Dealer’s Chances of Busting

I have never met a blackjack player who would not like to know when the dealer will bust. It would make the blackjack so much easier to play in terms of a player’s betting strategy.

Unfortunately it is impossible to know exactly when the blackjack dealer is going to bust. The best we can do is know when the blackjack dealer has a better shot at busting his hand. And it is impossible to know exactly when he will bust, it is possible to know when his chances are higher.

This is kind of like knowing that you have a better shot at winning when the deck is running with high cards.

Anyway we already knew that about our chances of winning. What we want to know is when the dealer is more likely to bust. Below you will find a little list of all the dealer up cards along with the dealer’s chances of busting with those up cards:


So that being said, we know that the dealer has the biggest chance of busting when he is showing a 5 or 6. What can you do with such knowledge?

You work it into your blackjack strategy—that is what you do!

This does not replace card counting but it can help you somewhat in terms of your playing strategy and betting strategy. If you know the dealer is at his highest chances of busting it can help you to take advantage of the round.

Let’s say you have a hard 10 and the dealer is showing a 5. You know he is at his highest chances of busting, and you know that according to basic strategy you should be doubling down. By knowing that he is at his highest chances of busting it allows you to know that your double down has a better shot of being profitable. And that means that you should be more confident in doubling down.

Blackjack Myth—Always Insure a Blackjack or 20

The only time that this myth would come up is when you are dealt a natural blackjack or a 20 and the dealer has an Ace showing. In fact, the only time you are offered insurance in blackjack is when the dealer has an Ace showing.

The belief on this blackjack myth might sound reasonable, but it is in fact not practical. Here are the reasons these myth-believing blackjack players will insure their blackjacks and 20s:

– If you insure your blackjack you will get an even money payout no matter what even if the dealer has a blackjack.

– If you insure your 20 and the dealer does have blackjack you will wind up with the equivalent of an even money payout because you will lose that round’s wager, but will collect on the insurance bet.

The belief in this myth is that you are protecting your hand. The problem is that when you are protecting it you are costing yourself more money.

When you insure your blackjack you are losing out on your potential profits. By ensuring a blackjack you are taking a payout of 1-1 and giving up your 3-2 payout. Breaking that 3-2 down looks like this: 1.04-1. And 1.04 is greater than 1-1. Taking insurance, ergo even money, on a blackjack is costing you 4% of your potential profit. So while insurance might feel safer, it is more expensive in the long run to your profit.

As for insuring your 20, that is just not practical. What is a hard twenty made of? It is made up of two 10s. It is one of those pairs that you do not split. Think of this: you are holding two of the cards the dealer needs. This lessens the dealer’s chances of having a blackjack, and it lessens your chances of collecting on your insurance bet because you need him to have a 10. So put all of your chances on yourself and do not take insurance.

Part of your blackjack strategy is playing smart. Not all the tips you hear on the casino floor and in online blackjack forums are good ones. Take some time and think about the blackjack tips you find, maybe even do a little bit of research one them, before putting all your belief behind them. You might even try them out in a free-play mode of an online casino to see how they work.

Card Counting Illegal or Not

I was looking around for blackjack news and I found something today that actually kind of shocked me. I read that card counting not being allowed in a casino is a myth—that casinos are fine with card counting. I had to laugh. Because not only did this particular article say that card counting been just ducky in casinos, it also encouraged blackjack players to learn this strategy and not worry about being caught.

Here is the truth. Casinos do not have set in stone that card counting is illegal. However, they do frown on it and can remove you from their establishment if they catch you.

But if it is not illegal why can a casino kick you out?

It is simple really. Casinos are private property, and just as you have the right to kick anyone off your property for any reason, so do the casinos have this right. This is similar to how businesses can choose to do business with you or choose not to. Casinos are private property business.

Why does that not count as discrimination?

The reason that kicking card counting blackjack players out of a casino is not considered discrimination is because the United States Supreme Court has classified discrimination as being based on race, creed, national origin, sex, age or physical disability. And card counters are not on this list.

If you want to learn how to count card as a part of your blackjack strategy, go ahead. But you must be extremely good at this skill to avoid being caught.

Sometimes it even helps to throw your bet a few times to keep them from recognizing that you are card counting. In other words, every so often when the cards are running high keep your wager low since most card counters would raise their wager then. Yes, you run the risk of losing out on winning with a high wager if you throw your own wagering, but you have to decide which is more important: losing one or two decent winnings or being barred from the casino.

