## Your Blackjack Losses and Wins

Today we are going to talk a little bit about using how to handle your wins and losses in regards to your blackjack bankroll. What do you do with your winnings once you get them?

I know your first response is to keep them, but stop and think for a moment. Do you really pocket your winnings? Most blackjack players do not. In fact, most casino patrons do not. They will turn around and immediately reinvest their winning in their bankroll.

And there is nothing wrong with this. However, it is counterproductive to making a profit in blackjack.

Let’s say you convert \$100 into chips. You are also playing blackjack according to basic strategy. So under that strategy you should only lose on average \$5 in an hour, give or take a bit. So you would think you’re then down to \$95. But because you put your winnings back into your bankroll, you’re back at \$100 if not higher.

The problem with this is that it puts you in the position to lose your winnings. If you are losing 5% per hour, having a bankroll of more than \$100 means that you will then be losing more than \$5 per hour.

The smartest course of action in regards to your bankroll when you are playing blackjack is to keep your winnings separate from your bankroll. This means that when you are paid your winnings, you pocket them or set them in a separate pile from your bankroll. This way at the end of the night you still have something to cash in. And in the worst case scenario, say you did lose all of your bankroll, you would still have something to show from your blackjack playing.

## Two Hands in Blackjack, the Downside

There is a blackjack myth that says that you can change the flow of the cards by playing two hands. You will see this happen at a blackjack table when a player suddenly switches from one hand to two, or two hands to one—they are trying to shake things up a bit for the deck.

In truth the number of hands you play in a round of blackjack does not do a thing to the order of the cards…mostly because there is no order to the cards. Card order and card flow are blackjack myths.

Playing with two hands has an upside and a downside. That is because there is an effective way to play two hands per round and an ineffective way. It is kind of like having an upside and a downside. First we will look at the downside.

The downside is that you are wagering twice as much per round. Say you are wagering \$10 on a hand, and switch to wagering two hands per round. An ineffective player will wager \$10 on each hand for a total of \$20 per round.

The problem with this is that you are putting yourself and your bankroll at twice the risk. If the dealer has a strong hand, you stand to lose \$20 rather than your original \$10.

This means that you have the potential of running through your bankroll twice as fast.

Sure, you can take the positive outlook and say that you are going to win twice as much when the dealer has a poor hand. But blackjack odds are against you. You only have 48% chance of winning and a 52% chance of losing.

So if the odds are still against you to lose, why wager double what you normally would just to have two hands to shake up the card flow when there is no such thing as card flow?

That is the ineffective way of playing two hands per round—to simple double the amount you are wagering per round in total. There is an effective way to play two hands in blackjack which I will discuss this afternoon.

## More Betting System for Blackjack

This morning I wrote about the Labouchere negative progression betting system that unknowing blackjack players will use in place of a good betting strategy.

The use it because they come across one of those article-generating sites in which the people writing the articles do not always understand the finer points of their subjects. In the case of the article I saw today, it said that the best way to bet in blackjack was to use a betting system.

This is simply not true. Betting systems limit how a player makes their wagers in a game of blackjack. These systems are also based on principles that go against the essence of blackjack.

Now we are going to look at the Paroli betting system.

This is a positive progression system, meaning that it works based on wins. If you win a hand, you would double your wager on the next round. You would keep doubling until you lose a round and then return to the amount of your original wager. Take a look:

If you were to wager \$20 and win, you would wager \$40 on the next round. If you win that round you would wager \$80. But if you lost, you would return to the original amount of \$20.

The Paroli betting system is said to make the most of a winning streak. Unfortunately there is no way to predict how long a winning streak will continue. This can result in a very heavy loss if you lose a round after several successful wins. Imagine in the above example winning five rounds and wagering \$320 only to lose that \$320.

The problem with the Paroli betting system is that it is based on winning, and is meant to be used in a casino game in which the house has the advantage. Players can only expect to win around 48% of their blackjack games.

So if you have less than a 50% to win why would you use a betting system based on winning?

Exactly—you should not!

