Blackjack is full of know-it-alls. These players make up their own assumptions on how the game works, then pass this “knowledge” onto others.
The worst types are those who realize they don’t have a clue, yet still continue acting as if know everything. These players could even be considered liars.
It’s okay to follow severely misinformed players if you like lighting money on fire. However, you’ll do well to see through their lies and understand the truth if you’re focused on winning.
Keep reading as I discuss seven of the most-absurd blackjack lies ever conceived. These lies cover everything from basic strategy to card counting.
1 – Blackjack Has the Lowest House Edge
Blackjack has developed a reputation for having an extremely low house edge. I’ve seen many articles state that blackjack has around a 0.5% house advantage.
This figure is no doubt among the best in casino gaming. Only certain video poker variations can compete with a house advantage this low.
Rules can vary between table to table. Each rule has an effect on the blackjack house advantage.
The goal is to choose tables that have player-friendly rules and provide a better chance to win. However, accomplishing his goal is becoming harder and harder.
Brick-and-mortar casinos are especially bad about including unfavorable blackjack rules. Many land-based tables feature around a 2% house advantage.
While this figure isn’t terrible in the overall scheme of gaming, it’s not exactly what most players expect. Finding blackjack tables with less than a 1% house edge is the end goal.
Understanding the rules is an excellent step towards making this happen. Here are some different blackjack rules and how they affect the house edge:
- Natural blackjack payout – A 3-to-2 payout lowers the house advantage by 1.4% when compared to a 6-to-5 payout.
- Number of decks – Single-deck blackjack lowers the house advantage by 0.59% when compared to eight-deck blackjack (all other rules being equal).
- Double down – Being able to double down on any total lowers the house edge by 0.25% when compared to a 9-to-11 restriction.
- Dealer’s action on a soft 17 – The dealer hitting a soft 17 reduces the house advantage by 0.2% when compared to standing.
- Double down after splitting (DAS) – Being able to double down after splitting drops the house edge by 0.17%.
- Re-splitting aces – Having the option to re-split aces reduces the house advantage by 0.08%.
- Late surrender – Lowers the house edge by 0.07% when allowed.
The size of natural blackjack payouts is the most-important rule. You only want to play at tables that offer 3-to-2 payouts.
The number of decks also has a large effect on the house advantage. You’ll rarely find single-deck blackjack with 3-to-2 payouts at land-based casinos. However, these games are pretty common at online casinos.
The other rules certainly have an impact on your odds of winning too. But you especially want to focus on finding the best natural payouts and, preferably, four or less decks.
2 – Blackjack Strategy Is Intense
Some blackjack players claim that basic strategy is tough to pick up. They’ll cite the many decisions that must be made throughout the course of a session.
It’s true that blackjack strategy involves lots of decisions. After all, you need to decide whether to hit or stand in every hand. When you do hit, you’ll then need to decide once again to hit or stand.
Depending upon your score and game rules, you may also be able to double down, split, or surrender. These options add further complications to blackjack strategy.
But this strategy only seems difficult on the surface. You can make the matter much easier just by grabbing a blackjack strategy chart.
These color-coded guides show every decision that you should make based on your score and the dealers up card.
Here’s an example:
- You have a score of 15.
- The dealer’s upcard is 8.
- You scan down the strategy chart.
- You see that hitting is the correct play here.
A strategy chart offers a quick way to use expert blackjack strategy. Any beginner can grab one of these resources and immediately start making good plays.
This in itself isn’t such a bad thing. As long as you’re not in a hurry, you can take your time and refer to the chart in each round.
However, the problem comes when playing at land-based casinos. Dealers are supposed to keep the games moving, and they don’t appreciate somebody slowing down the action. Other players can even get testy when you’re disrupting the game flow.
I, therefore, suggest that you start playing free or real-money online blackjack and using a strategy chart on the side. You have infinite time to make decisions at online casinos, making this the perfect way to memorize and apply blackjack strategy.
Of course, you can learn the game in other ways too. The internet is filled with plenty of articles and YouTube videos on the subject.
However, it doesn’t get any easier than using a chart. Just google “blackjack strategy chart” and look in the “Images” section to find one of these resources.
