Blackjack is one of the most popular games on any casino floor for many different reasons. First, it’s relatively easy to learn and win. Second, it provides great odds for all players, experienced or not.
Because of the low barrier to entry, blackjack tables see their fair share of inexperienced gamblers who make what can only be called “rookie mistakes.” With that being said, even some players who have enjoyed the game for years can still fall victim to some common misconceptions surrounding the game.
In this article, I’ll lay out some common blackjack mistakes to avoid that can help you improve your overall game.
1 – Not Evaluating Game Options
Before the first card is dealt, an important decision must be made that will undoubtedly impact your final results. Choosing the game that provides you with the most advantages is the most basic way to set yourself up for success.
Don’t let the fact that 6 is bigger than 5 fool you – the other option is much better in that you get paid 150% for a blackjack instead of 120% for 6 to 5.
Aside from just the blackjack payout formula, it’s important to recognize that not all blackjack games have the same house edge. This is important because it means you might be passing up games that have better odds for players simply because you don’t know they exist.
How are the games different? Things like the total amount of decks and a range of specific rules can cause the variance in overall odds. Whereas the standard house edge for blackjack is around 1%, you can likely find other options that reduce that number, even as far down as around 0.5%.
Gambling is difficult enough even when you give yourself the best chance to win. Don’t make it harder by thinking you’re only limited to only one specific game option.
2 – Taking Insurance Over the Long Run
The topic of whether or not it’s a good idea to take insurance has been debated for years. I’ll explain why, as a general rule, you just shouldn’t take it.
Insurance in blackjack, if you aren’t familiar, is offered to players when the dealer has a 10 as the hole hard. The insurance bet is half of what your original bet was for the hand. Insurance pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack, so you’ll recoup your initial wager.
Essentially, insurance is the player admitting that he or she is afraid that the dealer is going to, in fact, hit blackjack and that they’ll take the chance to get back the money they bet at first. It’s a tricky proposition deciding whether or not it’s right for you because there are some instances where it will pay off.
This is a time where it’s important to remember that when gambling, you need to be focused on what the numbers say, and how things will play out over time. Just because something worked out for you once, doesn’t mean it’s going to work out at a rate that makes it worth doing.
The math (which I’ll save you the calculation) proves that taking insurance just means giving the house a bigger boost. The house edge, which you want to be low, skyrockets to nearly 8% when taking insurance. This is much higher than any of the other bets you’ll make at the table.
The bottom line is that regardless of what your gut instinct will be, the data is in and taking insurance isn’t worth it. If you really think about it, if it didn’t improve the house’s chances of winning money, it probably wouldn’t even be offered in the first place.
3 – Doubling Down on 11 When the Dealer Has an Ace Showing
Most blackjack players would tell you that it’s a great idea to double down when you have a total of 11. And the majority of the time, this is accurate. However, there are some times when you should avoid this move in order to maximize your risk-efficiency.
Because such a high percentage of cards are worth 10, the chance that the dealer hits a blackjack can make it a risky move to double your play, even when it feels like you’re in a great position to win as well.
As much as blackjack, and gambling in general, is about winning, it’s also necessary to remember that sometimes minimizing losses in certain situations can be just as good as a win.
4 – Not Trying out Blackjack Online
In the past decade or so, gambling in all forms has become more accepted both legally and more generally by society’s moral police. One result of this has been the growth of online casinos.
The experience of an online casino is obviously very different from its physical counterpart, but there’s no denying that the money is just as real. In fact, if you know exactly what you should be looking for, you can even find some sites that make it a better bet to play the only version of blackjack over the real thing.
The reason why real money online casinos offer such an enticing opportunity to players is because of the huge amount of competition. Gamblers have nearly endless casinos at their disposal when playing online, so websites must compete to earn your business.
The benefits of online casinos vary from platform to platform, but generally speaking, most will offer bonuses or deposit incentives. These give you free money to use when gambling. Another advantage of online casinos is that they often provide better odds than in-person establishments.
If you want to focus more on winning money and less on the overall experience that comes with visiting a casino, give online blackjack a shot. You might be surprised at how much more profitable it can be and how easy-to-use, not to mention safe, today’s sites are for gamblers.
5 – Playing at the Most Empty Table
When I was first learning how to play blackjack, I felt a little bit self-conscious when I would sit down with a bunch of strangers at the casino. I knew the basic rules and could get by, but was always afraid I would make a silly mistake for which I would be judged by my fellow gamblers.
For the reason I laid out above, I would always look to play at tables with fewer players so that the pressure would be lower. Plus, if I did mess something up, the audience would be smaller.
What I failed to consider when making my decision about where to play was how many more hands I was getting into playing at tables with fewer players. If I played at a table with 2 other gamblers, I would make twice as many bets as I would if I played at a table with 5 other gamblers in the same amount of time.
I didn’t know it at the time, but not only was I risking more money in a shorter amount of time, but I was also missing out on comps.
Casino comps, if you’re unfamiliar, are perks awarded by casinos to their most dedicated players. One of the major factors used when deciding who gets what, is total amount of time pit bosses see you gambling.
To simplify, to earn these perks you want to play as long as possible, while risking as little as possible. Playing at a full table is a win-win in this regard.
It might be anxiety-inducing at first to deal with all the action of a full table, but in the end it’s worth it for so many different reasons.
Playing blackjack can be one of the most profitable components of your overall gambling strategy if you use the right techniques. Avoiding the mistakes above can help save you some money the next time you sit down (or log in) to a table.
Regardless of your experience level or where you’re playing, always mind your bankroll, play the probabilities, and walk away when you get up or down a previously determined amount. If you follow those rules, there’s no reason you can’t be a big winner.