However, should a casino try to bar you here are some tips:

– Do not admit that you are a card counter. Ever.

– Leave immediately to avoid the casino capturing your picture. If they have your picture they can stop you from returning at some point in the future.

– Do not show them your ID or let them get your name.

– Do not argue with the staff or create a scene. It will draw more attention to you. And you will probably wind up with your picture taken. Besides you were supposed to leave as soon as they spoke to you, remember?

– Do not stop at the bar for a drink to cool off. The casino could take your picture from a camera in the bar or get your name off of a credit card. If you need a drink, find a bar outside of the casino.

– And do not at all touch any member of the casino staff. Touching the staff could allow the staff to try to bring some other sort of charge against you.

If you want to avoid the whole card counting issue, stick with basic strategy and find a good casino online to play at. The reputable ones offer some good blackjack games, and you do not have to worry about getting caught counting cards since you cannot count cards in online blackjack.

Is Blackjack Beatable or Not?

You can go online and read about how blackjack is a beatable casino game. But then when you go to the casino and lose money or watch how another player makes more money than you. How does that work? Is blackjack really a beatable casino game? Is it more beatable for one player over another?

First, yes, blackjack is a beatable casino game. But it does require skilled card counting. Very skilled card counting.

The way it works is like this: the odds in blackjack are constantly shifting because cards are dealt and the makeup of the remaining deck changes. When the cards are running with high cards the odds favor the player. This is because there is a greater chance for the player to be dealt a blackjack.

The 3-2 payout is what makes up a good chunk of the player’s blackjack odds. The more natural blackjacks you are dealt, the more your blackjack odds will go up. This is because the house has to pay you for those natural blackjacks. When the dealer is dealt a natural blackjack he does not receive a payout. And this is why your 3-2 payout makes up a good chunk of your blackjack odds.

So when the cards are running high the odds increase in the players favor because the odds are on that the house is going to have to pay the player more.

Card counting blackjack players take advantage of those odds when the cards are running high. They will increase their wagers then. With those increased wagers the house winds up paying even more. This is how card counting blackjack players take advantage of the odds, thus increasing their own. In this sense a very skilled card counting player can beat the house’s edge.

Now, is blackjack more beatable for one player than another? Yes, this is true. A card counting player will have better odds than a blackjack player who does not count cards. And a very skilled card counting player will have better odds over a less skilled player.

It really does come down to the player’s skill at card counting that determines how beatable blackjack is. Even if you are not a card counter you can get close in even odds by playing according to basic strategy; you can lower the house edge to 0.5% with basic strategy. Card counting players will play according to basic strategy as a good starting point for their card counting.

So blackjack is beatable for the really skilled card counter; and the beat-ability of blackjack is based on how skilled the blackjack player is.

About Card Counting

It is entirely up to the player in blackjack if he wants to use a blackjack strategy. Many players will take up basic strategy because of how easy it is to use and how effective it is. Playing every hand in blackjack according to basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. But for some blackjack players that is not enough strategy.

For those players looking for a little extra edge they will usually turn to brick and mortar casinos and card counting because card counting cannot be done in online blackjack.

Card counting is a way of tracking what cards have been played to have an estimation of what is left in the deck still to be played. Once card counting blackjack players have an idea of what is left unplayed in the deck they will base their wagering on that estimation.

Throughout an entire game of blackjack, these players will count the cards as they are played and discarded to manage their betting. This becomes a part of their betting strategy.

When counting cards, blackjack players tend to use one system or another. But like how basic strategy is the most widely used strategy for its ease and effectiveness, card counters in general will use the simplest counting system: the Hi-Lo System.

The Hi-Lo System assigns counting values to the cards, designating them as high, low or neutral cards. The breakdown is as follows:

2-6 are worth +1 and are considered low cards
7-9 are worth 0 and are considered neutral cards
10-Ace are worth -1 and are considered high cards

Well, now that you know that, let’s see how this counting system works, shall we?

In order for a count to be accurate, players must count all cards on the table including those of other players and the dealer. When making this count it is as simple as adding positive 1s and negative 1s. As the game progresses, players will gain a sense of what is left in the deck based on what their count says.

If their count is a strong negative number, like -3, it means that a good chunk of high cards have been played. This is because enough high cards have been played to send the count into the negative. This would be when blackjack players scale back on their wagering.

