Online Blackjack Casino Playing – Best Guide to Blackjack
What you need to win at Blackjack
Winning at Blackjack and that is to say, making money and walking away from the Blackjack table a winner, will require an amount of self-discipline. If you are playing seriously and at the table with a mission then you will need to come prepared mentally and physically. Know what kind of gambler you are, go in with a game plan and total understanding of the game and with a Zen-like clarity towards your purpose of beating the dealer.
The Purpose of this Blackjack Guide
The sole purpose of this guide is to assist our readers in setting goals at winning at Blackjack and helping them to meet those goals. Reading this guide will help our readers in reducing losses at the Blackjack table and increase their odds in building a substantial bankroll.
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What kind of Blackjack player are you?
Self-knowledge is extremely important to the Blackjack player. While the concentration is on the game, the player’s experience, quirks, and triggers all play a factor in the style of gameplay. Are you a hothead that is easily goaded into a dare? Are you a cool and collected secret agent that can never be rattled? Being aware of when to walk away (a loss limit) is just as important as having a basic knowledge of odds and knowledge of Blackjack. Hotheads tend to chase losses and make erratic wagers. Even someone that is a cool and collected card counting expert can be rattled, but the good player will not let that affect their plays.
This is why this online Blackjack guide starts off with addressing self-control. Not only does self-control apply to responsible gambling, but it also applies to being a good Blackjack player. This is especially so when playing online Blackjack. With online Blackjack, there are more variables of the unlimited variety which includes, total access to alcoholic beverages, quick access to funds and credit cards and the feeling of comfort. At a Blackjack table in a land based casino, drinks are plentiful, but you still have to wait for one to arrive. At that same land casino, access to funds is more controlled in that you have to walk to a cashier or ATM to replenish a bankroll. And, even though those chairs at the casino are comfy, there is nothing more secure feeling than being at home. These are the reasons that self-discipline is so important to the online Blackjack player. Set limits on your time at the table, your adult drinks and how much you are willing to lose.
Keep your wits and keep your cool. If you are in a winning streak, chase that until it starts dropping into your acceptable losses. It is when you get into a losing cycle and chase those losses; that any advantages of skill the player has simply go out the window.
The Physicality of Blackjack
Never sit at the table if you are tired or physically strained or in pain. It is a fact that your physical state affects your mental state and playing Blackjack is about 90% brain work and concentration. You don’t necessarily have to do one hundred pushups before playing, but if your arm has an itch that is annoying or you’ve recently broken your arm, you might want to consider waiting until those distractions have subsided.
The Mentality of the Blackjack Player
Blackjack is the one game aside from Chess where concentration is key. Playing with a full plate of problems, worries, or nagging thoughts can directly affect the choices the player makes at the table. Go into each game with a clear head.
Knowledge is Power Winning
We made mention of Chess earlier and just as in Chess, knowing the rules and available strategies for Blackjack is half the battle. This guide to Blackjack and its quick reference guides can be the best tool in preparing you for winning at Blackjack.
What is Your Game Plan?
Know what you want from each session of Blackjack that you play. Having set objectives such as an amount you want to win or a stop limit will help the player stay in control of the game.
Keep a Win/Loss Journal
Keeping a journal of your wins and losses will simply make you a more informed player. This goes back to self-knowledge and self-control. Having this journal as a reference will give the player keen insight into what needs to be adjusted, tweaked, and improved upon to strengthen their style of play.
Choice of Venue
This guide is applicable to playing Blackjack online and at any Casino from Macau to Las Vegas. If your interest lies in playing Blackjack online, please refer to our list of whitelisted online casinos and take advantage of the starting bonuses for Blackjack players.
Summary of What Readers will Gain from this Guide
In short, this guide will provide you with the toolset that you need to consistently win at Blackjack. We have sections for card counting, Blackjack systems, and Blackjack strategies as well as the basic rules. We do suggest reading through the entire guide, try not to skim through it and take as much as you can to the tables. Learning advanced topics such as card splitting and the rules of different variations of the game such as Australian Blackjack (Pontoon) are important for the serious player.
This guide is written as the collaborative efforts of James C. Mackey (myself) and Alfonse Pritchett. We have worked in the online gambling entertainment industry for twenty years each. Alfonse is a retired Airlines pilot and spends most of his time playing Blackjack either online or in a Las Vegas casino. I am a bit younger than Alfonse and have not yet retired, probably another thirty years for that. I am a professional writer, gambler, and all around good guy, or so my wife tells me. I honestly don’t have time to use Facebook or Twitter but I do respond very frequently to well-written email requests or friendly correspondence. If you would like to contact me please use firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blackjack Basics for the Beginner
Blackjack Basics for player's that are new to Live Blackjack, Online Blackjack and Real Money Casino Blackjack
If this is your first time playing Blackjack, then you are in for an exciting adventure that will be part of your entire life. Once you learn the basics of Blackjack, your chances of winning at any land casino or online casinos increase by 200%. The reason being is that any player can sit down at a Blackjack table and luckily get a win. A player that knows just the basics increases those chances of winning because of the application of that knowledge.
