Think you know everything there is to know about blackjack? Check out our list of blackjack myths and misconceptions to find out if you need to change any habits.
Myths are prevalent about blackjack, like whether or not you should chase 21.
No, blackjack strategy isn’t too hard to learn.
Despite what Hollywood may have told us, card counting isn’t actually illegal.
Blackjack is a fast-paced, riveting game that draws in players of all skill levels. But just like any game of chance, it comes with its own misconceptions. In fact, you’ve probably heard a few of these yourself at some point, whether you’re new to the game or a veteran player.
If you really want to win at blackjack, you have to be able to separate fact from fiction. Here, we share 10 of the most common myths about blackjack and why they’re so wrong. Make sure you don’t fall victim to any of these mistaken beliefs.
Myth #1: You Should Try To Get as Close to 21 as Possible
This is an oversimplification of the rules of blackjack and how to win a hand. While the highest number you can get to and (potentially) win is 21, you shouldn’t be chasing that number with every hand.
Ultimately, the way to win at blackjack is by beating the dealer. You can accomplish this in one of two ways:
Having a higher final total than the dealer.
Not busting before the dealer does.
If you’re trying to get as close to 21 as possible with every hand, you’re just going to bust again and again because you’re focusing too much on your own cards and not weighing how well your hand is doing against the dealer’s up card.
Myth #2: Other Players Affect Your Chances of Winning
In blackjack, you’re playing only against the dealer, not the other players at your table. But there’s a common misconception that bad or unskilled players can cause other people at the table to lose.
Of course, cards are being pulled from a shoe at random and can’t be predicted. So if an unskilled player makes a poor decision, there’s no way that anyone at the table could know what the next card is and how it could affect the next player’s hand. A bad move is just as likely to help the table as it is to harm the table — bad player decisions in blackjack have no long-term mathematical effect on a player’s outcome.
Focus on yourself and playing with discipline and knowledge, and don’t blame other players if you do lose a hand.
Myth #3: Veteran Players Are Mean to Beginners
Possibly one of the biggest fears that new players may have is that other players might be mean or terse with them. This might keep them from even trying out the game.
In truth, most players and dealers are fine with new players, so long as you stick to some basic table etiquette:
Get a good sense of your strategy chart beforehand. You won’t want to slow down play by referring to it on every hand.
Don’t touch your cards or chips while they’re in play.
Don’t try to give unwanted advice to others.
Make your decisions within a reasonable timeframe.
Myth #4: Blackjack Strategy Is Too Complicated
If you’re new to the game, then blackjack strategy can seem intimidating at first, with all the different scenarios to keep track of. What do you do when the dealer has a face-up 5 and you have a 14?
Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there that offer charts on different blackjack strategies to help you decide what’s the wisest move to make depending on the cards that you see in front of you.
Myth #5: Card Counting Is Illegal
Plenty of movies have solidified in our minds that card counting is illegal and, if you get caught doing it, you’ll be either tossed out of the casino or taken into a back room and roughed up.
But card counting is completely legal in all 50 states. Now, casinos can institute their own methods of trying to combat card counting, from reshuffling their decks more often to simply asking a player suspected of card counting to move on to a different game.
Myth #6: You Have To Be a Genius To Count Cards
Again, thanks to the movies, lots of people believe that counting cards means being able to memorize every card that’s been dealt. But no, you don’t need a photographic memory to count cards. And you don’t need to be doing complex calculations in your head, either.
Most card counting systems require simply adding or subtracting 1 from a running total, depending on which cards have been dealt so far. If you can add and subtract quickly, then you’re on a good path to being able to start counting cards.
Myth #7: Card Counting Means Huge Profits
And here we have yet another misconception thanks to the glitz and glamour of the movies. We’ve seen plenty of flicks where the protagonists make a fortune at the blackjack tables because of card counting.
But all blackjack players, even the professionals, can experience wild fluctuations in their luck and their winnings. You also have to remember that card counting gains only an additional 0.5% to 1.5% edge over the casino, which isn’t all that much. You can make maybe $30 to $50 an hour if you’re a really good card counter, but it can be a pretty exhausting process to play for multiple hours at a time in hopes of clearing profits like that.
Myth #8: The Dealer Always Has 10 in the Hole
Some blackjack players assume that the dealer always has a 10 card as their face-down card, since there are overall a good number of cards in the deck that have a value of 10. But the math just doesn’t add up there.
Only the 10, jack, queen, and king are valued at 10. That means in a single deck of cards, you have just 16 cards with that value — only 31%. The other 69% of the cards in the deck aren’t valued at 10, so it’s more likely that the dealer’s hole card is not a 10.
Instead of assuming the dealer has a face-down 10, just play with a proper blackjack strategy. You’ll probably have a better outcome.
Myth #9: You’re Due for a Win After Consecutive Losses
People are willing to believe this about anything, from roulette to coin tosses: If their number hasn’t come up yet, it has to eventually.
However, every hand in blackjack has a 48% probability of winning (if you ignore any times when you and the dealer push). This means that if you’ve lost seven hands in a row, your eighth isn’t going to automatically be a winner. The cards have no memory — you are never “due” to win after a losing streak.
Myth #10: Progressive Betting Systems Can Overcome the House Edge
Plenty of players go into a game like blackjack with the belief that a progressive betting system will net them huge profits. Progressive systems take advantage of streaks, with the expectation that your luck will eventually turn.
Betting progressions may produce a higher percentage of smaller wins, but if you hit a bad losing streak, you’ll wipe out your entire bankroll. Remember that you’re never “due” for a win after a losing streak, and a negative progression system like the Martingale can clean you out fast. So always bet carefully.
Gambling is full of myths, and blackjack is no exception. But if you pay too much attention to lore and superstitions like these, you end up handicapping yourself.
If you want to be a successful player, you need to ignore these myths about blackjack and use more intelligent techniques. It’s not too hard to learn basic blackjack strategy, so if you study up and put in some practice, you can put your knowledge to the test and see how it pays off for you.
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