More Blackjack Advice: the Good and the Bad

This morning I posted about the amusing side of bad blackjack advice. Well, we’ll call this morning’s examples more ineffectual rather than bad. Here I will give some examples of bad blackjack advice being offered and why it’s bad.

In the same article that I was reading this morning I found this advice for choosing a blackjack table: “Always look for a table where the players are having a good time, where they are making bets somewhat larger than normal, and for the most part where the players have larger stacks of chips.”

While on the surface this is amusing advice, it is actually bad advice.

First, players having fun indicates nothing. They could be having a good time because they’re all buddies. Or they could have had a lot to drink. A ‘good time’ doesn’t indicate whether it’s a good table or not.

Secondly, a table at which players are betting more means that they have recognized that there is a run of high cards—card worth 10 and Aces. You don’t want to sit down then because the run could end at any moment, returning to low cards that favor the dealer. What you want to look for is a table that is currently playing through a run of low cards, because it is likely that a high card run will follow. I have a more in-depth blog on this that you can find here.

More bad advice: being told to not take insurance but to go ahead and take even money.

These are essentially the same thing! You’re net gain is the same!

If you take even money you are being paid the same as if you had won an insurance bet. If you take $5 insurance on your $10 bet and win the insurance but lose the hand, you will be paid $10. If you have blackjack on a $10 and take even money you will be paid $10.

You know insurance is bad for your overall blackjack strategy and bankroll. Think of even money as insurance for a natural blackjack. And don’t take it.

When you are looking for blackjack tips look at what they are saying very closely. Are they talking about gambling tips in general, like money management? Is their advice contradicting itself? Or are they actually talking about blackjack itself, including examples of their tips? Does their language reveal that they actually know the game and why certain plays are made or not made?

Reading closely can save you the chance of following some bad advice that may have the opposite effect on your blackjack game. There is good blackjack advice out there.

Blackjack Advice: the Good and the Bad

It never fails to amuse me. Blackjack advice from someone who obviously doesn’t know much about the game or its nuances. And I found just such an article this morning. The lesson in this post is why you shouldn’t listen to what they are saying.

For one thing, when the tips they offer are vague and can be applied across the board of casino games, you know the person who wrote the article doesn’t know much about blackjack. So I’m going to share some ‘tips’ from the article I found this morning.

The first one has to be the funniest: “If you ignore all of the following information, you will have a very good chance of losing all of your money while at the blackjack tables.”

This is a wonderful start! Put the fear in the person seeking knowledge. When a tips article starts out this way it’s a pretty good indicator that the person behind the article doesn’t have a good base of blackjack. If you pick up a book written by a pro nowhere in it will they make such a hellfire and brimstone statement. They’ll warn you that blackjack is a game in which you can use strategy, and that strategy can improve your game and your odds, but they won’t tell you that you will lose all your money.

Another one that I found rather entertaining: “Players must be prepared to play blackjack.”

What exactly do they mean by prepared? Are we talking breaking out a full suit of armor and helmet? Are we talking about putting ourselves through some rigorous mental preparation—some meditation with a blackjack mantra?

If you want to play blackjack, if you’ve gone to the casino or online casino with the intent of playing blackjack, then you have already prepared yourself. This is a fun game that doesn’t require some extraneous amount of preparation. You set out to enjoy it and then you play.

Now it might be a good idea to have a basic strategy chart handy, but it’s not a requirement to play. It’s smart to play with it considering how it can impact the house edge. But there is no rule that bars you from blackjack if you don’t have one.

While tips from those who really aren’t familiar with blackjack can be amusing they can be harmful to your game as well. I’ll discuss a couple of those in my next post.

Why You Should Stand in Blackjack

The thing with blackjack is that it gives you a certain feeling of power. Here’s a casino game that you have some control over. YOU get to choose what play to make. YOU choose to hit. YOU choose to stand.

It’s a rather empowering feeling.

And when we find ourselves all empowered that we want to be the dominate player. We want to show that dealer that we fear no up card! Even that Ace—we’ll pass on insurance, thank you.

But the problem with being on an empowered high is that mistakes can come from it.

I guess that’s where strategy comes in. Strategy is there to rein us in, to guide us, when we become excited about blackjack and have the urge to hit every hand we have that doesn’t total to at least 17.

But let’s go back to having the ability to choose our play in blackjack. While it can make us feel empowered, it should also make you feel crafty. It’s not that you have a choice to do or not do, you can stand, hit or double. You have more than one choice, and that’s where the craftiness should come in—what play do you make to take the house’s money?

Standing is probably the least favorite play to make. It’s so passive. It feels like we aren’t doing anything. And if we don’t feel like we’re doing anything we feel like we’re making a bad play. …Unless we’re standing on a strong hand.

