Blackjack isn’t an enigma. The odds of winning and losing are very well-known, which is why there’s no excuse to keep losing so much. This is especially true considering that Blackjack has one of the lowest house odds of any casino game. There are countless players that keep racking up the losses at the Blackjack tables of the world, but that shouldn’t happen and we’re here to make sure it doesn’t in the future. All it takes is a few rules and tweaks and any Blackjack player can get their game back on track.
It’s time to go to Blackjack school, as this article will explain what a lot of gamblers do that makes them lose more than they should. By avoiding these 11 commonly-committed mistakes, you’ll almost always walk away with more money than when you started.
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Isn’t Blackjack Just About Having Fun?
To some extent, yeah. It’s a game, and the entire purpose of games is to be entertained. The thing is, though, is that you’re spending your real, hard-earned cash to play it. And if you are serious about actually making money, then you have to treat Blackjack as something more than mindless fun. Blackjack is a game that has enough skill involved to be more than just entertainment. Go for something truly random if you want to just have fun, like slots or roulette. Blackjack requires skill, focus, and mental mathematics to succeed.
Succeeding in Blackjack will take determination, practice, and skill, but it also requires believing in yourself. This is especially true if you find yourself having a bad streak. You want to be smart with your limits, but you also have to know how to turn a ship around when things are not going your way. You’ve got to think like a winner, and only then can you start being one. Go to the table with a plan and a goal, and you’ll be amazed at how much acuity and focus of mind you will approach Blackjack with.
Your mindset and attitude will determine your ultimate trajectory. From positive thinking comes confidence, and from confidence comes success.
With that out of the way and a little bit more of an understanding of what it takes to win, let’s start breaking down the biggest Blackjack mistakes and you can avoid them in the future.
Mistake No. 1 – Not Checking and Understanding the Blackjack Rules
Come on guys, this one is so basic! You should never play a game without first knowing the rules. Even if your friends are pressuring you to take that last seat at the table, you want to make sure that you understand what it is that you’re doing before you actually commit your hard-earned cash. This is especially true if you’re playing some variant on Blackjack, where the betting odds and rules might be different from the core game.
We know what you’re thinking right now, who doesn’t check the rules of the game they’re about to play? Let us make this super-clear, this happens all the time. The appeal of the blackjack table is so strong at a casino that many people just want to be part of the action, so the actual understanding of the game goes completely out the window. Casual players are the most likely to fall into this trap and lose their hard-earned money in the process.
Remember, casinos are not going to do anything that is favorable to your bottom line. You are the sucker they’re waiting to fleece, and they’ll tell you anything to get you to open your wallet. Ask about specific rules that will affect your chances of winning: are the odds 6-5, or 3-2? Does the dealer stand on 17, or hit? If you aren’t sure what these terms mean, go read up the rules first before you play. It’s for the good of your wallet – you can thank us later.
Mistake No. 2 – Not Setting Proper Goals
Setting a goal when playing Blackjack is crucial because this gives you something tangible to work towards. If you just sit down at the table for the heck of it, you’ll be aimless. You want to set a goal that you can clearly articulate and define. Vague goals like, “I want to be good at Blackjack” aren’t good enough. Set a goal that includes specific numbers, because that is something you can objectively measure your progress towards.
Every successful person in the world does this. Goals are clearly defined and achievable, not vague, and feel-good. A good example of a real, tangible goal would be to win $500 at the table. That’s something you can track, and it’s something that isn’t wishful thinking. Being good at Blackjack is just a feeling and one that is highly subjective at that. Winners set real goals.
If you don’t achieve your goal the first time around, that’s okay. No goal worth achieving is going to be easy to get. So, if you start out your day with $100 and end the day at $250, that’s still great. You may not have completely achieved your goal, but you did make meaningful progress toward completing it. The fact that you made meaningful progress toward completing the goal in and of itself is fantastic, and you deserve to feel proud.
If you don’t succeed in that task, then it’s time to sit down and re-assess what you did wrong. You aren’t a failure if you don’t reach your goal, you’re only a failure if you quit.
Mistake No. 3 – Not Using Basic Blackjack Strategy
It’s been said before, and we’ll say it again – Blackjack is not a game of random chance. Slots and roulette are random chance games. Blackjack is a game that has been studied and played by people far smarter than you, who use their understandings of probability and statistics to determine the best kind of play for each hand. When you stand, when to hit, when to fold, these actions are not based on gut feeling or intuition, but instead by using knowledge of probability and the game’s rules to determine when you should do this.
