A lot of blackjack players will fall back on what was once a pretty standard way of playing your hand: play as if the dealer’s hole card is worth 10. This was seen as a way to play with the worst case scenario. No one ever questioned this so-called blackjack strategy, not even when it was noticed that the professional players did not play this way. People shrugged it off and assumed they had some highly intense blackjack strategy.
But this was until checking out the math and probability of cards and hands and rules became more common place. Or until players wanted to became more prudent and wiser in how they played out their hands. It was then that the probability of that hole card being worth 10 became known.
There is only a 31% chance that the dealer’s hole card will be worth 10, as compared to the 69% chance it could be worth any other value.
This prompted a wake-up call among blackjack players. They began to question why they were playing their hands out based on an idea that only had a 31% chance of happening. It seemed kind of silly. And it is. Now they knew why the professional blackjack players never played on the assumption that the hole card was a 10.
This is when basic strategy really took off, and I mean really. It offered players a better strategy, one that was sounder and offered a better house edge: 0.5%. And since then the only players who play blackjack on the assumption that the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 are those who are still new to the game; but they are pretty quick to learn this is not a sound blackjack strategy. They join the rest of us playing on the 69% probability that the hole card is worth something else. In other words they join the rest of us playing according to basic strategy.
After a trip to the local casino this past weekend I have one more thing to be thankful to online blackjack for: no third base.
No, I am not talking about the ‘bases’ guys have in regards to making it with girls. I am talking about the seventh seat at the blackjack table, the one on the dealer’s right hand side. It is how the player in this chair is treated that just gets under my skin.
It is widely believed—too widely if you ask me—that the third base player can make or break the dealer’s hand. Let me say this right now: This is a myth.
According to this myth, the third base player can either hit and take the card that would allow the dealer to win, even if it means sacrificing the player’s own hand. Or the player can stand and pass along the card that would bust the dealer, again at the cost of the player’s hand.
There is one problem with this blackjack myth: The dealer has a hole card, and no one knows what that hole card is. If no one knows what the hole card is, how could a player in the third base chair know whether or not the draw card will make or break the dealer? That is just it—there is no way of knowing.
But when the player in the third base chair does or does not take the dealer’s bust card–depending on what the situation called for—and players at the table who do believe this convoluted myth proceed to yell or exclaim a good deal over how the third base player did not sacrifice their hand to shut the dealer down.
And it is the reactions of these players who believe and take out their belief on the third base player that make me thankful for online blackjack. Online blackjack is played solo. No third base player. No mean other players to yell at the third base player. Just a nice peaceful playing experience when playing blackjack online.
There are some so-called blackjack strategies out there that players no in the know will swear by. Assuming that the dealer has a card worth 10 for a hole card is one such strategy.
Sure on the surface it might sound like an okay strategy to use in blackjack, almost like it is a safety net based on the player assuming the worse. But the statistics do not add up on this one. And it is those statistics that show it as the bad blackjack strategy that it is.
To begin with, and to make the math simple at first, we are going to look at a single deck. In a single suit there are thirteen cards. All of those cards have their face value applied in blackjack except for the three face cards and the Ace which has the ability to be played as a 1 or an 11; the three face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are each worth 10. So out of thirteen cards in a single suit, only four (10, Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10; obviously the other nine cards are not worth 10.
So let’s break that down into percentages. Because there are only four cards in a suit worth 10, it means there is only a 30% chance of one being the hole card, and a 70% chance that the hole card will be a card that does not have a value of 10.
Even when you add more suits and in turn add more decks, the percentage of the hole card being worth 10 is still going to stick pretty close to 30%. So if the odds are in favor of the hole card being something other than a 10, why use a blackjack strategy that is based on poor odds? Because to me a 30% chance on the hole card being worth 10 is a pretty poor odds.
Considering that the odds are against the hole card being worth 10, it gives blackjack a house edge of 10.03 to assume the dealer’s hole card is worth 10. And that is an extremely bad house edge for blackjack. Never assume the dealer’s hole card is worth 10.
I have heard the myth said many times that a 2 to the dealer is their Ace in blackjack. Players say it and blackjack dealer say it. But I have to say that it is not true, and that it is definitely a myth. Let’s take a look shall we.