But standing is necessary. It’s a part of that crafty feeling in blackjack. It’s actually a pretty smart play. We are sending a message to the dealer. We are telling that blackjack dealer that we know we have a pretty good chance of busting; we also know that he does too.

But unlike him, we don’t have to hit until we bust. We can stay right where we are with our hard 16. We then sit back and watch that dealer hitting until he busts. Well, we hope he busts.

But standing is what we do when the only option we have is to hit and to hit would mean a good chance of busting. Think of standing as your safety. It is your crafty little move in your blackjack strategy arsenal that can make you feel like you’ve saved your hand and didn’t have to go on to bust.

If you can turn your thinking of standing as a weak, passive blackjack move, you will feel better when you have to stand.

Where to Find Free Blackjack

We’ve heard it everywhere we go: the economy certainly isn’t what it used to be. So since we’ve all heard it I’m not going to go on about it. But I will say that a very large number of people in America are looking for ways to cut costs and save some money. Usually it’s the extras that go first. And gambling games, such as our blackjack, are probably on that list.

But for blackjack players who play because they love the game, they don’t have to actually give it up. You can always play for free.

Granted, you won’t make any money playing for free, but you can still enjoy the game. And it also can serve as practice if you’re trying to bone up on your skills—after all, if you’re playing for free you don’t have to worry about losing money to practice.

And even though you don’t have any money at stake when playing blackjack online for free, you still want to play a reputable online casino just in case you run into some technical issue or need some help from customer support. You want to know that there are people that are there to help you.

Some of the best places to play free blackjack online are at the same online casinos you play at for money.

Online casinos also have the gaming software that is specifically designed for casino favorites. These aren’t little flash jobs. These have all the lights and sound of a real casino. And when you’re playing blackjack online you’ll get the view that you’re playing at a blackjack table.

The majority of online casinos offer free-play modes. Usually they use these to allow potential players to try out their interfaces and games in hopes that these new players will create a real money account. And they have the customer support staff to handle any concerns that you might have.

But established players can log in to their favorite online casinos to play blackjack and still play for free. Just make sure that you click on the Play for Fun option—you don’t want to accidently play with your money when you‘re wanting to play blackjack for free.

Blackjack doesn’t have to be out of your reach just because you might not have extra money floating around. The point is to enjoy this game. And playing for free online can give you that.

Florida is Waking Up for Online Blackjack

It finally seems that the states are waking up in regards to online gambling and online blackjack. Last week, in light of Pennsylvania approving table games, New Jersey is looking at legalizing online gambling for its residents. Now it seems that Florida may go down that road too.

Florida itself doesn’t seem to be really opposed to gambling. The state does have casinos and racinos. The legislature’s decision, I think, came down to which side had more money to lobby with. But anyway, the Seminoles have had their dreams of having a monopoly on blackjack tables done away with. Which is a shame because the Florida budget could use the income that would have come from the Seminoles.

And I’m sure Floridians would have loved to have blackjack tables at all seven tribal casinos.

But closing the doors on the Seminole blackjack tables doesn’t fix Florida’s need for revenue. So similar to how Pennsylvania turned to table games like blackjack to fill in the hole in their budget, Florida is beginning to look in that direction too…only they’re looking at online gambling regulations.

And I have to give them some kudos here. They are acknowledging that Americans gamble online.

Yes, Americans gamble. Don’t even pretend to be surprised.

Florida’s Office of Program Policy and Government Analysis (OPPAGA) is reviewing the good and the bad of legalizing and regulating online gambling, such as online blackjack, within Florida. They have accepted that Americans have turned online gambling into a past time. And they’re seeing the millions, if not billions, of dollars that are being funneled into the revenue of other countries where it has no benefit to the Americans who are playing.

In legalizing online gambling, Florida is hoping to find the money to fill in the holes in their budget, and then put that money to use for the Floridians that are doing the gambling. Hopefully, Florida will legalize online gambling and that will help turn the tide on a federal level.

House Rules to Avoid Part IV: The Payout That Really Isn’t Much of a Payout

If there is one thing that will make me turn my back on blackjack game, it’s a bad payout. This goes back to the idea of playing blackjack for money. Of course I want to win. But since you can’t win every single blackjack game, I don’t want to lose any more money than I have to. And you don’t either. That’s why regardless of rules, there are some tables or online blackjack games I will not play. A table or online blackjack game could have they best combination or rules possible and I will still walk away. The reason behind this? The pay out.

