You must have heard one of those stories of incredible success – Kerry Packer hitting $20 million in 40 minutes at blackjack at the MGM Grand, Don Jonson winning $15.1 million in Atlantic City, Ken Uston grabbing $4.5 million from Las Vegas casinos. And while you might think that these lucky exceptions prove the rule that there is no way of winning the casino in a game with inherent negative mathematical expectation – even a broken clock is right twice a day – there is much more to this than sheer luck.
There are at least two more components – mathematics and mindset – the ingredients that any advanced blackjack player must master to get a chance to make money off the game. And one more thing before we start: this piece is only a bird’s-eye view on the aspects that you – if you want to advance – will have to elaborate on by doing your own research.
Mathematics: House Edge, Basic Strategy, Card Counting
Most tips and tricks concerning any gambling game are aimed at lowering the inherent advantage of the casino. And if you really want to beat the gambling venue at its own game, you have to turn the odds in your favor; in other words, make the mathematical expectation positive for you. This is extremely hard and only the best players can do that (otherwise casinos and players would exchange places), but you will only know if you’re good enough if you try.
To start with, learn the basic blackjack strategy. It won’t allow you to beat the casino, but it will definitely help in reaching the level at which you can start learning card counting and other bells and whistles of professional blackjack players. So, there are a few possible actions that you can take at a blackjack table – surrender, split, double, hit, stand – and a few basic charts showing what you should do in every possible situation, based on the empirical knowledge from hundreds of millions of game simulations. Find and learn the chart that corresponds to your version of blackjack (there are the so-called H17 blackjack, S17 blackjack, and other variations with a bit different charts, though it won’t take long to adapt to a new blackjack version).
After you’ve memorized the chart, you can proceed to learn card counting, a mathematically proven approach to get a tiny advantage over the casino. How is that possible? Well, when counting cards, you are able to alter your decisions depending on the composition of the remaining cards, which means you can bet more with less risk. There are a lot of materials on card counting, so we won’t add anything to that and just mention that the best way to learn is to practice: blackjack professionals choose online blackjack as a training ground, and we recommend you to follow this practice and hone your skills online in free-to-play blackjack.
Take a Good Care of Your Mindset Before Playing
You cannot play well if you feel bad. You cannot play well if you are afraid to lose. Therefore, never visit casinos if you feel under the weather, never drink alcohol while you are playing, and never take to the casino more money than you can afford to lose. The ultimate goal of any professional player is to eliminate the interference that might come from emotions or poor physical state and ruin the game. No better general advice could be given than to stick to your strategy until you stand up from the table.
The Bottom Line
Having developed the right mindset and learned the theory through and through, you are all set to challenge yourself at a brick-and-mortar gambling hall. And even if you will fail or give up playing blackjack in favor of some other endeavor, the developed critical thinking skills and poise are to stay with you for the rest of your life.