We’re not exactly sure where this whole idea comes from actually, the idea that Blackjack is a luck-based game. We get that the cards you receive in early hands may be more luck than judgment, but everything from then on out is more about player control and understanding. The myth that blackjack is all luck has swirled around casino floors for generations and has even made its way online. We’re here to tell you that the whole idea of basic strategy puts to bed the idea of blackjack being all about luck.
There are lots of guides written on the internet and in print that discuss how you should play Blackjack for each scenario. So, if you’ve got an 8 in your hand and the dealer’s upcard is a King, there is a right way to play and a wrong way to play. Basic strategy will dictate what the right play is for the cards that have been dealt so far.
The rules of Blackjack are the same no matter where you are in the world. We know that there are lots of variants on the game, but the core game itself is standardized by design. A strategy employed in Macau will hold in Las Vegas, even if you’re convinced otherwise. If you’re superstitious enough to believe otherwise, then you aren’t cut out to be good at Blackjack. Stick to slots or Keno, at least your superstition won’t hurt you there.
Mistake No. 4 – Attempting to Beat the House with Betting Progression Play
Betting progressions are a type of system that gamblers came up with to give them the illusion of control over the outcomes of their hands. This system involves adjusting the size of your bets based upon how your previous hands played out. The idea is that you alter your loss or win trajectory in a way that minimizes your losses and maximizes your gains.
The problem with this is that it gives gamblers the false impression that their system alters the actual odds of the game when in reality it does nothing to help or hurt you. Nothing in Blackjack is deterministic, and that’s a bit of refrain we’ll be repeating in this article. Betting progressions can be fun to use when you’re on a hot win streak and you up your bets, but it doesn’t change the edge that the casino always has over you.
Any control you think you have is merely an illusion, and that illusion can potentially cost you money and time. You’re better off employing strategies that actually work and focusing your mental energy on winning, rather than sticking to a baseless system that doesn’t actually help you in the long run.
Mistake No. 5 – Ramping up Your Bet Because You’re “Due” a Win
Get the idea of being “due” for a win out of your head. The statistical odds of winning or losing do not change from one hand to the next. The chances of a coin flip being heads or tails are always 50/50, and long streaks are bound to occur. They’re just a natural product of how random chance works – there’s no deeper pattern at work.
Put another way, each hand exists in its own universe. The odds of hitting Blackjack remain the same for each hand, and your previous results have no bearing on the next. The odds of winning a hand are about 48%, not accounting for ties. The only thing that can influence the outcome is card counting, and that is beyond the scope of this article.
We can’t really stress this enough, as it is more a rule for all casino play rather than just Blackjack itself, but the “due win” fallacy is dangerous. When you start to believe that your investment in a game, whether it be emotional or financial, warrants a cash return because you feel it’s deserved, you’ve entered extremely dangerous territory. The number of players that hang on at the table when the chips are down for “one more hand” because they think a winning hand is due to come their way is scary. The harsh reality is that they usually leave the casino penniless and wondering where it all went wrong.
Mistake No. 6 – Playing on a Table That Uses a Continuous Shuffling Machine
This one applies to a pretty recently introduced device, so we don’t blame you for being unfamiliar with this one. A Continuous Shuffling Machine (CSM) is designed to reduce the workload on the dealer and mess with the head of any player sat in front of it. Rather than shuffle decks by hand all day long, dealers will instead use a CSM to do the job for them.
This is appealing to the casino for several reasons. One, it discourages card counting since the machine can shuffle the cards much more in the span of a few seconds. Second, it enables games to start faster, increasing their net profit per hour. And lastly, it reduces wear on dealers (though that’s probably not much of a concern to casinos anyway).
If you aren’t careful with how much you’re playing, a CSM can cause you to spend more money than you were planning on initially. A CSM isn’t a bad thing to be avoided, but understand how it affects the tempo of gameplay before you start playing with one. Players that like to take time at the table and maybe ponder their next move rather than rush through motions should take special note, as a CSM is likely to disrupt players like this the most.
Mistake No. 7 – Playing 6-5 Blackjack Games
A 6-5 game refers to the payout that you receive relative to what you pay to play. These odds are absolutely terrible for you since this boosts the house edge to a much less reasonable 1.39%. Other bets, such as even payouts of 7-6, are even worse and almost guarantee that you’ll walk away poorer than when you started. Casinos take advantage of gamblers’ ignorance when offering these odds, so don’t be a sucker and fall for it too.