When you arrive at the table, you’ll need chips. You will place some or all of those chips into the card shaped box in front of you. If you are playing multiple hands simultaneously, then chips can be placed on 2 or more of the available card shaped boxes that represent the wagering area. If a number of your chips meets or exceeds the table minimum and do not exceed the maximum bet then you’ll be ready to play.
In most games of online Blackjack, after the wagers are placed, the dealer will then distribute cards in a clockwise pattern. In most games of Blackjack, the dealer will have a card that is facing up and a card that is facing down. In those games, the player will also have one card up and one card facing down.
Please note that in a “real casino”, that is to say, a non-virtual casino, the cards are shuffled in front of the player. In a game of online Blackjack, shuffling will take place, but mostly behind the scenes. Some gaming companies will include an animation to show that the cards are being shuffled and insert a pause to simulate the duration of time it would take for an actual shuffle. Despite these comforting additions, the shuffling process for a computer program is nearly instantaneous.
Once all of the hands at the table and the dealer have two cards, the dealer will then go clockwise requesting the action of the player. In the case the dealer has a Blackjack, the request will be if the player wants insurance. The actions that a player has available are hitting, standing, doubling, splitting and in some cases, insurance.
To stand means that the player is satisfied with the outcome of the current total of the cards. If the player has not exceeded 21, they may stand, but they are always given the option to hit.
To hit means to request an additional card to be dealt from the dealer. If the next card puts the player’s current total over 21 then that player busts.
To bust means that the player has exceeded 21.
In most games, splitting is allowed on matching pairs. In other games of Blackjack, the card denomination that may be split is sometimes limited. In standard Blackjack, Aces can be split but each hand is only permitted one additional card. This is also what happens when a player chooses to Double.
To double means to wager an additional amount equal to the current bet. When the player doubles, the dealer will deal one more card. This is typically most beneficial when the player’s total is eleven, as the bet is that the player will get a 10 point face card or 10 to meet the 21 requirement. Depending on the casino or the casino game, doubling and splitting can be combined in that the player may double their wager on each hand of a split.
The optional action called insurance is often misunderstood. When a dealer has an ACE showing, the action of the game stops as the dealer asks each player if they want Insurance. The best way to think about this misnomer is to consider it a side wager for if the dealer has a face down ten point card. Remember that insurance is offered only when the dealer has an Ace showing which indicates the chances of the dealer having a Blackjack are higher. Also, remember that the insurance wager is half of the current player’s bet. Most guides will tell you not to use the insurance option. Others will say to use it when the player has a natural 21 because the wager will be covered on a loss. In most games of Blackjack, insurance will pay two to one. The problem with using insurance when the player doesn’t have a natural Blackjack is that a dealer streak of Blackjack scenarios can really eat into a bankroll. In the long run, playing the insurance side bet is a losing bet.
What is Surrender in Blackjack? Also, another often misunderstood concept in Blackjack. Surrender is offered in some casinos and in some online Blackjack casino games. There are two means of applying surrender in a game and those are called early and late surrender. When the player surrenders, their cards are removed and half of the bet is returned to the player. In a few occasions, the surrender option could benefit the player. That would be where the player holds a sixteen versus a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace. The two times during a round that the dealer can accept a player’s surrender is if the dealer has just checked his cards for a Blackjack and before the dealer looks at the first dealt cards.
When just starting out with Blackjack, be it in a real casino or an online casino, it is best for the new player to think before they act. More hands of online Blackjack have been lost from a player quickly clicking Hit when they meant to hit stand or the other way around. Just take your time when clicking.
If you have read nothing about Blackjack strategy, but still have that impulse to try the game right away, just remember a few things at the table:
Always double on 11.
Don’t hit on a 14 and above.
Never use Insurance.
Always split aces and 8’s.
Never split a 20.
As you learn Blackjack strategy, you will learn that there are some occasions where the above might need to be broken. However, just starting out, that bit of information will keep you in the game much longer than without it.
Blackjack Myths – Common Misconceptions About Blackjack
MYTH No. 1 You need luck in order to win at casino Blackjack. This is completely false. Blackjack is the only casino game in which the player can actually get a permanent, long-term, mathematical advantage over the house using his or her own skill. True, over a few playing sessions, you may win or lose more than your advantage will dictate. But the long-term player who knows how to play the game according to this book will realize exactly the percentage of profit that is associated with whatever strategy … the player uses. There is no need to prove this in casino play if you are skeptical. Learn one of the strategies, then play a few thousand hands at home, keeping track of the results. Or, if you have a computer at your disposal, let the computer do the playing. Either way, you will show a profit after playing this many hands.
