Blackjack strategy and Tactics to pass up

We hear so much about blackjack strategies and tactics that do work that we often overlook the most common strategies and tactics that don’t work.  So, in this tips article, we’ll talk about common habits of blackjack players that don’t work.

Some of these strategies apply primarily to playing blackjack at land based casinos whilst most apply fairly equally to gaming either at a land-based casino or an online casino.  We’ll get directly to the first one, which is that betting systems don’t work in the long run and we, at Springbok, the top online casino for South Africa, have long tried to dissuade players from using betting systems.

Betting Systems Don’t Work

The most famous betting system is the Martingale System.  Many of the other systems take the Martingale as their starting point.  The two main reasons that the Martingale System doesn’t work are that it fails to take losing streaks into account and it can only work in the short term one 1-1 bet, but it cannot work in games where the players have to main decisions.

The Martingale System says that if you lose a hand or a spin, you simply double your next bet until you win and you have broken even.  Now, if you are playing roulette and you make very small bets, say one rand, and you have a losing streak, most players can still make the covering bet for the next spin.   Let’s assume an eight spin losing streak; here is the progression of bets: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128.  The total of these eight bets is R255 and the covering bet is R510.  But many players use the Martingale and start with an R1 000 bet.  Then, if the player has an eight spin losing streak, the next covering bet is for R510 000.

In short, many players are fooled by the Martingale into thinking that they will recoup their losses when they inevitably win a spin.   What they don’t take into account is that their bankroll may not be big enough to place the next covering bet.

This all applies to bets of pure 1-1 chance.  It is obviously not a sound system in roulette if you are betting on a single number to come up.  Similarly, it doesn’t work on any game that requires careful decisions on every hand or spin.

Blackjack, poker, and video poker fit this description perfectly.  So, we advise our gamers to never follow any betting system.  It is far better to play using sound, mathematically true strategy.

Positive Progression Systems

The Martingale and its many offshoots are also known as negative progression systems, probably because you are trying to recoup losses.  A positive progression system has you raising your bet after a win so that you have a better chance to increase your winnings if you have a winning streak.

Mathematically, this system is really no different in the long run than making the same bet on every hand.  Many advocates of a positive progression betting system pointy to the ways it can increase profits.  It is true that luck will result in some higher wins and may make a given betting system look good.  The mathematics simply don’t bear out this enthusiasm.

Sometimes You Have to Bust

Many players follow a system in which they never bust.  That means that they always stand with 12 or more points.  This system increases the house’s advantage by a couple of percentage points because it is based on a massive fallacy.

The fallacy is that the blackjack player is trying g to avoid busting.  That is not the actual goal in blackjack.  The actual goal is to beat the dealer.  When a player realizes that his or her primary goal is to beat the dealer, the player will always ask himself, “What does the dealer have?”

When we understand what the dealer has, we can see that sometimes we have to hit with 12 or 13 points.

The big disadvantage in blackjack is that the player goes first and if the player busts with 22 points, he or she still loses even if the dealer later busts with 23 points.  The sense that busting always causes the player to lose automatically leads many players to fear busting. 

However, in the long run, even when a player plays correctly they will bust occasionally.  They may even bust quite often but in the long run, their correct strategy will yield more fruit and in blackjack “fruit” may be the difference between winning in that session or not.

Never Imitate the Dealer

In some ways, this strategy is the opposite of the previous false strategy because it has you hitting with 16 points!  It should be clear that the dealer doesn’t have the advantage because of her “strategy” since she has no strategy.  The dealer simply follows the rules of the game.  The big advantage to the dealer is that the dealer plays last.

Avoid Sucker Bets

There are two types of sucker bets: the kind that you can’t afford to lose and the kind that the casino encourages you to make.  The kind you can’t afford to lose is a bet that is out of your comfort zone based on a realistic evaluation of your bankroll.

In that situation, it is best to simply leave the game.   This kind of bet often comes up for players using a betting system and enduring a losing streak.

The second type of sucker bet is insurance.  The casino wants you to think that insurance is a good bet because it protects you against the dealer having blackjack.  Mathematically, if you take insurance every time the dealer shows an ace, you will lose.

Insurance must never be confused with surrender which is a great tactic for players which saves players a lot of money on the very poorest hands.

Doubling Down

Many gamers always double down with 9, 10, or 11.  It is usually good to do so but not always.  The idea that one should always double down with 9, 10, or 11 derives from the same school of thought that a player should never bust.  It comes from not paying attention to the dealer’s holding.