How To Win Playing BlackjackbyBOSTONFICTIONWRITER©
Are you feeling lucky? Are you hoping to win big at the casino? Well, of course, if you are naturally lucky, then there is no need to even read this story. If I had your luck, I'd run to the nearest casino and sit at a Blackjack table and say the magic words.
Now, if you are like the rest of us and lose money when gambling, then this story is for you, especially if your game is Blackjack.
Have you been to Las Vegas? Have you been in some of those billion dollar hotels? Well, where do you do think they got the money to build those monuments to gamblers and gambling? Yeah, they got that money from you. Sanctioned by the state of Nevada and protected under the gambling and gaming laws of Las Vegas, the odds are twisted and turned in favor of the casinos.
There are some games you don't want to play, slots for one. Unless you are born lucky, you will never win a big jackpot. All you will win is arthritis from pulling that handle or pushing those buttons thousands of times while losing thousands of dollars.
Craps is a good game to play and compared to the other table games has decent odds, so long as you know how to play the game. I never played Craps nor do I have the interest in learning how to play the game. Too many who don't know how to play the game and who belly up to the table are amateurs at best. They think all it takes is luck and to toss the dice, but there is lots of strategy to winning big with craps and certainly you can win a bundle of dough in just a short time, just as you can lose a bundle of dough, too.
Now, look around at the beautiful interior of the casino, yeah, chances are if you don't move away from the craps table now, the odds are that you'll be another big loser. The casino loves people who don't know the rules and who don't know how to play the game. Yeah, sure, they'll be happy to teach you the rules and with the limited knowledge received you'll be a marginal player at best and one who will lose all your money.
Roulette? Well, close your eyes, think of a number, and push your money forward on black or on red.
"Sorry, you lose."
"Place another bet?"
Spin the wheel, play your birthday, anniversary, lucky number, and make a wish.
"No more bets. No more bets. No more bets. Sorry, you lose...again."
Baccarat is a good game, only, much like craps, you really need to expertly know the rules to play the game. I don't know how to play Baccarat nor do I want to learn. It just doesn't appeal to me.
The rave now is Poker. Although I love playing poker, I don't like playing the type of poker that they play in the Casinos mainly because I don't have the guts to push all my chips forward while declaring, "All in".
I think, just my opinion, that they removed some of the strategy away from the game and replaced it by luck and too much bluffing when pushing all your chips up in the pot for one bet. Besides, I prefer playing poker for nickels, dimes, and quarters and not for thousands of dollars.
Now, we come to my game of choice, Blackjack. I've been to Atlantic City, Vegas, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and Vegas night at the local church. Let it be known that I have never lost money playing Blackjack, nope, not once, not ever. I always win. Oh, sure, I've lost lots of hands playing Blackjack and have gone up and down, even as far down to my last $25, but I always leave the table a winner. Now, I'm no expert player, but I do know how to play the game.
If you have any hope of winning any game, especially Blackjack, you need to know how to play to improve your chances. Let me repeat that because it is really important. You need to know how to play the game before you sit at the table. It is important to become a student of the game and to learn the strategy that will improve your play of Blackjack so that you are playing the best game of Blackjack that you can play, thereby giving the house the lowest possible edge over you. A mistake in strategy will cost you money.
Believe me, if you sit at a table those sitting with you will offer their expert advice and frown if you make the wrong move and may even get angry with you if you made the wrong move that took their card, the card that cost them money, and the card that would have made them a big winner instead of a big loser. Suffice to say, it is best you know how to play before you park your ass down for several hours or several minutes.
Where you sit at a Blackjack table is very important. Think of the table as a baseball diamond with the dealer being the catcher and facing second base. First base is to his left, the seat that is dealt the first card and third base is to his right the seat that the dealer deals the last card. So, why is it important where you sit at a Blackjack table? Well, I'll tell you.
If you sit at first base, you are dealt the cards first and have little time to react to a play. Moreover, you don't have the advantage of seeing everyone else's cards and/or plays of strategy before making your move. Conversely, by sitting at third base, you are the last one to receive your cards, giving you more time to react and consider your play.
Sitting at third base is important because I do the one thing that the casinos frown upon and will ask me to leave their casino never to darken their door, again, if they catch me doing it. I count cards. Yep, that's right. I am one of those dreaded card counters. An accountant by vocation, I have a thing with numbers. With a photographic memory when it comes to numbers, I've been called Rainman a few times in my life.
Now, a casino is automatically going to assume that anyone sitting at the third base position is a card counter. Besides, just by watching some of your boneheaded plays that are not only against common Blackjack strategy but also moves that pisses off the other players by them not receiving the card that would have made them a winner instead of a loser will reveal you as an evil card counter.
