Blackjack is a game that combines chance and strategy, so it is very important that you are comfortable while playing. If you’re playing slots or craps, for instance, you have no affect on the outcome, so if you’re nervous, feeling rushed, or confused it doesn’t really matter. With blackjack, however, you need to concentrate and make the correct decisions in order to reduce the house edge, which can be as low as 0.5% using blackjack basic strategy alone (without counting cards).
Some people feel rushed at the blackjack table, though. I know I did the first time I went to a casino. I looked at all of the people around me who were playing and didn’t want them to get angry with me for taking too long. Also, the croupier is very good at dealing cards, taking and giving chips in a fast manner. The dealer’s fast pace of play may make you feel rushed, as if you’re expected to play that fast as well.
However, the truth is that you have control over the pace of the game. Each time it is your turn, the next person can’t go until you are done with your turn. Some people feel rushed for that reason – the next person is waiting for them – but instead, you should look at it as a source for comfort. No matter how long you take, the others have to wait for you. Therefore, if it takes you a little longer than the other players to think over basic strategy, that is fine. Now, I don’t recommend you take a few minutes going over your basic strategy chart before every decision, but taking a little time is fine.
Another blackjack tip I have is to take one of the last seats if you’re a slower player. If you take the first seat, you will be the first player to go after the dealer deals himself a hole card and up card. Some people feel a lot of pressure in the first seat. My first time there, I completely forgot to check the dealer’s cards to see what he has! Obviously, basic strategy went out the window at that point, because it is contingent on the dealer’s up card.
If you are a slower player, taking one of the last seats gives you more of a chance to breathe, look at the dealer’s card, and then decide ahead of time what you will do depending on what cards you are dealt: Okay, the dealer is showing a 6, so I’ll stand if I’m dealt 12 or better.
Sometimes people will complain that the dealer speeds the game up too much. The truth is that the dealer wants the game to go as fast as possible for two reasons. First, it makes it harder to count cards. Secondly, the faster the game is played, the more games can be played during the day, which means more money for the casino.
However, though the dealer may want the game to go by fast, there is nothing he can do to make you move faster. Each player determines the speed of the game by how long they take on their turn. For that reason, there is no reason to play at a pace with which you are not comfortable. My advice is when playing blackjack, find a speed you are comfortable playing and stick to that speed. It should make the game more enjoyable and lead to fewer mistakes in strategy.