In its most simple form, blackjack is a relatively easy game to get to terms with. Get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Beat the dealer, collect your rewards. That’s all there is to the game, pretty straightforward, right?
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games out there, and it’s because it’s super easy to learn the basics, lowering the barrier to entry for beginners. But it also offers a layered complexity that can stump even the most advanced players. As a result, there are many types of players out there. Which one are you?
“Just Here to Have Fun”
Casinos make money from the kind of player who doesn’t really bother to learn how to play blackjack properly. They consider going to the casino as a bit of fun, often show up with friends to have a drink or a bite to eat, and don’t really care about adopting a specific strategy.
This kind of player will go with their gut feeling. They’ll hit or stick based on emotion, that gut intuition about ‘feeling lucky’. Their moves are inconsistent, not thought out, and they will bet erratically. The result? They’ll walk away with a lighter wallet.
To be fair, there’s nothing inherently wrong with thinking of blackjack as a bit of light entertainment. If you’re not looking to win big money, losing a few bucks following your gut instinct isn’t really a big deal. And hey, sometimes this type of player does get lucky.
This player knows whether to hit or stick based on a set of rules, aka Basic Strategy. This ensures the house edge is kept as low as possible as you play. If you execute it perfectly, the house edge is limited to 0.55%.
Basic strategy requires a fair bit of practice. The rules are simple, but they can take some time to remember. And it’s never as easy when you’re in a live casino and put on the spot. You can’t exactly carry a cheat sheet around with you. To master basic strategy, consider playing a few practice rounds, or play some virtual blackjack before properly hitting the tables.
The fake expert is loud and boastful. He’s just watched the movie 21 and thinks he knows everything there is to know about blackjack and the perfect betting strategy. Fake experts will usually enjoy a drink or two, happy to tell anyone who is willing to listen that they know what they’re doing.
The fake expert will likely tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. They’ll give you “good advice” to try and help you out. Don’t listen to them. The fake expert is a surefire way to lose all of your money.
Blackjack attracts players who don’t consider it a game, but a mathematical problem. They can recite basic strategy in their sleep and will never go against it, except when trying to avoid the pit boss from noticing them (casinos don’t like mathematical players!).
What sets blackjack apart from other casino table games is that it’s based on dependent events. This essentially means that each hand played will have a probabilistic effect on the next event. Using a strategy like card counting, players can turn the house edge in their favor.
The professional blackjack player is discreet. They make a living out of playing the game, so they don’t want casinos to notice their presence. The mindset is a get in, win big, get out.
Professional players will usually stick around for an hour or less. Once they hit the amount of money they want to win, they cash out. There’s no point continuing play if it’s just going to risk their investment. Professionals use a variety of strategies to give them the edge.
The most famous professional team is one you’ve definitely heard of, at least if you’re into your blackjack. In the 1990s, the MIT Blackjack Team made millions of dollars by using this particular method.
You’ve played blackjack before, you enjoy it, but never had much luck winning. Recognize yourself as one of the players above and don’t like what you see in the mirror?
Don’t worry, there’s time to turn things around. There are plenty of resources online that will teach you how to manage your bankroll, the complete basic strategy (there are even pocketable printouts for you to use to memorize it), and YouTube also offers loads of videos on different advanced strategies. Just remember, many casinos will blacklist you if they catch you counting cards…!