Blackjack Intimidating?

I read this morning that blackjack is intimidating. Yes, I know, I was just as surprised. But apparently casino folk consider blackjack to be intimidating.

Now this rather puzzles me considering that blackjack does not have a lot of fancy rules and strategy. If you can add the numbers 1 through 11 then I do not see how blackjack can be hard. Add up the total of your first two cards, and decide if you want to try to increase your hand total by hitting or decide to stand with your total against whatever the dealer has.

To me adding 1 through 11 is not all that difficult, so I fail to see how blackjack is intimidating there. But it is also being said that strategy for blackjack is intimidating. Really?

Because the first form of blackjack strategy that comes to my mind is basic strategy, and I am sorry, there is no form of strategy that is easier.

Basic strategy is the most commonly used form of blackjack strategy. And it is a chart! If you can locate your hand total on the left side and locate the dealer’s up card—which is plainly visible on the table—along the top of the chart, you can use basic strategy. All you do is find where the lines of your hand and the dealer’s up card meet and make that play. That is all there is to it.

The hard work in basic strategy was done by the Four Horsemen a few decades ago. The basic strategy chart has the best statistical plays already figured out.

So all a blackjack player needs to do is add up the value of the first two cards, which is adding together two numbers which will range from 1 to 11. Then the blackjack player needs to check the basic strategy chart, find their hand total and the dealer’s up card, see where the lines intersect and make that play. The hardest part is adding up two numbers that will range between 1 and 11.

Blackjack rules, nor its strategy are difficult. And players do not even have to worry about what other players are doing; blackjack is a player vs. dealer card game—the plays of the other players are irrelevant.

To me that is not hard or intimidating at all. Now poker—that seems intimidating. But blackjack? Adding two numbers and locating a hand and dealer’s up card intersection? Not hard. I fail to see how blackjack is intimidating.

Blackjack Players Forced Into Hiding

As we all know games of chance are illegal in the US. But around the country—or at least in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and South Carolina—courts are ruling that poker is a game of skill rather than a game of chance. So what does this have to do with blackjack?

Everything! If poker can be deemed a game of skill, so can blackjack.

Let’s look at this. Poker is being considered a game of skill because it takes skill in knowing when and how to play the cards you’ve been dealt. It’s not like slots—put a coin in, push a button and cross your fingers. In poker you choose to keep your cards or to hit. A poker player isn’t stuck with the cards he was dealt with no decisions at his disposal.

And if poker was a game of chance then everyone would have an equal opportunity to win. And in poker that just isn’t the case. Let’s say that you get five people together to play. If poker was a game of chance then each one would win ten percent of the time. But realistically a skill hierarchy will form, with the most skilled player winning a greater percent of the time than the others.

So what does this have to do with blackjack? Blackjack is also a game of skill, and its players shouldn’t have to hide or feel unwelcome in a casino. Of course, an online casino can’t tell the difference in players since each player is playing a Random Number Generator (RNG), which makes online casinos a nice home for blackjack players. But the point is that blackjack players should feel just as welcome in a land based casino as any other player.

Blackjack is a game of skill because you as a player have a decision to make in how to play your hand. Do you stand? Or do you hit? Should you double down or not? If blackjack was a game of chance you would be dealt your cards and that would be the end of it. But it’s not.

So like the example of sitting a five people down to play poker, let’s change the game to blackjack. If blackjack were a game of chance, then like the example above, each player would statistically win ten percent of the time. But as we all know, through mastery of basic strategy and card counting, a skill hierarchy will develop in this playing group as well.

So why should poker only be ruled as a game of skill and not blackjack? It could only be that poker is a better known game. But blackjack should be recognized as such too. It is by far a game of skill.

What determines the difference between a game of skill and a game of chance? It’s in how the game is played. If a player can do nothing to alter his odds then it’s a game of chance. But if the player can alter his odds through strategy or practiced methods then it’s a game of skill.

Skilled blackjack players shouldn’t have to skulk around casinos feeling that as soon as they sit down the pit boss’s eyes will be on him. The casino will make their money without a doubt. They have slots, craps, roulette and more to bring in their money. And not every single blackjack player is going to beat the casino. Some don’t even play with basic strategy, let alone card count. A skilled player shouldn’t be rewarded for being skilled by being unwelcome to play the game. And besides, casinos should remember that even professional blackjack player isn’t going to win every single hand.