If there’s one thing all amateur gamblers have in common, it’s that they don’t know nearly as much about blackjack strategy as they think. Perhaps that’s by design.
On the other hand, the house has a few advantages that they’d rather not share with patrons. The good news? Anyone has access to the information so they’re not keeping you from learning for yourself.
Whether it’s blackjack strategy or blackjack lore, there’s something everyone can learn. In this article, I’ll lay out the top 10 things casinos don’t want you to know about this popular table game.
1 – Some Plays You Should ‘Always’ Do
The most experienced real money blackjack players know that it’s hard to nail down any rules that are never subject to change. Meaning, most of the time your move has some dependency on what the dealer has showing.
With that being said, there are a few moves that should be made every single time. These are the ones that you need to memorize, and should eventually become second nature.
First, you need to know that it’s always in your best interest to hit on a soft 17. The difference between a soft 17 and a hard 17 is that in the soft form, it requires an ace and a six. A hard 17 is a combination that adding up to 17 that does not involve an ace, and thus does not have the same flexibility. The reason a soft 17 is flexible is because the ace can be used as a one if necessary.
With a hard 17, you should always stay. The risk posed by hitting is too great as the majority of cards would cause you to bust in this scenario.
2 – And Some You Should Never Do
Just as you should know which moves to make, you also need to know which moves to avoid in all cases.
First, you should never split 5’s or 10’s. Additionally, you shouldn’t stand on 12 through 16 if the dealer has a 7 or higher showing. These plays will almost always give the house an advantage and put you in a position where you need a good deal of luck to win the hand.
Another thing you should avoid in all cases is paying for insurance. The bottom line is that even when insurance helps you out, in the long run, it’s statistically less likely to work in your favor.
Simply avoiding these moves doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win, but they are the correct plays if you evaluate the situation from a probability standpoint. In the long run, it will help you more times than not.
3 – No Consequence for Not Tipping
Now, let me preface this by saying you should always tip your dealer. They rely on tips to make a decent income, and even a small amount goes a long way in showing your appreciation for the work they’re doing.
With all of that being said, the casino won’t actually do anything to penalize you if you don’t tip. You might catch a dirty glance from a pit boss or the dealers themselves, but they aren’t able to take any steps that hurt your chances of winning money at the table.
If you’ve had a terrible round and lost all your money, it’s understandable that you might not be jumping out of your seat to fork over more cash.
4 – Card Counting Isn’t Actually Illegal
If you’ve watched a movie involving card counting as a way to make money (and there are quite a few movies like this), you might be thinking that it’s highly illegal and can get you put in jail or worse.
The reality is, quite frankly, much less exciting.
Card counting is definitely frowned upon at casinos, and if they pick up that you’re doing it and winning money (if you’re counting and continuously losing, it’s a different story), they’ll likely ask you to leave. In some cases, you might even receive a lifetime ban or suspension from the establishment.
Although there are consequences if you get caught, you aren’t going to be spending time behind bars or roughed up in a storage closet. Not to mention, it’s pretty hard to get caught unless you’re winning obscene amounts of money at a rate that seems suspicious.
While anyone can learn to card count, it’s still difficult to pull off in the midst of the pressure of a fast-paced game. Generally speaking, it’s better to direct your energy towards learning the best practices of blackjack without card counting.
5 – Those Drinks Aren’t Actually Free
A high percentage of people who visit casinos regularly like to accompany their trip to the table with a beverage. Casinos are notorious for giving out free drinks. The only problem for gamblers is you’re paying for those drinks one way or another.
For starters, it’s assumed that you’ll tip your waitress at least a small amount. Second, the more you drink, the higher chance that you’ll lose.
It’s not just that alcohol throws off your concentration for the game – also, alcohol doesn’t make you “less lucky.” However, it’s a scientific fact that consuming alcohol does lower your inhibitions and significantly raises your risk tolerance. This can lead to overly-confident betting and thus, big losses.
If you’re still not buying that the drinks aren’t really a gift from the house, consider this: Would they really be giving them to you if they didn’t think they’d earn their money back?
6 – Dealers Don’t Always Give Good Advice
Here’s something you might not have expected – blackjack dealers aren’t always well-informed about the strategy behind what it takes to be successful. That doesn’t mean they’re afraid to share their advice.
While dealers generally do mean well and want you to win (hey, more winnings means bigger tips), they can still provide unfamiliar players with advice that actually makes it more difficult to win.
I’m not suggesting that you should never listen to the dealer when they give out some tips or suggestions, but am simply making it known that they aren’t necessarily experts. This is why it’s still crucial to do your own research and know basic strategy moves.
7 – Online Casinos Might Be Better
Nobody at your casino downtown is going to tell you that you could be getting a better deal if you took your bankroll online, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
In the gambling world of today and the future, online casinos, specifically those that specialize in online blackjack, provide tremendous opportunities for players. I’m referring to things that you won’t find at the physical casino such as bonuses, additional game offerings, and more flexibility with minimums.
If you’re looking for any type variation of blackjack, even one with no minimum, it’s likely that you can find it online if you search hard enough. Aside from the nearly-endless options, you can also enjoy sign-up bonuses that essentially give you free money to play with.
Yes, playing online is not the same experience as going to a real casino. But if you live in a city where you don’t have easy access to a casino, or if you don’t want to deal with $10 (at least) minimums, online gambling could be the way to go.
Blackjack remains one of the most popular games in the casino – and for good reason. It’s easy to learn, has a low house edge, and doesn’t require a massive bankroll to make money.
Before you pull up a chair (physically or virtually), make sure you’ve memorized the basics. Although there is a great deal of luck involved in being successful, if you don’t make the right plays, you’re significantly increasing the house edge.
If you put in a little time to perfect the art, anyone can be successful playing blackjack.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …