The 7 Most Controversial Aspects of Blackjack

Shocked Man With Dealt Blackjack Table on Right

Some gamblers love to drum up controversy related to their favorite casino games. Among these popular casino games, blackjack reigns supreme.

Despite its relatively straightforward rules and strategy, blackjack is quite polarizing. You see, the average game of blackjack provides for plenty of conversation between players and dealers.

In these exchanges, opinions about other players or even the game itself fly across the table like stray bullets. Players tend to disagree on several topics including gameplay, tipping, and other topics that shouldn’t necessarily spark controversy.

Many of these disagreements could easily be resolved, but there are some aspects of the game that can leave even the most advanced players scratching their heads.

Here are 7 of the most controversial aspects of playing blackjack for real money.

1 ‒ Who’s Actually Qualified to Play Blackjack?

Unless you work for a casino, you don’t have the authority to decide who can and cannot play blackjack. But, that certainly doesn’t stop certain loud-mouthed players from voicing their opinions on the matter.

The fact remains that as long as you’re not cheating, everyone is qualified to play blackjack.

The game typically attracts all sorts of gamblers, from total novices to those players who can essentially guarantee that they’ll win money. That’s primarily due to the popularity of the game.

Even those of you who have never been within 100 miles of a casino are likely familiar with the game. Next to poker, it might be the most recognizable casino game.

So when players do make their first appearance at a casino, many are immediately drawn to the games they recognize. For most players, this is a non-issue as many players operate under the mindset “the more the merrier”.

But, some players love to gatekeep one of the best casino games.

The claim that some people aren’t qualified to play blackjack is ludicrous and shouldn’t be accepted as fact. Sure, playing at a table full of beginners might not make for the best gambling experience.

However, we all have to start somewhere. If you’re not content with your tablemates, you have every right to cash out and find a different table.

2 ‒ The Legality of Counting Cards

For whatever reason, the idea that counting cards is illegal is something that’s widely accepted in the gambling world. This is likely due to a few reasons.

  • Several popular movies often depict card counters being roughed up by casino personnel
  • Casinos don’t want anyone making a fortune, especially card counters
  • The practice of card counting is somewhat deceptive
  • Gamblers who count cards don’t have to make it known that they’re counting cards
  • It takes a decent amount of time and energy to learn to count cards

Despite anything you might have heard in the past, counting cards is perfectly legal. It does give you a slight edge, but the exact percentage depends on many factors.

Players Around a Blackjack Table

Not every blackjack player will get to the point where they can count cards like a professional. It’s incredibly demanding and makes a game that’s already taxing even more mentally exhausting.

If you’re considering learning to count cards, just know that you’re not going to acquire the ability overnight.

3 ‒ Do You Hit or Stay on 16?

Sixteen is arguably the most polarizing hand that a blackjack player can be dealt. Whether you decide to hit or stay, chances are someone at the table will disagree with your decision.

For those who aren’t familiar with the controversy surrounding 16, let me explain.

There are few situations worse than being dealt a 16 compared to a dealer’s 7 or higher. You have a low chance of winning a hand in this scenario.

However, this is one of the situations that a solid blackjack player has to learn to navigate. What are you supposed to do when you draw the short end of the stick and are staring at a 16?

Well, it depends on a few things. Sometimes casinos have different rules their dealers must follow. Additionally, there are a variety of different ways a player can get to 16.

In my opinion, the only thing that really matters when you’re dealt a 16 is that you’re consistent. I personally prefer staying on 16 to keep myself in the hand as long as possible.

But, the fact remains that you’re probably going to lose on 16. Don’t overthink it, and don’t pay any mind to a player who criticizes you if you decide to stay or hit.

4 ‒ Can Casinos Rig Decks?

Losing several blackjack hands in a row feels like a complete beatdown.

The game can move quickly depending on what type of table you’re sitting at and the quality of the gamblers you’re playing next to. If you go on a cold streak, the house can take a large portion of your bankroll from you in the blink of an eye.

When this happens, the best thing to do is shake it off and acknowledge that it’s a part of the game.

However, some players decide to start throwing out wild and angry accusations. The most common of these is that the deck is stacked against you, or the dealer is plotting your demise.

Blackjack Hand With Casino Chips on Top

Let’s make one thing very clear: neither of these claims are true. Blackjack is a game of chance, and there’s no way to know if you’re going to win or lose a hand.

Making these types of accusations will make you appear foolish and misinformed. Instead of blaming others, try to figure out if you’re misplaying hands or are just on a run of bad cards.

5 ‒ Deciding To Hit or Double an 11 vs. Dealer’s Ace

Drawing an 11 at the blackjack table is one of the most exciting feelings. That’s because you have the opportunity to double and have a good chance to hit a 21.

But, that excitement can quickly turn to despair when you see the dealer has an ace showing.

This situation puts gamblers in a downright awful position, one that can be incredibly tricky to work through. Some players argue that you should always double an 11, regardless of what the dealer is showing.

I agree with this play, but don’t judge people who are scared of doubling an 11 against an ace.

Most experts agree that you should never waver when it comes to doubling an 11. You’re most likely going to be dealt a 10 and give yourself the best chance to compete against the dealer’s hand.

6 ‒ When is the Best Time to Tip Your Dealer?

Nothing grinds my gears like watching a player win a ton of money at the blackjack table and refuse to tip their dealer.

Blackjack dealers depend on their tips to make a living. Because of this, it’s crucial that players are always looking out for their dealers.

That’s especially true if they’re dealing you good cards. The question isn’t if you should tip your dealer, but when and how much you should tip.

Every gambler is different, and it really depends on some factors. For example, if I’m having a good night at the tables, I’m more than likely going to tip well.

Blackjack Dealer Smirk - Blackjack Table Full With a Pile of Cash

If the house is besting me, the percentage I tip will be slightly less.

I know some players prefer to tip after each win, while others will wait until they’re cashing out.

It doesn’t really matter how you tip, as long as you make sure to do it in the first place.

7 ‒ Do Bad Players Really Not Affect You?

I’m not going to lie, there have been a few times where I had to change tables just to get away from a rotten gambler. Playing with bad blackjack players can be incredibly frustrating.

But, can another player affect your chances of winning hands? The short answer is not really, although it can certainly feel like it.

The way a blackjack table operates makes it seem like everyone is competing against the house as a team. In truth, blackjack isn’t a team game.

Instead of focusing on how another player is playing each hand, it’s crucial that you focus on your cards. If you can’t shake the feeling that another player is ruining your chances, go find another table.

Under no circumstance should you berate another blackjack player for misplaying a hand.

Final Thoughts

Next to poker, blackjack might be the most controversial casino game in existence.

But certain topics are surrounding the game that aren’t nearly as polarizing as you might think.

Everyone is qualified to play the game, and beginners should never be turned away from a table. Nobody can truly derail your chances of winning so focus on how you’re playing each hand.

Counting cards is completely legal but can be incredibly difficult for some gamblers to master.

For those of you who don’t count cards and are struggling to win, never assume that a deck is rigged. The dealer doesn’t have any say in which players win, and they should always be taken care of after big wins.