Everyone who gambles likes to say that they’re an expert in blackjack – trust me, we’ve heard this line from a thousand players at a thousand casinos. After all, it’s so simple a game, how can they not be? What secrets could blackjack possibly be hiding? Well, there is a lot more to this game than meets the eye, as casinos want you to think that blackjack is the simplest casino game around, even when that isn’t the case.
Forgive us for bursting your bubble, but the idea that anybody can dominate the blackjack table by sheer luck is nothing but false. You might grab a few wins here and there, but the consistent play is out of the question, as you aren’t taking the time to read the table and actually understand what’s happening with the cards. This approach also sees players getting caught out by the casino’s sneaky blackjack secrets more frequently, which often means throwing cash away.
Though it doesn’t hurt to go back to basics in terms of blackjack advice, we think it’s also important to separate fiction from reality. To that end, we’ve put a list of facts together that have been covered up by myths, high expectations, and misinformation over the years. These are the 7 big blackjack secrets that casinos don’t want you to know about.
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Secret No. 1 – The House Edge is the Lowest in Blackjack
The thing that many gamblers tend to forget, or may not even know, is that the house edge is not a fixed number as casinos have led many to believe. This is misleading, for a variety of reasons. There are two main reasons, though, which we’ll explain here.
The majority of players fall victim to player error as they gamble, otherwise known as making mistakes. Reading articles about strategy, advice, and other blackjack interests can only take you so far. Some players out there memorize what they can, but the cold hard facts are that it takes a lot of study and actual practice to get anywhere close to being a master of blackjack. It isn’t something that a quick online course can help you with, nor will you become a pro level player overnight – it just won’t happen.
If you take a look at the revenue reports that are filed monthly by casinos to their various government agencies, you’ll see that the money follows this pattern as well. There are casinos out there that have noted a total revenue for blackjack can be as large as 20%. For what we know as a game with a house edge at 1%, that’s a pretty big difference.
Casinos change the rules to blackjack regularly, so further mess with the house edge percentage. There is not really one universal game of blackjack – they all have the basic game and strategy, yes, but if that’s all a player knows about the game, they’re the perfect target for making the casino more money. If you sit down at a table to play blackjack in a casino, you need to make sure you know that table’s specific rules.
Here’s a hint, the rules are usually on a sign on the table, or are written on the felt top of the table.
Let’s say, for example, that you sit down at a casino and play Spanish 21. It’s a very popular version of blackjack, but if you don’t take the time to learn the rules, you’re going to just be giving the casino your bankroll with very little fight. There may be a multitude of blackjack tables in a room, but it’s almost certain that they’ll all have different rules to play by. Veteran casino-goers know this, but beginners usually don’t.
Some important advice on blackjack. Never play a 6:5 table if you have the option for a 3:2 table. You know what? Actually, just never play a 6:5 at all. It’s a game that’s going to crush you, as the favor is far too strong on the side of the house. This game might seem fun on the surface, but over the long-term it can be truly brutal on your bankroll.
Secret No. 2 – Freebies for All Players
One thing that certainly doesn’t help players make decisions is the alcohol often found in most casinos. It’s a strategic move on the casino’s part – alcohol makes judgment a little iffy for people, and casinos are aware of that. You will rarely find a player that’s been knocking back the alcohol winning the big bucks as blackjack, as they aren’t two things that go hand-in-hand.
Novice players often have a hard time remembering how to play and the various rules of blackjack. Even veteran players can become distracted and make mistakes, either due to socializing, flirting with the dealers, or just interesting things happening around them. If you’re distracted, for whatever reason, mistakes are going to be made.
Casinos aren’t stupid, they know that blackjack players can break the bank if they are able to get into a rhythm. The casino will do everything they can to disturb that rhythm. Expect the staff to be in on this, so free drinks, food, and other services will be thrown your way when you are at the tables, especially if you are on a hot streak.
It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch and at a casino that is certainly the case.
