The Top 7 Reasons Why Most Blackjack Players Lose
Blackjack is not a complicated game, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Even players with 30 years’ experience make rookie blackjack mistakes; simple moves which ramp up the house edge and stop them from maximising profit at the table.
So we’re here to intervene. We’ve compiled 7 crucial blackjack rules for beginners and veteran players alike. These are the worst blackjack mistakes players make and clear-cut advice for how to eliminate them.
Not using basic strategy
Blackjack is a game of cold mathematical precision: if you want to win, you need to lay down the optimal strategy for every single hand. In blackjack, this is called basic strategy and it’s what allows top players to reduce house edge to as little as 0.5%.
Some card counters can even push the house edge below 0% and counting is simply an extension of basic strategy. Any players ignoring strategy and playing ‘for fun’ or ‘on instinct’ will have very high house edges.
It’s not enough to just get the strategy card . To eliminate blackjack mistakes you also need to practice. Part of becoming a top player is knowing the odds in every situation and playing smoothly, all your focus on the table.
Expecting immediate profits and betting recklessly
One of the most common blackjack mistakes is expecting quick profits. And so one of our core blackjack rules for beginners is to play slowly. Blackjack is a war of attrition: you need to chip away over time, not blow everything up at once.
But many players chase that big progressive jackpot-style win, wagering huge portions of their bankroll per hand. And within 10 hands they’re broke and they can’t believe it. “I used basic strategy perfectly!”
Basic strategy absolutely works – over the long term. If you want to win, try limiting your bets to just 1-2% of your overall bankroll and stay patient.
Playing inebriated or exhausted
It’s always been common in real casinos for players to ply themselves with drinks at the tables. If you’re just socialising then it doesn’t matter. But if you’re a serious player looking to make money, it’s one of those blackjack mistakes you cannot afford to make.
We’ve hammered home how success at blackjack requires intensive study of basic strategy and prolonged, careful game-play. Maintaining that concentration is impossible if you’ve been drinking. And if you’re training your card counting skills, you’ve got no chance with alcohol in your system.
The same goes for fatigue: if you’ve just worked the night shift or you’ve been at the table for hours without a break, then stop playing. Your judgement will get clouded and poor decisions will start to creep in.
Playing the wrong blackjack variation
If you’re looking to cut your blackjack mistakes and play smarter, then you should start by finding the right variation for optimum performance. Here are 3 factors that go into choosing your perfect variation:
- Doubling rules – Choose a table where you can double down on split pairs and double on at least 9, 10, and 11.
- Blackjack payout – Avoid ‘6:5’ tables and find a ‘3:2’ variation. For the latter, your house edge should be under 1%; at 6:5 tables this more than doubles to 2.3%!
- Soft 17 – You want the dealer to stand on a soft 17, though most tables will make the dealer hit here.
- Bet limits – We’ve covered this already, but make sure you only wager at tables where you can comfortably afford to play. Your bankroll should be at least 50x the table minimum.
These are crucial blackjack rules for beginners (and experienced players) since a huge number of them assume that all tables are the same. Do your research and give yourself every advantage.
Low quality card counting practice
This is one of our blackjack rules for beginners that you won’t want to read: forget about counting cards for now. If you’re new to the game then put all your energy into practicing basic strategy. After all, card counting requires elite basic strategy to work.
Counting cards without enough practice is a huge mistake. It’s fraught with danger and just one error every 30 hands will ramp up the house edge. Some beginners try to practice counting on RNG games: since all decks are ‘shuffled’ between hands, this is actually impossible.
Counting cards with the right strategy and practice is powerful. But jumping in at the deep end without enough practice is going to cost you heavily – both in frustration and cash.
Using side bets and insurance
The key to success in blackjack is optimally exploiting all available information. Basic strategy is the optimal approach for regular blackjack. But many blackjack variations offer side bets: extra features designed to make game-play more exciting and give players more ways to win.
The Insurance bet, for example, ‘protects’ players if the dealer draws blackjack. The ‘21+3’ bet is on whether you and the dealer’s face-up cards form a certain pattern: flush, straight, 3-of-a-kind and so on.
While exciting, in the long run these side bets significantly increase house edge – we’re talking 10% or higher in many cases. For players chasing a 0.5% house edge (or less for card counters) playing side bets is unforgivable.
Playing blackjack ‘on instinct’
A blackjack player never ‘follows their gut’ – that’s what casual gamblers do. Experienced players keep ice in their veins and trust their strategy. After losing 4-5 hands consecutively, it’s normal to think you’re due a few wins. Since you ‘know’ the win is coming, you raise your stakes to cash in…
And the win never comes. The most crucial blackjack rule for beginners is this: unless you’re counting cards, the odds of winning any blackjack hand, before the cards are dealt, is always the same. You can’t accumulate goodwill or inertia at the table. As soon as you deviate from your strategy and play on instinct the house edge will rocket up.
Blackjack is a mathematical game. If you want to win, and win consistently, always leave your emotions at the door and focus all your energy on strategy.