What Not To Do In Blackjack

There are many experts out there who want to tell you everything you are supposed to do in a game of blackjack, but I am here to tell you what not do in blackjack. Blackjack is perhaps the best game at the casino because it is a perfect combination of skill and chance. There are many tactics to use, and not use during your game; let’s sort through these tips and tricks.

First of all do not underestimate the power of your gut instinct. Many experts want to over complicate the game and give you advice about all of the aspects of the game you need to pay attention to, and these are important. It is also important to recognize the simplicity of the game and not get too overwhelmed.

Do not forget that you are playing against the dealer. The dealer wants the casino to win; therefore modeling your behavior after the dealer will not bode well for you.

Do not use insurance unless you count cards. Insurance only benefits card counters because you do not want to use it unless you are certain that you do not have a winning hand.

Don’t forget about the surrender option, but also be very selective when using it. Only use it if you have a nine or ten and your cards total 15 or 16, and the dealer also has a nine or ten.

And finally don’t go into a blackjack game without knowing the rules. Whether you are playing in Vegas or at casino.com be certain that you know all of the rules and regulations of your particular game. Every blackjack game is different, be sure you know how to play yours.

Blackjack at Lucky Red

[insert_php]include(“../links.php”);[/insert_php]
One of my favorite casinos online is Lucky Red. I love playing blackjack at this casino; I have for many years now. I have wanted to write a review about it for a while now, because I feel so strongly about how great it is. This site is great for a number of different reasons, but the most important one is the high payout percentage as well as the attractive hit frequency. There are over 95 different slot games and 60 specialty games.

The fact that Lucky Red uses RealTime Gaming software makes it that much more superior than the rest of the online casinos. Download takes under two minutes, and the flash version is available immediately. One of the best things about RTG is it is embedded with Random Number Generation.

There are around 5 different blackjack games to choose from including: BJ and Perfect Pairs, Face Up21, Match Play21, Pontoon and Super21. Their welcome bonus is currently fixed at 400% with no limit. What this means is your first deposit will be matched 400x with absolutely no limit to how much you can deposit. This is very unique for online casinos to do, there is almost always a limit to this bonus.

With the great payout percentage, hit frequency, welcome bonus, and fantastic games it is no surprise that [insert_php]echo $casino4name;[/insert_php] ranks among the best online casinos on the internet. Give their blackjack tables a try, you will not be disappointed. I hope you have enjoyed my review. I will be back to review some more of my favorite places to play blackjack online.

Different Blackjack Games

There are so many different forms of blackjack that playing online can be beneficial because you can go through all of the different games and pick the one which you prefer. Each game has its own set of rules and regulations and it is very important to play by these rules to ensure the best results. I enlisted Wikipedia to help me with my search to find the best blackjack game for my lifestyle.

First there is American Blackjack which is typically played with four decks of cards and the dealer must hit on a soft 17. As a player you can double down on any two cards and only split an ace once.

European Blackjack is played with two decks and a player san only split once whether it is an ace of not. If both the player and dealer have blackjack the game is a push.

Blackjack Switch is played with two hands at once and the player has the option to interchange the cards dealt to each hand.

Double Exposure is mostly the same rules as American except the dealer’s first two cards are dealt face-up.

Caribbean 21 is the exact same rules except the goal is 31 instead of 21.

Spanish 21 is a little bit different in the fact that there are an unlimited amount of double downs and you have the option to rescue and surrender, which is sometimes not available in certain blackjack games.

There are just a few choices to get you started on your hunt, my favorite is Double Exposure, but try them all out for yourself.

How to Play Online Blackjack

Sometimes it never hurts to go back to the basics. We get so caught up in blackjack strategy and odds and house edge that sometimes we lose perspective of what it is we are playing. So today we are going back to the basics and back to how to play online blackjack.

First let’s look at the objective as that is the one thing about blackjack that gets misconstrued the most. This game is not about getting 21. Blackjack is about beating the dealer’s hand without making your own hand go over 21. Always remember that and focus on that rather than trying to get an even 21.

Online blackjack starts with the player placing their wager. Once that is set, they click Deal. Two starting cards are dealt and so is the dealer’s up card. This is the part where strategy comes into play as strategy determines how you will play out your hand. Every hand gives you the choice to Hit or Stand. Hit means to receive another card and Stand means to not receive any more cards. Sometimes, depending on the house or variation rules, you can Double Down, Split a Pair or take Insurance.

Double Down can only happen on certain hands. It is when the player doubles their wager and only receives one more card. This is only done in highly advantageous situations. Splitting a Pair can, obviously, only happen when you have two cards worth the same amount. Players make a second wager equal to their first, the pair is split and each original card receives a new partner card. Players then play out each hand normally.

Strategy can be used to determine which play is best for each situation. Basic strategy is an online blackjack player’s best tool for strategy. It is a chart that gives the best possible statistical play for each player starting hand/dealer up card combination. You will not win each time, but you will lower the house edge to 0.5% if you play every hand according to it.

Insurance is a bit different. It is only offered when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. This is one of the two cards needed to make a natural blackjack—and it is the less common card hence insurance. Insurance has the player placing a second wager that is equal to half of their original wager. If the dealer does indeed have a natural blackjack and the player loses, he receives a payout on his insurance wager which will equal the amount of his original wager. The majority of online blackjack professionals do not recommend taking insurance.

