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.

However.

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.

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.

Knowing When to Double Down on Soft Hands

Soft hands tend to throw some blackjack players off. Most tend to play them as if they were hard hands. Sometimes this works and other times players are not playing their blackjack hands to the greatest advantage.

And you should want the greatest advantage.

Even if a player is playing according to basic strategy the casino will still have the advantage. It does not matter if you are playing blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino, the house will still have around a 0.5% advantage over you.

And because they will always have the advantage over the player (other than skilled card counting players) you should always want to play your hand to the greatest advantage in blackjack.

Stiff hands and soft hands are the hardest hands to play. There is nothing you can really do about stiff hands other than play them according to basic strategy. But soft hands do not have to be played like a hard hand—they have flexibility that other hands in blackjack do not.

Doubling down is one of the strongest plays a player can make in blackjack. It takes the most off the house’s edge out of all the plays and blackjack rules: 0.6% is knocked off.

But many players do not know when the best times to double down with a soft hand—they are on the tricky side after all. There is actually an easy rule to go by to know when to double down:

Add up your non-Ace card and the dealer’s up card. If the total is 9 or higher then go ahead and double down. But if the total of your non-Ace card and the dealer’s up card is less than 9 do not double down. Easy right?

Be Mindful

One of the fun things about playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino is the free drinks. You will see waitresses going from table to table bringing drinks to players.

The casino’s surface intent of these free drinks is to make your playing experience all the more enjoyable with drinks brought right to you so that you do not have to leave your game, and on top of that your drinks are free! This would be one of the advantages blackjack in a brick and mortar casino has over online blackjack…if you like to drink while playing.

But the real reason that casinos like to offer their players free drinks is in hopes that players will become somewhat inebriated, but not fully intoxicated. For the most part when players become inebriated they lose their focus and do not usually stick with their blackjack strategies, tossing aside their basic strategy charts, and making foolish plays or wagers. Casinos make money here.

But they do not want players to be drunk as it ruins the experience for other players. That, and there is the possibility that a player will behave very badly.

I read this morning about a man who was playing blackjack at one of the Meadows’ new blackjack tables. Security was going table to table around 2:30 am telling the players ‘Last Call’ when this man became very angry and aggressive. He wound up being tasered by a state trooper who was called in and hauled off to jail. Not how you want to end a night of blackjack.

Not only should you want to avoid being tasered, your main reason for watching how many of those free drinks you have has more to do with your playing and your blackjack strategy.

Remember that part where I mentioned that getting drunk at the blackjack tables will cause players to play recklessly, and that casinos like when this happens? You do not want to play recklessly because it will cause you to lose your money faster. You might as well hand it over to the cashier and be done with it if you want to be drunk and throw your money away.

Blackjack offers players the chance to make money. Getting tipsy and reckless with your playing will not only reduce your chances of making money, it will increase your chances of paying out through your nose.

Strategies for Online Blackjack

As the gaming industry continues to grow and the gaming technology continues to improve, more and more people will begin to play their favorite online casino games online. And with how people are turning more and more to the Internet for their entertainment—TV shows, music—it really is not surprising that blackjack players are making the switch to online.

But while online blackjack is similar to blackjack in a brick and mortar casino, it is not exactly the same. Do not worry, the rules are the same. I was talking about blackjack strategy.

Not all blackjack strategy is good for playing online. Card counting, while useful in a brick and mortar casino does not help players in the least when playing online.

The way the actual game of online blackjack functions is that each round is dealt from the Random Number Generator. The RNG is programmed with every possible dealing for that game. At the beginning of each round of online blackjack the RNG pulls a combination at random to be dealt. And it pulls from all the cards. This means that cards are never out of play. With no cards being discarded card counting is useless.

So what is an online blackjack player to do?

The answer is actually quite simple: play according to basic strategy. On every hand. Every time. No deviating.

Without card counting to lend a helping hand to your blackjack odds, it is even more important to stick to the plays recommended by basic strategy since those are the best statistical plays in the game. While it will not even up the odds, basic strategy will bring you within 0.5% of the house edge.

Since that is the best that you can play for in online blackjack it makes sense to keep your blackjack strategy close and your basic strategy closer.

Online Blackjack and Stiff Hands

While there are some things that are different between online blackjack and blackjack in a brick and mortar casino, there are still some things that are not any different. When it comes to online blackjack one of the similarities is stiff hands.

Just a quick recap a stiff hands are another name for certain hard hands. Those hard hands are hard 12 through hard 16. They are considered stiff hands because they are on the hard side to play with. These are typically underdog hands that are, truthfully, hard to win with. Your playing options are stiff, hence stiff hands.

How often are you likely to be dealt a stiff hand in online blackjack? You stand about a 43% of being dealt one of the stiff hands when you are playing online blackjack.

Now if you were playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino you also stand about a 43% chance of being dealt a stiff hand.

So when you are playing online blackjack your playing strategy for stiff hands is not any different: abide by basic strategy.

Basic strategy not only is the key to the best statistical plays for every hand in blackjack, it is also the best strategy for online blackjack. The reason basic strategy is the best strategy tool for online is not only because it is the best play for every hand, it is essentially the only strong strategy tool since card counting is not possible in online blackjack.

Since card counting is not possible in online blackjack the best thing that you can do when you have a stiff hand is to play according to basic strategy. Since stiff hands are underdog hands regardless of whether you are playing online blackjack or not, basic strategy is your best bet.

Online Blackjack vs. the World Cup

Seems like the entire world stage is being devoted to the World Cup. This is especially true in the world of online gambling, where so much news is being taken up by the FIFA World Cup. So it is more World Cup news than online casino news.