3 – Other Blackjack Players Can Make You Lose Money
Many experienced blackjack players get upset when another gambler causes them to lose a hand. They may leave the table afterward or even curse at the other person’s bad play.
This scenario is most common when a bad player is sitting at third base, which is the seat to the dealer’s right. Third base acts right before the dealer, making it seem like they have a huge impact on the game.
Here’s an example:
- The player at third base (seat to dealer’s right) has 12.
- The dealer’s up card is 5.
- The player should stand here.
- They instead hit and draw a 10, thus busting out.
- The dealer draws a 9 and 7.
- They now have a 21 and beat everybody still remaining in the hand.
If the player had used correct strategy, then the dealer would have busted out with 24. However, third base hit and helped the dealer get a perfect score.
In this case, the bad player technically caused other people to lose. But what many gamblers don’t realize is that these same players can help just as much as they hurt.
Here’s an example:
- The third-base player has 13.
- The dealer has 6.
- Correct strategy is to stand here.
- But the player hits and draws a 9, thus busting out.
- The dealer draws a 6 and a 10, causing them to bust too.
Assuming third base had stood, then the dealer would have gotten 21. But thanks to their bad strategy, the dealer ends up losing.
Bad blackjack players give and take. In the long run, they won’t have any effect on your chances of winning.
Some gamblers also believe that others can make them lose by entering a game mid-shoe. They think that the player will disrupt the flow of cards and possibly hurt their chances.
Here’s an example:
- A table features an eight-deck shoe.
- The shoe has seen about three decks dealt.
- Bob has been hot and is receiving plenty of good cards.
- Tim enters the game.
- Bob suddenly starts getting bad cards.
- He blames Tim for disrupting the flow of cards.
This situation is similar to the third-base topic discussed before. A player may affect your immediate chances of winning when they come into the game mid-shoe.
An extra set of cards is added to the table, thus altering the course of the game. However, the card sequence will be changed for better or worse.
Of course, many tables nowadays have rules against mid-shoe entry to hamper card counters. But don’t worry about players disrupting the card flow when tables do allow mid-shoe entry.
4 – Only Geniuses Can Count Cards
Card counting is among the most-popular subjects in gambling because it’s one of the few techniques that can be used to consistently beat casinos.
However, most blackjack players don’t attempt this advantage-play technique. One common reason why is because they think that counting cards is too difficult.
Movies like 21 and Rain Man have perpetuated the myth that only geniuses know how to count cards. The prevailing theme is that you must be an MIT student or autistic savant to win with this method.
While you do need some basic math skills, card counting isn’t as difficult as it seems. Just about anybody who can learn basic strategy can also pick up this technique without too much effort involved.
You can use a simple system like the Hi-Lo to learn card counting in a matter of minutes. Here are the basics of the Hi-Lo:
- You want to track card values to determine when the deck has more 10s and aces.
- This point is when you have a better chance of getting a natural blackjack.
- You want to bet more when the deck has more aces and 10-value cards.
- Cards 2-6 are counted as +1 (fewer low cards is good for you).
- Cards 7-9 are neutral and counted as 0.
- Cards 10-A are counted as -1 (fewer high cards hurts you).
- Divide your “running count” by the estimated number of remaining decks.
- Doing so gives you the “true count,” which accounts for multi-deck shoes.
- A higher positive true count calls on you to make larger bets.
- Start your count over at the beginning of a new shoe.
As long as you know the points above, then you know how to count cards. The next stop involves learning how to spread your bets during favorable counts.
The MIT Blackjack Team came up with the following concept, which is widely practiced today:
- You make the minimum bet for most hands (e.g. $10) until you have the advantage.
- Come up with a unit size by which to raise your bet (e.g. $25).
- Figure out the true count (e.g. +4).
- Subtract 1 from the true count (4 – 1 = 3).
- This number represents your multiplier.
- 3 x 25 = $75
- You should bet three units ($75).
The biggest challenge to card counting isn’t learning how to do it. Instead, you need to be good at dealing with the casino’s distractions and making sure that you’re not obvious about the matter.
Chances are that you’ll eventually be thrown out of some casinos if you continue counting. But don’t let the idea that card counting is too difficult to learn keep you from trying this pursuit.
