Word on Blackjack Betting Strategies

I’m sure in your time online, while either searching for a good online casino or looking for blackjack tips (always abide by basic strategy, by the way), you’ve seen multiple theories on betting strategies. And, I’ll be honest, I’m not a fall really of them. I rather like my card counting. However, that’s pretty much useless when playing online blackjack. So what’s a blackjack player to do?

Well, there is a couple betting strategies that we can look over.

First, let’s look at the Martingale approach. In this betting strategy for every hand that you lose you increase your bet by a hundred percent. The only time you return to your original bet is when you’ve won a hand. In other words, this strategy is aimed at trying to beat losing streaks. Obviously you need a large bankroll to handle this one though, which could be a downside to using this strategy. Let’s say you are playing at a $10 table, and you’ve lost the first nine hands. That means on the tenth hand you would need to bet $5120. And there’s no guarantee that you would even win that hand. Seems to me that in using the Martingale approach you stand to lose a fair amount of money—more than I would personally be comfortable with. And if your bankroll isn’t outstanding to begin with, you could have a short night in playing blackjack. However, there is a definite benefit to winning back what you lost and making quite a gain too. Let’s say that you won that tenth hand with a natural blackjack—your payout would be $7680.

Now let’s look at the Paroli blackjack betting strategy. Whereas, Martingale seeks to overcome a losing streak, Paroli seeks to make the most of a winning streak. This is accomplished by doubling when you win a hand, but you return to your original amount once you lose a hand. This betting strategy doesn’t require a large bankroll, which is nice for those who don’t wish to risk a lot. Using the same scenario as above, after nine hands you will have only lost $90. But, despite this method being safer risk-wise, it doesn’t seem to me to have the high yield potential that the Martingale method does.

Mostly it comes down to your own personal thoughts towards blackjack and gambling in general. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty sort of person? Me, I will admit that I’m the half empty sort. I approach blackjack with the mentality that I have a greater chance at losing. I’ve heard that this is smart, as players who believe that they can’t possibly lose tend to be over-confident and lose more.

It never hurts to try both methods in an online casino’s free play version. This way you can try both methods and see which one seems to suit you better. I believe that if you’re willing to risk and the bankroll, the Martingale has a better chance of giving you a larger payout, even though the Paroli is a safer methods. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Blackjack Fallacy! Or Why Card Counting is Not Already a Part of Basic Strategy

After finishing up, for now, the ‘What’s Real and Imaginary in Blackjack’ series, I was going to focus on some other blackjack related aspect. However. That was before I came across this “strategy” that just dropped my jaw.

I can hear you asking, then why not make a sixth Real or Imaginary entry? Easy. Because this so-called strategy shouldn’t be mistaken as a “rule” on how to play blackjack. This is just downright inaccurate and silly. And no new-comer to blackjack should think that this so-called “strategy” is worth anything.

So what is this so-called “strategy?” That the only way to learn to count cards is to have basic strategy memorized.

Yes. Apparently someone somewhere believes this and is trying to spread it. According to him or her, card counting can only be effective if you have already mastered basic strategy. And this is most defiantly not true. It is true that in order to have a sound playing strategy that covers how to play and how to bet, a player must know basic strategy and how to count cards. But the one is not dependent on the other.

In other words, it’s completely possible to count cards but not use basic strategy. It’s not a wise way to play. But not knowing basic strategy will not determine whether or not you can count cards. Both strategies are independent of each other. It isn’t necessary to know how to count cards in order to know basic strategy. Both of these can be used independently of each other or together. I advise that they be used together, but that is up to you as a player. Card counting is extremely hard to do online so all a player has at their disposal is basic strategy.

Do not ever think that you absolutely must have basic strategy memorized in order learn card counting. If you’re just starting out and are still learning basic strategy, go ahead and teach yourself to card count. There isn’t anything stopping you. You could even teach yourself card counting first and then basic strategy. Remember that while both can be used independently of each other, they do not determine whether or not you can learn the other.

