In blackjack, the dealer has an advantage because one of his cards is not exposed and players must make decisions based on intuition and faith if they don’t have knowledge of basic blackjack strategy. However, the house continues to rake in money with blackjack because the truth of the matter is that most players simply don’t have a grasp of the basic blackjack strategies like learning blackjack odds and counting cards and many don’t even know more advanced strategies like splitting and doubling down. The good news is that while the casinos keep winning money off these more oblivious players, you can beat the odds by learning basic strategy and lowering the house edge.
There are a lot of myths surrounding the game of blackjack-myths that many people take as truths. Many people think that bad players at the table hurt your chances of winning, that counting cards is illegal, that you should never sit in the last position at the blackjack table or other players will blame you for bad luck and a whole plethora of other “truths” that, in fact, are not true at all. Read on to learn about some common blackjack myths and the truth about them.
Always Figure the Dealer for 10 in the Hole
One of the most common blackjack myths is that you should always figure the dealer for 10 in the hole. If the dealer is showing a 2 then you should assume that he’s got a hand of 12, if a dealer is showing a 5 then you should assume that he’s got a hand of 15. This is a basic strategy of many players. However, should we always pre-assume that the dealer’s got a hole card of 10?
The truth of the matter is that there are 4 times as many cards in a deck that are worth a value of 10 than any other card. However, only 30% of the cards in the deck are worth 10, so there is really only a 3:7 chance in any given round that the blackjack dealer actually has a 10 in the hole. If you get past the myth that the dealer’s hole card is a 10 then you can start actually start playing more strategically and increase your chances of winning.
Bad Players at the Table Hurt Your Chances
Many blackjack players believe that having bad players at the table hurt their chances of winning. If a player hits when he should have stayed or stays when he should have hit then many of the other players at the table may believe that this is throwing off the flow of the game, messing with the order of the cards and hurting the chances of all the other players at the table. This goes along with the following myths-that the order of the cards is sacred and that you should avoid choosing the last position at the table.
In reality, mathematically speaking, bad players have no real effect on the outcome of the game. While they may throw off your concentration or get on your nerves, it’s a myth that they can seriously affect your chances by playing at your table.
The Order of the Cards is Sacred
A lot of blackjack players feel that the order of the deck in a game of blackjack is sacred. If a new player joins the game in the middle or one of the other players surrenders then this sacred order can be thrown off, ruining the other players’ chances of winning.
While it’s true that another player surrendering or someone new joining the game will change the order of the cards, there is just as much a chance that their decisions will result in a shift that will help you to win. This is a myth that many players probably use to place the blame on others for their losses, rather than owning up to their own bad strategy or luck.
Avoid Choosing the Last Position at the Table
Another common blackjack myth that goes along with placing the blame on others is to avoid choosing the last position at the table. The player in the last position, closest to the dealer, is commonly the scapegoat for the rest of the players. Say, for instance, that the last player at the table hits and receives an 8 and immediately following that the dealer shows his up-card and then draws a final card that gives him a total of 21, beating the rest of the players, whereas the 8 would have caused him to bust. The last player at the table may be blamed by the other players for their losses.
However, the chances are just as likely that the last player at the table will make a decision that results in the dealer just missing blackjack and busting instead. The decisions of the other players at the table shared just as big a part in leading up to the end of the round and the order of the cards as you did.
Always Take Insurance When Dealt a Blackjack
A lot of players think that you should always take insurance when you have a blackjack or 20 and the dealer is showing an Ace. However, taking insurance in every instance is often one of the worst moves you could make. When you take insurance you give up 13% of the profit that blackjack pays, cutting your winnings drastically. Don’t fall into the trap.
Card Counting is Illegal
One of the most widespread myths about blackjack is that counting cards is illegal. This myth is proliferated in movies about casino sharks and through word-of-mouth and the casinos are happy to let players continue believing this because, the truth of the matter is that counting cards is one of the most effective blackjack strategies. When you learn to count cards well you can easily decrease the already low 2% house edge in blackjack to next to nothing. Stop worrying about getting caught and learn this great strategy because in reality, card counting in blackjack is perfectly legal and can greatly increase your chances.
