One of my favorite sources of inspiration for writing blackjack or any other gambling post is to read what someone has written that’s awful and explain why it’s awful.
See, most people don’t have the experience and knowledge to distinguish between good blackjack tips and bad blackjack tips.
When I did a search for professional blackjack tips today, I was stunned by the bad advice in the top result, so I thought it would be fun to point out how a real blackjack pro would laugh at these so called professional blackjack tips.
1- Don’t Fear Losing All Your Money
If you’re really a professional blackjack player, losing all your money is the worst thing that could happen to you. This would be like telling someone who owned a business to not be afraid of going broke.
The idea behind this so-called professional blackjack tip is that if you play scared, you’re bound to make mistake not going broke. As far as this goes, it’s correct.
But you should never risk so much of your gambling bankroll on a single hand that a string of bad luck puts you out of the game.
Blackjack pros play with an edge, but that edge is small, and in the short term, they can lose a lot of money fast. They keep their bets sized accordingly.
For example, a real blackjack pro probably has a bankroll of $50,000 or more.
But he’s not betting more than $100 to $500 per hand, because he doesn’t want to go broke in the short run before his long term advantage kicks in.
No, you shouldn’t be “afraid” of losing all your money, but you should show appropriate caution.
2- Double 11s Even Against an Ace and Take Insurance
Another glaring piece of bad advice I found in this other article was that you should follow basic strategy perfectly except for 3 exceptions:
- Double an 11 even if an ace is showing.
- Take insurance.
- Deviate from basic strategy on 12 vs. 12.
Real pros never deviate from basic strategy unless they’re counting cards and the count indicates that a deviation is the correct mathematical play.
Basic strategy says don’t double down on 11 if the dealer has an ace showing. The author of this so-called professional blackjack tips page suggests that you should ignore basic strategy here, but he doesn’t explain why.
Also, insurance is a sucker bet, and everyone knows it. The only time you take insurance is when you’re counting cards and the count is positive enough to warrant it. Even then, it’s often a bad idea, because it’s a clue to the casino that you’re counting cards.
And “deviate from basic strategy on 12 vs.12” doesn’t even make sense. It’s impossible for the dealer to have a 12 showing. Also, the author doesn’t explain how or why you should deviate.
Please ignore blackjack advice from people who clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.
3- Some Money Management Advice Makes No Sense
Here’s some not-so-brilliant advice I also read:
Put your money into 2 different piles at the table. For example, if you have $200, put that into 2 piles of $100 each.
Then play for $5 per hand out of the first pile.
If you lose all the money in the first pile, start betting $10 per hand out of the 2nd pile.
He goes on to suggest that you can start with 3 or 4 piles instead, and the more piles you have, the more likely you are to “survive the bad streaks.”
Also, every time you move to the next pile, you double the size of your bet.
The problem with this kind of money management and this line of thinking is the gambler’s fallacy.
That’s the idea that the longer you play a game of chance, the more likely you are to see results which will bring you back toward the statistical average.
For example, if you’re losing more than average over the last 10 hands of blackjack, you think you have a better than average chance of winning over the next 10 hands.
That’s the gambler’s fallacy.
The odds don’t change based on a winning or losing streak.
4- Increase Your Bets When You’re Winning
I saw the suggestion that if you’re not willing to increase your bets when you’re winning, you’ll never make money.
This isn’t why you increase bets.
You increase bets based on the count or some other information you have.
You don’t increase your bets when you’re winning. I guess the idea is to try to capitalize on a winning streak, but the truth is, you have no way of knowing when a winning streak will begin or end.
Also, this advice contradicts the previous advice about increasing your bet sizes when you’ve lost all of one of your piles of money. In other words, the author just advised you to increase the size of your bets when you’re losing.
But now he wants you to increase the size of your bets when you’re winning, too.
It’s just the gambler’s fallacy all over again.
Hands of blackjack are random, independent events.
The only thing about previous hands that affect probabilities in subsequent hands is the change in the count.
5- Start Playing 1 Hand, Switch to 2 If You’re Losing
This is another “professional blackjack tip” that relies on the gambler’s fallacy.
The author suggests that you start playing with one hand, but if you start losing, move up to 2 hands. If your losing streak gets worse, start playing 3 hands at a time.
The idea is that because you’ve been losing, you’re “due” to start winning, so you should be playing more hands to make more money when you’re due.
But we already discussed the gambler’s fallacy and how wins don’t become due.
You can play as few or as many hands as you want. It won’t affect how well you do. The odds are the odds, regardless of how many hands you’re playing.
It might make sense to play more than one hand if the count is positive, but that would be the only factor a real blackjack professional would consider.
Voodoo stuff based on the gambler’s fallacy isn’t a consideration for real professional blackjack players.
6- Don’t Press Your Bets If You’re Losing
What does it mean to press your bets?
You’re pressing your bets when you’re raising their size. The implication behind this tip is that you should only press your bets when you’re winning.
Of course, this contradicts the previous advice about how you should start doubling and tripling the size of your bets after you’ve lost a percentage of your bankroll.
But let’s skip that logical error, and let’s talk about when you SHOULD press your bets in real money blackjack:
The only time you press your bet in blackjack is when the count is positive.
When the count is positive, you know that the odds are in your favor. That’s the only time it makes sense to press your bets.
You wouldn’t press your bets just because you’re losing, and you also wouldn’t press your bets just because you were winning.
7- Look for Dealers With Fewer Chips
This might be my favorite, because it seems to assume that the dealers have some control over who’s winning or who’s losing.
Do you think that a blackjack dealer in a good mood is just going to deal better cards to the players at his table?
Or maybe you think that because a blackjack dealer has been losing chips all night he’s just not good at winning?
The other thought behind this probably has to do with the gambler’s fallacy. If players at his table have been winning before now, they’ll probably continue to win.
If you want professional tips for playing blackjack, I suggest searching Amazon for a book by a legitimate blackjack expert and reading what they have to say. Stanford Wong writes some great stuff about the game, and he’s made a fortune at it. Arnold Snyder is also an excellent blackjack author.
Don’t trust any anonymous internet writer who suggests you deviate from basic strategy for no reason. Such a writer is almost certainly not a blackjack professional. I’m surprised that such a writer is even a professional writer.