To begin with dealers, pit bosses, floor men, and security will pay anyone sitting at third base at a Blackjack table more attention, so buckle up for a bumpy ride. Therefore, you want to do everything in your power not to act like a card counter, mainly by acting like you are not paying any attention to the cards and plays of the other players.
I can count up to 8 decks of cards while having a drink and holding a conversation with the player sitting next to me or preferably with the playing sitting across the table from me, as it is easier to see everyone's cards when gazing across the Blackjack table in the pretense of having a conversation.
I've had the 'Eye in the Sky' called on me twice by a dealer and had a Pit Boss watch my every play for several minutes. I made sure that I lost those hands. Yet, I've never been caught. Why? I have one fatal flaw. Actually, I have lots of flaws, but when it comes to playing Blackjack, I only have one. I can't bet. I'm no gambler. As soon as I win $300-$500, afraid to lose what I won, I get up and leave the table.
I took my girlfriend to Foxwoods in Connecticut last year. For those of you who don't know, Foxwoods is the biggest casino in the world. You'd think the biggest casino to be in Las Vegas, Nevada instead of Connecticut. The biggest hotels in the world are in Vegas with MGM being the biggest hotel in the world.
My girlfriend had never been to a casino and didn't even want to go with me. She reluctantly played the slots and quickly won $100 and quit. Don't you hate people like her? She spent the rest of the time bored while watching me play Blackjack. I had been bragging to her that I never lose.
My rule is that I play with $300. If I lose my $300, I leave the casino. I never reach in my pocket for more money. I'm done.
Within 15 minutes, I was down to my last $25. After all my bragging, I was embarrassed. There was my girlfriend looking over my shoulder and looking at her watch glad in a way that I was losing because we would soon be leaving the casino. She hated the whole experience.
Just then, they changed dealers. Within 20 minutes I went from $25 to $1,000. I got up and left with my head held high and my girlfriend believing that I was some kind of professional gambler. That day, I was just lucky they changed from a cold dealer to a hot one.
For those who don't believe that card counting works, you just have to remember the MIT students that played the game and who broke the house. Some years back an organized group of MIT students, math whizzes, learned the game of Blackjack, specifically concentrating their mathematical minds on keeping a running card count. The way they played was virtually foolproof and had they not gotten greedy and a bit brazen, Las Vegas investigators never would have caught them. There was a subsequent book, a movie, and a television show called Breaking the House.
The way that the MIT students did it was as a team. They had one player who sat at the table and actually played the game. His job was not so much win as it was to maintain a running count. As soon as the count was favorable to the player, he'd signal a member of his group, someone who had been standing a distance away from the table, watching the play, and waiting for the signal.
Then, it was lights, action, and camera as a team member who had just received the signal that the count was favorable stumbled to the table with the appearance of having had a little too much to drink. Before the dealer had a chance to deal the next hand, the new player would plop down the maximum bet, usually ten thousand dollars. More often then not, he or she was a winner. Now, multiple this kind of play by the fifty or so members that they had on their team at different casinos throughout the United States and these MIT students were making millions of dollars.
Is that considered cheating? Is that play considered illegal? Well, it was to the casinos and it is to the Las Vegas gambling laws. I consider it smart playing. Only, I never organized anything like that, I just sit at a table alone while playing Blackjack, sipping my drink, holding a conversation, and counting cards.
As further proof that card counting really works and card counters really do win, to stop players from counting cards, casinos are switching to automatic card shufflers. The cards are reshuffled after every hand. The process of shuffling the cards removes the advantage to the card counter. Yet, there are still plenty of casinos who don't use automatic card shufflers and even the casinos that do, not all their tables used them. You just have to look around the casino floor to see which table doesn't use an automatic card shuffler; it is the table with the crowd of people around it hoping to grab a seat and play.
The casinos employ other strategies, too, to dissuade card counters from winning. They'll continually change dealers and will prematurely reshuffle the cards even before reaching the yellow cut card that the player places in the deck and that calls for a reshuffle.
Away from the strip and the mega-hotel complexes, I once played Blackjack at Binions on Front Street in downtown Las Vegas. My eyes bugged out of my head when I saw that the dealer not only played with one deck of cards but also she held them in her hand at chest level. With no automatic card shuffler and without having to keep a running count of 4, 6 or 8 decks in play, I was up $750 within 15 minutes. I left the table with my winnings.
Whenever I tell people that I never lose at Blackjack, they don't believe me. For those who dare me, I take a deck of cards and play an impromptu game of Blackjack with them. After only a few quick hands and their money in my pocket, they believe me.
