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Why am I Still Losing at Blackjack?

Posted on March 4, 2021 | 1:06 pm
why_am_i_still_losing_at_blackjack

It’s a well-known fact that playing blackjack with skill and strategy is the key to unlocking the best odds in the whole world of online casino gaming.

There’s only one fly in the ointment: blackjack is a surprisingly complex game.

All too many players assume that by learning basic strategy, they are ready for the proverbial big time: they jump right into big bets and long gaming sessions, throwing caution to the wind.

This scenario tends to end poorly.

A pain next step follows…. the new player is forced to re-evaluate their skill set. They might find themselves asking:

“I spent hours learning the ropes, so why am I still losing at blackjack?”

Of course it’s true that even master players have to endure brutal losing streaks from time to time. In a game where a top-tier gambler can only boast an advantage of 0.5-1.5% against the house, this is very much to be expected – from a mathematical perspective, that is!

But that’s entirely different!

When a high-level player, hits a run of bad luck, that’s a whole different situation from a basic strategy player acting as if big wins were a foregone conclusion!

Let’s take a look at where most beginning players go wrong, and suggest some course corrections.

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No Player is an Island

no_player_is_an_islandIt’s generally understood that people, when learning a new skill, can benefit from the perspective of a coach or teacher. This is how most people learn to play a musical instrument, to speak a new language, or improve at sport.

Unfortunately, this is usually not how new players approach blackjack!

When new players hit the tables, they usually do so alone. This means that when they make mistakes, there’s no one to correct them!

After all, who would help them? Fellow players? The dealer? The pit boss?

Advantage players know that there is exactly one way to play every hand correctly.

Any variation whatsoever – whether unintentionally making a mistake, or straying from the path on the basis of a ‘gut feeling’ – cuts into your bottom line while increasing the house’s advantage.

The solution?

If at all possible, play with a buddy!

If you’re both playing, you will likely both be focused on your individual play. But if one newbie is playing their hand while the other is observing, the two can compare notes, correct errors, and grow into more reliable intermediate players.

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Card Counting

card_countingMovies and popular media would have you think that only MIT students, savants, and mathematical geniuses can cut cards.

But if that’s the case, why do they call it card counting, instead of card rocket science?

It’s not complex algebra, multivariable calculus, or computational fluid dynamics. Anyone who can learn basic blackjack strategy can – and should – learn.

Even the simplest counting techniques will improve the bettor’s chances against the house. This is exactly why casinos take anti-card counting measures, such as continuous shuffle machines, into account!

The same issues face beginning counters as face newcomers to blackjack strategy, however:

Players who have never counted before will likely be doing so on their own, with no one to observe or correct the inevitable mistakes that are a central part of learning any new skill.

That’s why we recommend beginning card counters also practice with a buddy. Count together, compare running totals, even doing so out loud if playing online!

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The Road to Advantage Play

In Blackjack, as in life, there are times when a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Knowing just a little bit about strategy, or about counting, can foster a false sense of security in players. Big bets – and big losses – tend to follow.

The shortsighted pursuit of the game’s famously great odds have led many a player to grief. It’s no coincidence that some of the most notorious losses in gaming history have taken place at the blackjack tables!

Remember that the ultimate goal of card counting, for the most skilled players in the world, is to flip the house edge so that the player can enjoy a small advantage over the casino.

In the best of circumstances, this is almost never than 1.5% advantage, however!

That means that even if a player does everything right, they will win $1.50 for every $100 wagered over time.

That is not a guarantee of big wins every time! It shouldn’t even lead to the expectation of avoiding sizable losses at every session! All it means is that, with time and sustained attention, players should win money in the long run.

And every mistake, no matter how small, cuts into that already small house edge!

That’s why, even though the first steps towards expert play are exciting, it’s important to go slow and remember that years of hard work and experience are required to turn a raw beginner into a pro.

Working with a training partner can help new players refine their skills, and get their advantage as high as possible.

Stay with it, stay humble, and practice strong bankroll management as you progress. If you go about it the right way, trust that good things will come.

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