Posts Tagged ‘bad blackjack strategy’

Blackjack Strategy: Don’t mimic the dealer

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I think most blackjack players know that basic strategy gives you the best odds over the long run. There is no shortage of bad strategies out there, though. One of the most common mistakes that new players make is mimicking the dealer.

I understand why people would do that. They probably know that the dealer has a statistical advantage in blackjack – called the house edge. If not, they at least know that the dealer plays a lot more blackjack hands than they do, so if he knows what to do they should follow him! The problem is that they are wrong.

Dealers will always hit on a 16 or less and always stand on a 17 or more, unless they are at a table where the dealer hits a soft 17. The dealer also never splits or doubles down. If the player mimics that strategy, that results in a house edge of 5.48%. By comparison, basic strategy results in a house edge of 0.5%.

So why is mimicking the dealer bad strategy? It is not the hit or stand rules that the dealer follows that gives him an edge. It is other rules, such as the fact that the players play out their hand before the dealer draws a third card, giving you an opportunity to bust first.

If you mimic the dealer, you are giving up two of the biggest weapons in your arsenal: splitting and doubling down. Splitting pairs appropriately gives you the change to win two hands instead of one when you have good hands. Likewise, doubling appropriately gives you a chance to win double the money on a good hand. Giving up those pieces of basic strategy gives up the chance to make up for your losing hands. So stop trying to mimic the dealer when playing blackjack and be yourself, as long as “yourself” is someone who follows basic strategy!

Bad Blackjack Strategy: Hitting a 12-16 vs. Dealer 2-6

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Most blackjack players know that basic strategy is the best way of lowering the house edge so you can play the game while losing only a small portion (0.5%) of your money. However, in the heat of the moment, when sitting at the blackjack table surrounded by players and a quick-moving dealer, people can make bad decisions. Of course, you don’t have this problem playing at an online casino.

A common mistake for people who play at a blackjack table for the first time is to look at only your cards and not bother checking the dealer’s up card. This seems really foolish, because basic strategy tells you what to do when you have certain cards versus certain dealer cards, but when you’re put under pressure it can happen. To be honest, it happened to me the first time I sat at a real blackjack table.

Forgetting to check the dealer’s cards can lead to a lot of mistakes, with one of the most common being hitting a 12-16 versus a dealer 2-6. If you have studied blackjack basic strategy, you know that 12-16 are stiff hands and they are not high enough to beat the dealer unless he busts. Therefore, though hitting gives you a high risk of busting, it is usually the better option. Usually.

If the dealer shows a 2-6, though, he is likely to have a stiff hand as well, taking into account the high probability of the dealer having a 10 in the hole. You have an advantage over the dealer, though. You have the option of standing. The dealer, on the other hand, has to hit until he gets a 17 or better. For that reason, if you both might have stiff hands, the right play is to stand and hope the dealer busts.

The exception is if you have a hand of 12 and the dealer shows a 2 or 3. In this case, though it is a stiff hand, it is less likely to bust, both for the dealer and for you, as in any of the other stiff hands. For that reason, in this situation you should take a hit. For any other hands in this range, you should stand and cross your fingers (crossing your fingers is optional).

Bad Strategy: The D’Alembert System

Monday, March 29th, 2010

In my blog, aside from giving advice of what you should do when playing blackjack, I like to also tell you what not to do. When it comes to bad blackjack strategy, the most popular culprits are betting systems. There are countless betting systems out there designed to defeat the house edge, but the simple truth is that none of them work.

One such system is the D’Alembert system, which is a cancellation system that is sometimes also called an Alembert system. Whatever you call it, using this betting system will have a disastrous affect on your bankroll in the long run. At its simplest, with the D’Alembert System you increase your bet when you lose and decrease it when you win. Unlike the Paroli and Martingale systems, there is no base bet. Your bet will always increase or decrease depending on whether you win or lose. Needless to say, if you get into a losing streak your bankroll will deteriorate quickly.

The D’Alembert system is usually applied to games of chance such as roulette and craps, though in their fervor to find a strategy more beneficial than basic strategy, many people have tried using it for blackjack. I’m not a mathematician, but the man who goes by the Wizard of Odds is. He is the recognized expert in gambling percentages, odds and strategies, and he has concluded, through a computer simulation of a million hands of play, that the D’Alembert system will cause you to lose money faster than with flat betting.

Without going into the complex mathematics of it, let me make it very simple. The D’Alembert system is a type of cancellation system. A cancellation system counts on there being two sides of outcomes, positive or negative (winning and losing) and an equal probability of each. Therefore, by betting more when you lose and less when you win, you cancel out your losses and make up for the lost money. The major flaw of this system is that there isn’t an equal probability of the two outcomes.

Blackjack has a house edge and what that means is that you will lose more often than you win. Not only that, but basic strategy may reduce the house edge to a slight 0.5%, but that percentage is over the long run. In the short term, you can get into a losing streak and lose much more than 0.5%. If you are flat betting in a losing streak, you will lose a lot of money, but if you are increasing your bet with each loss, you will lose money much faster. The thinking is that if you keep increasing the bet, you will make up for the losses when you win, but that can’t happen if you run out of money first. And that, to be honest, is the outcome with the highest odds when you employ the D’Alembert system.