Most blackjack games have a payout of 3-2, which is fine. I’ll take that if I’m dealt a natural. I’ll even take double my bet if I win. But that’s with a 3-2 payout. The payout I’ll walk away from is the 6-5 payout. That alone costs a player 1.4%. And I’m not willing to pay that.

Unfortunately for all of us blackjack players, it’s becoming more popular in Las Vegas for casinos to have single deck games…but they come with a 6-5 payout. You might find it here and there online, but if you are a land-based casino player, beware.

Here’s what the breakdown is;

Let’s say you’re at a $20 table with 3-2 payout. If you win with a blackjack you’ll be paid $30. That’s fine. That’s a $10 gain every time you win with a blackjack.

Now let’s say you’re at one of these new games. It’s another $20 table but the payout is 6-5 this time. If you win with a blackjack you’re only going to be paid $24 instead of $30. And that’s only a gain of $4.

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot. Let’s do some more math. Let’s say you play sixty hands in an hour. This particular night you are exceedingly lucky and are dealt blackjack every single hand. Yes, I know, that will never happen. You’ll get kicked out of the casino before the hour half way over. But for this scenario, you’ve just won sixty hands of blackjack in an hour. If you were playing at a $20 table with a 3-2 payout, you’ve been paid $1800 over the course of the hour; that’s a gain of $600. If you made the mistake of playing at 6-5 table, you will have received $1440 in payouts, which is a gain of $240. Which is the better payout?

Blackjack Strategy They Don’t Tell You in Books

Chances are, when you were learning to play Blackjack, you read about it in a book or two, and probably online as well. What did you read about? You were given the rules, how the table is set up, the progression of play, and strategies. Focus on that one for a moment. What Blackjack strategies were you given? Basic strategy and card counting; in most places it was also explained to you how those two effected your betting strategy. And then you’re ready to play yes?

Maybe.

Mostly yes, but there might be one more thing to consider.

What about your opponents? True, you’ve read that in Blackjack it’s you versus the dealer, and it’s also the other players against the dealer. But they aren’t against you are they? They can’t be, I mean why would someone play the dealer one on one if the other players were necessary? And everything you’ve read about Blackjack says that it’s player versus the dealer. Not quite.

Let’s go back to the beginning, to what playing Blackjack is about. It’s not only about enjoying yourself and having fun. It’s about winning, about making money. And every single person who is sitting at that table with you or who is playing Blackjack online with you is intent on winning too. So, yes, Blackjack is player versus player.

Your Blackjack strategy for this is to watch your opponents. Look to see if someone is showing signs of excitement, giving away that they have a good hand, maybe even Blackjack. I can here you saying that this is beginning to sound more like Poker. Don’t worry, it’s not, it’s still Blackjack.

Blackjack isn’t anymore complicated than before. The point of watching your opponents is to try to gauge whether they have a good hand or a not so good hand. Say you see that guy who’s cheek just twitched with a bit of a smile, and you caught it. Chances are he’s got a good hand. And maybe your hand is so-so. Don’t bet as much.

As for your Blackjack strategy think of it in this order. Count the cards, remember what’s out on the table, what’s in your hand, and what has yet to be played. Hit or stand based on what basic strategy dictates. Watch your opponents to see if they give away any clues as to the type of hands they have. Taking all of those Blackjack strategies into mind, make your bets accordingly.

Good Blackjack Strategy

What makes for a good Blackjack strategy?

Basic strategy is a good place to start, but is it enough to win?

Realistically, you’re going to need a combination of basic strategy and card counting. Initially you need to be comfortable enough with basic strategy so as not to need to constantly reference a chart—that’s that first thing for an effective blackjack game. Once you’ve got that down, throw a little card counting into your blackjack strategy.

No, that doesn’t mean memorizing the whole deck and the odds of a single deck versus multiple decks. Although you certainly can learn and employ a card counting strategy and, with enough practice, increase the power of your overall Blackjack strategy. Honestly, when you’re first beginning to play, that’s a lot of math and numbers to keep straight on top of remembering which basic strategy option to use for which card combinations. Keep the card counting portion of your strategy simple when first beginning to play Balckjack . This plays into your betting strategy as well

You know you want ten cards and aces. Think of how many tens and aces are in play based on how many decks your playing with. How many have already played? And how many are left? If there’s not a lot of tens and aces left keep your bets down. If you there’s still a decent amount left then your chances of receiving one is better, so raise your bet. That’s how to use simplistic card counting to guide your Blackjack betting strategy.

So at this point your Blackjack strategy is comprised of having the basic strategy charts memorized and using simple card counting to influence your betting strategy. This makes for a good Blackjack strategy for the average player. Keeping those in mind should help decrease the house’s favor, which should increase your chances of winning.