Betting systems should not be used in blackjack—especially those that are based on winning streaks in casino games that do not have an edge over the house.

## How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Card counting is one of the many skills that blackjack players want. Whether because they saw it in a movie and thought it looked cool is beside the point. Card counting is one of the pieces of blackjack strategy that can increase players’ blackjack odds.

Players who are determined to beat the house are the ones who turn to card counting and who take the time to learn it and practice it so that they can take full advantage of it.

It also pays to practice your card counting skills as you also to not want the casino staff to throw you out of the casino.

Card counting is actually pretty easy to learn. The problem many aspiring counters have is that they actually have to practice this skill and keep practicing it. Those who take the time to learn and practice card counting can get the edge on the house by 0.5% up to 1.5% for those who are truly skilled.

One of the easiest counting systems to start with is the Hi-Lo system. In this system the cards are assigned the following counting values:

+1 = 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
0 = 7, 8 and 9
-1 = 10, Jack, Queen, King and Aces

Starting at 0, players then add the positive or negative values of the cards that are played. When the count has a high positive number it means that a good number of low cards have been played and that the remaining deck is rich in high cards that favor the player. This is when card counting blackjack players begin to raise their wager.

But when the count turns strongly negative it means that a number of high cards have been played and that the remaining cards in the deck are low, which favor the dealer. As I am sure you can figure, this is when player begin lowering their wagers.

To practice card counting, sit down with a deck of cards and silently add the positive and negative values, starting from 0, as you look through the deck. You have to keep practicing this until it becomes easy and you hardly have to think about the math—so that you are at ease with counting silently in your head without any outward appearances that you are counting.

Once you are comfortable with that, turn some music and the TV on to provide some distractions like you would find in a casino. Now keep practicing until you can count through the deck with ease with the distractions around you.

Sure card counting can have a good impact on your blackjack odds when playing in a casino, but those odds are not achievable if you are unwilling to take the time to practice. So take the time, practice and then go try your hand at card counting at a blackjack table in a casino.

## Good and Bad Blackjack Tips: Card Counting Online

When looking at online casinos many of them have little sections on their sites with information about their casino games and casino games in general. Not always, but fairly often casinos will actually give players tips on how to play, say, blackjack and tips for blackjack strategy.

Now what is funny to me is that there are some players out there who blindly follow those tips on how to play blackjack and for blackjack strategy. Stop and think about that. You want to follow the tips on how to play better—as in win money—from the online casino—which wants to take your money? Yeah, that is what I thought too.

So I went out to see what some of these tips are. Some of it was as I expected and other times I was surprised. There are actually online casinos out there that will offer genuinely good blackjack playing tips.

Here is some of what I found and some blackjack tips about what I what I found.

I did find online casinos that encouraged players to use card counting. This is very dubious to me. Card counting is very much frowned upon in brick and mortar casinos. So first off why would an online casino encourage players to use it in online blackjack?

The answer is simple. Because card counting is ineffective in online blackjack. Because of the game’s RNG no card is ever discarded and all are still in the deck, so to speak since we are talking about a virtual game. On top of that, again because of the RNG, it is like all of the cards are shuffled before each round because the RNG randomly pulls a combination for the beginning of each round.

So online casinos will encourage card counting for online blackjack because it will not actually work and it actually can hurt a player’s online blackjack odds by trying to use it. Players could increase their wagers, thinking that they are getting the jump on the house and a run of high cards, when there are not any discards to back up that run.

Really all this so called blackjack tip is doing is encouraging players to use a blackjack strategy that does not work online in order to create erratic betting, which causes a gain in money for the online casino. So understand card counting does not work online, even if the online casino’s tips say it does.

Oh, and think twice about an online casino that is encouraging you to use card counting when playing online blackjack.

## Blackjack Strategy: Card Counting Odds

Card counting has always had this glamorous image in the blackjack world. It is considered the crème de la crème of blackjack skills. It is also the blackjack skill that can allow the player to beat the house. But how much of an edge does this piece of blackjack strategy give a player?

You might be surprised.