Commonly Misplayed Hands
There are a huge number of possibilities of how a round of blackjack can unfold. Most players rely on basic strategy when determining how to play their hand. However, there are a number of blackjack hands that are commonly misplayed, even by more advanced players. Read on to learn about what some of these commonly misplayed hands are and how you should play them to avoid falling in to the traps that many other players fall in to.
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Soft 17 vs. Any Upcard
Many players that have a soft 17, meaning a hand worth 17 that uses and Ace for a value of 11 plus a 6-card, make the mistake of standing. Their reasoning is that on a hard 17 the general rule of thumb is to stand if the dealer has an upcard that makes them likely to bust, because hitting on a hard 17 puts the player at a great risk of busting. However, if the dealer doesn’t have an upcard of 3 to 6 then the chances of a player winning with 17 is slim to none. Therefore, it is always wise to hit or double down on soft 17 to increase your chances of a win. ( More on blackjack odds. )
Soft 18 vs. 9, 10 or Ace
Soft 18 vs. a dealer upcard of 9, 10 or Ace is one of the most commonly misplayed hands in blackjack. Many players, as a rule, always stand on 18-hard or soft. However, the truth of the matter is that an 18 will rarely win when the dealer has an upcard of 9, 10 or Ace. Yes, when you have a hard 18 your chance of busting may be too great to hit. However, with a soft 18 you don’t have to be afraid of busting so you should always hit to try to get a higher hand value than 18 to improve your chances of winning.
Hard 12 vs. Dealer “Bust” Cards
Upcards of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 are commonly referred to as dealer bust cards because these cards make the likelihood of the dealer busting higher than if he had an upcard of 7 or greater. Some players will stand on a hard 12 when the dealer shows a bust card. Their reasoning is that they may draw a 10 and bust if they hit. However, if the dealer does not bust then there is no way the player can win with a 12. It is still a good idea to stand when the dealer shows an upcard of 4, 5 or 6 (the biggest bust cards). However, it is still the better option to hit on a hard 12 when the dealer shows 2 or 3.
A lot of blackjack players get into trouble when it comes to pairs. Most players know that you should always split a pair of Aces and stand on a pair of 10s. However, it can be trickier when it comes to split 8s or 9s.
A pair of 8s gives you a total of 16, which makes it risky to hit. However, 16 is not enough to win unless the dealer busts. Therefore, it is logical to split 8s when the dealer has anything besides a bust card.
A pair of 9s gives you a total of 18, which many players tend to stand on. However, when the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace it improves your chances if you split a pair of 9s.
Blackjack vs. Ace
One of the most common myths in blackjack is that you should always take insurance on a blackjack when the dealer shows an upcard of Ace. However, this is also one of the most commonly misplayed hands. Taking insurance is a sucker move that will only hurt your winnings in the long run. It’s better to stick with the 3:2 payoff if you win than accepting even money for placing an insurance bet. Don’t fall into the insurance trap that many blackjack players fall in to.
Soft Doubling with the “Rule of 9″
Many blackjack players are aware that it is a good idea to double down on a hard total of 10 or 11. However, it can be more difficult deciding whether or not to double down on a soft hand, where one of the cards in the hand is an Ace. Luckily, the “Rule of 9″ can help you to make the right decision every time you are dealt a soft hand and are trying to decide whether or not to double down.
Before we get into a discussion of the Rule of 9, it is important to note that you should only double down on a soft hand made up of an Ace and another card of 2 through 7. If your hand is made up of an Ace and an 8 or higher then you should not double down.
That said, whether or not you double down on a soft hand depends on what the dealer’s upcard is. Basically, all you have to do is add the value of the dealer’s upcard to the value of your non-Ace card. If this value is 9 or greater then you should double down. If the sum is less than 9 then simply hit.
There are a few exceptions to this rule:
- Never double down when the dealer is showing a deuce-the odds are not in your favor.