How to Minimize Your Blackjack Losses
First things first, let's talk about the elephant in the room: blackjack losses. When did you last meet someone who genuinely makes a regular profit at blackjack, rather than just claiming they do? That's right; you didn't, unless they were card counting or using some illicit methods.
The truth is that no one will make a long-term profit from blackjack because it is mathematically impossible for them to do so. And that's all down to the casino house edge. The game's rules and payouts are such that the casino will always win. For inexperienced players, the house edge in blackjack is around 2%, meaning that for each $100 you bet, you should expect to lose $2. That doesn't sound like much, and it's not, especially given the entertainment you get (and free drinks if you play in some casinos in the US).
But what if I told you that you could bring that house edge down? Down to as much as 0.5%. Sounds good, right? Well, it's true, and it's achievable by following what is known as the basic blackjack strategy, and it applies to lots of blackjack games you will find at live online casinos. OK, you'll still lose over the long term, but not by as much. And because the house edge is so slim, you could easily end up the winner in multiple sessions.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
A solid blackjack strategy can best be described as "recognizing the importance of tens." In the game, jacks, queens, and kings all have the value of ten, meaning that out of every 52 cards in a standard deck, 16 of them are ten. Using this information, you should always reason that it's highly likely that the next card to be dealt or the dealer's face-down card is a 10. And using that informed knowledge, you can make a much better judgment call as to whether you wish to take another card, double down or stand.
The possible total value of the dealer's hand should be foremost in your mind. Assuming that his face-down card is a ten, you might bracket their hand as weak or strong. If their upcard is a 3, 4, or 5, for instance, you could assume their total is 13, 14, or 15, in which case they would have to take another card and likely bust. With this in mind, you could stand on a wider range of hands because why risk busting when that is what you expect the dealer to do?
But if the dealer's upcard is strong, like an 8, 9, or 10, then once you assume their downcard is a 10, you must reason they have a decent hand like 18, 19, or 20. Now you would need to risk more with your own hand, taking another card to take you closer to a higher score, even if you risk busting.
Double down more
Usually, you would only consider doubling down when your total is 11, or maybe also 10. But if the dealer looks super weak, you can double down on a wider range, such as 9, 8, or even 7. If you hit a ten, then you end up with a strong hand in most of these cases, but even if you get a low card like a 6, you can then stand because you expect the dealer to bust.
Avoid Common Mistakes
The next element of a basic blackjack strategy is to avoid common mistakes. One of these is splitting tens. Although it looks like a good idea, because you then get to play two hands starting with ten, you could end up losing with both, thereby losing two stakes. Whereas your original pair of tens is a score of 20 that, in the vast majority of cases, is going to win you the hand anyway. Take a win, or gamble twice and risk two losses. You can see the logic!
The second key tip is to play within your bankroll. In other words, play stakes where you can afford to go on a losing streak without running out of cash – and without that losing streak causing you to worry about your finances. If you play worried or angry, you make poor decisions, and that won't do anything to improve your cash flow.
Finally, don't believe what you see in the movies like The Hangover, starring Zach Galifianakis – even people counting cards in blackjack don't make that much money!
Get a Blackjack Hand Chart
There are other scenarios within a basic blackjack strategy, but listing any more here might be a little bit of information overload.
Instead, consider downloading a blackjack hand chart. Search online, and you will find lots of these that you can refer to. They show your optimum play for any combination of your own two starting cards when combined with the ten possible dealer upcards (2 through Ace).
Using the strategy will help bring that casino house edge down to a more manageable 0.5%. This will make your money last a lot longer and give you the best possible chance to make a profit on any particular session.
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