Most casual gamblers head to the slot machines, where they don’t need to think too much when playing. Meanwhile, those who see themselves as strategists sit down to the blackjack tables.
Blackjack features some of the most complex strategy out of any casino game. Players’ chances of winning can rise or fall by around 5% based on their skills.
Unfortunately, some gamblers’ odds fall because they make too many mistakes.
Players make mistakes on the blackjack tables for a variety of reasons. Here are seven of the biggest reasons why people lose when playing blackjack.
1 – Relying on Luck to Win
Many casino games force you to rely on chance to win. Slot machines, baccarat, roulette, keno, and scratch cards all fall into this category.
You can’t do much to boost your odds of winning with these games other than looking for high RTP and making the right bets.
Nevertheless, some players still rely solely on good fortune. These gamblers believe that they merely need to wear their lucky shirt or sit in a certain seat to win.
Superstitions like these are fun and can spice up a gambling experience. However, they have no mathematical bearing on the outcomes.
The same gamblers should head to the slot machines if they’re not going to bother with strategy. At least this way, they won’t give up RTP to the house over their unwillingness to improve.
2 – Ignoring Blackjack Strategy
The players described above may ignore blackjack strategy for the simple fact that they don’t know it exists, or at least that it plays such a large role in the game. However, a certain subset of players know of the strategy yet still choose to overlook it.
They might refuse to study up on the game for the following reasons:
- A belief that strategy doesn’t help much
- An overreliance on luck (as described in the first point)
- Bad results (luck) when using strategy in the past
Some of these reasons are understandable. For example, beginners may not realize just how much proper play can impact their winnings. Therefore, they simply start playing the game and hope for the best.
Those who ignore strategy out of laziness, though, should really reconsider. They must realize that mastering the game isn’t as hard as it seems.
In fact, all one really needs is a blackjack strategy chart. Readily available all over the internet, these charts show every proper decision to make in each situation.
Here’s an example:
- Joe is dealt 12.
- He’s tempted to hit because 12 is such a low score.
- However, the dealer’s upcard is only 6.
- Joe refers to his chart and sees that he should stand.
Players can use strategy charts for both land-based and online blackjack play. However, they should know that land-based casinos aren’t thrilled when a player slows the game down by referring to their chart every two seconds.
A good way to quickly learn strategy is by playing the online version while referring to the chart. This method will help gamblers quickly master the game before heading off to casinos.
3 – Failure to Understand How Game Rules Impact the Odds
Strategy isn’t the only key aspect when trying to reduce the blackjack house edge. Game rules also play a large role in this mission.
Of course, this mistake can be attributed to being new to the game. Most new players don’t realize that there are different rules in blackjack—let alone how these rules change the house edge.
But once somebody realizes this, they should pay special attention to the rules before taking a seat. Here are some key rules and how they alter the house advantage:
- Number of decks – House edge lowers by 0.59% when moving from eight-deck to single-deck blackjack.
- Doubling down – House advantage decreases by 0.25% when you can double down on any total versus just 10 and 11.
- Dealer hits/stands on soft 17 – House edge falls by 0.21% when the dealer stands on a soft 17.
- Double down after splitting – House advantage lowers by 0.17% when you can split after doubling down.
If you’re playing online blackjack, you can refer to the info screen to check out the various rules. When playing in land-based casinos, you’ll need to watch the games for a while.
In either case, you can quickly see two of the biggest rules printed on the table felt. Each table lists the natural blackjack payout and if the dealer hits or stands on a natural 17.
The goal behind knowing the rules is to simply find the best available deal. Therefore, you should only play at tables that offer favorable rules.
4 – Using Oddball Strategies
Unless you’re card counting, the best blackjack strategy is basic strategy. You can’t do any better than following the path blazed by gaming mathematicians over time.
Even still, some gamblers think that there’s a secret way to easily beat blackjack. They pull out ridiculous strategies in an attempt to overcome the house edge.
Mimicking the dealer is one of the worst and most common of these strategies. It calls on players to make the same type of moves that the dealer does based on the house rules.