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part V

Hello again. Are there more blackjack “rules?” Yes, there are more blackjack rules! But you wanted to know, yes? Yes. Then we’ll continue.

  • You’re a cheater if you see the dealer’s hole card and don’t say a word.

– No, you aren’t a cheater so rest easy. You did nothing wrong. The dealer did. Seriously. This isn’t writing off a heck of a tip-off on how to play. If a dealer is sloppy it’s the casino’s fault for hiring a sloppy dealer, or the dealer’s fault for not being more cautious. You have no effect on the dealer at all (this includes the magical third base chair too). Remember, no effect.

If you want to think that real luck is involved with blackjack, then this is it. Seeing the dealer’s hole card because of their mistake is a lucky break for you. Otherwise there is no luck in blackjack. There’s chance in how the cards are dealt, but not luck. The only luck is when the dealer messes up. And it’s the casino’s responsibility to run herd on their dealers, not yours.

  • You are a cheater if you accept a winning blackjack bet that you actually lost.

– Again, no, you’re not a cheater. This one also falls under “Dealer Sloppiness.” It’s the dealer’s responsibility to pay attention to whether you won or he won. If you didn’t and he gives you the payout anyway, you again, have done nothing wrong. You didn’t tell the dealer to pay you when you didn’t win. For whatever reason, the dealer is paying you anyway despite losing that round of blackjack. You do not run herd on the dealers, the casino does. And  a dealer who can’t pay attention enough to payout only when he is supposed to won’t be a dealer for long.

Now. Whether you accept the payout or not is up to you. This one isn’t like seeing the dealer’s hole card; once you see it, you can’t un-see it. A payout you didn’t win may be accidentally awarded to you, but you don’t have to take it. This one depends on your ethics. If you’re are comfortable in your heart by taking it, then take it—it was the dealer and casino’s mistake. If you aren’t comfortable with taking the payout, speak up, tell the dealer that, hey, he made a mistake. There is nothing that says you have to take the wrongly given payout. Accepting it is up to you and your ethics and your conscience.

  • Progressive betting systems will overcome the house edge.

– No. No, no, no. This one has nothing to do with the dealer or casino either. This one is all you. No, there isn’t a progressive betting system that will overcome the house edge in blackjack. It’s true that you might win more, but you can also lose more too.

Other than basic strategy and card counting, there isn’t a system that will change the odds. Progressive betting can cause small fluctuations in your bankroll but that’s about it. With an unlimited bankroll on their side, casinos don’t think twice about system players—other than card counters, they really don’t like them. The problem with a progressive betting system is that once you think you’ve found one that works, greed will rear it’s ugly head. You will think your system is unbeatable. Math will catch up with you and you will lose and lose big. And that’s how casinos have an unlimited bankroll.

You can’t overcome the house edge in blackjack. The best you can do is whittle it away to give you the best odds. Do so with basic strategy and card counting—but don’t get caught counting cards!

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part IV

Welcome back. Yes, there’s more to discuss. It seems that while the rules in blackjack aren’t extensive, the myths and “rules” are. And you have to wade through them, whittle away at them to get down to what is actually relevant to playing blackjack. Let’s continue.

  • As the third base player you have to take the dealer’s bust card and change the way their outcome.

– This one is a no. Let’s say that the player at third base doesn’t take a card, then the previous player was the one that took the dealer’s bust card. Or maybe the player before that one. You can see where I’m going with this. In other words, the player at third base doesn’t effect the dealer specifically because any player who hits changes the outcome of the round. And if it were true that the third base player could cause the dealer to win or lose, the casinos would have already hired players to make sure the dealer won.

  • A new player entering the game mid-shoe will disrupt the flow of the cards, causing everyone to lose.

