Our best tips to keep you in the green. Why is blackjack such a gripping game? Why do players return to the table, time and time again, to test their odds against the dealer? When you’re browsing all of our online games at Bitcasino, hoping to secure huge gains from your Bitcoin bankroll, you might not think of blackjack right away.
You might think that it is a game of pure luck and does not involve much skill. But that’s exactly where so many players lose out. To help you succeed in your game, we’ve compiled a list of the five top blunders that you need to be wary of when sitting down at any of our blackjack tables.
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1. Know the rules
No one would ever sign up to an agreement without reading the small print first or knowing exactly what they are getting in to. The same is true for blackjack. Before you join any blackjack table, make sure that you feel in complete control of the situation by checking all the rules and specifications of that particular table. Checking the minimum bet for each hand is something obvious that you should look out for, but what about the more specific house rules?
What about doubling down? This is when you have the chance to double your initial bet on the condition that you stand after receiving one more card. Are there any restrictions on when you’re able to double down or the amount you are allowed to bet on any hand? In rarer circumstances, some tables offer you the opportunity to ‘surrender’, which means that you can fold your starting hand and reclaim half of your original bet. There are multiple variations on this rule so, if the house offers this, you need to clarify the specific restrictions on surrendering.
The more you know beforehand, the easier it will be for you to make informed decisions throughout the game. Never get caught out by surprise house rules – any nasty shocks like this could throw your judgement completely off balance. It might even take you several rounds before you regain your composure, and in that time, you could suffer significant losses. Most casinos will list their specific rules, but don’t hold back from asking the dealer to clarify anything that does not make sense to you. It’s your money that you are betting with after all!
2. Don’t count on luck, use a strategy
Be it money, time or energy, you wouldn’t normally risk anything without having a plan of how you intend to progress. So why would you play blackjack without a strategy for making a profit? While the rules of blackjack are relatively simple, there is still a lot of theory behind this game.
Hundreds of books have been written to guide beginners and seasoned players, and there are multiple tools online to help you learn and develop the strategies that best suit your style of play. The most important technique to learn is called basic strategy, a card-counting formula that is the foundation for most other techniques and approaches. Most blackjack tactics depend on card counting in one form or another, like the tagging cards strategy in which you assign values to cards that are in play, depending on how useful they are to you. By keeping track of this, you should be able to calculate your odds and hedge your bets.
Single Deck Blackjack is excellent for practicing simple counting strategies. Try it now and hone your skills before moving on to more complex blackjack variations.
Once you’re comfortable with the basics, it’s good practice to master some additional systems before you make some serious bets. This is just in case the house rules make it difficult for you to implement one of your strategies or if one of your tactics isn’t working – just don’t swap too often or you’ll have no consistency!
We’ll get to mental discipline later in the article, but wherever or whenever you play blackjack, you need to implement a strategy and have clear limits on your losses or gains.
3. Betting progressions are not infallible
Although it is important to have a system in place before you play, certain strategies also have their limits, and this includes betting progressions. This technique depends on you winning several hands in a row and increasing your bet with every victory, so that you can maximise on your success. If your initial bet is $5, for example, and you win the hand, your next bet will be $10, and so on until you lose a hand. In theory, betting progressions should enable you to make most of your winning streaks but they are not guaranteed to work in practice.
Many articles online will recommend betting progressions as a reliable approach to help you to secure wins based on your previous hands, and it can’t be denied that they have their benefits. They encourage you to pay close attention to the game and to count the cards that have been played which helps you to stay more focused on the gameplay. Using this method also gives you a clear plan of attack for the hands that will be dealt to you. Finally, playing with a betting progression means that you have to carefully manage funds as they encourage you to set limits on your wins and losses.
However, blackjack is not immediately suited to a progression system. It’s a much more fluid game that requires a flexible approach. Because betting progressions require you to double your bet with every win, and some even demand that you double your bet when you lose, you can end up betting much more than you feel comfortable risking. Following this logic, you could lose all your funds very quickly.
Rather than rigidly sticking to this strategy, it is more sensible to bet on the cards and not on your previous wins or losses. Naturally you should continue counting the cards with each round, until the deck is shuffled, but you should only make a bet by evaluating your odds based on your current hand, and not basing this on your previous losses. Sticking too rigidly to a betting progression will mean that you could clear out your bankroll before you are able to make any gains.
4. Stay away from CSMs
CSMs, or Continuous Shuffling Machines, are becoming an increasingly common sight in brick-and-mortar casinos, as well as their digital counterparts. Traditionally, several decks were shuffled together by hand or by a small machine, and then manually loaded into the shoe. But many casinos are now introducing CSMs under the pretext that these machines reduce the amount of time players spend waiting for cards to be shuffled and dealt. Critics have argued, however, that CSMs actually increase the odds in the house’s favour and severely reduce the gains players are likely to make.
After each hand, the dealer will typically put all the used cards in a pile to one side. In more conventional shuffling techniques, once the dealer reaches the cut card, the used cards will be shuffled back into the main deck and returned to the shoe. This means that players have enough opportunity to count the cards and gradually improve their odds. Using a CSM greatly reduces these odds. Here, the used cards are returned to the shoe after every few hands and then automatically shuffled by the machine. This makes it almost impossible for players to begin making accurate judgements on the likelihood of their hand securing a return.
5. You’re not ‘fated’ to win a hand
While you might stick to a betting progression formula in the hope that you will eventually win and recuperate your losses, it is equally easy to convince yourself that you are ‘owed’ a win after a losing streak. However, unless you are paying close attention to the cards, and unless you are calmly weighing up your odds, the more hands you play, the more likely you are to lose money. Holding on to the idea that, eventually, it will be ‘your time to win’ is just wishful thinking.
There is also the temptation to see how far you can go by just testing your fortune. As we have already mentioned, blackjack is a game of statistical chance and logical reasoning. You need to keep your judgement clear at all times to stop these superstitious ideas from encroaching on your game. To guarantee this, it is best to employ a psychological strategy, in addition to your tactical approach. Every time you sit down in front of a blackjack table, exercise a bit of mental discipline to get into the correct mind set. Treat every hand as an individual bet that is independent of your previous wins or losses, and do not get emotionally pulled into the game.
This is especially true in games like Double Exposure Blackjack. In this game, both the dealer’s cards are exposed for every player to see, meaning that you have more information to make a reasonable bet, so there’s really no point in relying on luck or superstition whatsoever!
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By ensuring this reasonable level discipline, you will be more likely to make sound, strategic decisions based on logic, not superstition. You will not feel like you have been cheated of a win if you choose to stick on a 17 and the dealer takes the round, neither are you likely to start playing more aggressively to make bigger gains. A careful, patient strategy is always more reliable than a flurry of desperate bets.
Keep your cool
Ultimately, all this advice boils down to one clear rule: play intelligently and stay focused. Before and during the game, keep your head clear and stay alert. Never come to a game feeling tired or distracted, and never play blackjack while inebriated – unless you’re James Bond… which is highly unlikely. Make sure that you are confident with the strategies you plan to use, familiarise yourself with the house rules, and pay attention to the cards that are being played.
Blackjack is always fantastic entertainment, but you are more likely to enjoy it if you immerse yourself in the game and are confident in your every move. Are you cool enough to beat the dealer? Why not test your mettle and join an online blackjack table at Bitcasino today?
Words: Sean Mcnulty
Images: PA, Depositphotos & Bitcasino