Now that we have revisited the basics of how to play online blackjack you can move on to refocusing your game to that objective of beating the dealer with or without a natural blackjack. Good luck!

Probability of the 10 Hole Card for the Dealer

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.

Shuffle Tracking in Blackjack

Just about every single blackjack player out there has heard of card counting. Even casino patrons who only play a few rounds of blackjack for a break from their preferred casino game have heard of card counting. But what many blackjack players have not heard of is shuffle tracking.

Shuffle tracking is another ‘counting’ skill that the elite of card counter work into their counting strategies. This particular skill involves tracking the clump of cards that come after the shuffle card to see where or in what zone the newly shuffled deck the clump of cards is in.

Let me break it down a bit more. Prior to dealing at the blackjack table, the dealer will have a player cut the deck. Where that cut is made a shuffle card is inserted. When the shuffle card appears, the dealer reshuffles the deck and the process begins again.

What this has to do with card counters is that sometimes the count goes positive and the counter is ready to increase his wagers. And then the shuffle card appears and that means that all those high cards are behind the shuffle card. This is where the shuffle tracking comes in. Shuffle trackers will watch the shuffling very, very carefully to see where that clump of rich cards goes. Then the shuffle tracker will cut the deck so that the clump of high cards from before the shuffle are on top. This allows them to wager high right off the bat; they still get their money from counting cards, and the high wagers from the get-go confuse the casino personnel since card counters never wager high at the beginning of a new shoe.

But shuffle tracking is not a simple skill to learn. Shuffle trackers must learn the shuffle patterns of the particular casino they want to try their skill at. They then have to replicate the shuffle at home to learn how to keep pace with the shuffle in order to track the clump they want to cut to the top. It takes a lot of practice and skill. Without careful practice and careful tracking a player could lose the clump of high cards unknowingly; not being careful and not practicing and preparing ahead of time can result in the loss of a lot of a player’s bankroll.

This is one blackjack skill that requires a lot of practice, more than card counting. And while casinos have naturally taken precautions—complicated shuffle patterns and continuous shuffle machines—players will still try their hand at shuffle tracking. Just make sure that if you want to work shuffle tracking into your blackjack strategy to practice a lot. And I do mean a lot.

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.

Card Counting No-No in ‘The Hangover’

Wow, talk about irony. Last Friday I wrote a piece on using a pretty woman as a distraction when counting cards, and then I watch ‘The Hangover’ for the first time the next day. There you go, my blackjack playing friends, proof that distraction with a pretty woman works at the blackjack table.

Okay, so it was written that way, but it is still perfectly viable. It at least shows you how such a thing would work.

But while watching ‘The Hangover’ I noticed something else about that scene at the blackjack table: Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner is making a big card counting no-no: He is exhibiting outward—and let’s be honest, easily recognizable—signs that he is counting cards. Viewers can watch his lips move as he does all of his counting math in his head. And that is a big problem.

While card counting is no actually legal, casinos are private businesses that do have a say in who they will or will not serve. They can ask you to leave. Which is exactly what they will do if they catch a player counting cards. This is why all advice about blackjack and card counting says to practice, practice, practice until you can count through multiple decks with distractions around you.

Counting like Alan Garner in ‘The Hangover’ is not going to help you to win $80,000 plus. It is a good thing they planted Stu and Jade to be a distraction because otherwise it was likely that Alan would have gotten busted by the casino staff and tossed out.

The lesson here is to not do things that happen in ‘The Hangover.’ You do not want to pull your own tooth out and you certainly do not want to get booted from a casino because you a no-no for not practicing enough with your card counting. Practice!

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.

Rate of Play in Blackjack

There is one aspect of the house edge that players have direct control over. I know you are thinking, what could that possibly be? After all the house has a built in advantage from playing last, which the player cannot control. And even though a player can control how they play out their hand—something the majority of casino games lack—players in blackjack cannot control what cards they are dealt. So what is left that is in the player’s hands in blackjack that they can control?

Their rate of play. Quite simply put, the rate at which plays through rounds of blackjack. If you play at a fast rate, making quick decisions and hurrying through the execution of your plays, you are playing more hands compared to someone who slows down their play, playing at a relaxing pace without all the haste.

At first you might think, ‘So what? What is the big deal? So what if I play faster than someone else?’ but think about this: the more hands you play in an hour the more money you stand to lose. Check it out.

Let’s say you are playing in a game of blackjack with a flat 2% house edge. Based on the meaning of house edge, you will lose $2 out of every $10 you play. Let’s now say you play sixty hands in an hour; you have an expected loss of $120 in an hour. You may lose it, you may not. But based on house edge, that is your expected loss.

Now let’s say you only play forty hands of blackjack in an hour. Your expected loss based on the house edge in blackjack is only $80. That is a $40 difference for slowing down each hand from one minute to one and a half minutes. A thirty second increase per hand and you will have cut your expected loss by 33%.

Slowing down you rate of play lessens your expected losses in blackjack, which does not leave as many opportunities for the house to win and take your money. Blackjack strategy tidbit for today is to slow your rate of play down.