How to increase your odds of winning in Blackjack
Casinos are extremely distracting. They’re destined to be.
But, for the sake of your mental health as well as your bankroll, you should take the time to find the best blackjack table for you.
You’ll want three things: table stakes that are appropriate for your bankroll, excellent blackjack rules, and a table where you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Step 1: Determine the appropriate minimums and maximums.
Table stakes are important because if you play at a table with a minimum bet that is too high for your bankroll, you are much more likely to go bust sooner.
Just a few bad hands will destroy you.
However, if you can afford a few more minimum bets, you will be able to weather a small run of bad luck.
A bankroll of at least 20 times the table minimum, preferably 40 times, is a good rule of thumb. That means bringing at least $100 to a $5 table and $500 to a $25 table.
Always try to set and stick to loss limits for each gaming session. Then, when looking for blackjack tables to play at, keep those limits in mind.
Limits are always displayed on each table’s table sign. Management can (and frequently does) change table minimums to meet demand, often with little notice.
Sign of blackjack betting limits
Prepare to walk away if your $10 game becomes a $25 game and your bankroll is insufficient.
Lower limit games may be featured up front, depending on the size of the casino, sometimes in “fun pits” designed to catch the attention of passers-by.
More medium limits may be found further back in the casino in more quiet areas, while high limits are frequently found off to the side in a private room.
When in doubt, simply ask one of the dealers, floor personnel, or cocktail servers where you might find the specific limits you seek.
Step 2: Research the Best Blackjack Conditions
You want to get the most bang for your buck once you’ve found tables with appropriate stakes. This entails reducing the house advantage as much as possible.
Table rules, the number of decks in play, and the type of shuffler used are the three most important factors to consider when lowering the house edge.
- Table Procedures
While it may appear strange, many casinos have different rules on their blackjack tables based on the table limits.
You want to strike a balance between your desire for a specific minimum bet and the best rules you can find.
A couple of nefarious rules that are frequently seen at lower limit tables are only paying 6/5 on blackjack instead of 3/2 and even charging a 25 cent commission on each hand played.
These should be avoided at all costs.
In this case, ask the dealers if they have full pay blackjack tables, and if they do, it might be worth looking for them. Alternatively, inquire whether nearby casinos have full pay tables.
Those 6/5 tables can increase the house advantage by up to 300%, and commission tables can be even worse.
You should then look for other rules that have a smaller impact on the house advantage but can still make a significant difference in the long run.
Ideally, you should look for tables that allow you to:
The dealer is on soft 17.
Any of the first two cards may be doubled.
After splitting, a player may double.
Aces can be divided up to four times.
These simple rules can save you a lot of money over the course of several hours of play.
- The number of decks employed
The fewer decks used, in general, the better for the player.
While eight decks are extremely common, the difference between eight and six decks is only a few hundredths of a percent.
However, if you can find a double-deck game, it is far more profitable for the player.
A double deck game with all of the aforementioned rules has roughly half the house advantage as an eight-deck game with the same rules.
That means you’d lose half as much money on average if you played the double deck.
The casino is well aware of this, and minimums for double deck games reflect the lower house advantage.
Again, you must weigh your bankroll against the house rules in order to find an appropriate game that fits your budget.
Shufflers are classified into three types.
One example is where the casino still allows the dealer to shuffle. This can take several minutes depending on the dealer and the number of decks in play, but it provides a nice respite where you don’t have any money at stake, the casino is still rating you for being active, and you can catch your breath.
Then there are shuffle machines on other tables. These are attached to the table and are easily visible once seen.
On these tables, the dealer will place their used cards in the machine at the end of the shoe and immediately pull out freshly shuffled decks of cards. The dealer will then resume dealing.
It stands to reason that the greater the house advantage, the more bets you place in an hour.
And the casino has decided to make money rather than shuffling.
Not only will you have a poorer gaming experience with dealers who are tired and only deal robotically, but you will also lose more money on these games faster over time.
A continuous shuffler is another machine that you might see.
They can be identified by the dealer immediately inserting their used cards into the machine rather than at the end of the shoe.
This is a bad choice not only for the reasons stated above, but also because reusing the used cards increases the house edge, albeit slightly.
Step 3: Look for the best blackjack environment possible.
Table for Blackjack
At this point, you’ll have spent a significant amount of time looking for a blackjack table that fits your budget and has a low house advantage. But, in the end, you just want to have fun.
Sitting down with a belligerent drunk who is smoking a foul-smelling cigar and banging the table will not be a pleasant experience.
Take a few more seconds before sitting down to look around at the other players.
Are they laughing and having a good time, or are they sad?
If you’re not a fan of cigarette smoke, it’s pointless to sit in a room full of people who smoke like chimneys.
What about the dealer? Is he or she interacting with the players and having a good time, or is their head down, going through the motions?
An extra 10 or 15 seconds spent observing the table could mean the difference between a great night and a bad night that forces you to start scouting tables all over again.
Take the time to find a table that is a good fit not only for your bankroll and winning chances, but also for a smooth, enjoyable, and hopefully profitable experience.