Worst Blackjack Game Strategies Only Beginners Fall For

Terrible beginner blackjack strategies could will cost you everything.

Terrible Beginner Blackjack Strategies that will Cost You Everything

I’ve spent plenty of time writing everything from tips to detailed strategies for the game of blackjack. I’ve described at length many of the pros most famous and effective card counting techniques. Today, I thought we’d try something a bit different – a reversal, if you will. Today we’ll be discussing the three worst blackjack game strategies that only beginners are known to erroneously invoke.

The problem is that, to a brand new blackjack player with no experience or foreknowledge of how effective tactics work, these concepts can actually sound like the perfect way to win the game. That’s absolutely not the case. So if you are new to the game, be careful you don’t fall for these all-too-common fallacies.

Three Terrible Beginner Blackjack Strategies to Avoid

I was passing through Edmonton a few weeks ago with a friend and we stopped in the River Cree Casino. While dining at the Kitchen Buffet (pricey, but ask for a 2-for-1 coupon when you join the players club, it’s excellent!) I overheard a conversation that made my gut wrench. This was obviously a kid who had never been to a casino before, and probably had one too many drinks before he got to the blackjack table… his “perfect blackjack strategy”, as he called, was this…

Follow the Dealer’s Rules

This poor kid thought that if he followed the same rules that the dealer is forced to abide by, he would have to have an above 50% win rate. It works for the dealer, why not the player? He was so excited by this idea of his that I felt guilty for correcting him, but I couldn’t let him go on believing that horrible distortion.

At first, he seemed to prepared to argue his point to the death, until he finally stopped long enough to ask me why mimicking the dealer’s moves doesn’t work. My response was simple – because you can bust before the dealer ever plays.

Think about it, I explained to him. If you have 16 and always hit it, you’re going to bust a lot (62% of the time, to be exact). The dealer must also hit 16, but only if the player has already completed their hand. The average player using basic strategy will bust about 16% of the time, thereby losing some of those hands before the dealer ever has to take that scary hit on 16.

Because the player goes first, and can bust before the dealer ever plays, following the dealer’s rules is a terrible way to play blackjack! It results in a house edge of about 6%; far worse than the ~1% edge in most games.

The kid finally caught on and realized the error of his ways. He then proceeded to question my knowledge, asking if this strategy would work instead…

Never Let Your Hand Bust

Oh, no, I told him, that won’t do either. Sure, it will save you from facing immediate disaster when the dealer drops a face card on your 12+, but it’s not going to increase your odds of winning – quite the opposite, in fact.

A more prosperous strategy requires hitting some hand values of 12 or more. When basic strategy instructs players to do so, it’s because your odds of busting are lower than your odds of losing against the dealer’s up card.

For example, if you’re dealt 12, and the dealer is showing a 10, odds are higher that you will lose with the 12 than the odds of busting if you hit it. There are 9 cards that won’t hurt you, and only 4 that will. That’s a 69.2% chance you’ll survive the hit. Thus it is the right move to hit.

Like our error-ridden ‘mimic the dealer’ concept above, never busting also proposes about a 6% house edge.

At this point, I told our young friend that he should take some time to study basic blackjack strategy, and warned him to stay away from this third and final bad tactic that’s cost some beginner blackjack players far more than they could ever afford to lose. I’m talking about the potentially expensive error of using a…

Blackjack Betting System

These systems are advertises as sure-fire ways to win at all sorts of casino games that pay even money. Blackjack doesn’t really qualify, since you can split and double down, but a lot of players make the mistake of using betting systems here anyway.

The idea behind a betting system is to bet progressively in such a way so that even if you lose many hands in a row, once you do win, you’ll make it all back, plus a small profit. These systems do not work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a straight double-or-nothing, a positive progression, or a negative progression system. They don’t work for one simple reason. Casinos have table limits.

You can only place wagers so high before you hit the limit, and all that takes is 8 consecutive losses. The odds of losing 8 hands in a row aren’t great, but if it happens, you won’t be able to continue. You’ll have lost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, with no way to win it back. Learn more about the inherent flaws of betting systems here.

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