Secret No. 3 – The Probabilities Only Change with the Cards
A lot of articles that really get into blackjack tend to skim over this part and that’s actually to the detriment of players and wannabe players. The probabilities are implied, yes, but there aren’t many articles that explain them in depth. In blackjack, the cards play out before they’re shuffled, and the probabilities are constantly shifting. This is due to the mix of cards that are still waiting in the shoe, unplayed.
Many advice articles talk about high cards that show up early in the game mean that the chances of getting high cards, like face cards, drop with every round. This is completely true. But another factor that many don’t talk about is that probability is also at the mercy of the number of players, and how many join or leave. More players on the table mean that card order is generally altered, which for players playing without any notable strategy, could find their performance affected.
So, let’s say that you’re at a blackjack table, and the shoe has 8 decks of cards. That’s going to be 128 high cards – faces and 10s – to go around from a total of 416. If you’re playing against the dealer and the dealer only, then you’ve got a fair chance of getting those cards. The dealer, of course, always has an advantage in the form of the house edge.
Another player joins the table. The probability of getting those high cards changes again, and now your chances at those cards have dropped by a third. Another player comes in, and those chances drop a further 25% (approximately). 128 cards might seem like a fairly high amount until you start adding more people. Being honest, when you start adding a lot of additional players to the blackjack table, the game becomes much harder to read and much messier.
We’re not saying that you should only play against the dealer. Low-value cards are subject to the same math, so with more players at the table, you’re less likely to only draw a pair of twos. If you take the time to understand probability, you’ll better understand blackjack. Remember, though, there’s no magic way to win, the numbers are not wizardry and in-game variants are going to impact what’s possible and what’s not in the game of blackjack.
No. 4 – How the Cards are Shuffled Does Not Matter
This blackjack fact seems to be skipped over fairly regularly, resulting in a lot of confusion and misinformation. Let’s talk about the Continuous Shuffle Machine, an item that should be considered to be an enemy of any serious blackjack player.
The CSM is used as an anti-card counting measure. After all, card counting has been proven to give players an advantage, which is why card counters aren’t allowed to play at casinos. The CSM can also make your probability calculations useless, destroying any advantage you might have had.
Most gamblers aren’t members of a team of pro card counters. We do recommend that all gamblers avoid tables with Continuous Shuffle Machines if players wish to cut down on random variables in blackjack. Players show what they like and what they don’t like with their money – by making manual shuffling a priority in your game, you’re communicating to the casino that you don’t like CSM tables.
These machines are a way for casinos to make more money, as they allow more rounds to be played in an hour. No matter if you’re there for fun or to make money, your bankroll is going to go farther at a table with manual shuffling. Believe us when we say that your money is going to go much further at a live dealer table, so don’t play into the casinos and steer clear of anything that looks “automated”.
Secret No. 5 – All Dealers Play the Same Game
Dealers in casinos are closely watched by their superiors for a variety of good reasons. Dealers are human, after all, and can make mistakes. In other cases, dealers may decide to break away from the rules they’re supposed to follow. The truth is that neither of these types of dealers are very good for making the casino money. While it’s very true that dealers are well-managed, saying that they all play the same way would be incorrect.
Crooked dealers that don’t follow a casino’s strict rules are dangerous to play with for a number of reasons. For one thing, they’re illegal, and teaming up with one is a good way to get blacklisted and prosecuted. For another, crooked dealers that aren’t on your side, aren’t going to be helpful to you. They’re much more likely to point fingers at you and toss you to the wolves.
The best thing you can do for your blackjack game in terms of dealers is to find a novice dealer that’s honest. Every month, the majority of casinos introduce a new dealer to the floor, and if you’re a regular you’ll start to see which are new and which aren’t. Of course, newcomers could be from another casino with plenty of experience under their belt, so keep that in mind.
A dealer that’s learning as they go is going to give you a slight advantage, as they’re very likely to make mistakes that will fall in the veteran player’s favor. This is a strategy that’s based on opportunity – it won’t be useful every time that you visit a casino, but that new face on the floor could be your ticket to a big win.