First off, a dealer must hit to a hard or soft 17. The hard or soft factor varies based on the given casino. Secondly, these gamblers will avoid doubling down and splitting hands. The croupier can’t perform either of these actions, so the players in question don’t either.
Mimic the dealer sounds like a smart idea at first. Given that the house has an advantage, players should theoretically pull even with them by copying the croupier.
However, this strategy is missing one crucial element—the dealer gets to act second. Considering that the house acts second, gamblers automatically lose when busting regardless of what happens to the croupier.
Furthermore, one misses out on the potential value from doubling down and splitting cards. In the end, they face a 7% house edge, which is about 4x to 5x worse than what the average player faces.
5 – Chasing Losses
Nobody likes suffering a losing session. Given that blackjack is a negative expectation game, though, losses do happen. But some players refuse to accept their losses. They continue playing under the guise that they’re due for a win.
Outside of advantage gamblers, nobody is ever due for a win in blackjack. Even the best amateur players still face around a 0.5% house edge.
Of course, only facing a 0.5% house advantage provides a strong chance to win in a given session. But one still needs a bit of luck to make money.
The idea that anybody is ever due for winnings is off-base. Chase losses under this mindset is one of the mistakes that gamblers make.
Here’s an example to explain:
- A gambler loses $300 on the blackjack table.
- The player resolves to win back their losses.
- They’re an average player who doesn’t use perfect strategy.
- They face a 2% house edge as a result.
- The gambler bets another $10,000.
- 10,000 x 0.02 = 200
- The player ends up losing another $200 ($500 overall).
6 – Failing to Sign Up for the VIP Program
VIP rewards provide an opportunity to earn something back from one’s betting action. Land-based and online casinos commonly offer casino comps, which in some cases pays back a percentage of gamblers’ total bets.
Unfortunately, many blackjack players miss out on these rewards because they don’t sign up for the VIP program. After all, land-based casinos require gamblers to join the players club before getting rewarded.
Here’s a look at how easy it is to sign up for the players club:
- Visit a casino’s website or the players desk inside of the casino.
- Fill out an application and wait for approval.
- Once approved, take the players club card to a blackjack table.
- Hand the card over to the dealer.
- The dealer will give the card to the pit boss.
- The pit boss rates the gambler and determines how many comps they deserve.
Online casinos don’t feature as complicated of a process to get loyalty rewards. Once a gambler signs up and deposits their money, they’ll immediately be eligible for VIP perks.
Again, though, those playing inside of land-based casinos want to ensure that they join the players club. Otherwise, they’ll miss out on earning extra money.
7 – Playing Blackjack Just to Get Rewards
As covered above, players definitely want to take advantage of loyalty perks whenever possible. If one is going to play blackjack anyways, they might as well collect rewards in the process.
However, the last thing that anybody should do is play blackjack longer for the VIP benefits alone. Rewards are never worth extending one session for.
Here’s an example to show how loyalty benefits compare to theoretical losses:
- Terry bets $20,000 throughout the night.
- He’s facing a 1% house edge.
- 20,000 x 0.01 = $200 in theoretical losses
- The casino offers a 0.1% comp rate on blackjack.
- 20,000 x 0.001 = $20 in rewards
- 200 / 20 = 10
- The theoretical losses are 10x higher than the comps.
Even under the best circumstances, VIP perks won’t overshadow theoretical losses. That said, they should be treated as an extra benefit rather than the sole reason for playing.
Anybody who’s ready to quit a blackjack session should just leave the table. Upgrading from a free meal to a hotel room won’t be worth it in terms of dollars and cents.
Blackjack is far from the easiest game in the casino. Therefore, it’s hard to fault those who make mistakes with this game.
However, those who know better are just being plain irrational when they make the same blunders over and over. Relying on luck, failing to study strategy, and using crazy strategies are some of the mistakes that gamblers make.
Luckily, all of these mistakes can be fixed with a little effort. Blackjack players who take the time to improve will eventually benefit through more winnings.