Five Absurd Blackjack Myths Debunked

by
Joe A.
5th August, 2020

There are many myths surrounding the game of blackjack. Players invent their own assumptions how the game reportedly works best, and pass on their knowledge to others. The worst are the players who realise they don’t know much about the game, but still pretend to know everything, shamelessly handing out advice to all who are willing to listen.

Only when you like to throw money away it is a sound idea to let yourself be misguided by such player misinformation. However, you will do better if you look through these lies and understand the truth of the game, being focused on how to actually win. In this article we discuss the most absurd lies and myths ever told about blackjack. These lies cover everything from basic strategy to card counting.

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1. Blackjack has the lowest house edge

Blackjack has built a good reputation for having an extremely low house edge. There are many articles that say that blackjack has a house edge of around 0.5%. This percentage is undoubtedly one of the best in the online casino world. Only certain video poker machines can compete when it comes to this low house edge. The only problem is that not all blackjack games have this house edge of 0.5%.

In fact, the majority don’t have it. Rules can vary from table to table. Each rule affects the house edge of blackjack. The goal is to choose tables that provide favourable rules for the players for better chances of winning. However, achieving this goal is getting more difficult every day. Especially physical casinos (as opposed to online casinos) have added several unfavourable rules to the game.

Many of the blackjack tables come with a house edge of around 2%. While this percentage isn’t bad when you compare it to other games, it’s not exactly what most players expect. Finding blackjack tables with a house edge of less than 1% is the ultimate goal.

Understanding the game rules is a good step towards this goal. Here are some different blackjack rules and how they affect the house edge:

– Natural Blackjack Payout: A 3 to 2 payout reduces the house edge by 1.4% compared to a 6 to 5 payout.

– Number of decks played: A single deck blackjack game reduces the house edge by 0.59% compared to a blackjack game played with 8 decks.

– Double Options: Being able to double on any total decreases the house edge by 0.25% compared to just splitting 9, 10 or 11.

– Dealer’s action on soft 17: If the dealer has to take a card on soft 17 this reduces the house edge by 0.2% compared to when they should pass.

– Double after splitting: Having the option to redouble the bet after splitting reduces the house edge by 0.17%.

– Splitting aces again: If you are allowed to split aces again for a second time, the house edge decreases by 0.08%.

– Late Surrender: Lowers the house edge by 0.07% if allowed.

The size of the payout of a natural blackjack is the most important rule. You only want to play on tables that offer a 3 to 2 payout. The number of decks also has a huge effect on the house edge. You can find the same games with a single deck of cards and a payout of 3 to 2 at only a few land based casinos. However, these tables can be found at almost all online casinos.

While the other rules also have a slight impact on the house edge, these are the rules you really need to focus on in order to have reasonable odds. Look for blackjack tables with a 3 to 2 payout played with four or fewer decks.

blackjack myths

A game of blackjack in an online casino. ©Screenshot

2. Blackjack strategy is difficult to learn

Some blackjack players claim that a basic strategy is difficult to learn. They say making so many decisions is hard to remember. It is true that a blackjack strategy contains many decisions which have to be made. You have to decide whether you want an extra card or whether you will just check.

After you take a card, you have to decide again if you want to take another card or if you will just check. Depending on the total and the game rules, you may also want to double the bet, split the cards, or choose to surrender. These different options available complicate the basic strategy. But this strategy only seems difficult at first glance. You can simply grab a strategy chart and play blackjack. These coloured charts show you every decision you should make based on your total and the dealer’s open card. Here you have an example:

– You have a total of 15.
– The dealer has an 8 open.
– You look at the strategy table.
– You see that taking a card is the best decision.

The basic strategy provides a quick way to know which decision offers optimal opportunities. Each beginner can use such a chart and immediately start making the best possible decisions for each given hand. The only drawback of the strategy charts is that they can slow you down. It takes time to look up the correct decisions for each hand.

This in itself is not such a big problem. As long as you are not in a hurry you can take the time to look in the graph for the hand you are playing. However, it is a problem when you play in land based casinos.

Dealers are trained to keep the game running and they don’t appreciate it when someone takes a seat at the table and then takes a minute or more each time to make a decision. Other players at the table can also become impatient if you interrupt the fast course of the game.

Therefore, we recommend that you start playing free blackjack online and keep a chart handy. You have unlimited time to make a decision at online casinos, making it the perfect way to apply and remember a strategy.

Of course there are also other ways to improve your game, such as watching YouTube videos or reading articles in which different strategies are described. However, it doesn’t get any easier than using a strategy table. At our blackjack page, we described the outline of the basic strategy for you.

