Posts Tagged ‘blackjack mistakes’

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).

Blackjack Mistakes: Counting Cards Online

Monday, March 8th, 2010

As time goes on, the technology advances exponentially. Some people adapt to these advances quickly, while others are left behind. I still buy CDs and am happy to do so (for one thing, they sound better), but a lot of the kids download all of their music today. On occasion, they even pay for those songs!

Casino gambling is another thing that has changed over time. It’s most evident in electronic games like the slot machines and video poker. However, even the game of blackjack, which in its standard table version is virtually unchanged from its original version, has adapted over time. Thanks to the internet, many people now play their blackjack online, which is great because it’s convenient and cheaper than visiting a brick and mortar casino. However, you can get into trouble if you are a card counter and try to apply the same techniques online.

It’s common for experienced blackjack players to try to count cards when they first start playing online blackjack. After a while, the smartest players figure out on their own that it isn’t working. To save those players some time and to clue in some players who might not have figured it out, let me tell you a secret. This is so important that the sentence gets its own paragraph:

Counting cards does not work for online blackjack.

Notice that the above is an absolute, definitive statement. There is no “usually,” “sometimes” or “maybe.” It will never work. Why? Because the outcome of drawing a card is not dependent on the shuffling of a deck of cards. It is dependent on a random number generator.

A random number generator (RNG) is a computer program that uses a complex algorithm to select a sequence of numbers hundreds of times every second. Depending on when you hit a button to take a card or when the computerized “dealer” takes a card, the RNG selects what card it will be. Unlike in casino blackjack, the outcome of that card is totally random and completely independent of every other card that is dealt.

Once a card is dealt, the RNG goes back to work and selects the next card. It does not take into account the last card that was dealt or the card before that. Therefore, in essence it’s the same as re-shuffling the deck after each card is dealt. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer a Hi Lo Count, a KO Count, shuffle-tracking or whatever. There is no card counting strategy in existence that can predict the outcome in online blackjack. You can never tell when the deck is rich in tens because it is never rich in tens and, strictly speaking, there isn’t really a deck at all.

The good news, however, is that blackjack basic strategy works just as well online as in brick and mortar casinos. So memorize your basic strategy, forget about card counting, and have some fun online.

Blackjack Mistake: Shooting for 21

Friday, January 15th, 2010

A common mistake by people new to the game of blackjack is shooting for 21. It’s an easy mistake to make. Since a 21 cannot be beaten (only tied) by the dealer, then it seems like a smart strategy is to try to get as close as possible to 21. However, that is a bad strategy. Your goal isn’t to get as close to 21 as possible. Your goal is to beat the dealer, which you can do in one of two ways. If you don’t bust (which is to draw over 21), you can win by having a hand total greater than the dealer or by having the dealer bust. Therefore, you can win without even getting close to 21, depending on what happens to the dealer.

The reason trying to get close to 21 is a bad strategy is that is causes you to bust quite often. Players using this strategy will often take a hit in a situation where they should stand. By taking that extra card, they are put over the 21 limit and lose the hand. Instead, your decision should be based on what you have as well as what the dealer’s upcard is.

Blackjack basic strategy takes both into account and plays the percentages. Following that strategy gives you the best odds of winning. The biggest mistake players make when trying to get close to a 21 is to always hit on stiff hands, which are hands between 12 and 16. There are times when you should hit stiff hands, times when you should stand, and times when you should surrender, if it is allowed. Complete strategy for stiff hands can be found in this blog post.

Aside from making the wrong decisions on stiff hands, people that go into a blackjack game with the intention of getting close to 21 and not knowing basic strategy will likely miss good opportunities to double down or split. There really is no substitute for learning blackjack basic strategy. Even if you count cards, you can’t be a good blackjack player without it.