Dealers can also be too good to be true. These are the ones that are popular among tourists and people just trying out casinos for fun, people that don’t understand blackjack games. There is nothing illegal or even wrong about what these dealers do, but you’ll find they win more often than they lose, seeming to go against the probability discussed earlier.
It’s perfectly fine to just watch the table for a little bit, and keep an eye on just how lucky the dealer seems to be. Remember, if it’s too good to be true it usually is – you can always find another table. And, if you are ever approached by a crooked dealer (either side of the table), run a mile in double-quick fashion, as it’ll end up being much more trouble than it’s worth getting involved.
Secret No. 6 – Asking the Dealer for Help
Everyone was new at one point, and everyone had questions. New players will get confused by the game and will ask the dealer for advice on how to keep playing. Oh, how foolish a move this can turn out to be, even if player and dealer intentions are pure.
It’s super important to note that every casino has house rules about this. Dealers have a specific way that they’re meant to interact with customers and players at the table. New players often assume that the dealer is knowledgeable in how to play the game from their perspective, but forget that dealers play by dealer rules, which are different.
If you want to have the rules of the table explained to you, then you should ask the dealer. They will know the table rules by heart, forwards and backward and upside-down, or they at least should. It’s always okay to ask the dealer about rules, but that’s where the interactions or “advice” should end.
You should never, ever ask the dealer about strategy. Even if the casino does allow this interaction, and even if the dealer has the best of intentions, the dealer knows how to play from their side of the table. In fact, the dealer may be a terrible blackjack player. And if the casino doesn’t allow this kind of interaction, remember that everything is recorded on a security camera at a casino, and chips and cards are both tracked by the casino. There’s no easy way to cheat, and in reality, why would the casino help a player win – it doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense.
If you are new and don’t know your way around the basic strategies of blackjack, always assume the dealer doesn’t know either. If you really require help in making decisions, then flip a coin – the odds are 50:50 as to whether you’ll be making a good decision or a bad one, which is average for novices.
Another thing to remember is that the dealer is not your close, personal friend. They are doing their job, which is to entertain you while making money for both themselves and the casino. Your needs in this scenario will fall to the bottom of the list – sorry guys!
Secret No. 7 – Too Much of a Good Time
The final trick you need to be aware of is something that we like to call the “good time fallacy”, something that casinos play up to in a major way. You’ve heard the phrase, it’s not about the winning, it’s about the taking part, well that shouldn’t really be the case at a casino. Casinos will sell you the casino experience as being something to take part in and that losing money is all part of the “fun” experience that they provide. Adding to this, when you mix in the hotels, bars, side-games, and all-around social atmosphere, it’s clear that a casino is trying to do as much as possible to get you to let your guard down.
You need to remember why you went to a casino (or online casino) in the first place – to win money. The idea of having a good time should be a part of this, but not a secondary occurrence. Don’t be fooled into thinking that losing money is just part of the fun, as casinos love it when they think that players are just there for the “entertainment”, as it means that they are going to win a lot more money.
It may sound harsh, but don’t be a sucker, focus on what you’re doing at the blackjack tables and don’t get too comfortable when enjoying the casino experience.
Beat the Casinos at Their Own Game!
There’s plenty of good advice out there on the internet when it comes to blackjack. We’re not saying we’re the only reliable source in the vast archives of the World Wide Web, after all. However, everything can get a little fuzzy or blurry when we get to the line between advice and reality. The truth is that in those cases, it’s hard to predict what will happen – much like the collision of cold air and warm air that can either bring some relief from the heat or set off tornadoes.
Even potentially good advice can end up being wrong for a lot of reasons that all make sense. The best advice when it comes to any game in the casino, from blackjack to roulette to craps to baccarat, is this, take the game seriously every step of the way. Always keep an eye on your budget, and don’t go overboard. Make sure to set some personal rules, so you know when to walk away, no matter whether you’re winning or whether you’re losing.
Every situation, every game, every dealer, and every player are different. Stick to the basics above and sprinkle some skill and strategy knowledge on top to be the best that you can be. And, as we have warned you many times, watch out for a casino’s sneaky tricks, as they’re there for one reason and one reason only – to unravel your blackjack game.