For one thing a 2 does not have the flexibility that an Ace offers. Its value can only be 2, whereas an Ace can count as 11 or as a 1 depending upon what the situation calls for.
But what makes a 2 seem like it is a special card to a dealer is because it allows them to string out multi-card hands that add up to 21. It is not the same as a natural blackjack, but it can wipe the table. And the reason the dealer can string out such a long hand is because he has to.
Say for example you have a hard 14. You can stand. And unless the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, you will stand according to basic strategy. But a dealer how has a hard 14 has to hit according to the rules of blackjack. And it is because he has to keep hitting that a 2 seems like a powerful card to the dealer. In all reality it is not anymore powerful to the dealer than it is to you. Say you have a two in your starting hand. You are likely to hit, and it just might be that you hit to a multi-card strong hand. But the dealer has more chances of stringing out a long hand than the player because of the rule to hit anything below a 17.
Another reason not to consider a 2 to be a dealer’s Ace is that is it not the card that can give the dealer a 21. In order for that to happen the dealer would have to be holding a 19, and if he was he would not be hitting based on house rules. And as a player you would not be hitting with a 19 either.
As a player you have to come to understand that a 2 just another low card. Without the flexibility that an Ace offers it cannot be thought of as the dealer’s Ace in blackjack. It only allows a dealer to hit for more cards than a player simply because the dealer has the short end of the stick, and has to keep hitting until he has a least a 17. You do not want to go giving a 2 power that it does not have in blackjack.
I have heard tell of a creature, a creature so frightful in its ineptitude at playing blackjack that seasoned and skilled blackjack players quake at its very existence.
Okay, skilled blackjack players do not actually quake in their boots when they come into contact with an unskilled or novice blackjack player. And by ‘unskilled’ and ‘novice’ I mean a player who either is very new to blackjack or who refuses to play the game with any kind of strategy—even basic strategy.
It is one of the most perpetuated myths of blackjack, that an unskilled or novice player can have an impact on the odds of a skilled player. I am here to tell you that your odds of winning blackjack without a novice on hand are around 48%.
Now let’s say that you are playing at a blackjack table and a little upstart group of college boys on their first gambling trip to Vegas sits down. You are probably annoyed because they are probably noisy too. But you are more annoyed because you think ‘There go my odds.’ In such a scenario, or any other that features an unskilled, non-strategy using blackjack player your odds of winning are around 48%.
Wait a minute! Did I just say your odds of winning with a novice at the table are 48%, which are the same odds as if you were playing sans unskilled player?
Why, yes, I did say that your odds of winning a round of blackjack are around 48% with or without an unskilled player being present.
The truth is that it does not matter whether you are playing at a table full of skilled players or at a table full of unskilled players—it does not impact your blackjack odds. Blackjack is a one-on-one game between you and the dealer. This is why you could beat the dealer and the guy next you might lose to the dealer in the same round.
Your blackjack tip is that it only matters what you have and what the dealer has. Do not bother even worrying about the other players at the table, be they skilled or unskilled. They cannot hurt your blackjack odds. Do not fear the ineptitude of an unskilled blackjack player.
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.
So this morning I covered the blackjack myth about the objective of the game. Now it is time for another blackjack myth discussion simply because it is Friday the 13th and something about today calls for myths, beliefs and superstitions.
Another blackjack myth that is common is the myth that the player at third base can make or break the dealer.
Third base, for those who are new and joining us, is the seventh seat at a blackjack table. Thankfully this blackjack myth does not pop up in online blackjack as it only abounds when there is a table, more players and someone in that seventh seat. Online blackjack is played one on one with the dealer so there is no seventh seat to worry about.
Under this blackjack myth it is believed that the third base player can make or break the dealer, meaning that he controls whether the dealer busts or not.
But it happens nonetheless that the third base player will hit and then the dealer will win, and his fellow players carry on that third base took the dealer’s bust card—that third base should have stood regardless of what play he needed to make. Or if third base stands and the dealer hits to a strong hand, then it is third base’s fault for not taking one of those cards the dealer needed.
The problem with this myth is that the third base player does not know what the dealer’s hole card is, and so cannot divine what play the dealer could possibly make. Also the third base player does not know what the next card in the deck is.
Since third base has no idea what card is next, nor what play the dealer will make, there is no way for third base to knowingly influence the dealer.