However the world of online blackjack will go on. And that is one of the things that I like about online blackjack. It never seems to really change. Sure variations and side bets will pop up and then eventually be replaced by other variations but the core of the game will always be there.

It is one aspect of online blackjack that players like: the game never changes. A hit is always one more card and stiff hands will always make you groan. But it is a constant in the world of casino games.

The good news for players this means that strategy never really changes. And that allows us to practice, practice, practice. The better we are the better our blackjack skills are and the better our shot at winning becomes.

If blackjack changes less and less then online blackjack changes even less. House rules can and do change from time to time but this does not happen in online blackjack. This allows players to become even better acquainted with the game and their strategy, zeroing in on strategy, such as basic strategy, that really gives them a very good shot at lowering the house edge.

So while the world is absorbed in the World Cup frenzy players have the comfort and calm of online blackjack.

And by the way, with people more focused on the World Cup they are in front of their computer less which causes participation in tournaments to drop somewhat. So now is also a good time to check out some online blackjack tournaments.

And go, Spain!

Why Blackjack Should Be Considered a Game of Skill

I read recently how a Dutch court ruled that poker is to now be considered a game of skill. This is a result of the defense in a court case arguing that because of tactics, experience and psychology poker is a game of skill.

This made me think of blackjack and how it should be considered a game of skill as well. I think of it as such, but the rest of the world should think of blackjack as a game of skill as well.

Why is blackjack a game of skill?

For starters players who use blackjack strategy can change their odds in blackjack. The easiest example is how a player who uses basic strategy can reduce the house edge to 0.5%. A player who does not use a form of strategy cannot lower the house edge and will more often than not increase the odds against them.

For players who practice their blackjack strategies and skills their ability to manipulate the odds increases in their favor. For this example I want you to look at card counting.

While card counting cannot be used in online blackjack, it does have an impact on blackjack played in a brick and mortar casino. And the more a player practices his car counting the better their skill at it is and the better they can take advantage of the cards they are counting; they acquire a better skill at knowing when to raise and lower their bets.

When a blackjack player combines their skills at basic strategy and at card counting they can bring the house edge to 0 if not tilt the edge in their favor.

Now you tell me how that can be done in a game of chance like slots or roulette? It is not possible in those games because the player does not have any impact on the outcome of a round. Whereas in blackjack the player is choosing how to play his hand—meaning he has a say in the outcome of his hand in the round. He can choose to hit or stand.

It is those playing options and the application of a practiced strategy and practiced skills that allow the player to have an impact on the outcome. And the more a player practices his skills the more controlled his impact is on the outcome of a round.

Because a player in blackjack can have an impact and because practicing and refining skills results in a positive impact on a player’s blackjack odds, it means that blackjack is a game of skill.

House Rules for New PA Tables

Part of the fun of getting new blackjack tables in Pennsylvania is waiting to see what the house is going to set their rules at: are they going to screw me or are they going to be decent and give me a fair shot at winning?

Thankfully the Pennsylvania blackjack tables have been set with some pretty decent house rules. How good? The Pennsylvania blackjack tables will have more player-friendly house rules than two thirds of the tables in Vegas.

So what is in store for players at these blackjack tables?

For starters I am pleased to say that they will be paying 3-2 for natural blackjack. There will be none of that 6-5 stuff in Pennsylvania!

Another good rule: dealers will have to stand on soft 17s. So that is 0.22% that the house will not have.

Double downs will not be limited to only hard 10s or hard 11s. Any two cards can be doubled down on.

Also having to do with double downs, players will be allowed to double down after splitting a pair.

And to top off all of those player friendly house rules blackjack players will be allowed to make late surrenders. So make sure you have a basic strategy chart that tells you when to surrender. This way you will only lose half of your wager rather than all of it.

In total these house rules will result in a house edge of less than 0.4% for those who use basic strategy—and who stick to basic strategy.

It seems that Pennsylvania might evolve into a new blackjack destination with rules like these. Who knows, we just might have the new in place to play blackjack at.

A Little Effort Goes a Long Way

When I was a child my mother told me nothing comes for free in life. And really? The same could be said about your profits from casino games.

It seems the easier a casino game is, be it a casino game online or in a brick and mortar casino, the worse the odds are. This should tell you something.

Let’s take a look:

Slots: 2% to 15% depending on what the manufacturer has set its payout percentage at
Roulette: 2.70% for European and 5.26% for American

Those are two of the easiest types of casino games that can be found. Now we are going to look at the house edge on blackjack: 0.5% after basic strategy.

Compared to the 2% and up on slots and roulette, blackjack seems like quit a nice game to turn a profit on. But it is not as simple to work as slots or roulette. Meaning you have to do more than push “Spin” or choose a few numbers and watch the ball spin.

In order to make blackjack profitable you do need to use a strategy. Thankfully a novice blackjack player can grab a basic strategy chart and drop the house edge down to that 0.5%. They can do this because a basic strategy chart has the best statistical play for every hand against any dealer’s up card. All the player needs to do is make that play.

So really we should be moving blackjack onto that list of easy casino games. In fact, I think it is easier to play with a basic strategy chart than without one. Not only does basic strategy give you a play, it gives you the best play.

Okay, okay so with blackjack and basic strategy you have to check your hand against the chart to find out what the best play is. And, yes, that is a little more work than pushing ‘Spin’ or watching a ball fly around a wheel. But considering what checking that chart can do for you and how it can increase your profitability, that little bit of work is very much worth the effort.

Another thing my mother always told me: a little work never killed anyone.