On the other hand, if the count goes strongly into the positive, like a +3, it means that a larger number of low cards have been played and counted and discarded. This means that there are a greater number of high cards left. So counting players will then increase their wagering.

While card counting can give players an edge, it is not the key to beating the house. You can still lose a few hands here and there because counting cannot tell you exactly which cards are going to be dealt next—only what is likely.

One more thing on card counting in blackjack—while basic strategy is legal in casinos, card counting is not. You must be able to count in your head without alerting the dealer or any of the staff that you are counting. Getting caught can get you kicked out of the casino or even barred. And your winnings would not be accompanying you out the door.

True Insurance Odds—Worth the Wager? Part II

Earlier today I explained how the odds of an insurance bet in blackjack are not equivalent to the payout, making it an unfair blackjack wager.

Yes, fair wagers do exist. Take that single number roulette wager. It carries 36-1 odds and has a 36-1 payout. That makes it a fair wager.

We already determined this morning that if in the first round of blackjack that the dealer had an Ace showing and neither of your cards were worth 10 that the odds were 2.0625-1, which does not equal the 2-1 payout that the house offers.

But that is an unlikely scenario. So let’s look at a more realistic one.

Let’s say that that the dealer still has the Ace showing and you do have a 10 in your hand. That means that there are only 15 10 value cards left in the deck (remember, we are using a single deck in these examples to make the math easier to show), and 34 non 10 value cards left. So the odds are now 34-15 that the dealer has a 10 for a hole card; those odds reduce to 2.26-1. So the equivalent payout here would be $22.60 on a $10 insurance bet. But we already know that we would only get $20.

Now we are going to say that two rounds have passed and that we are on the third. There are 40 cards left now, and with 3 10 value cards taken out of play already, that leaves 13 left in play. The third round begins and the dealer is dealt an Ace up while you are dealt a 10 and a non 10 value card.

So now there 12 10 value cards left in play and 16 non 10 value cards left. That means the odds are 38-12, reducing to 3.167. That means that if the dealer were to have a 10 for a hole card, you should be paid $31.67 on a $10 bet. And that is definitely not the $20 you would be paid for an insurance wager.

So you can see why insurance is not a good bet in blackjack. The odds do not match the payout. And because the payout is lower than what the odds say it should be it means that the house as the advantage on this odds-wise because it is an opportunity that you are losing money on. And you will remember that if it is an opportunity in which you are set up to lose money the odds favor the house and not you.

True Insurance Odds—Worth the Wager? Part I

Chances are you have heard countless times that you should not take insurance in blackjack. Does not matter if you are playing blackjack online or in a brick and mortar casino. It still stands that you do not take insurance in blackjack no matter what. You have been told that you are losing money faster to the house when taking insurance in blackjack.

And yet, there are players who still take insurance in blackjack.

Those of you who do take insurance, are you really aware of the odds on insurance? Do you know that you are not receiving a payout that is equivalent to the odds, which is a further rip-off on the casino’s part?

Here I am going to spell out the odds of insurance and how those odds do not match the payout.

For a wager to be considered ‘fair’ to the person making the wager, the odds need to be equal to the payout. Take a number on a roulette wheel. The chances of one number being the winner is 36 to 1. The payout on one number is 36-1. The odds equal the payout, making it a fair wager, even if it is not the best wager to make in roulette.

Now we will look at insurance. For this explanation, I am going to make the math as easy to understand as possible, so I will be using a single deck. But the same odds apply to multi deck games.

For this example this is also going to be the first hand of the game so that only three cards have been dealt If it is just you and the dealer in a single deck game, there are three cards whose values are known: the dealer’s Ace and your two cards.

We are going to assume that you do not have a 10 value card in your two cards. This means that are 16 10 value cards still in the deck and 33 non 10 value cards. That makes for 33-16 odds that the dealer will have a 10 value card as a hole card. Those 33-16 odds work out to 2.0625 to 1. And that means for the insurance wager to be fair, the payout should be $20.63 on a $10 bet, not $20.

As you can see the odds are not equivalent to the payout. And that is with all 10 value cards available. In my next post I will show you this 2.0625 to 1 is a best case scenario.

Betting in a Blackjack Tournament

Being that you are playing against other players in a blackjack tournament, your bankroll becomes very important. This is because advancement to the next round is based on who has the largest bankroll at the end of a blackjack tournament round. And ultimately the winner of a blackjack tournament is determined by the size of their bankroll.