All you can do if you find yourself seated at the seventh seat of a blackjack table is to play your hand according to your blackjack strategy and not listen if other players complain about how you play. In all honesty they probably are not perfect blackjack players either. So disregard the third base myth and do not be afraid of sitting at third base. Also, do not complain to the third base player if you are sitting in one of the other seats.
In honor of today being Friday the 13th, I am going to talk about blackjack myths today.
First I am going to start with the most basic and most common blackjack myth: the objective of blackjack is to get a hand total of 21. It does not matter whether we are talking about online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino, players (novices for sure) of both types seem to think that this is the objective.
However, they would be slightly mistaken. And when it comes to casino games it does not do to be mistaken in what their objectives are.
To set us on the right track, the true objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer without getting a hand total that goes over 21.
The reason you want to know the true objective of blackjack is that it can have an impact on your blackjack strategy. If you operate under the idea that all you have to do is get 21 and that the dealer’s hand is of no concern, you will probably hit a lot more and see no purpose to double down or split pairs.
Now if you were playing with the goal of beating the dealer you would be taking his cards and his playing choices into mind. Let’s compare!
If you had a hard 14 and the dealer had a 6 and were only trying to play to 21 you would probably hit. But since you are really trying to beat the dealer you would stand and give the dealer a chance at busting himself. If he busts himself then you win.
You see the difference between the two objectives, yes? Good. It is important to pay with correct blackjack objective in mind as it can have an impact on your blackjack strategy.
Happy Friday the 13th! Good luck when playing today!
While you may not have seen this in online blackjack, unless you were the one doing it, this is a pretty common occurrence at blackjack tables in brick and mortar casinos: players who have lost several hands of blackjack in a row (hope they were not using a progressive betting system) and now feel it is their due to win a round.
It is all too common. Whether the blackjack player has only lost a couple of hands or is just having a bad run with the cards, he will begin fussing about how it is high time he won a hand. As if the cards were really listening. But cards are inanimate objects and the odds in a round of blackjack do not bend to a player’s desire to win.
The myth that a player is due to win ties in with progressive betting systems and why they are not healthy for a blackjack player. Both the myth and such betting systems are based on the idea that it is some sort of right for the player to win and that hands in blackjack are dependent on previous hands.
As a result players will often begin raising the amount of their wagers after their magic number of losses have happened, believing that it is time they win and that they can make back all the money they lost in previous rounds. Again, you see how players believe that future hands are dependent on previous hands.
This is so very not true.
Hands in blackjack are not dependent on each other. This means that it does not matter how many times you have won or lost. Each hand of blackjack is independent of the previous one.
Here is how it is: players will win around 48% of the hands they play regardless of whether they won or lost the previous round. Those odds do not change. There is no blackjack rule that says you are due to win after losing X number of rounds.
And because they do not change it is in your best interest to not believe that you are ever due to win. Just play using your blackjack strategy and hope that the cards are with you.
For blackjack players who play according to basic strategy, I know, this myth does not make any sense.
And players believe this regardless of whether they are playing online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino. Some are absolutely steadfast in this myth.
In truth they are only hurting their own blackjack odds.
Here is what happens in the mind of blackjack player who believes this myth—this is their reasoning. They are afraid of hitting and receiving a 10. They believe that the dealer’s hole card is a 10—another no-no in blackjack—and that if the dealer was dealt a 2 and a 10; and if they stand then the dealer will receive that 10 and bust.
They have this idea that if they hit they will only receive a 10. In their mind there is no other card that they could receive. So they will stand and hope the dealer gets the 10.
But here are the odds: standing on a hard 12 against a dealer’s 2 will cause you to lose 65% of the time while only winning 35% of the time.
On the other hand, if you hit like basic strategy tells you to, you will only lose 63% but you will win 37% of the time.
Yes, in the long run the odds are against the blackjack player in the long run. But look at the winning percentages: you will win 37% of the time if you hit. That is 2% more than if you were to stand. Granted 2% is not a lot, but I will take that 37% chance of winning rather than give it up.
Besides believing that you can only hit a hard 12 and receive a 10 in blackjack just seems, well, rather limiting. It also sounds a little like chopping off your nose to spite your face blackjack style.