A skilled card counter may only get a 1% edge over the house.

But when you think about it and compare it to other casino games, that 1% is not as little as it might sound. Blackjack already has the smallest house edge of all the casino games: 0.5% for the player who uses perfect basic strategy, and card counters certainly do use it.

Card counting is when a blackjack player uses a counting system to get an idea of what kinds of cards are left in the deck. If their counting system reveals that a good number of lower cards (2 through 6) have been played, it means that the remaining deck has more high cards (10 through Ace) left than low cards.

Because there are more high cards left, the chances of being dealt a strong hand or a natural blackjack are increased. This is when skilled card counters will begin to raise their bets.

But when their counting system reveals that a larger number of high cards have been played, leaving the remaining deck rich in low cards that favor the dealer, the player will then begin to decrease his bets.

It is having the idea of what the remaining deck is rich in that gives players that 1% edge on the house—if they can exploit it and not be caught by the casino staff. And the risk of being caught is why players must be skilled at card counting to include it.

## Blackjack Odds: Another Reason to Cut Insurance from Your Blackjack Strategy

Some players are die hard about insurance and blackjack. They insist on insurance remaining a part of their blackjack strategy.

It has been explained numerous times why insurance is bad for your blackjack odds.

For one thing it is a side bet. Side bets were created with the purpose of squeezing even more money out of players. The best you can do with insurance is break even. In other words you wager an additional \$5 on a \$10 wager just to hang on to your \$10. It is still more money on the line, which is another opportunity for you to lose money. Losing money is bad for your blackjack odds and will lower them.

For another thing the only way to win an insurance bet is for the dealer to have that 10 for a hole card and to therefore have a natural blackjack. Hoping to win an insurance wager is hoping for the dealer to win the round. And there is something just wrong about hoping for the dealer to win.

Finally there are the blackjack odds of the dealer having a 10 card and the money involved in those odds.

A dealer only has a 31% chance of having a 10 card for a hole card. That is only four times out of thirteen: 10, Jack, Queen, King. The other nine out of thirteen, or 69%, of the time the hole card will be any other card.

Now we are going to say that you are wagering \$10 per hand, which makes insurance \$5 each time. In terms of money this means that you could expect to win \$40: four times \$5. So if there is a nine in thirteen odds that the card is anything other than a 10 card it means that you will lose \$45.

So you see, by taking insurance you are hurting your own blackjack odds and losing more money that you would not have to. Insurance makes for bad blackjack strategy.

## Blackjack Strategy and Odds for Shuffle Machines

A good many blackjack players do not think twice when in a brick and mortar casino about what sort of shuffling is happening at their table. This is especially true of novice players who do not understand how shuffling impacts their blackjack odds.

And it is true, something as with seemingly as little consequence as a shuffle machine can indeed impact a player’s blackjack odds—and not in a good way.

I will cover online blackjack first as it is the simplest. There is only one kind of ‘shuffling’ in online blackjack, and it is like a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CSM). This is because when the RNG goes to pull the cards for the next round, it is pulling from all possibilities. This means that no cards are ever discarded. Hence, why online blackjack ‘shuffling’ is like playing with a CSM.

In online blackjack there is no choice on shuffling methods. Players just deal with the RNG and keep on playing. But players in brick and mortar casinos do have a choice. And often they make the wrong one.

When playing blackjack in a brick and mortar casino there are generally three different types of shuffling available: CSMs, non-continuous shufflers and hand shuffling.

For experienced blackjack players it is well-known that CSMs are the worst type of shuffling. Well, they are if you are a card counter as they make card counting impossible.

Sometimes novice blackjack players pick up on this, and so they deem CSMs as bad and avoid playing at tables that use CSMs. Good job, newbies!

However, a good many of them will play at tables with non-continuous shufflers. In truth, when you do not consider card counting, these are just as bad as CSMs. This is because all shuffle machines—CSMs and non-continuous shufflers—speed up the rate of play, and THAT is what hurts a player’s blackjack odds.

