Posts Tagged ‘blackjack tips’

Internet Blackjack Tips

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

One advantage of playing blackjack on the Internet is that there is no time limit. If you are playing at a table at a brick and mortar casino, you don’t want to take too long. There are other people at the table waiting for you to make your move. The dealer is waiting for you. If you sit there and ponder your decision for too long, people are going to get upset.

Online, however, you don’t have that problem. You are playing against a computer program and there is no human dealer or other players at the table waiting on you. You can take as much time as you need. If you don’t have blackjack basic strategy memorized, you can work off of a strategy chart. If you don’t have a chart handy, you can access one online. If you want more strategy advice, you can even read tips on howtoblackjack.org while you play. The casino doesn’t care and it doesn’t bother anyone else.

Too few people take advantage of this. Having as much time as you need is important for new blackjack players. For that reason, some people advocate new players cutting their teeth online before they ever sit down at a real table to play. Even if you don’t want to do that, utilizing the options available to you online can help you save money.

By taking your time, consulting strategy guides and getting tips wile you play, you can avoid making the wrong decisions when playing blackjack. That doesn’t guarantee that you will make money, but it gives you better odds.

Blackjack Speed of Play

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Though it often goes overlooked, your speed of play in blackjack has a lot to do with what happens to your bankroll. When you play blackjack, finding a table with good rules is essential, as is knowing basic strategy and not playing while distracted. Having control of the speed of play is important as well.

The game of blackjack has a house advantage, which means during each hand the casino is more likely to come out ahead than you are. In the long run, the casino will take approximately 0.5% of your bet if you follow perfect basic strategy. Since it’s a percentage, the amount of money you win or lose is determined by how many hands you play. Therefore, the more hands you play during the night, the more money you stand to lose.

For that reason, you should stay away from things that speed up the game. That includes continuous shuffle machines, which allows the shuffling of cards without the dealer having to stop. That also means you should stay away from tables with several empty seats if there are other blackjack tables that are full. The more players are at the table, the more time it takes to go through each hand.

Conversely, it’s possible to actually have the odds in your favor if you are counting cards. Expert card counters can play blackjack and have the advantage on their side. If that is the case, you would want to do the opposite, favoring tables where you can go through hands faster, if that still gives you time to count. If you are newer to card counting, it is even more important to have a slower table because that gives you more time to count the cards.

Blackjack Continuous Shuffle Machines

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

If you’re new to blackjack but know it from TV or from playing a few hands with friends or online, you may think of it as a single-deck game. The truth is, most of the time the game is played with multiple decks. What’s more, the casinos often use continuous shuffling machines to keep the deck randomized, making card counting much more difficult. So are those bad for the player? In short, yes.

The more decks there are at a blackjack table, the more the odds favor the house. This is true even if you’re not counting cards, but if you are a counter, it makes a huge difference. Keep in mind, though, that the single-deck games usually have worse rules, including paying only 6 to 5 for a blackjack instead of 3 to 2. Those rules compensate for the better odds of fewer cards.

As for the continuous shuffling machines, since they randomly shuffle the discards after every around, that makes it more difficult to tell what cards are coming. It also keeps those bad cards coming back time and again. The biggest impact they make on the game, though, is simply the speed of play. If you are playing blackjack at a table using a continuous shuffling machine, on average you will play 20% more hands per hour than at a table where the dealer shuffles by hand. Since there is a house edge, more hands played means more money lost, on average.

For that reason, whenever possible, look for single-deck games where the dealer shuffles by hand. Beware of other rules made worse to compensate, though.

Casino Comps

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

One of the great things about playing blackjack at online casinos is the bonuses you can receive. Online casinos offer a wide variety of cash-back bonuses, deposit match bonuses and more as a way of rewarding your loyalty. Brick and mortar casinos, like in Las Vegas, aren’t able to do that, but they do offer comps.

“Comps” are the complimentary gifts given by the casino to its guests. Not everyone gets them and not every casino offers them. To receive comps, you have to be a member of the casino’s loyalty club. Members of that club are given a card or some other form of identification. The casino then keeps track of your betting and rewards you with things like free food, a free hotel stay, free drinks, a reduced hotel rate and more.

With online casino bonuses, the rewards are the same for everyone. If it is offering a 50% match bonus on deposits, everyone will get the same thing. That is not the case with comps at brick and mortar casinos. Those are tailored to each individual player.