MYTH No. 2 You have to be a mathematical genius in order to learn how to win at Blackjack. This idea started after mathematics professor Edward O. Thorp published his best-selling Beat the Dealer in 1962. Thorp did have a very complicated strategy in his book called Ten Count. The press and other media focused on his being a professor and came to the conclusion that only an extremely intelligent person with a mathematical mind could win at Blackjack. This is now totally erroneous. Thorp’s 1966 edition of Beat the Dealer introduced a very simple point-count system where the player keeps track of large cards and small cards only. Being smart enough to count by 1s up to plus or minus 10 is enough. Anyone can learn to win.
MYTH No. 3 You have to have a photographic memory in order to learn to win. I am often the “absent-minded professor.” No photographic memory, or anything approaching such a memory, is needed. The most difficult part of learning to win is memorizing the Basic Strategy for playing the various possible hands. And for most people, all that’s needed is a few hours of memory work. You aren’t memorizing the cards as you see them, you are merely memorizing the Basic Strategy to help you shorten your study time.
MYTH No. 4 Dealers deal too fast for players to keep track of the cards. While some dealers do deal extremely fast, they can never deal faster than you can play. That’s because no dealer can deal past you until you give the signal that you wish to stand. Some dealers will try to get you into their rhythm of play by starting slowly and gradually speeding up, but you control the way you play your hand. He can never deal too fast for you to keep track of the cards.
MYTH No. 5 It is impossible to win playing against four or six decks because there are too many cards to keep track of. Four or more decks all mixed together do seem formidable to play against. But it is not more complex, it only takes longer to keep track of 208 cards compared to 52 cards. It is also somewhat more fatiguing, because you don’t rest as often. In a single-deck game, the dealer shuffles up, giving you time to rest. In a game of four decks or more, shuffling is more infrequent. The complexity of tracking cards is the same. There are no different types of cards to track in a multiple-deck game, only more cards. You still track the cards with a simple plus-1 or minus-1 count, the same as in a single-deck game. If you are worried about maintaining your concentration long enough in a multiple-deck game, buy four decks and intermix them. If you practice keeping track of the cards, your counting will quickly become an almost effortless skill.
MYTH No. 6 You need a bankroll of thousands of dollars in order to win appreciable amounts of money at Blackjack. All you need is a bankroll of two hundred dollars. With such a small start, you can win thousands of dollars. Admittedly, it will take much longer if you start small because you will only be able to make small bets at first, winning only small amounts of money. But you will win at the same rate as someone betting a thousand dollars per hand. The more hours you play, the more money you will accumulate. Once you double your bankroll, you can bet twice as much on each hand, and so on. After the first fifty hours of play, you will be making bigger bets and will be well on your way to winnings in four or five figures if you stay with the game.
MYTH No. 7 There is no cheating in large Las Vegas casinos. It has been my experience that the larger the casino, the more expert the cheating dealers are. I have been cheated out of thousands and thousands of dollars by dealers in the largest casinos in the world.
MYTH No. 8 They only cheat high rollers. A cheating dealer will cheat anybody he wants to, whether the person is betting fifty cents or five hundred dollars. Cheating dealers do not discriminate unless it is in their best interests because it is easier to deal themselves a good hand (hurting everybody) than it is to deal a particular player a bad hand.
MYTH No. 9 Bad players hurt a good player’s game. It has been proven mathematically that bad players at the table help a good player as often as they hinder him in actual casino playing. A winning player never blames another player for his losses. Instead, a winner thanks the bad player when the latter helps by playing badly.
MYTH No. 10 The player sitting at third base can have a greater effect on whether the dealer busts or not than any other player at the table. This only appears to be true because he is the last player to draw and all the other players’ attention is focused on him. Yet he has no more of an effect on the dealer than the players elsewhere at the table who hit, double, split, or stand. Every single play can change the order of the cards the dealer gets. Therefore, it doesn’t matter who goes last. What matters, in terms of an effect on the dealer’s hand, is how many and what kinds of cards (large or small) are drawn by all the players together.
MYTH No. 11 Casinos use shills in order to cheat players. Although the casino could cheat a Blackjack player in a number of ways, using a shill is usually not one of them (a shill is an employee of the casino who plays with house money). True, some casinos use shills to attract players to the table, it’s easy to spot shills, because they never double down or split.
Humble, Lance, and Ken Cooper. “Myths of Blackjack.” The World's Greatest Blackjack Book. 3.1 ed. Garden City: Doubleday, 1987. 65-69. Print.