6-5 odds are especially common with multi and double-deck Blackjack games, so stick with single-deck; this typically pays out 3-2 odds and keeps the house edge well below 1%. If the casino doesn’t openly state what the odds are, ask the dealer before you play. If it’s less than 3-2, don’t waste your money.
Word of warning though for those unaware, you should expect the casino to push and promote 6-5 Blackjack games hard. This applies both online and offline. The reason why should be pretty clear to all by now, as these games are easy moneymakers for any casino. Be a smarter player and don’t fall into the 6-5 Blackjack trap.
Mistake No. 8 – Falling into the Insurance Bet Trap
Insurance bets are something that preys upon the risk-averse tendencies of a lot of people. While it may seem like a good idea on the surface, a deeper analysis shows that it’s actually not worth your money. Don’t be fooled by the name – insurance bets wind up costing you more than what you’ll actually save by buying them, and this is all by design.
See, insurance bets don’t actually change your odds of success. All they do is protect you against a potential blackjack from the gambler. Insurance bets function a lot like a side bet, except you won’t actually win more money. The odds of the insurance bet protecting you versus what it costs to play it are not actually worth it; the casino will never offer something to the player that reduces their edge. If you really want to increase your odds of winning a bet, you’re better off counting cards. That’s a lot more difficult than taking an insurance bet, but it actually makes a meaningful difference in your long-term winnings.
Another word of warning (are you seeing the pattern here?), as once again casinos love nothing more than making players aware of insurance bets. Whether its notices at the tables or subtle mentions from the dealer, the idea is to push you towards taking the insurance bet. The name of this bet type fools many sadly, but the reality is that it’s just another cash trap laid down by the casino – don’t step into it.
Mistake No. 9 – Mixing Blackjack and Alcohol
This is the kind of mistake that casinos depend on players making. There are people who’ve reported that casinos will offer successful gamblers free drinks in an attempt to get them drunk. Drunk people make poor decisions, and you’re much more likely to be impulsive and blow through your preset limits. We know how tempting it is to crack open a cold one while playing, but it isn’t worth the effects on your mind. You’re gambling with real money, and you need to be as sharp as possible to ensure that you don’t lose it all.
If you are a player at a land-based casino this mistake is actually much harder to sidestep – hear us out. Casinos love handing out free drinks to players at the tables, and the consequences can actually be much more severe than when you crack open a beer while playing a few hands of Blackjack at home. Very few people will turn down a free drink, so it’s in the casino’s best interest to keep you stocked up on booze and thus keeping the control of your money loose. It’s a sneaky tactic and not surprisingly, it’s one that many naive gamblers make time and time again when playing 21.
Want our advice? Save the booze for after the game.
Mistake No. 10 – Being a Nuisance at the Table
Blackjack isn’t poker. We’re not sure why we need to remind you of this, but it is something to bear in mind when discussing this particular mistake that players tend to make. In the world of poker, players tend to be quite verbal, as they want to ruffle the feathers of other players to get an edge. While it’s not exactly the nicest way to play, it is deemed somewhat acceptable under the right circumstances. Let us tell you that this approach will not fly in the world of Blackjack under any circumstances.
We’ve seen a lot of players (and we really do mean a lot of players) become outright obnoxious at the table, thinking that it’s part of the fun – it’s not. If you behave like it’s a free-for-all poker game, you can expect to be removed from the table and say goodbye to some or all of your winnings in the process. Play properly, don’t be a nuisance, and you’ll easily avoid this mistake.
Mistake No. 11 – Not Committing to the Game
We’ve been around enough casinos in our time to spot this a mile away, as some players showcase tell-tale signs. The idea of being half in the game and half out is much more common than you think. If you want to win at Blackjack it’s a game you need to truly commit to for however long you are at the tables. Having one foot out of the game at all times and being so-so about strategy is only going to lead to losses.
If you are looking to really play Blackjack, step up and play the game, don’t mess around. But, if you aren’t quite feeling the cards, do yourself a big favor and turn your attention elsewhere and play something else.
Fewer Blackjack Mistakes Equals More Wins!
You will make mistakes at the Blackjack table, that’s just the nature of the beast as they way. What separates the good from the bad players is how they deal with these mistakes and counter-act them when at the table. If you keep finding that your game is slipping at the table, odds are it’s one of these mistakes that has caught you out.
Take what you’ve read here today onboard and you’ll likely find that you make a lot fewer mistakes when playing Blackjack than you have done in the past.