CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Gary Trask Archives
More Strategy Experts

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Top 10 common mistakes made by blackjack players

23 January 2017

By Gary Trask
Keep your cool and keep these tips in mind.

Keep your cool and keep these tips in mind. (photo by Bob Owen)

With nearly a decade of experience as a table games dealer, Alex Kim could tell stories literally for hours upon hours about the common mistakes casino gamblers commit on a regular basis.

"Yeah, I think I've pretty much seen it all," says the 30-year-old Kim, a Las Vegas native who was casino dealer at Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore Resort and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas before starting and becoming director of CEG Dealer School in 2014. "You just cringe when you see some of the stuff people do at the table. It can be tough to watch."

So, with the help of Kim and Casino City Gaming Guru Hank Tamburin, author of Blackjack: Take the Money and Run, below is a list of blunders you want to avoid the next time you sit down at the blackjack table.

10. Blaming the dealer for bad cards
"We have an inside joke in the business: What's the difference between a little puppy and a blackjack player?" Kim says with a laugh. "The puppy eventually stops whining."

Here's the deal. If you aren't getting decent cards or if the dealer just snapped a five-card 21 against your two kings, it's not his or her fault. So, crying about the dealer having a vendetta against you and your tablemates isn't going to help and, quite frankly, it's a boorish habit to get into. Be careful, bad karma could cost your bankroll dearly.

9. Playing drunk
Kim points out that poker players generally keep their alcohol intake in check much more than players at table games.

"There's always more of a party atmosphere at table games, and that means the players will put back drink after drink and eventually it affects their decision-making," he says. "I've see so many people start out playing blackjack the correct way, but then after they've had too much to drink, they start hitting when they shouldn't, betting more and, more often than not, seeing their chips disappear."

8. Playing tables with continuous shuffle machines
A continuous shuffle machine, or CSM, is an automatic shuffler that makes every round of blackjack like playing from a freshly shuffled deck. And with no pause in the action, the casino can deal 20% more hands.

"This increases the player's exposure to the house edge and the average player's theoretical hourly loss will correspondingly increase," writes Tamburin. "Therefore, CSMs will put a hurt on your bankroll. Don't play on tables that have them!"

7. Not knowing when to get up and change tables
Kim is a full believer in getting up and changing tables, or simply calling it a night, if the cards turn bad on you.

"I have no scientific evidence, but to me, if you lose three to five four hands in a row, it's probably time to walk away," he explains. "I always feel like there's a small window for the player when the cards are working for you and the dealer is busting. But a lot of players just sit there at the same table in the same position and get pounded hand after hand. Sometimes you need to get up, reset and find another table before it's too late. You can't just sit there and expect things are going to get better."

6. Being greedy
Kim says that most blackjack players lack self-control. They don't know when enough is enough.

"It's hard to win, so when you do, you should try to take home some of those winnings instead of giving it all back," he says. "When I was working at Encore, I had a situation where a guy sat down with $1,000 at a $25 table, and over the course of my eight-hour shift, he rolled his bankroll up to 135 grand, and then lost it all back, plus $5,000 more. You think he wished he walked away when he was still up six figures?"

5. Playing the side bets
Royal Match. Lucky Ladies. 21+3. Match Pair.

These are the enticing "side bets" you will now see at most every blackjack table, offering players a chance to "bet a little and win a lot" in addition to their regular wager.

What do they all have in common? A high house edge.

"Sure, it only costs a buck to make one of these side bets, but those dollars you bet on every hand keep adding up," warns Tamburin. "And unless you are very lucky, at the end of the day you'll wind up a loser. Stay away from side bets!"

4. Taking even money on blackjack
You've just hit blackjack, but before you can even finish a fist pump or slap a high five with the dude next to you, the evil dealer flips over an ace and immediately inquires if you want "even money" instead of the typical blackjack odds.

"Just as insuring a 'good hand' like a 20 is a bad play, so is taking even money (on blackjack)," Tamburin writes. "In the long run, smart blackjack players will wind up with more money in their pockets when they refuse the even-money proposition compared to if they always take the 'sure' even money."

3. Not checking rules before sitting down
"Most players just plop themselves down at the first open blackjack seat that they spot," writes Tamburin. "That can be a big mistake, because not all blackjack games are created equal."

Some of the more essential questions you want to be aware before putting your money in play include, Does the dealer stand or hit on a soft 17? (A player's expectation decreases when the dealer must hit). How many decks are being used? (The fewer the better, in most cases) Can you double down after splitting a pair? (Yes, you want that option).

But the most important rule to be aware of is . . .