5 – Card Counters Make Huge Profits
I just established that card counting isn’t too complex.
Counting cards isn’t a guaranteed path to riches. The idea that you can make huge profits from card counting is yet another lie of that stems from movies.
For example, The Hangover features a scene where Alan (Zach Galifianakis) counts cards in order to make $80,000.
He knows his stuff when it comes to counting and precedes to earn the necessary $80k over the course of the night. If only it were this easy…
This advantage technique doesn’t give you a very big edge. Even as a skilled counter, you only have between a 0.5% and 1.5% advantage over the casino.
Here’s an example to show how much you could expect to make per hand with this advantage:
- Your average bet size is $50 throughout the session.
- You play 80 hands an hour for five hours (400 hands).
- You make $20,000 in total bets (400 x 50).
- You have a 1% edge.
- You’ll theoretically earn $200.
Most people would be perfectly happy making $200 in five hours of work. However, blackjack is anything but a normal job.
With most jobs, you’re guaranteed pay for your work. Card counting differs, though, because you’re going to lose almost as often as you win.
A 1% edge is hardly anything. Casinos have this advantage, or better, and still lose to many players on a nightly basis.
You need a large bankroll in order to survive the ups and downs of card counting and realize your advantage. As a solo counter, you probably won’t want to start with anything less than $5,000 or $10,000.
You need enough funds to both survive unlucky nights and make the large bets needed to capitalize on positive counts. Without a big bankroll for blackjack, you’re taking a huge gamble on card counting.
6 – You Can Pick Up Good Comps through Blackjack
Blackjack is a popular game among high rollers. Given that these whales bet lots of money, they receive lavish comps like penthouse suites, top-shelf liquor, and limousine transportation.
Many gamblers hear these stories or even read articles about them and think that blackjack is a great way to earn comps. But the exact opposite is true.
The house advantage is one of the main aspects that casinos factor in when determining how many comps a player receives. Generally speaking, games with lower house edges offer fewer rewards.
Players are lucky if they’re comped 0.05% on their total wagers. This leaves one need to bet thousands of dollars just to earn a few dollars in rewards.
Here’s an example:
- You bet $5,000 total in blackjack.
- The comp rate is 0.05%.
- 5,000 x 0.0005 = $2.50 in comps
You should never gamble just to earn rewards. The comps don’t come close to covering theoretical losses.
But if you love earning freebies, then blackjack isn’t your best bet. It offers a low comp rate due to the small house edge.
7 – You’re Due for a Win
Blackjack sees you win close to half of the total hands you play. This win rate creates a perception that you’re very unlikely to go on a long losing streak.
Some players take this idea too far, though, and claim that they’re due for a win after losing several hands in a row. They think that the blackjack gods owe them a favor.
Here’s an example of this line of thinking:
- Roy loses three blackjack hands in a row.
- He knows that he’s supposed to win nearly half the time.
- Roy doubles his next bet in anticipation of a win.
The biggest problem with this philosophy is that it involves factoring in previous hands. Using past results to justify future outcomes is what’s known as the gambler’s fallacy.
The odds don’t change just because you’re on a winning or losing streak. They instead stay the exact same on the next hand.
Listening to blackjack players who have no clue what they’re talking about is a quick way to lose money. You instead want to learn strategy for yourself and avoid relying on falsehoods that other gamblers make up.
For starters, you need to realize that not all blackjack games are created the same. Look for tables with good rules so that you’re facing the lowest-possible house edge.
You can especially boost your chances of winning by using good strategy. All you need to do is google a blackjack strategy chart to get the perfect guide.
You may even fall so in love with blackjack that you take up card counting. This advantage-play technique isn’t that difficult to learn. Just realize, though, that it does require plenty of practice and a large bankroll.
Whatever you do in blackjack, don’t fall for the notion that you’re “due for a win.” This line of thinking is not only false, but can also lead you to make bigger bets under the assumption that you’re guaranteed to win.
Also keep in mind that blackjack isn’t the greatest game for comps. It has a low house edge, leading casinos to be less generous with rewards.
In summary, blackjack isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be. You simply need to spend a little time learning the strategy and other aspects of the game.