10 Truths About Blackjack Advantage Play

10 Truths About Blackjack Advantage Play


By Michael Dalton.

Blackjack is a fascinating game.  It is simple enough for beginners to understand and grasp the rules but a game that is potentially beatable with skilled play.  However, gaining an advantage over the casino is usually never an easy task.  Here are some truths and facts about the game that all good players should know.

  1. All blackjack games are not the same.  Casinos can have different rules and options that may have a positive or negative affect on your advantage in the game. One of the worst rule changes many casinos have implemented in recent years is only paying 6 to 5 on a blackjack.1)The term 6:5 is an abbreviation for a game in which naturals are paid only 6 to 5. This is not only a sucker bet, but they are cheating you in plain site. A natural blackjack is meant to be paid at 3 to 2. DO NOT PLAY in these games! For more information check The Numbers of 21 section.  Some games have side bets and some games are considered variants of the game.  Good examples of a variant of the game are Spanish 21 and Blackjack Switch.
  2. The correct blackjack basic strategy will reduce the casino house edge to its absolute minimum.  But remember, the basic strategy can be slightly different depending on the number of decks and the rules of the game.  Basic strategy is the players first and best defense at lowering the casino advantage.
  3. Progressive betting systems of any kind can NOT beat this game.  The same applies with any money management system.  Of course, that does not mean that card counters can’t use them to camouflage their play.
  4. It is NOT illegal to count cards at blackjack.  Counting cards is simply using your brain and playing by the rules.  But casinos have the right to throw you out if they suspect you are too good or you are a threat to their bankroll.
  5. Most good card counters can count down a deck of cards in under 30 seconds.  If you can’t perform this simple task, don’t pretend that you can beat the game with card counting.
  6. You don’t need to understand the math behind card counting or any blackjack advantage technique to beat the game.  You just have to be a good practitioner of the techniques that are required.
  7. They say that blackjack is not a team sport.  Well, tell that to all of the blackjack teams in the past few decades that have beat the casinos for millions of dollars.  A blackjack team has many advantages, including the ability to play with an increased bankroll, lowering individual risk, scouting tables and camouflaging a big player’s bet.  But, of course, their are some disadvantages including the trust factor.
  8. Most card counters will use basic strategy the majority of the time while playing.  As the count changes, play variations may be warranted.  Many professional players go to great effort to memorize most of the possible variations, however, we have learned that over 90% of your potential gain from variations can be obtained by learning only 18 plays and if surrender is allowed, 4 additional plays.  These have become known as the Illustrious 18 and the Fab 4.  According to Don Schlesinger, the insurance play alone is worth over 30% of all your gain from card counting.2)Insurance is the most important play variation in a card counter’s play book.  The house advantage for this bet ranges from about 5.9% (single deck) to 7.5% (8 decks).
  9. There are many legal advanced advantage play techniques in blackjack including hole carding, shuffle tracking, ace location and team play. Yes, even hole carding is legal.  Most will think that gaining a peek at the dealer’s hole card is cheating but you are simply playing by the rules of the game — by taking advantage of a dealer who is sloppy.
  10. Over betting your bankroll is probably one of the top problems that skilled players make.  If you are skilled enough to get an advantage in blackjack, or in any game, your bankroll and tolerance for risk will determine your end result.  Stick to a reasonable risk of ruin and you will have a fighting chance.

    James Grosjean’s Opportunity Theorem

    “There is an edge in every game.”

Blackjack is NOT the only casino game you can gain an advantage in.  Most people realize that skilled poker players can beat the game of poker but practically all games have the potential of being beaten.  Advantage players are always on the lookout for ways to beat games or reduce the house advantage.  Even slot machine type games can be beaten given the right situation or circumstance.  When you walk into a casino, don’t just look at the blackjack games – you might be missing out on something much more profitable!

Anatomy of a Card Counter