The casinos have a formula that they use to calculate comps. In short, they make sure the value of your comps doesn’t exceed the amount you are expected to lose in the casino. If it does, then they lost money by serving you. The casinos use a formula where they calculate your wager amounts, the length of time that you play, and the casino advantage for the games you play. Based on that, combined with other factors, they decided how much money they expect you to lose during your stay at the casino. The casino then makes sure the comps don’t exceed that value. That way, the comps are a good incentive for you to continue playing there but don’t actually cost the casino money.

Blackjack Tip: Have Tunnel Vision

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Tunnel vision isn’t normally something with a positive connotation. It normally means you miss things you should be noticing. It certainly isn’t good when driving; that’s for sure! In the right circumstances, though, having tunnel vision gives you better focus. A basketball player uses it at the free throw line to avoid noting the moving, screaming fans behind the basket. A baseball pitcher uses it to zero in on the catcher’s glove. A good blackjack player uses it to focus on the cards and nothing else.

If you play blackjack online, there aren’t as many distractions, but if you play at a brick and mortar casino, there are distractions aplenty. There is the loud music, the yelling customers, the bleeps of machines, the sound of coin tokens hitting the floor. There is that drunk guy at the table with you. There is the exceptionally hot woman in the skimpy cocktail dress at the next table. A good blackjack player tunes all of that out.

Distractions aren’t good in blackjack because they result in bad decisions. Don’t worry about things around you, including whether or not the person at third base is playing like an idiot. Just focus on the cards and playing basic blackjack strategy.

Cocktail waitresses, dealers in lingerie, alcohol, stage shows and more can be distractions and that’s exactly what the casino wants. If you want to keep as much of your money as possible, tune that out while you play. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of the casino. On the contrary, I think if you go to a casino, you should enjoy all of that. Just enjoy it when you are not at the blackjack table. When you are at the table, be all business and focus on the cards.

Is the blackjack dealer on your side?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

People have different opinions about casinos. Some people think they are an opponent who is greedy and just wants to take their money. Some people think they are a benevolent company that wants to cater to you and keep you happy. The truth is, a casino is a little bit of both. Knowing that can help you play blackjack.

There are not very many business models where the customer is also a competitor. You can say that carnival games are kind of the same. You can even make the same case for insurance companies, who sell you risk, hoping that you don’t cash in. For the most part, though, it’s a unique type of business.

The casino wants to keep you happy, so they will show you around, give you comps, and treat you like an important guest. They also want you to lose when playing on the casino floor, but not lose so much money that you get discouraged and don’t return. It’s a fine line that they tread.

All of that comes into play when it comes to how you view the blackjack dealer. Is he your friend who is on your side or is he an enemy combatant? In blackjack, you are directly competing against the dealer, but does that mean you can’t trust him? Well, sort of.

The blackjack dealer isn’t going to lie to you. A lying dealer will develop a bad reputation with players, which will hurt the casino’s reputation. Therefore, if you ask them a question, they’ll give you the truth. A lot of newer players will ask them for advice. “Hmm, I don’t know. Do you think I should hit?” If you aren’t sure, you can ask and the dealer will give you an honest answer based on basic strategy. Again, there’s too much risk in the dealer being caught lying.

However, that does not mean that any move the dealer offers is a good one. If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, he will ask if you want insurance. That does not mean he is recommending it as good strategy. It is usually bad strategy to take insurance, because the house edge is higher than in the regular game. The same goes for any other blackjack side bet. Just because the dealer offers it doesn’t mean it is good strategy. For that reason, it is very important to know basic strategy so you can tell good advice from a suggestion aimed at helping the casino.

Should I play two blackjack hands at a time?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Every now and then you see someone at the blackjack table playing more than one hand at a time. I’m not talking about splitting a pair. I’m talking about starting with two different hands. You might be thinking, Is this a good strategy?

It is actually a great strategy, if you hate money. If you’re like the guy in Brewster’s Millions, who had to give away as much of his money as possible, it’s a great idea. Bet high and bet on as many hands as possible. If you’re like most people, though, I advise against it.

Playing with multiple hands causes you to lose money faster. Blackjack has a house edge, meaning the casino has an advantage over you. It is a small edge in blackjack – as low as 0.5% with blackjack basic strategy – but it is still an advantage. That means whenever you place a bet, you are statistically more likely to lose than to win.

Playing multiple hands simultaneously doesn’t affect your odds at all. What it does affect is your rate of play. Playing multiple hands at a time, you will play more hands in a given period of time. Because of the house edge, the more hands you play, the more money you are conceivably giving to the casino. Sure, it can work out in your favor, buy statistically speaking, it will cost you money. For that reason, it is best to stick to playing a single hand at a time. Instead of playing multiple hands, play one hand and remember that it’s supposed to be a fun game. Instead of stretching yourself out trying to make big money, enjoy playing the most fun game in the casino.