– I think that you can take card games so seriously to the point that superstitions become fact in some minds. That’s a beyond serious hobby then. Back to the “rule” at hand. No. No, a new player will not cause everyone to lose. Okay, yes, it’s true that the cards could flow differently. And even then, that’s not entirely solid. Say one person leaves the table at the end of a round and someone else joins the game before the next round is dealt. Is the flow of the cards really changing? It’s the same number of people. The new person is sitting in the same place as the old one. You haven’t moved. So in theory, you’re going to receive the same cards that you would have whether the first player left or not.

The other thing about this “rule” is that the flow of cards is random. Let’s say the this new player didn’t replace an old one. Let’s say that he or she sat down at a different seat or took an unoccupied seat. Yes, you are not going to receive the cards that you would have received had that new player never joined. This doesn’t mean you’re going to lose. There is nothing that says the cards will flow better or worse. Remember, the cards are random. Who knows, rather than make the flow worse, this new player could make them flow better for you. Because of the seriousness with which some players believe these sorts of “rules,” maybe they should take vows to the blackjack table:

I take you, blackjack, to play always from this day forward, for better card flow or worse, for losing bets and winning, for busting or not busting, to love  and to damn; from this day forward until through my lost money we part.

Okay, that was a little mean. I mean no ill will against marriage, truly. It’s just the seriousness that people apply to blackjack. Yes, you can take it seriously and strive to be the best player that you can be. But we you take these “rules” that can be broken apart with simple logic, well, that’s where I’m astounded. Or perhaps I’m too logical.

  • It matters how the casino or online software shuffles the cards.

– I’m going to re-title this blog “What is Real or Imaginary in Blackjack: Part IV, the Extreme Superstitions. That being said, no, in no way does it effect what cards you are going to be dealt. In online casinos, cards are dealt by a random number generator (RNG), in which the word “random” says enough. In land based casinos, especially at tables that are using six or eight decks, they are going to be using a shuffling machine, which eliminates a human dealer from not shuffling them properly. If anything, using a shuffling machine will cause a deck to be used faster, allowing for more rounds. Casinos like this as it gives you more opportunities to lose. So of course they are going to use shuffling machines. If it gives them more opportunities to take your money, they will do it.

Keep an eye out for: What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part V

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part III

And welcome back for Round 3. I’m going to hope that you are still adding to your blackjack knowledge. Like I said last time, you can never know too much when it comes to a mental game. You want to build your strategy, add to it, as it can help you as a player. You want to beat the dealer, yes? Then let’s continue, shall we?

  • If you have blackjack and are faced with a dealer who is showing an ace, take even money.

-Don’t take even money. Even if you push you will still end up with more money over the long haul than if you were to take even money. This is yet another way for the casinos to, at the last moment, try to raise their edge just a bit. They do this because if you take even money, in the long run they won’t have to pay you as much. If you are holding a blackjack do not fear a dealer with an ace. A dealer with an ace is the casino’s buffer against you earning the money that you should in blackjack. Remember—do not give in to even money if you have a blackjack.

  • A dealer has a 10 and you have a 16: to hit or not to hit?

– Not to hit. Actually what you should do here, if the option is available to you, is surrender. I know no one likes to surrender in blackjack. It feels like you failed somehow. Not so. Think of it as saving yourself. True you aren’t going to be winning any money, but you aren’t losing all of it. If you didn’t surrender and lost, there went all of your bet. But if you surrender, you can at least recover half of your bet, which is better than losing it all in my opinion. If surrender isn’t available, look at what your 16 is made of. If it’s three or more cards or is the result of splitting a pair, then stand. Otherwise hit.

  • It matters what seat you are sitting in at a blackjack table.

– Really? And I’m going to put a rabbit’s foot in my pocket, wear my lucky socks and turn around in a clockwise circle three times. I understand that each of us have our own little superstitions, but really, now. No, it does not matter what seat you are sitting in. There isn’t one chair that’s better than the others, or luckier or unluckier. All chairs have the same odds. It’s the player who is sitting in the chair that makes it lucky or unlucky. If you’re sitting next to a guy who keeps saying that his place at the table is unlucky and causing him to lose, watch him. Chances are he’s just not a skilled player. Blackjack is a mental game, a game of skill. Practice your blackjack strategy. The more you practice the better of a player you will become. Leave the seats for someone else to worry about.

