7 Bad Blackjack Decisions That Lose Money All of the Time

Disappointed Man Looking at Cards

Not every gambler who plays blackjack knows this, but there’s a perfect way to play the game. When you play blackjack the perfect way you always get the highest return possible. On the other hand, every time you make a mistake it costs you money.

This article includes 7 bad mistakes that blackjack gamblers are making that cost them money. The best way to avoid these bad decisions is to use a strategy card, which is available in most places that sell casino books and merchandise or online.

As you eliminate bad blackjack decisions, like the ones listed in this article, your returns are going to improve.

1 – Standing on a Soft 17

The common advice that blackjack players hear is that you should stand on any total of 17 or higher. This is good advice when you have a hard total of 17 or higher. The problem is that if you have a soft hand this is a mistake.

When you have a total of 17 and have an ace that’s valued at 11 in the hand, like an ace and a 6, or an ace, 4, and 2, you have a soft total of 17.

With a soft 17 total the play that returns the highest amount is to hit. In fact, if the dealer has a 3 through 6, you should actually double down.

In addition to making a mistake standing on a soft 17, it’s also a mistake to always stand on a soft 18. You should hit a soft 18 when the dealer has a 9 or higher showing. The only soft hands that you should always stand on are totals of 19 through 21.

2 – Splitting 10’s and Face Cards

When the dealer has a bad card showing, which usually means a 2 to a 6, you might be tempted to split a pair of cards worth 10 points each. You get to start with 2 hands worth 10 points each and the dealer has a bad card to start with.

I understand this line of reasoning, but you have to base every blackjack playing decision on what returns the most long-term profit. In this case, the play that returns the highest average long-term profit is to stand with your hard 20 instead of splitting.

Multiple Blackjack Hands on a Table

You’re almost guaranteed to win with a hard 20. The only hand that beats you is a 21. And if you split you risk twice as much money, and are going to end up with a total of less than 17 5 out of every 13 times on each hand.

While this decision is close, it’s always a mistake to split 2 cards worth 10 points each.

3 – The Never Bust Strategy

Blackjack dealers are forced to follow a specific set of rules. They always stand when they have 18 or higher and always hit when they have 16 or lower. They also have a specific rule to follow when they have a soft total of 17.

Some blackjack gamblers use a simple set of rules, but this is never a good idea. one of these sets of rules is to copy the dealer. This isn’t the best way to play because it forces you to make many decisions that aren’t the most profitable on average.

Another strategy that forces you to make unprofitable blackjack decisions is the never-bust strategy. The way this strategy works is that you never take another card if you have a hard total of 12 or higher. When you play this way you never risk busting.

The problem is that there are many situations where it’s actually more profitable to hit when you have 12 or more than to stand. If you play using the never-bust strategy you’re actually giving up a great deal of profit on average.

If you want to get the highest long-term and average returns you have to use every single play dictated on a strategy card.

4 – Never Splitting 9’s

This play is tricky because most of the time the correct play is to stand with a pair of 9’s, which is a hard 18. The problem is that it’s actually more profitable on average to split a pair of 9’s when the dealer has a 7, a card worth 10 points, or an ace.

If you never split a pair of 9’s it’s not the worst mistake that you can make. You still have a hard 18, which is going to win more often than you lose. But remember that every playing decision needs to be based on the most profit.

When the dealer has a 7, 10 point card, or an ace, it’s actually more profitable to split the pair than to stand with the hard 18.

5 – Not Doubling on an 11

The most powerful and profitable hand you can have when you play blackjack other than a natural 21 is an 11. The 2 reasons why this is such a powerful and profitable hand is because you have the opportunity to double the money you have in play and you have a great chance to win the hand.

An Active Blackjack Table

Your odds of showing a profit on an 11 are so great that the way to maximize your long-term profit is to always double. You have a decent chance to win with any card from a 6 to a king, with all of the face cards and 10’s giving you a 21 total, a 9 giving you 20, and an 8 giving you 19.

The only time you shouldn’t double down with an 11 is in a game where the dealer doesn’t hit on a soft 17 and the dealer has an ace. And even if you don’t remember this single exception and double down when the dealer has an ace and stands on a soft 17, you’re not giving up too much profit.

6 – Taking the Insurance Offer

I don’t remember ever playing at a blackjack table that didn’t offer insurance. This makes sense when you realize that the insurance option is 1 of the most profitable extra bets the casino can get gamblers to make.

Insurance, or as it’s often called, even money, appeals to blackjack players because they don’t like losing when the dealer has a 21. If you take insurance and the dealer does have 21 you break even on the hand, instead of losing your entire wager.

The problem that most blackjack players who take insurance don’t think about is what happens when the dealer doesn’t have 21. When this happens you lose the bet you made on the insurance and your first bet is still in danger of losing.

In fact, your original bet is more often than not lost. Anytime the dealer starts with an ace the odds are stacked against you.

It’s also important to understand that when you take insurance you lose 9 out of every 13 hands, on average in the long run. While it’s a nice feeling when the dealer does have a blackjack, in the long run, it costs you money to take insurance.

7 – Not Learning How to Count Cards

I’ve stressed the importance of using perfect blackjack strategy throughout this article. But there’s an additional step that’s just as important. It’s so important in fact that if you do it right you’re going to start winning more often than you lose.

1 of 2 things keeps blackjack players from learning the skill of card counting. The first thing is they don’t know that they can win by counting or don’t know that card counting exists. The second thing is that many gamblers believe that counting cards is too hard for them to learn.


Once you learn how to use strategy when you play blackjack you have to start learning how to count cards. Any blackjack player who can use strategy is capable of using card counting. It might sound complicated, but counting cards is actually fairly simple.

The basics only require the use of simple addition and subtraction. You can even adjust your starting count so you don’t have to deal with negative numbers.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring card counting. Every blackjack gambler should learn how to count cards.

In Summary

When you learn proper blackjack strategy, usually by using a blackjack strategy chart, you can avoid most of the bad mistakes listed in this article. Every blackjack mistake ends up costing you money in the long run.

Once you learn how to use perfect blackjack strategy the only other 2 things you need to learn are how to deal with insurance and how to count cards. Dealing with insurance is easy, but counting cards takes quite a bit more work.

Now that you know how to avoid mistakes you can get the highest return every time you play blackjack.