2. Playing a table where blackjack pays 6-to-5
Sadly, more and more casino are offering 6-to-5 odds on blackjack, rather than the traditional 3-to-2.

In simple terms, a $10 bet will pay $15 on blackjack on a 3-to-2 table, but just $12 on a 6-to-5 table. Tamburin estimates that, on average, you should get four blackjacks per hour, which means a $10 player is basically handing over $12 to the casino every hour at a 6-to-5 table.

Unfortunately, Kim says that most players are completely unaware of this costly mistake.

"The number of people who actually ask what blackjack pays before they sit down is minuscule," he says. "I swear if there was a 3-to-2 table right next to a 6-to-5 table, most players wouldn't even bother to move over and get the better odds. It's scary, but true."

Tamburin adds, "If you are unsure what a blackjack pays, before you sit down and buy in, ask the dealer. If she says 6-to-5, tell her adios."

Be sure to pay attention to the basic strategy.

Be sure to pay attention to the basic strategy. (photo by Bob Owen)

1. Not playing basic strategy
One of the main attractions of blackjack and a reason why it is so popular is because it offers one of the lowest house edge bets in a casino.

The caveat? You must be playing perfect basic strategy to take advantage. Otherwise, you might as well be playing Keno.

"Playing by hunches is the biggest mistake I see players make at blackjack," Tamburin says. "You'll face a 1% or higher house edge if you play by hunches, and only a half a percent house edge if you play by the basic strategy. Enough said."

Kim explains that when a dealer sees a player doing things out of the ordinary, like doubling down on a hard 12 when the dealer is showing a six, they can make suggestions in order to point out what basic strategy says, but they won't go overboard.

"It's OK to guide the player, but you have to be careful because that can backfire on the dealer," he says. "If you're playing blackjack and you're in a situation where you're not sure what you should do, my recommendation is to ask the dealer. In most instances, he will tell you what basic strategy calls for, but he should never say, 'I would do this . . .' That could get them in trouble if the cards don't fall right."
 

Top 10 Las Vegas sportsbook etiquette mistakes

16 January 2017
The new sportsbook at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas (photo by Erik Kabik)With the Super Bowl just two weeks away and March Madness on the horizon, Nevada sportsbooks are preparing for some of their busiest days of the calendar. So, before you make your next pilgrimage to a sports bettors' Disneyland, avoid being "that guy" and don't break the simple — yet often ignored — rules of etiquette below. ... (read more)
 

Top 10 highest house edge casino bets

9 January 2017
The casino floor of the Atlantis Casino Resort. (photo by Jim G. on Flickr)One of the biggest advantages a gambler has when walking into a casino is the number of options available to put his or her hard-earned money into play. Yes, it's true that you will be at a mathematical disadvantage no matter what ... (read more)
 

Top 10 facts and figures from MGM National Harbor casino

12 December 2016
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Move over, Capital Wheel, you've got company. The illuminated 180-foot Ferris wheel, built in 2014 as part of the National Harbor development in Maryland, used to be the dominating landmark that would catch your eye on the way from Washington, D.C., onto the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River and connects Virginia to Maryland. ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

  • Featured Articles

Qui Nguyen storms to the WSOP Main Event chip lead during a night of November Nine surprises

LAS VEGAS -- The script was flipped on Sunday at the World Series of Poker Main Event final table.Instead of Cliff Josephy, with his Hollywood looks and giant chip stack, running over the table read more)
 

World Series of Poker Main Event final table profile: Gordon Vayo

Gordon Vayo File (photo by Jamie Thomson)Age: 27Home... (read more)
 

Top 10 takeaways from the 2016 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Everywhere you looked at last week's annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E), there were smiles and laughter. And the blissful mood wasn't just because the thousands of attendees and nearly 500 exhibitors were in Las Vegas with an array of after-hours "networking" parties to choose from, although that ... (read more)
 

Top 10 most Instagrammed locations in Las Vegas

If you're feeling like the world has been taken over by selfies and selfie sticks, a trip to Las Vegas certainly won't lessen that sentiment.Throughout Las Vegas at nearly any time of the day, you can't go too far without running into someone or a group of people gathering in front of a popular spot and smiling into their iPhones. ... (read more)
 

WSOP bracelet-hunting with poker icons Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu

LAS VEGAS -- The last thing Phil Hellmuth looked like he wanted to do was sit down at a poker table.Less than 30 minutes earlier, The Poker Brat was agonizingly eliminated from the World Series of Poker Main Event after experiencing one of his classic meltdowns that have been caught so many times by ESPN cameras and helped earned him his nickname. ... (read more)
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT