Posts Tagged ‘blackjack streak’

Streaky Blackjack

Friday, May 20th, 2011

There is a fallacy out there that casino games of chance are streaky and games of skill are not. Because you can use skill to affect the outcome, they reason, hot and cold streaks don’t come into play. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Let me put it this way: streaks actually play more of a part in blackjack than in slots.

There, I said it. In slots, people will sometimes get on a hot or cold streak, but their odds stay exactly the same. The random number generator determines what happens on each spin and each spin is independent of the next. Because of that, your odds are exactly the same if you have won the last 5 spins or lost the last 5. Even with the odds not changing, though, there are streaks.

Now let’s look at blackjack. The odds aren’t the same each time a card is dealt. That’s because you’re dealing with a finite deck. No matter how many decks are used, unless it is shuffled after each card is drawn (as is sometimes the case online), the deck is finite. That means if you draw a card, there is zero chance that card is still in the deck. Therefore, every time someone at the table, including the dealer, draws a card, it alters the odds. In the long run, your odds are the same, but in the short run they vary drastically.

Because of that, streaks happen in blackjack and the game is more prone to them than slots are. If you are counting cards, that’s especially true. When that deck is rich in tens, you could very well get hot. That’s how people walk away from blackjack tables with big wins, such as the guy who took the Tropicana Casino for almost $6 million.

Blackjack is a game with a low house edge. If you stick to basic strategy, you can reduce the house advantage to only 0.5%. Even so, hot and cold streaks will happen. Knowing that will help you deal with them.

Blackjack streaks and the house edge

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

If you’ve been reading this blog, you have probably read over and over that following basic blackjack strategy can reduce the house edge to 0.5%. That is one of the lowest house edges of any casino game. However, it is still a disadvantage. Even with the edge that low, it means that you would lose 0.5% of your wagers to the casino, with you losing more money than you’re winning.

A common response to that is “well, if I’m at a disadvantage and am bound to lose money, why would I play blackjack?” That’s a good question. A disadvantage, however small, is still a disadvantage. So why would anyone gamble on a game where they have a disadvantage? There are a few reasons.

First of all, playing blackjack is fun. Just like going to a theme park, seeing a movie, or going on a vacation, having fun costs money. A trip to a casino shouldn’t be looked at as a way of making money. Instead, it should be looked at as entertainment. Like most entertainment, it usually isn’t free.

Having said that, just because you’re at a disadvantage doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Any thinking to the contrary is due to a misunderstanding of odds. Odds tell you how likely something is to happen, but that doesn’t mean that unlikely things don’t happen. They happen all the time. The odds of being struck by lightning at some point in your life are 1 in 6,250. Despite that, there are people who have been struck multiple times. That’s not “defying the odds,” because if you take the total number of people struck by lightning, the statistic still holds up.

The same goes for blackjack. The odds say that you will lose $1 out of every $200 that you wager. However, you could also wager $200 and win $50. You could also wager $200 and lose $75. The house edge doesn’t mean you will lose 0.5% of every hand, every sitting or every trip to the casino. What it means is that in the long run – and we’re talking thousands or millions of hands – the casino will win 0.5% of all money bet on the game of blackjack.

That is in the long run. Short term, it is quite common to go on a good streak and win lots of money at the blackjack table. It is those exciting streaks that make people come back to the table again and again to play. Also, anyone who counts cards, and does it well, can actually gain an advantage over the house. Keep in mind, though, that the casinos frown upon card counting. Though it isn’t illegal as long as you’re not using anything to help you count, casinos will often remove and ban a player who is caught counting cards.