Blackjack is the game all the players love. It’s one of the most player-friendly games that you can play in a casino, and the odds really are better than let’s say slots or poker.
Even though the rules are clear, the odds of winnings great, and there are even easy cheat-sheets for you to use, the fact is that most blackjack players walk away with a loss. In fact, there are many mistakes you can make in blackjack, and a lot of players will make them even if they have played for a long time.
Here is the top 10 culprits to why you might be walking away with a hole in your pocket. Let’s start with the biggest one:
1) You don't know when to fold 'em
You don’t know when to quit when you’re ahead! This is a mistake made by many gamblers – whether beginners or ones with a lot of experience behind their belt.
Here is a little secret – the house will win according to probability. Even if you’re playing a game with amazing odds, there is the RTP (Return to Player) rate to consider. This is the percentage of money that you can expect to get back if you play over and over and over – you get the point.
In blackjack, the RTP rate is 95%. So if you play into infinity and beyond, you will still lose 5% of your money – according to statistics, of course.
Let’s say you had a great night and you are a thousand dollars ahead. Trust us – get up and go – get yourself a weekend getaway in a spa hotel, go to a Michelin Star restaurant, go on a shopping spree (gambling money should always be spent how it’s won – with a bit of whimsy) – but don’t suddenly decide that you have found a perfect new way to make a living.
The house will start to take its money back and then some! But what’s the perfect way to decide when you’re “done”? Set rules, of course! Set a spending limit – say you will only gamble with a 100$. This way, if you win 500$, put money in your wallet and start off with 100$ again. When you gamble away that 100$ – stop.
You will still have some winnings in your wallet, even though you have spent your allowance. If you lost the 100$, don’t try to win it back. Let it go.
2) You keep on losing when you're just trying to get as close to 21 as you possibly can
Again -in the immortal words of Queen Elsa – let it go. Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes, you will have an 18 but feel deep in your gut that you can do better. Gambling can be the greatest teacher of life – after all, what is life if not a little gamble here and there? One important lesson here – you’re doing just fine. It’s okay to hold off.
Those of us who are overachievers and perfectionists will feel this one a bit harder than others. Do you love smoothing things out, folding the paper neatly into sharp corners, getting all your pencils in a row and always having your dashboard dust-free? Chances are that you will hit on 17 more often than the people around you, and take unnecessary losses when you could have been home free, just because you want to hit that perfect number.
We don’t always have to be perfect, and you won’t always hit a perfect 21. Get more than the dealer – that’s what matters. Next time you play, see if you’re doing this subconsciously.
3) Playing with your gut and not knowing basic strategy
Blackjack basic strategy is there for a reason – you can buy a basic strategy like a postcard at any gift store at a casino – or you can simply download it right here and keep it handy.
What is basic strategy and why should you care about it? It’s a system of rules that give you the best odds according to the laws of probability. This is the next best thing from being able to proficiently count cards. Why? Because it’s built on science!
It was created by none other than Julian Brown of IBM – it’s ok if you don’t know who that is, but keep in mind that IBM is a computing giant, the results he got will forever remain the best guide to blackjack probability out there. Brown’s study was one of the many done later, and they all add up to give you a nice and neat sheet you can download today.
Basically, the computer simulations went through millions and millions of blackjack hands and figured out what hands are the absolute best to play, depending on the particular situation that you find yourself in. for example – if your hand is 5 to 8 – ALWAYS hit. That’s pretty easy, and you could have thought of that yourself.
But in more complicated situations, where your heart is telling you to hit, the basic strategy will tell you to stand – like when you get a 17 or 18. You always stand, especially when playing with four, six, or eight decks.
And yes – the basic strategy changes depending on how many decks you’re playing with. Of course, most casinos play with six or eight decks. You will never ever find a one deck blackjack game at a casino – only at private parties, and even then that’s not very likely.
Take your time to play using the guide and get to know it – you’ll memorise it in no time!
4) Getting overconfident in card counting - and failing
Card counting is the naughty pastime of some blackjack players – not many. Most players come for the fun, and counting cards seems like too much work when you’re holding a fruity drink and having fun with your friends. Why ruin it?
But there are those math aficionados, tinkerers, and people that just can’t seem to let the idea go. Of course, there are those that don’t come to play for fun but they are desperate to win – or to prove that they can beat the system. These rebels will try to count cards.
Is it illegal? No. Do casinos like it? No. Will you get banned if you’re cards? Probably – if the casino notices and is pretty sure you’re a good card counter, they will ask you to leave, and maybe you’ll even get a lifetime ban. Casinos are watching the blackjack tables closely and your moves will get analysed when you’re on a crazy winning streak.
But there’s nothing that casinos love more than bad card counters. If you’re only learning and get too sure of yourself but in fact haven’t mastered this art yet, you’re likely to make calls that don’t make sense and end up losing instead. This might prove disastrous if you play a number of risky hands in a row.
So a bit of advice for novice card counters – don’t get carried away and don’t play for real money unless you’re 100% sure of yourself – a lot of players lose big when they get overconfident on difficult skills that take years to perfect – like card counting.
5) Playing long after you should have stopped
This is probably the most common reason that people walk away from a blackjack game very sad. There might be several reasons for this one. Let’s look at some of the most frequent ones:
It’s late, you’re having fun, you don’t want to leave the casino but you just keep on losing – if you’re with friends and want to keep on socializing – remember that you don’t actually have to bet in order to stay. You can easily sit behind someone and watch their game play out, and cheer them on. It will be better for you in the long run – before you spend more money than you planned on!
Another reason for this is that you get sloppy. If you’ve had a few drinks, your inhibitions are down and you are concentrating on everything around you – you tend to stop thinking about the game and not thinking very clearly. Blackjack is a mathematical game, after all, no matter the house edge. You have to be on your toes and think about every move, even though it’s an easy game.
This is actually a perfect example of why some casinos hand out free drinks to guests. You’re much more likely to hold on to nonsensical assumptions, play with your gut and assume that the next hand is determined by some magical sum of what you just got dealt. When we’ve had too much we become supermen, superwomen, heroes, best gamblers in the world, clairvoyants – the house edge means nothing against our horoscope of the day… and in the end, we tend to walk away with nothing.
We’re not saying that having a few drinks is bad – but it’s often damaging when it’s in a combination. The combination can mean – having a bad night, being upset, being too exhausted to make good decisions.
Being agitated can mean being angry, hungry OR tired. When we’re having a long night, it’s best to make regular wellness checks in our brains. Is everything feeling great? Or should we wait out a few and maybe play blackjack tomorrow?
This is hard when you’re visiting a fun place like Niagara and maybe only have one night of crazy fun and playing gambling games ahead of you.
Remember to Have Fun
All in all – don’t play blackjack to supplement your income unless you’re a professional gambler. Expect to win some and lose some but most of all – have fun in the process. If you want to walk away from a blackjack game with your head up and enough money in your pocket for dinner, set clear limits with yourself and play with your head, not with your heart!