Blackjack Strategies To Avoid
Ask any blackjack player what their strategy is and you will likely end up with thousands of options. Testing the validity of these strategies is both difficult and time consuming. It can also cost you money if they turn out to be busts. Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of several different strategies that you should avoid when playing blackjack legally online or at a brick and mortar casino.
Mimic The Dealer
Most avid players are aware of the house edge when playing blackjack. As a result, some players have fallen on a technique of mimicking the dealer’s actions because of the impression that they must be doing something right in order to win. Mimicking the dealer involves drawing another card on a total of 16 or below or any total of 18 or more. This strategy includes always standing on a hard 17. A hand of soft 17 is tricky because some dealers will hit while others will stand. This decision usually depends on the house rules.
This fallacy that the mimicking the dealer is smart because they are trying to help the casino edge can cost you to lose time and time again. The dealer is trying to get the player to act before they do in hopes they will bust. In most cases, it is best not to mimic the dealer. Statistics have shown that mimicking the dealer actually improves the house’s odds of winning.
The ‘Never Bust’ strategy involves always hitting on a total of 11 or less and never hitting with a total of 12 or more. This strategy also increases the house’s edge on the table. This rule attempts to filter down turn options into just 2, when in reality players have many different options pending the total card value they have in their hand. Aces are the trickiest part of this equation because if the dealer is showing an ace it is difficult to determine if they will bust, especially when they have an ace down. Players should consider all their options, including hitting, standing or potentially splitting, before adopting the ‘Never Bust’ strategy.
This next strategy applies to betting as opposed to the game itself, but for the sake of financial security, it should be avoided. The Martingale strategy is named after John Henry Martingale, the owner of a prominent European gambling parlor back in the 1700s, and can be used in games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat and craps. The betting strategy calls for betting the same amount when you win the initial wager and then doubling your bet when you lose—this is an example of a negative progression strategy (a positive progression strategy is doubling your initial bet after winning). For example, if you win your $20 bet, bet another $20. If you lose, bet $40. It is surprising that this strategy has gained any sort of notoriety, because it does not affect your chances of winning and can only be supported by players with large bankrolls. Setting a hard loss limit is key when trying to avoid losing everything and this betting system sets players up for failure. The idea is that your winning streak will outlast your losing streak and you’ll win enough profit to cover your losses. In reality, your losing streak could go on for a while and you will eventually run out of money. Blackjack players are better off reading the game before deciding to double down on their bets.
Always Take Insurance
An insurance bet is betting on the dealer’s down card to value 10 (can be a 10 or any face card except an ace). Buying insurance places a second bet equal to half the original wager that is 2-1 if you win. When you win an insurance bet, your original bet loses. If the dealer’s down card isn’t valued at 10, you lose the second bet and play out the original hand. Winning the insurance bet may seem like you are breaking even because of its 2-1 payoff, but you are setting yourself up for failure because the odds are in the houses favor. You are betting on the dealer’s down card to either be a 10, jack, queen or king. Any other card will result in a loss. For example, if you bet $20 on your original hand and decide to accept the insurance bet for another $10, winning that insurance bet will pocket you $20 at 2-1, but you will have lost your initial $20 bet, thus breaking even. Any avid blackjack player will advise against taking insurance during a game.
Always Double Down On 9, 10 and 11
This is the least harmful strategy out of all the ones mentioned in this article, but it still warrants a mention. The common misconception is that players should always double down when you have a total of 9, 10 or 11. Doubling down grants you only 1 more additional card, which could prove to be the wrong move depending on that last card. While it is generally considered wise to always double down on an 11, doubling down on a 9 or 10 right out of the gate may be too aggressive. If you are sporting a 9 and the dealer has an upcard of 2 through 6, you should double down. If they have a 7-10 or an ace, it would be better to hit. If you have a hard total of 10 you should double down against a dealer 2-9 and hit against a dealer 10 or ace.
Stroke Of Luck
While blackjack is a game of skill, there is also a hint of luck involved, so there is an off chance these strategies may work sometime. However, statistics have shown there are better alternatives. As a player, you want to limit the house’s edge to under 1%, a feat possible through effective blackjack strategy. Going with these popular blackjack misconceptions can increase the house’s edge and leave you high and dry.
Other Strategy Articles In Our Series