Both types of shuffle machines speed up the rate of play by around 20%. So say on average you play 100 rounds per hour; if you were playing with some sort of shuffler you would be playing 120 rounds per hour. The more rounds per hour you play, the more opportunities there are for you to lose money:

You are wagering \$10 per game. If you lose 52% of the games—which does follow blackjack odds—you would lose \$520. At a table with a shuffle machine you stand to lose \$624 per hour.

It would be in a player’s best interest to include in heir blackjack strategy to not play at tables with shuffle machines. Why voluntarily hurt your blackjack odds like that?

## Blackjack Strategy: Winning and Losing with Insurance

Over the weekend a question related to blackjack strategy and insurance came in. I was asked if it was possible to work insurance into one’s blackjack strategy and win with it.

I had to sigh. Here we go again with insurance and blackjack strategy.

Insurance should not have any place in a player’s blackjack strategy.

Insurance is not the protective play that the casinos would like for players to believe it is. Insurance is only a side bet on whether the dealer has a card worth 10 as a hole card. In other words, a side bet on whether the dealer has a natural blackjack or not. Players only win their insurance wagers when the dealer does have blackjack.

So first you are rooting for the house to win if you want to collect on that insurance bet. And there is something just wrong about rooting for the house to win.

Second, if you do win your insurance wager, you are not anymore ahead. Sure you might think you are because you have won the side bet. Whoopie! You won the side bet! But since the dealer has won with a natural blackjack, you have lost the round.

In money-speak: yes, you won \$10 from your insurance wager, but you lost your original \$10 wager. Pat yourself on the back and order a drink from the nice waitress to celebrate.

In a round winning an insurance side bet causes you to break even. You are no further ahead money-wise. And since you gave money to the house you did not have to you actually hurt your own blackjack odds.

Side bets hurt your blackjack odds because they put you in a position to lose more money faster. Imagine if you lost both the insurance side bet and lost the round—you would then be out more money than if you had only lost the round.

And, yes, it is possible to lose both the insurance bet and the round. Say the dealer actually has a 9 for a hole card, giving him a soft 20 that he stands on; and you only have a 19. You lost your insurance bet and the round.

The reason insurance should not be factored into your blackjack strategy is because it hurts your odds by putting you in a position to lose more money. Opportunities to make money increase your odds, and opportunities to lose money decrease your odds. So. No insurance in your blackjack strategy.

## Basic Blackjack Card Counting

There are any number of blackjack card counting systems out there, ranging from complex to simple. Obviously if you have decided to begin learning card counting it makes sense to start with an easy system. Then, once you have become skilled at using that system, learn a newer more complex one if you would like.

The easiest blackjack card counting system is also one of the most common. It is called the Hi Lo system, and it is the one that the majority of beginning counters start with. It is a basic counting system whose only demand on your math skills is to add and subtract a positive one and a negative one.

Almost all of the cards have a positive or negative counting value assigned to them. The only cards that do not are 7, 8 and 9. Those three are considered neutral and have no value in this counting system. The other cards are assigned like so:

2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are all +1
10, J, Q, K, Ace are all -1

The way this system works is that the player will add up the values of the cards that are on the table, including the dealer’s face up and hole card.

So say that you are playing with one other person. You have a 5/6 and you double for 9. The other player has 2/6/5 and stands. The dealer has a 10 with a hole card of 6 and hits for 7 and busts. Adding up the value of cards played, starting with your hand and ending with the dealer, would look like this:

1 + 1 + 0 + 1 + 1 + 1 + -1 + 1 + 0 = 5

Your count ends with a positive number. This means that more low cards were played than high cards, and so the remaining deck is richer in high cards.

You keep adding to you count with the next round. In the case of our example you pick up with 5 at the beginning of the next round.

A positive count means the remaining deck is rich in high cards, while a negative count means that more high cards have been played leaving the remainder of the deck rich with low cards. Blackjack card counters will raise their wagers with a positive count, and lower them with a negative count.

As the simplest blackjack card counting system, it is easy to see why so many beginning blackjack card counters start with this system.