Keep an eye out for: What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part IV

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part II

Welcome back for Round 2. I hope you’ve given my last post’s “rules” some thoughts and started incorporating that information into your playing Blackjack strategies. And if not that, then at least tucked it back in your mind for later use. You never know when you’ll be at a table or online and something in the back of your mind will help you beat the dealer. I’m still looking for ways to expand my blackjack knowledge—you can never have too much knowledge, especially in a game where you can change the odds, bring the house’s edge down. It’s a mental game, use your knowledge. That being said, let’s move on.

  • The only way to be a good card counter is to be a genius.

– Nope. Nowhere near true. You do not need to be a genius to count cards in blackjack. That’s what the casinos want you to believe though. Yes, I know I made that sound something like a conspiracy. What it comes down to is the casinos know that any blackjack player who counts cards will have a better chance at winning. And casinos lose money when players win. So they would have you believe that you must posses Einstein-ian intellect in order to count cards. All you really need, at least to start out, is a basic system, such as a Hi-Lo counting system, and the patience to learn it and practice it.

  • Checking your basic strategy card is legal when playing blackjack.

– Now this is true. And not only is it true, but I recommend it. If you are new to blackjack then I highly highly advise it. A casino will not stop you from playing if you choose to have a basic strategy chart with you. It takes awhile have memorized with confidence the entire chart. Do yourself a favor and take a chart with you. If you want to try to play without it, keep it handy in a pocket or a handbag.

  • Losing five hands mine you will win the sixth.

– I’m laughing. Yes, I am. This is most defiantly not true. There is nothing in the blackjack universe that dictates that if you lose five hands, or any number of hands for that matter, you will win the next. Never has a mathematical study shown any such evidence. But I do wonder, why six hands? I’ve heard of lucky seven, and that for some thirteen is lucky rather than unlucky. But six? Never heard of six being associated with luck.

Keep an eye out for: What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part III

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part I

Everyone comes across “rules” when learning to play blackjack. And if not when learning, then certainly when you get to a table. These aren’t rules you’ll find in a blackjack how-to. These are the “rules” that everyone knows and abides by. …Interesting enough that thought. But, really, what is real and what is imaginary when it comes to these “rules?” It’s important to learn what should be taken into consideration in one’s total blackjack strategy, and what should just be ignored.

Let’s look at the following “rules” shall we?

  • If one player misplays his or her hand, then he or she will cause everyone at the table to lose.

-Really. Honestly. Are we really that superstitious? This “rule” is not only very not true, it is also funny to me that someone would believe this. Firstly, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. It does not matter how the people around you are playing. If the guy next to you hits when he should have said stand, well that’s his mistake and it does not effect you. Just make sure you follow basic strategy, and not make the same mistakes.

  • Only idiots will split a pair of 8s when the dealer has a 10 and an Ace.

-No. And if you do split a pair 8s in that instance then pat yourself on the back, okay, maybe not right there at the table where everyone can see you, do it in your head though. Think about it. To not split is to not try. If you stand with a pair of 8s your total is set at 16. If you split and take more cards you have two hands to play and the possibility of getting cards that will a least tie you with the dealer rather than sealing your fate at 16.

  • In a casino with a 6:5 payout, the house edge can be offset by playing at a table with only a single deck used.

-Nope, not true. A 6:5 payout is bad news no matter how many decks are being used or not used. A 6:5 payout puts the house edge at 1.4%. A single deck doesn’t even come close to offsetting this. This is just a sneaky way for a casino to rope in unwise players and take their money. True, we will all lose money when playing, but why throw it away? If you wish to play at a 6:5 table then you might as well offer your money up to the alter of stupid gambling—which is decorated with fritzy neon lights, by the way.

