I was talking to someone recently about their trip to the casino. He plays blackjack, and though he isn’t an advantage player, he plays close to perfect strategy and usually plays in games with decent rules.
Over the years, he’s lost money overall, but he has quite a few winning trips. This is pretty much what you expect from a blackjack player playing with decent rules and a basic understanding of strategy.
But every time I talk to him, he goes on and on about the dealers. He talks about dealers being hot and cold, as if they were responsible for his wins and losses.
This belief has no basis in fact. I gave up trying to help him understand why the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with short-term results. He never seems interested in improving; he only wants to complain.
But in hopes of helping others who play blackjack understand why dealers aren’t hot or cold and why the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results, I decided to write a page explaining why your loss in the casino isn’t the dealer’s fault.
The main reason the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results is probability. I’m not going to do a deep dive into probability here, but I’m going to show you why your results aren’t the dealer’s fault using simple examples.
When you shuffle a deck of 52 playing cards like the ones used at blackjack tables, each card in the deck has an equal chance of being in every spot in the deck. The ace of clubs has the same chance of being on top of the deck as it has of being sixth from the top or on the bottom of the deck.
This doesn’t really change as you add more decks.
Your chances to win are the same no matter who deals the cards. Let’s say you’re playing a blackjack game with an eight-deck shoe and the dealer is changed 25% through the shoe. You lose the next hand. How can the dealer have any influence on this outcome?
The exact same cards are in the shoe in the exact same spots, so the dealer doesn’t influence the outcome in any way. This is the same faulty logic that players use when they complain about the third base player taking the dealer’s bust card.
Sometimes, blackjack players grumble when the last player to act takes another card, and it’s a card that would’ve made the dealer bust. Probability shows that the card the player draws has an equal chance of being any of the 13 ranks, just like the next card has an equal probability.
These same players seem to ignore the times when the third base player draws a card and the dealer busts on the next card. They should be tipping the third base player when this happens if they truly believe that he or she can influence the possibility of busting the dealer.
If you take this a step beyond probability, let me explain why the dealer has nothing to do with your results based on something else. Casinos are money- and profit-producing machines. The big casinos have profit down to a science. They know how much they expect to make from every square foot of gambling space and from each blackjack game.
The casinos also track just about everything you can imagine. They track the profitability of their games by dealer. When a dealer consistently produces results outside of the expected results, the casinos take action.
If a blackjack game isn’t showing the correct profit percentage, the casino starts by looking at the players. They see if they can identify card counters that might be hurting their profit. Then, they look at the dealer to see if they’re doing something to negatively influence the game. If a dealer is hurting the profit, the casino quickly finds something else for the dealer to do or fires them.
While this is a little bit of a long-winded way to get to the point, the fact is that if there was such a thing as hot and cold dealers, the casino would always have cold dealers at their tables. This is a simple business and profit decision, and profit is what drives every single decision the casinos make.
Just an Excuse
This might be difficult to read for some blackjack players, but when you blame anyone other than yourself for your results, it’s just an excuse. The truth is that you have a great deal of control over your results at the blackjack tables.
You have the choice of whether you learn about good and bad rules and which tables you play at. You have a choice whether or not to use the best possible strategy to lower the house edge. You have the choice whether or not to learn how to count cards to gain an edge over the casino.
The easy way out is to blame the dealer for your results. But one thing you need to understand is that, until you stop making excuses for your blackjack results and take responsibility to improve, your results aren’t going to change.
Stop making excuses and start changing your results. Learn how to find blackjack tables with good rules and learn how to use blackjack strategy. Once you learn these two things, look into counting cards in blackjack. It’s not easy, but it does work.
A Few Possible Exceptions
You’re not going to run into these exceptions in a casino often, but I felt the need to include them here so you can watch for them. The two times when a blackjack dealer can alter your chance of winning are when they’re cheating and when they flash the value of face down cards.
The first possible exception, cheating, is rare, and if the dealer is particularly good at it, you might never catch them. In a game dealt from a shoe, a dealer can rarely cheat. But in a handheld game, a skilled card mechanic can deal from the bottom of the deck.
When a dealer has a poor dealing technique, they can occasionally flash the value of a face down card. If you see the value of the dealer’s face down card, it can help you make better playing decisions and decrease the casino house edge.
The only way to have a chance to see hole cards is to pay attention. Watch the cards as the dealer passes them out.
Both of these situations are rare, but you still need to be aware of them and watch for them every time you play. You’re much more likely to be cheated when you play outside of a casino, because casinos don’t need to cheat to make profit.
The easiest way for the house to cheat is to use a loaded shoe. This is a shoe that’s stacked in a particular way to increase the house edge. While this isn’t a page about how to cheat, I want to show you how easy this is.
A normal distribution of a shoe has an equal number of ranked cards throughout the shoe. This means that on average, in every 52-card slug of the shoe, there are four aces, four kings, etc. This creates a house edge based on the rules the house uses.
The fact is that aces and high cards are favorable for the player and low cards are favorable for the dealer. If the house normally deals 75% of a shoe before shuffling, they can increase their edge by simply placing a higher percentage than normal of aces and high cards in the 25% of the shoe that doesn’t get dealt.
You can learn more about the effects of card removal in the book Beat the Dealer by Edward Thorp.
The best way to avoid being cheated this way is to closely watch the cards being shuffled and placed into the shoe. Make sure the shoe never leaves your sight. This isn’t the only way to cheat, so you always have to watch what’s going on.
If you want to blame the dealer for your blackjack results it’s okay. But this doesn’t improve your chances to win. Based on the mathematical facts of probability, the dealer doesn’t have anything to do with your results. The sooner you accept this and start using probability to your advantage, the sooner you can start seeing improved blackjack results.