When it comes to winning money at the casino, having experience on your side is a major benefit. Unfortunately, everyone was a beginner at one time or another, so it’s important to minimize losses (or even win a few bucks) while you’re still learning the ropes.
Blackjack presents opportunities to even the most green of gamblers. Whether it’s the easy rules to learn, relatively good odds, or just the general fascination of the game itself, blackjack seems to be the go-to choice.
In this article, I’ll lay out the most common mistakes newer blackjack players make that hurt their chances of winning.
1 – Making the Wrong Choices Hitting and Standing
This is the most basic component of blackjack strategy as it involves a decision you have to make on just about every hand. Of course, I’m talking about the choice of whether to “hit” or “stand.”
It sounds simple enough to get a grasp on, but making the right choice when it comes to asking for an additional card or not can be responsible for huge wins or devastating losses. Some people believe that there is no right or wrong time to hit or stand and rely on instinct, suffice it so say that the casino is a big fan of these individuals.
While there are plenty of nuanced things to consider when it’s your turn to decide, there are a few hard and fast rules that should be adhered to at all times.
First, if your hand is 12 or less, you should always hit. Even though there’s a small chance you could still bust if you get a face card, this risk is more than worth it. You aren’t going to have a chance if you stay holding a 12.
Things get more complicated with rule number two.
Most experts recommend always hitting on a “soft 17.” This means a hand where you’re holding an ace and a six. The reason it’s important to distinguish the soft 17 is because the ace can be played as a one if the situation calls for it.
When you look at all the possible outcomes, there is just a single situation where it’s absolutely necessary to stand. If your first two cards make 17 or higher, it just isn’t going to be in your best interest to try to get any closer to 21. The risk of going over is simply too great.
2 – Not Knowing When to Split or Double Down
Whereas the first section (hitting or standing) focuses on winning the hand itself, knowing when to split your cards and double down is crucial to your betting strategy. It can be the difference between a modest win, and one that really boosts your bankroll. If you don’t know how to do it properly, it can hurt your bottom line significantly.
If you’re unfamiliar with how the process works, “splitting” refers to a situation where you’re initially dealt two of the same card number. If this occurs, you have the option to “split” them, meaning you can play two hands at once.
Unfortunately, there’s no rule that always applies to whether or not splitting is the right move, but there are times when it’s more advisable than others.
For example, if you’re dealt two 10s (or even two nines in some cases), it’s probably best to just stick with the hand you have. You’re already in a good position, and taking the risk of playing your cards as two hands isn’t worth it.
In other cases where you’re dealt more pedestrian cards, see what the dealer has before making your decision. If you feel as if you can win the hand without splitting based on the dealer’s hand, consider sitting on what you’ve already been dealt.
Again, the decision of whether or not to double down should be made after evaluating the dealer’s hand. If the dealer is showing a card between two and nine, it’s a good idea to take the risk as you’re in good position to win the hand.
The one time when you should double without a second thought is when you’re dealt an ace. The option to play the card as an 11 or a one means that you have some flexibility that can help you avoid busting. On the flip side, if the dealer has an ace in his or her hand, avoid doubling down.
3 – Playing at the Wrong Table
Think all blackjack tables are the same? While the rules of the game itself might not change much, there’s still a number of blackjack variants involved that can have a huge impact on the outcome of your playing session.
The first thing you want to take note of when finding the right table for your strategy is the minimum bet. If your bankroll is on the lower end, it’s crucial to find tables that have lower minimums. Most casinos have options for around $10, but some can go even lower. On the other end of the spectrum, tables can have up to $100 minimum bet which means they’re largely meant for high rollers.
If you’re a newer player, avoid the tables with high minimums. These can drain your bankroll in just a few quick hands.
Another aspect of selecting a table that players, especially inexperienced players, should consider is the option to use a virtual game instead of a live dealer. The reason is that when you use a virtual dealer, you’re typically going at your own pace and won’t have the anxiety of having to make quick decisions due to other people waiting on you.
The most important thing to know is that not all tables are the same. Usually if you look hard enough, you can find one that fits what you’re trying to do.
4 – Not Playing Online
Simply put, real money online blackjack offers tremendous opportunities to learn the game and win some money in the process.
Due to relaxed gambling laws that are slowly spreading to every corner of the country, online casinos are competing to earn new business. In order to attract new players, these online platforms provide significant perks when you sign up.
For example, some casinos will match your initial deposit with a credit that can be used towards the games you play. These “bonuses” should be taken advantage of and can lead to massive wins if you utilize them.
In addition to the money aspect, online blackjack is the perfect way to hone your skills in a low-stakes environment. While most casinos won’t have tables that go below a $10 minimum, you can find blackjack games online that have a $1 minimum, or even less if that’s what you prefer.
Don’t miss out on all the benefits to be gained in online casinos. Once you become comfortable with the rules and game strategy, then you’ll be confident stepping up to higher-minimum tables when you visit the physical casino.
Blackjack is a timeless casino game that has remained popular because of low house edge and relatively easy-to-learn strategy. If you’re someone who enjoys casinos, growing your knowledge of this game is a necessity.
Taking the time to master the most basic blackjack strategy guidelines can help you out tremendously over the course of your gambling life.