The player will lose $0.44 or $0.34 per $1 respectively if they split the pair of 10’s. However, standing on that pair of 10’s against that dealer 10 or Ace can make the player $0.56 or $0.65 per $1 respectively.

This is why your blackjack strategy should include standing on a pair of 10’s all the time. So not only is there logic to back up standing on a pair of 10’s, there is also the amount of money you can win when standing on a pair of 10’s as opposed to either less money made or money lost when splitting. So trust me when I say you are far better off standing on a pair of 10’s.

Best Times to Bet in Online Blackjack

When playing blackjack in a land casino, often times blackjack players will take their cues of when the best times to bet are from other players at the table that they perceive to be more knowledgeable about blackjack and blackjack strategy than they themselves are. I am talking about the times to double down and split pairs. In some cases this works out just dandy, and in other cases this does not work out so well.

But in online blackjack there are no other players to take cues from when it comes to betting in online blackjack to know when to double down and split pairs. It is just you and the game, and you have to determine the best time to bet. No other players to influence you. So if you are still getting your online blackjack game or betting strategy feet under yourself I do have a suggestion: basic strategy.

Basic strategy is the online blackjack player’s best tool for knowing the best times to bet. Not every hand has the best odds for doubling down and splitting. Without other players to learn from, basic strategy provides the best information to determine the best times.

A basic strategy chart is made up of the dealer up cards across the top with all player starting hands running down the left hand side. This chart will tell players when the best times to double down and split pairs are.

For example, most players know that most hard 10 and hard 11 dealer up card combinations are good to go for doubling down on. But did you know there are some hard 9s that have pretty good doubling down odds? Or did you know that there are eighteen soft hands that have good double down odds?

Granted, players cannot always double down on any hand in some online blackjack hands. But if players have that option there are soft hands that should be doubled down on. And pairs! There are eight instances where you should double down on a pair of 5s and not split.

That is the kind of information that basic strategy provides. And it provides it for free while being a perfectly legal strategy tool. Basic strategy is the online blackjack player’s best way of determining which are the best times to bet and double down or split pairs in online blackjack.

Are CSMs Fair in Blackjack?

It is a question I hear fairly often: Are CSMs fair to use in blackjack? CSMs by the way are Continuous Shuffle Machines. Most blackjack players hate them. The ones that do not hate them learn to dislike them once they understand what they do. Blackjack players who count cards particularly hate them.

When a CSM is being used at a blackjack table, the dealer will collect all of the cards that were just used in the last round and pop them into the CSM. The CSM then immediately shuffles the just used cards back into the deck. At no point is there a stack of discards at a table that is using a CSM. It is the lack of discards and the constant shuffling that makes blackjack players hate CSMs.

But to answer the question, yes, CSMs are fair to use in blackjack. We may not like them, but there is nothing anywhere that says that they cannot be used. Sucks, right? Right.

Online blackjack players really do not have much to say on the idea of a constantly shuffled deck. But that is because the RNG used in online blackjack games creates an effect similar to a CSM. There are no discards in a game of online blackjack. At the beginning of a new round the RNG will pull at random the two starting cards of the player from all possible two starting cards; and will pull at random the dealer’s up card from all possible up cards for the dealer to have. Each card that is dealt is dealt from all possibilities. This is a similar effect to a CSM since the cards from a previous round are not removed from the possibilities.

Casinos can use that similarity as a means to back up the idea that it is fair for them to use a CSM. But at the end of the day, CSMs are fair game to be used in a casino no matter how much players do not like them.

Hot vs. Cold Dealers in Blackjack

Even if you are not a slots player I am willing to bet you have heard of hot and cold streaks. It is when a slot machine is either paying out often or is paying next to nothing, respectively. I have crossed paths with a number of beginner blackjack players who smirk at slot players, believing that they are playing a game that is above hot and cold.

Guess again!

Blackjack is not above the hot and cold phenomenon. It relates to the dealer. When a dealer is hot is winning more than he is losing; and a cold dealer is he is not winning as many hands. Obvious which dealer you should want to be playing with right?

Like with slot machines, there really is nothing a blackjack player can do if they find themselves with a hot or cold dealer. Not that you would want to give up a cold dealer and all those opportunities to win.

What do you do when you find yourself with a hot dealer though?

Finish the round you are playing, and then take your chips and find a new table. There is nothing that says you have to play at only one blackjack table or at the same blackjack table. You can hop around. So if you find yourself at a blackjack table with a hot dealer, leave!

It may not always be immediately apparent that you have a hot or cold dealer. The trick is in observation. Watch the rounds, see how the dealer does. If he is winning more it would be a good idea to find another table; and if he is losing more often then pull up a chair and play some blackjack.

Giving and Getting Advice at the Blackjack Table

Okay, I admit it, I hate when people give advice at the blackjack table. Most of the time. But most of the time when another player is giving advice to a less knowledgeable player it is usually done in a condescending or overly arrogant manner:

“You want to double down on that? Really? Well, you should not. Come on and just hit already.”

Now it could be that the aforementioned fiction less knowledgeable blackjack player is thinking to double down on a hand that he probably should not or that has better odds when refraining from doubling down and only hitting. But there is a heck of a lot nicer way to say it:

“You might not want to double down on that hand. I would not. The odds are better if you stick to hitting because that total on those two cards does not give you a good starting point for only receiving one more card. It is up to you, it is your hand, but I would not double down there.”

Sure, it takes longer to be polite and to actually explain why the less knowledgeable player why the blackjack play they are considering is not the best when it comes to odds or house edge; they might learn something about playing blackjack. But the result is that the player might actually take your advice as opposed to thinking you a rude pig.

Also rude people are thought to not actually know what they are talking about. Fewer people listen to a rude person as a result. That first player might have really been trying to help the less knowledgeable player make the right play and learn something about blackjack strategy, but being nasty does not get anyone anywhere. Especially at the blackjack table.

Hard 17s Not All They Are Cracked Up to Be

Novice players in blackjack feel a sense of relief when they are dealt a hard 17. For them this is a hand that means no strategy to worry about. This comes from a preconceived notion that since players stand on a 17 and higher that this must be a strong hand.

But experienced players know better. Standing on a hard 17 is not too much better than standing on a hard 16. The difference is that there is a slightly greater chance of winning. A hard 17 only wins if the dealer busts since dealer’s stand on hard 17s. So for a blackjack player to not lose their wager, the dealer has to either tie for a push or bust.

And it is for that reason that a player will stand on a hard 17. After all the rules of blackjack have the dealer standing on a 17 and higher because the chances of busting then are very high. Hence players will also stand on a 17 or higher.

So why hit a hard 16 for some up cards but hit a hard 17 against nothing? It is a matter of loss. With the dealer busting against a player hard 16 only 28.2%, players can expect to lose, on average, $71.80 per $100. But thanks to the pushes that happen with hard 17s from both player and dealer standing, the potential average loss is only $57.30.

Granted that is better than the hard 16, but it is not impressive by any means. It is making the best of a mediocre situation. And that is exactly what a hard 17 is in blackjack a mediocre situation.