Keep an eye out for: What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part II

Do Blackjack Players Need Nannies?

Over in Victoria, Australia there is much debate on a casino expansion of blackjack tables. You have some that want it, saying that it’ll benefit their economy. And there are others who say, in short, that gambling is the root of all evil, and that more blackjack tables will increase addictive gambling. I beg to differ.

But before I continue, I wish to say that, yes, if allowed more opportunity, some individuals who lack self-control could develop a problem with gambling. I would never say that more opportunities couldn’t possibly create a few more addicts.
However, for a state government to step in and say that they know best for, well, everyone, I just can’t stand behind that. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to play blackjack. In regards to the debate and the state’s role in public interest, Victoria’s Premier John Brumby said it was not the government’s place to “be a nanny and get in everybody’s face and say what you can and can’t do.”

For a government to say that they are going to cut everyone off just to reign in a handful of people, it would be like a mother grounding a whole neighborhood of children just to keep her own in line. All those children will do is sneak out their bedroom windows when her back is turned. And likewise, those who wish to play blackjack will venture to another state’s economy to play if their own won’t let them.

And that is precisely what the state of Victoria could be giving up. It’s similar to what is happening in Florida between the state and the Seminole tribe. Here again, the state is wishing to limit the amount of tables the Seminoles are allowed to have. But what the state of Florida will be losing is more money for their education budget, as that’s where the taxes of the Seminole’s gambling profits will go.

If the state of Victoria were to allow the expansion of blackjack tables, at the risk of a handful of the population as compared to the thousands that live in Victoria, the state has the potential to create an income off the blackjack tables.

But income aside, is it really a state’s responsibility to dictate how their citizens choose to enjoy themselves? Are we sheep? Do we really require our state to shepard us? No, I refuse to accept that a handful of men and women know what’s best for thousands of people in regards to their recreation. It is each person’s choice to play blackjack or not. The vast majority of people will play for the fun of the game—can they beat the dealer? Will they be dealt blackjack this time? It is not the state’s decision to nanny its citizens. After all, they will crawl out their bedroom windows into another state’s economy if they wish to play blackjack.

Which Denomination to Play

Here’s the casinos’ Modus operandi: Move ‘em in, move ‘em out, move in more. In other words, what’s the fastest way possible to bring them in and take their money in order to bring in more?

I’m sure in wandering through a casino or while trolling online casinos for a blackjack game, you’ve seen that the minimum bet varies from table to table, virtual or not. Which is the best one to play at?

I know that a higher stakes table has the potential to give you a better payout. Let’s look at the payouts between a $100 table a $10 table. If you win with a blackjack at the first table, you’re payout is $300; at the latter table, the same win would give you a payout of $30. So those blackjack players who are looking to make money would think that the table to play is the $100 table.

No.

And no especially if you’re just beginning to play.

The reasoning behind this is simple: You don’t win every time. Seems obvious, but once you’re caught up in the razzle dazzle of a casino—traditional or online—you will think that nothing can stop you from winning. You’re going make it big. You’re going to walk out with a ton of money. And that’s exactly how a casino wants you to think. Because when you’re thinking that and you walk up to that $100 or $200 table, you just made your first mistake.

Casinos, online or land-based, make their money when players lose. If you’re a novice at playing blackjack you will want to start out small. Since you’re just getting used to the game and are still learning, you’re more likely to lose simply by making beginner mistakes. Casinos will bank on you and you will lose a good chunk, if not all, of your money by sitting down at a higher stakes table. By starting out at a smaller table, like the $10 tables, you stand a better chance of hanging on to your money. Sure, you won’t have as much of a gain in the beginning, but you won’t lose your money as fast.

Move up to higher stakes tables once you know your basic strategy and you’re winning on a fairly consistent basis. In other words when you feel confident, not because of bright lights and sounds, but because you know you’re a good blackjack player. Start small. It’s real easy to gamble away the $700 you brought with you at higher stakes tables than at small stakes tables.

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?