To count cards you don't have to keep track of every card played to maintain an accurate count. I count only those cards from two to six and all cards from ten to King. There are some card counters who keep track of Aces, but I don't. To count cards you must practice, practice, and practice.
Before I hit a casino, I practice my card counting skills over a couple of months a few hours a day. It takes a concentrated effort and focus to count cards so well that you can maintain a running count almost with your eyes closed. Don't forget, once you hit the casino with all the noise, sounds, lights, and people your pulse rate increases, you get nervous, and are easily distracted. Not to mention, the dealer is not standing there waiting for you to get your accurate card count before dealing the next hand, he's whizzing those cards at you as fast as he can.
The more hands the casino plays the more chance they have of winning and you of losing. It is important you slow the pace down without making it appear too obvious. Just by taking an extra second or two of pensive thought, as to how to play your hand is enough to slow your demonic dealer from dealing a dozen hands in a few minutes.
So, how do you count cards? Count the low cards, those cards from 2-6 as positive and high cards, those cards from 10-king as minus. Let's say for an example the dealer deals a two and a Jack. The count is zero with one card zeroing out the other. The next person is dealt a ten and a king. Now, the count is minus 2. Next hand is dealt a four and a six. Your count is back to zero. The next hand is a seven and a nine. Those neutral cards have no effect on the count and your count is still at zero.
Suddenly, the dealer deals a huge amount of low cards and you find that the count is a positive 12. When your count is a plus 10 or greater, meaning more high still remain in the deck is when you want to increase the amounts of your bets. This is the time that if you are dealt a 13-17, you want to stay instead of taking a hit. This is the time if you are dealt a pair, you want to split them and play two hands of if you are dealt a 9-11 you want to double down.
When you can affirm that more low cards are played than high cards, the count is favorable to the player. Why? Because chances are the dealer will bust when you stay with you four and nine or 13 and don't take a hit, whereas the dealer has a ten and a six and must take a hit.
Because of the positive count with more low cards played than high cards, chances are good that his next card is a ten to a king, giving him twenty-six. Yet, once you stay with a few of those hands and win, hands that any player who is not counting cards would have hit and busted, the casino will either suspect you as a card counter or a bad player who is lucky, as well as will the other players sitting at your table.
You must keep in mind that unlike poker, you aren't playing against the other players. You are only playing against the dealer. Any time you don't have to draw a card and take a hit, you have a better chance of winning and less of a chance of busting your hand. The strategy of a card counter is to hopefully receive the best possible hand and leave it to the dealer to draw a card and bust his hand. Basically, a card counter will only take a hit when the count is minus.
Where the card counting strategy pays off is when you are stuck with hands that are between 13 and 17. Conventional strategy states that you always take a hit, yes I'd never stay with 17, especially if I knew the count and there were lots of low cards in the deck remaining. By counting cards, you have a much better chance of beating the house and winning some money.
Let's recap. Since the best odds of winning any game in a casino is by playing Blackjack, here are some things to remember.
1. Play Blackjack and only play Blackjack, that is, unless you know how to play craps and Baccarat really well and that is your game or games of preference.
2. Learn how to play the game of Blackjack before sitting at the table. If you are a marginal Blackjack player and don't know how to play the game cold, as soon as that dealer starts firing cards at you is not the time to wonder about strategy.
3. Sit at third base. Being the last person to receive their cards gives you an advantage, especially if you are counting cards. Sitting at third base allows you to watch the play of the other players before it is your turn to play.
4. Learn how to count cards. It's not as difficult as you think. It only takes practice and is something that you can do when waiting to pickup your significant other at the mall. While you wait, deal yourself practice Blackjack hands to practice counting cards.
5. Don't show that you are counting cards. Have a drink. Smile. Laugh. Talk to some of the players sitting at the table. Joke around with them. Have a good time.
6. Tip your dealer. If you've won a good hand, give him a tip. Dealers will sometimes help you with strategy. If it means more of a tip for them when you win, they will help you to win. Not all dealers are for the casino.
7. Sit at a table that has good karma. You can tell as soon as you take a seat if this is a hot table of a cold table or a good dealer or a bad dealer. Don't be afraid to get up and find another table if you find yourself losing.
8. Play with an agreed upon amount before even walking in the casino and never reach for more money hoping to chase after money you lost and hope to get back.
9. If you are having a hot streak and find yourself winning don't be afraid to get up and go. Sure, you can wait until you lose a hand or two, but leave while you are ahead. The casino wants you to play longer because the longer you play the better the odds the casino will win back what you won and the money you came there with to gamble.
10. Never drink and gamble. There is good reason why the casinos give you free drinks. They are hoping you get tipsy enough not to notice that you are losing.