It’s okay to take a break!

Friday, April 15th, 2011

For most people, this goes without saying, but I want to say it anyway. It’s okay to take a break in blackjack, even if you’re on a hot streak. Recently there was a case of a woman who was playing blackjack at a Las Vegas casino for 15 straight hours. She didn’t want to leave, even for a bathroom break, because she was on such a hot streak. Before long, the manager had to escort her out of the casino because a foul smell was bothering others in the casino. Considering that she had gone more than 15 hours without a bathroom break, you can probably guess what the smell was.

Things like this happen are not as rare as you might think, though, so it’s important to point out how unnecessary it is. Streaks happen in blackjack, but your odds, in the long run, don’t change if you stick to basic strategy. If you’re counting cards, you want to keep playing while there are a lot of unplayed ten cards. Otherwise, even if you’re on a hot streak, there’s no reason you can’t walk away for a bit. Your odds will be the same when you return.

The woman refused to leave because she was superstitious and didn’t want to give up her seat or sit out a hand. That’s ridiculous, but to a gambling addict, it seems perfectly normal. Prolonged periods of time spent gambling without taking a break are a warning sign of problem gambling, so even if you aren’t having bowel problems like that woman, if you are playing too long, that might be a sign that you need help. Playing that long without a break can’t be fun, anyway, and why are you playing if you’re not having fun? Blackjack is a fun game and certainly shouldn’t be looked at as a way of making money. That’s investing, which is not the same as gambling. So if you need a break, take one, no matter how the cards are playing out.

Tax Law for Blackjack and Slots Different

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Most people don’t think about the IRS and taxes when they play games at a casino. It’s probably because playing casino games is fun and thinking about taxes is the opposite of that. Still, some people worry about what they need to do when they win money.

The important thing to remember is that you have to report it. If you live in the United States, the IRS requires you to report all sources of income, including that $20 your neighbor gave you to wash his car. Now, few people are going to report anything that small, but when it comes to bigger gains like at a casino, you better report it to be on the safe side. The federal prisons are full of people who assumed the IRS would never notice the income they failed to disclose.

If you play the slot machines, it can be easy. If you hit a jackpot over $1,200, representatives from the casino will approach you on the floor and give you IRS forms to sign. They will submit one copy and you will keep another for your records. If you make a smaller amount, though, it’s up to you to make sure you report it. The same goes for playing blackjack, no matter what amount you win. You can win $5,000 playing blackjack and the casino won’t come and give you a 1099 to fill out. That is because the federal tax law only requires that action for slots. Why? Who knows? It’s the government; don’t look for logic.

The one exception to that rule regards the exchange of funds over $10,000. If you purchase $10,000 or more in chips or convert that amount in chips to $10,000 or more in cash, you will be required to fill out paperwork. You will be given a Currency Transaction Report. That form is not a tax form and you need one for any cash transaction of that value, whether it’s at a car dealership, a bank or wherever. That paperwork is done to track large amounts of money to prevent laundering and fraud.

If it all sounds confusing, here’s how you simplify it: If you win money playing blackjack or any other game at a casino, report it on your taxes. The good news is that you can usually report your losses as well, which can help you get a rebate.

Blackjack Safest Casino Game

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

There are a number of reasons that blackjack is my game of choice. It is fun, provides strategy without being as complicated as poker, and has good odds. In fact, it has the best odds in the casino if you adhere to basic strategy. If you count cards, you can even tilt the odds in your favor. Now, however, there is another reason to favor blackjack over other casino games: it is safer.

A recent study conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Sydney found that blackjack is the game least likely to lead to problem gambling. Gambling addiction, problem gambling, or whatever you want to call it, is a major issue and although it only affects a small number of gamblers, it is a large enough problem that it needs to be addressed. People with gambling problems can lose their jobs, their homes, their families and more.

According to the study, though, blackjack players are the least likely casino gamblers to develop a gambling problem. The study interviewed patients at gambling rehabilitation centers about what forms of gambling they engage in, among other factors. The results of the study are that fewer than 1% of those who were getting treatment for gambling addiction cite blackjack as their game of choice. No-limit poker games and sports betting were the most represented, with both totaling 85%, indicating that they are the forms of gambling most prone to develop into a problem.

The study also found a correlation between alcohol and drug use and problem gambling. This may not come as a surprise, but the problem gamblers reported that most of their irresponsible betting was done while under the influence. The study found that intoxication while gambling makes the player 15,000% more likely to engage in behavior that leads to financial problems.

Based on the results of this study, it seems that the moral of the story is this: Don’t gamble while intoxicated. Stick to blackjack.