So it is an understatement to say that your bankroll is just as important as your blackjack strategy in a tournament.

It does not matter whether it is a blackjack tournament that you have paid an entry fee to and are playing with that money, or whether you are playing with the nonnegotiable chips of a tournament. Your bankroll is just as important as your blackjack strategy.

That being said, let’s look at how players approach their betting strategies for blackjack tournaments.

Usually players will take one of two approaches to their betting strategies when playing in blackjack tournament. Some will start out betting conservatively. These players are of the sort who are hanging back to see how everyone else is playing, observing them you could say. Then near the end of the tournament round they will break out with the necessary betting to either over take the table leader or to hang on to their lead if they already had it.

Other players will dive head first into the tournament round and bet aggressively to try to gain a lead. These players are the sort who try to make table leader right away and then spend the round defending their place.

Both betting strategies have good points and bad points.

Going the conservative route will help you preserve your bankroll, but if the table leader is too good at defending their place you will not be able to overtake them. So even though your bankroll is stable, you may not have the time to overtake.

On the other hand, if the player who goes the aggressive route is not careful he could wipe out his bankroll if the cards have poor run. At that point he would be hard pressed to keep up with the table and try to regain the lead.

Think carefully before you choose which betting strategy you want to use. Or you could even find some online blackjack tournaments with a low entry fee and try both out to see which one you are more comfortable with before playing in a higher blackjack tournament.

Blackjack Tournament Tips—Being the Leader and Staying the Leader

Blackjack tournaments present a different experience to the average blackjack player. Once in a blackjack tournament, a certain foreign competitiveness is felt that is not normally present in regular blackjack games. This is because blackjack tournaments—online or not—put us into direct competition with other blackjack players. Something that does not normally happen.

Blackjack players will wager and play their way to be the table leader. And once you are the table leader you want to stay the table leader. What can you do to defend your place at the table?

Once you have succeeded in becoming the table leader pay careful attention to what everyone else at the table is betting. You are now going to need a betting strategy. Do not confuse that with a betting system. You do not under any circumstances want to use a betting system. You only need to use a little bit of betting strategy. And the betting strategy to use as the table leader is quite simple:

Match your wager with that of the player who is closest on your tail.

It is really that simple.

The reason you want to match the wager of your closest opponent at the table is because if you both lose then your opponent is no closer to gaining on your lead. Also if you both win he is not any closer to catching up to you. Sure he might have just won $50, but so did you. He has not gained any advantage.

Now if you win and he loses then you have just increased you lead against your closest opponent even more.

If you lose and he wins then he is a little closer on your lead; but if he over takes you in this same scenario, his lead is not that much ahead of you, and you can increase your wager to overtake him and become the table leader again.

Blackjack Tournament Tips—Catching the Table Leader

Most of the time blackjack players are just fine playing against the dealer. They do not have to worry about what any other blackjack players at the table are doing. They can play out their rounds of blackjack only focusing on their strategy and what the dealer is doing.

But from time to time we like to increase the thrill of our blackjack games. And to do that we usually find ourselves a blackjack tournament. In a blackjack tournament we have to take what the other players at the table are doing, most particularly what they are betting.

And that brings me to my first blackjack tournament tip.

If you are trying to catch up to the table leader you are obviously going to have to increase the amount of your wager. But how? Do you increase it by a large amount in one or two rounds? Or do you increase by a moderate amount over several hands?

The thing to keep in mind is that, while blackjack players are used to not paying attention overly much to each other in a normal game, they are watching each other like hawks in a tournament game. Only the player with the largest bankroll will go on to the next round. Tournament games are highly competitive.

So considering how competitive blackjack tournament games are your best bet, no pun intended, is to do a couple of large increases over one or two rounds to try catching up to the table leader. Betting moderate amounts may not allow you to catch up to him, especially if he is betting higher than you to try to keep his lead.

Blackjack tournaments are sometimes played to a certain number of rounds. Do not waste rounds trying to catch up with moderately increased bets. You are more than likely not going to catch up, much less overtake him.

Blackjack is a gambling game. There is risk involved in a regular game, but in a tournament there is a feeling of even more risk—even if you are playing with nonnegotiable tournament chips and not your actual money—simply because it is not only about betting the dealer.

A blackjack tournament game is about having the highest bankroll. It is that heightened sense of competition that makes tournaments feel more risky. With that in mind, use larger wager increases to try to catch up to the table leader.