Why is blackjack so hard to win at?

Real money blackjack has long been considered one of the games in the casino with lowest house edge. It’s a great option for players of all skill.

Players May Not Understand Probabilities Well Enough

If you’re not trying to count cards, then you don’t even need to worry about the probabilities. Basic blackjack strategy takes all that into consideration.

In blackjack there are only two kinds of probabilities players should think about. The first and most well-known is the division between theoretical return to player and house edge.

Contrary to some players’ thinking, the house edge doesn’t predict how often the house wins. The house edge predicts how much money the house keeps. The assumption behind the house edge is wager-neutral.

Although the house needs to win a lot in blackjack to get ahead, the differences between payout odds and probabilities of card play create the edge. In any gambling game, if there is a statistical 50-50 chance of a certain outcome, the house will pay less than 1:1 on the odds.

The only other probability players need to care about is the probability that the next card they are dealt helps them. How many people are playing at your table doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s left in the shoe when it’s your turn for a card.

Card Counting Countermeasures

Casinos have learned that only a few things hurt their profits at the blackjack table. Dealer mistakes can hurt their profits, but they quickly replace bad dealers and audit them on a constant basis. The main way they can lose profits is when advantage players target their games.

One way to discourage card counters is to offer games with bad rules. I covered this in an earlier section, and it’s the best way to keep advantage players out. Smart blackjack players simply refuse to play games with bad rules because they understand that even if they count cards, the house edge is so high that it’s almost impossible to overcome.

But this isn’t the only way that casinos have learned to combat card counters and advantage players.
Casinos can use computers and surveillance to track how blackjack players are playing. This helps them by identifying players that make bigger bets when the count is in their favor. Many casinos also have people in the pit who can count cards and who are trained to spot things that advantage players do that most players don’t do.

In most countries, casinos are privately operated. This means that they can legally stop players from playing their games. All they have to do is tell you that you can’t play, and if you continue playing, they can have you arrested.

As casinos get smarter and learn how to identify advantage players, they stop card counters faster. You can do certain things to lower your chances of being caught, but eventually, you’re going to be asked to stop playing if you’re playing with an advantage. This is why many card counters move from casino to casino and don’t play at one table long.

It’s also the reason that teams of blackjack card counters have the best chance to operate with an advantage over the long run. Blackjack counting teams are harder for the casinos to identify, but it’s also hard for advantage players to find enough trustworthy team members to have a profitable long-term relationship.

Following a betting system

One major reason behind why players often lose and the house wins in blackjack is because of the players following certain betting systems that they apply to blackjack.

Now, each betting system has its pros and cons but some end up increasing the house edge and posing a greater risk of a loss for the player. One such system is the Martingale system of betting in blackjack. This is a negative progression betting system in which players double the bet upon a loss. The idea is to prevent the player from staying behind for long and ensure the odds of winning at least 1 hand to stay at the table.

However, this betting system often works against the players, especially for those who are playing for too long. If a player is somehow not doing well, maybe because of his bad luck, he will quickly run out of money or at least, run up against the table max. And once this happens, the player is unable to double his next bet even if that would seem the suitable option. The bottom line is that the Martingale system should be avoided if you are trying to avoid games where the dealer always wins.

Whilst it is possible to win at blackjack without counting cards, implementing a solid card counting strategy is the best and safest way to win at blackjack consistently. However, it requires incredible determination and practice.

Мissing golden opportunities

Novice blackjack players will almost invariably play their hands too conservatively. They’ll stand too often when they should hit, and they’ll fail to double down and split pairs as often as they should. They hesitate to hit 16 against a dealer’s 7 or to split a pair of 2s against a dealer’s 4. They give up a lot more to the house by playing defensively, trying not to bust.

But expert players exploit every opportunity to maximize their wins, meaning that they’ll double and split far more often when the odds favor doing so. Expert players will bust more often, but they’ll also hit their big hands more often. You see a similar pattern in life too. High achievers will bust more often, while underachievers play too conservatively, afraid to take calculated risks for fear of losing what they have.

In blackjack, it’s those splits and double down hands where you make your real money. Novice players think it’s the ten-ace blackjack hand that’s the best — the guaranteed win. Expert players know it’s those hands where you split pairs 4x and double down on each one and see the dealer bust, winning 8x your original bet (but also risking 8x) instead of the mere 1.5x you get from a made blackjack.
The big wins come disguised as garbage hands, like a pair of 3s. So it is in life — real opportunities come disguised as problems.

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