Today I want to talk about something that should be common sense but doesn’t seem to be: Practice is important for blackjack. There are some games where all you have to do is learn the rules and then you can go play without practicing. Slots come to mind, as do bingo and keno. Blackjack is not that way. If you want to have success at blackjack, you must study blackjack basic strategy, memorize it, and practice it enough that it becomes second nature.
Some people think that going over basic strategy a few times is good enough. Or they think that memorizing it is good enough. Well, that goes a long way toward becoming a good blackjack player, but there is a big difference in memorizing a chart and making the correct decisions when a dealer looks at you and asks you what to do. Being a good blackjack player takes practice.
You wouldn’t buy a violin, play it once to make sure you knew how to make certain sounds, and then get up onstage and play a concert, would you? If so, please never invite me to your performances. You wouldn’t take tennis lessons, learn to play, and then go take part in a tournament without practicing in between, would you? If so, remind me to challenge you to a high-stakes tennis tournament.
The point is, despite what some players believe, memorizing blackjack basic strategy isn’t good enough. When you sit at the table, you’re likely to freeze up. It’s happened to me countless times. I’ve forgotten to split. I’ve forgotten to double. At times I even forget to look and see what the dealer’s upcard is. As crazy as it sounds, it happens. The pressure of sitting at a blackjack table in a casino can get to you and cause you to make bad decisions – decisions that you would know not to make when going over the strategy chart in your head. The only way to overcome that is by practicing blackjack enough that it becomes second nature to you. That’s what athletes and musicians do and it’s what you should do as well.
There are a few ways to practice your blackjack strategy. Most online casinos offer free trial versions of their games. You can play them for as long as you want, wagering fake money, and consult the chart while you play, if you need to. There are also some websites, such as hitorstand.net, that are used to train you to make the right decisions when playing blackjack. Another way to do it is the old-fashioned way, how we did it before people used fancy computer programs for everything: Take out a deck of cards. You can deal them to yourself if you’re alone or, better yet, get a friend to deal the cards to you.
Whatever method you choose, as long as you’re practicing, you will benefit. Just remember that if a musician or athlete stops practicing, their skills will lessen, even though their knowledge hasn’t changed. The same is true for blackjack. You need to practice not only to become a good player, but also to remain a good player.