Advice for Blackjack Players

Blackjack players are a breed apart from other players.  We all like slots, of course, and all of the other casino games but we seem always to come back to blackjack.  Online casino and land based casino operators have learned an important lesson in the two decades or so that the two very different gaming venues have been in competition with each other.  That lesson is that playing blackjack at an online casino makes gamers want to play blackjack at a land based casino and playing at a brick and mortar casino makes us regularly want to open up our favorite online casino for a few hands.

In many cases strategy is the same whether you're playing an online casino blackjack game or at a land based casino blackjack table.  Nevertheless, there are a few strategy differences so, in this blackjack tips blog, we’ll discuss a few strategy aspects of playing at a land based casino as opposed to playing online.

Avoid 6-5 Tables

A 6-5 table pays less for blackjack than the standard 3-2 table.  Whilst 6-5 blackjack is not common online, it is at least not unusual at land based casinos.  The numbers sound good and look good but the math computes that you get a lot less return for a blackjack.  That alone will cause you to almost certainly lose money at the land based casino, so never start playing at a 6-5 table.

Many blackjack players end up at a 6-5 table for two reasons which point to one of the big advantages you have playing at an online casino.  First, the player may not find a 3-2 table with a minimum bet within his or her betting budget so they sit at the 6-5 table.  The second reason is that at a land based casino, you might have to wait to get a seat at the 3-2 table you want to play at so, to pass the time until a seat opens at your preferred table, you sit at the onerous 6-5 table.

Another reason some players get fooled into sitting at a 6-5 table is because that table is the only one that uses a single deck and they want to be able to count cards.  Counting cards is a lot easier when the game uses only one deck so they sit at a 6-5 table unaware that they will lose money in the long run even if they count cards like a champion.

Random Number Generator vs a Continually Shuffling Machine

Some bloggers tell us to avoid land based blackjack games with a continually shuffling machine.  This is excellent advice.  But it also misses the point a bit. 

If you’re playing at a land based casino, you can increase your chances of winning long term by counting cards.  If you’re playing at a game with a six or eight deck shoe, you’ll find it virtually impossible to count cards.  So, the ultimate culprit is the size of the shoe.

When you’re playing at a land based casino and you can count cards, always play at a game that uses a single deck and shuffles only when the deck runs out.

At an online blackjack game, the Random Number Generator determines all outcomes.  At a land based casino, try to play at a table with a shuffling machine that shuffles when the deck or decks reach the low point allowed by the casino. 

In both cases, the shuffling makes it very hard to count cards.  The only way to effectively court cards is to play at a single deck game because cards that have been used are removed from the deck even at an online casino.

Paranoia at Land Based Casinos

Despite the millions of dollars bet every day at land based casinos, operators continue to be greatly paranoid that players are trying to cheat them out of a $20 bet.

There is no such paranoia from online casinos because everything is digital.  The solid encryption software that online casinos use to protect your financial transactions with the casino also protect both players and casinos when money is bet, when money has to credited to a player’s account, and so on.

At land based casinos, players have to give money to the dealer, there are real chips involved, and so on.  So, obey the casino’s protocols for handling cash, cards, and chips.  If you aren’t sure ask the dealer.  In most cases, he will say “don’t hand me money; don’t touch your chips; and don’t touch your cards”.

One of the biggest areas of concern for everyone at a land based casino is to signal your desire rather than speak it.  You have to learn the correct hand signal for hit and for stand because the casino’s cameras want to record what you signaled in the event that there is a dispute on a hand.

Avoid Playing Hunches

Casinos thrive on players playing their hunches.  Some have suggested that the very act of gambling is an example of a desire to play one’s hunches writ large.  We do the same when we invest in the stock market, buy a car or a house, or choose something from a restaurant menu that we have never eaten before.

We remember friends who traveled to Mexico City on their honeymoon and wanted to try local food.  They went to a local restaurant and asked (in their broken Spanish) a party leaving the restaurant to recommend a menu item that was especially good.  The locals recommended the mole which the Americans didn’t like in the end!

So, don’t play hunches at the blackjack table.  Every hand has its own statistical set of outcomes.  It could be that a hand will be lost almost every time but if there is even a small statistical chance that you might win the hand, you should follow the statistics and not a momentary whim.

A corollary to this piece of advice is that at an online casino, you can play with a strategy card whilst, at a land based casino, they will be very leery of letting you do so.  If you like playing blackjack at a land based casino, study the strategy card well so you know what the best statistical play is at all times.

Finally, the need to know the strategy card extremely well means that, at a land based casino, you’ll play one or possibly two variations of blackjack whilst at an online casino you can play many more and use the proper strategy card for each one.