As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. The secret to winning more often in blackjack is to play a perfect game.
But other than having someone be your practice dealer all the time, what can you do to improve your blackjack game?
As with any game of skill, strategy is the most important deciding factor in the overall outcome of your blackjack gaming. You can’t decide which cards you’re dealt but you can practice making good decisions.
The legendary blackjack player Don Johnson broke three Atlantic City casinos in one summer, winning 7 figures altogether. One casino manager said he played perfect blackjack. Johnson not only denied counting cards, the casinos analyzed his every play and confirmed he wasn’t doing that.
Card counting may give you an advantage but if your skill isn’t perfect you blunt the edge of your sharpened play.
Here are 3 methods successful blackjack players have used to improve their games.
1 – Create Strategy Cards for Every Possible Scenario
This may be the most important lesson for any blackjack player. Rather than merely reading a book about blackjack strategy, some great players say they made index cards listing the best plays for every scenario.
Writing the cards out yourself helps. According to research highlighted by the Association for Psychological Science in 2014, writing out your notes is better than typing them into a computer. Educators have maintained for generations that writing down what you learn helps you rememeber it.
It’s easy to understand why most people stop writing things down after they leave school. After 12-16 years of writing, writing, writing you feel like it’s time to move on.
But if you really want to learn blackjack strategy, writing down the best plays for each situation will help you get there.
And there’s more. Researchers from the University of Waterloo also found that drawing enhances memory and learning even better than writing.
Blackjack is already a highly visual game. You don’t need to be an expert illustrator to draw simple playing card designs on index cards. Illustrating the hands and writing the best strategy on the back of the cards will help you.
Study those strategy cards 2-3 times per week. If someone is willing to help you by showing the cards to you, you can practice making decisions from memory. This is a tried and true method for some expert blackjack players.
Considered a progressive learning method, using index cards for studying has helped thousands of people master trivia contests, spelling bees, professional certifications, and more.
2 – Play Those Free Online Blackjack Games
I know players who won’t touch a free online game for anything in the world. If there’s no money in the game they are not interested.
These are casual gamers. They’re not out betting the rent check every month. They only want to play for real money.
I’ve also bought cheap CDs loaded with old PC games. I practiced on an old Las Vegas games CD for years. I could take that CD with me everywhere I traveled and I didn’t have to worry about access to the Internet.
Free game play provides valuable experience for you down the road. Blackjack is one of the easiest games to learn because the free games are so much like the real experience.
3 – Host A Monthly or Weekly Vegas Night Party
If you and your friends get together at least once a month why not use that time productively?
You’ll have fun, enjoy good company, and gain some useful experience. As the host of the party you should be the dealer for the blackjack table.
Playing by dealer’s rules offers two benefits. You’ll discover first-hand why the house rules are the way they are. The advantages the dealers play with become more clear when you are the house.
You’ll also have the opportunity to see how other people play the game. Learn from their mistakes and their experience. And because it’s a party everyone can share their opinions on what the best strategies are.
If you want to go all out, you can buy cheap table game equipment for roulette and craps. When I was practicing with friends we kept it simple. We were only interested in learning blackjack.
4 – Only Bet the Minimum
Most players start out doing this. If your game is improving to the point where you feel ready to start increasing your wagers, ask yourself 1 simple question.
Having some skin in the game is fine but if you’re not winning then you are either breaking even or losing. Betting the minimum on every hand helps you focus on improving your game. And your money lasts longer.
If you’re also learning to count cards at the same time you’ll think you’re giving up an advantage by not raising the wager when your count hits the mark. In that case, go back to the simple question.
Are you walking away with more money than before?
It’s easy to try to learn too much early on in your card playing career. Many players take on too much challenge. If you’re not ready to play a more complex game then stay with the simple strategy for a while longer.
Test the waters every few weeks and see how it plays out for you. Don’t abandon the minimum bet strategy just because you think everyone else does.
5 – Set a High Loss Limit
Before you start raising wagers, consider playing with a high loss limit.
Many people are ready to lose their entire bankroll when they gamble. If you hit the casino with $200 in your pocket and it’s all entertainment money, then it’s all good.
But if your goal is to improve your blackjack game you should always leave the table with money. Even if you wait until you only have 1 minimum wager left, walk away before you’re broke.
Many players say they quit at 50%. If you lose half your stake you know it’s not your night and you should move on.
If you really want to improve your game set a low tolerance for bad luck or bad play. It doesn’t matter if you’re being dealt awful hands or if you’re making mistakes.
When you’re 20% down call it quits. This is a way of injecting discipline into your game. Some players stop gaming for an hour so they can come back fresh.
If you’ve set a high loss limit you push yourself toward excellent play. You don’t need to lose all your money to learn how to play blackjack. Since I began playing with this rule I’ve never left a blackjack table with less than half my money, talk about great bankroll management.
You should continue reading blackjack tips and tutorials. See how other players recommend handling situations. There are so many things casinos do to change up the game that we should always learn from each other.
But when all is said and done the only person who needs you to play better is you. How you improve your game and where you stop doing that is up to you.
I’m only suggesting you shake up your learning process until you are justifiably confident in your game. You may not always leave the table with more money than you started, but you should always leave the table feeling like you gave it your best effort.
The best blackjack players never stop learning.