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3. Other blackjack players can make you lose

Many experienced players get upset when gamblers worry about losing a hand. They sometimes even end up leaving the table or can curse at the other persons at the table for making a bad decision. This scenario often occurs when a bad player arrives and sits at the last table position and is thus allowed to react last before the dealer takes a card. Sometimes it seems that the last player has influence on which card the dealer gets. Here you have an example:

– The last player to determine has 12.
– The dealer has a 5 open.
– The player should check here.
– The player takes a card and draws a 10, putting him over 21 and going bust.
– The dealer draws a card and gets a 9 and 7.
– Now the dealer has 21 and beats all players at the table.

If the player followed the correct strategy and checked, the dealer would go above 21 and instead bust himself, having a total of 24 with the 10 and 9 added to his open 5 card. In this case however, the last player to decide has “helped” the dealer on his way to a nice twenty one.

In this case, the bad player is the reason for loss in the eyes of other players. But what many players don’t realise is that these same players might as well help them instead of hurting in some cases. Here you have an example:

– The last player to respond has a 13.
– The dealer has a 6 open.
– The correct strategy here is to check.
– The player takes a card anyway and draws a 9 so that he goes over 21.
– The dealer draws a 6 and a 10, so the dealer also goes over 21 and busts.

If the player would just have checked and would not have opted for another card – as he should have done according to the base strategy – the dealer with 9 and 6 would have made a total of 21. But thanks to the bad player with his bad strategy, the dealer has now also gone over 21. Bad blackjack players may in some cases lead you to success, and in some cases not. In the long run, their play has no effect on your chances of winning as in the end it all levels out.

Some players do not always believe that others can make them lose more money by joining the table in the middle of the game. They think that the player interrupts their good luck streak and thereby worsens their chance of winning. It just depends on what people believe when gambling. There are plenty of myths about blackjack and plenty of fans of this game are superstitious. Here you have an example:

– A blackjack table has a variant that is played with 8 decks.
– In the meanwhile, 3 decks have been distributed by the live dealer during play.
– A player has all the luck on his side all the time and receives fairly good cards.
– A new player joins the game.
– The lucky player suddenly gets bad cards.
– This same player blames the new player for his bad luck.

This situation is common enough with other casino games. Take for example the poker tables where players blame other players for getting bad cards. It is human nature to blame your problems on other people. Anyway; you don’t have to worry if a player takes part in the middle of the game. It does not affect the odds as many players unjustly think.

blackjack myths

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. ©Screenshot

4. Only rocket scientists can count cards

Card counting is a blackjack strategy to improve your odds. It is one of the most popular topics in gambling because it is a fairly new technique and can be used at all times to beat the house. However, most blackjack players fail to master this advantageous technique. A common reason is because they think counting cards is too difficult for them to master.

Movies like 21 or Rain Man have brought this myth to life by putting solely geniuses who know how to count cards onto the cinema screens. For example, it is referred to that you may have to be an MIT student or even autistic to be able to keep a good count. Nothing is less true.

You do need some skills to count cards but it is less difficult than it might initially seem. Almost everyone can learn it. If you have already learned the basic strategy it is only a matter of time to know how a card counting system works.

You can use one of the simplest techniques such as the hi-lo (high-low) card counting system. This can be understood and applied within a few minutes. Below you will find the basis of the hi-lo system:

– You want to keep the card count to determine whether the deck has more tens and aces or low cards.
– The main reason for this is because it gives you better chances of getting a natural blackjack.
– You want to bet more money when the deck has more aces and tens.
– Cards 2 through 6 are counted as +1 (less of these lower cards within the deck are better for you).
– Cards 7 through 9 are neutral and counted as 0.
– Cards 10 through Ace count as -1 (the less high cards remaining in the deck means it is bad for you).
– A higher positive count requires higher bets from the player
– Restart the count when the decks are reshuffled

Learning to count cards yourself is not that difficult. The trick is to ensure that the casino does not realise that you are using a technique. Casinos don’t appreciate their players using a card counting system to try to beat the house. It is not illegal, but they can boot you from the table or kick you out of the premises if they realise that you have built up a head start and suddenly start increasing your bet at seemingly random moments.

That’s why you have to take into account to gradually increase the bet so to stand out less quickly. Dealers are trained to see through these tactics and to notice when players change their betting structure based on the deck or getting “21s”. The chances that you will be thrown out of the casino if you continue to count cards are high when they realise you are using this to your advantage.

But don’t let this scare you off. Never let people tell you that card counting is hard to learn. In fact, it is one of the simplest blackjack tactics around. Of course, you need to know the basic strategy to ensure you always make the right decisions while keeping the count and regularly changing the bet based on the deck’s positive or negative count. Finally, you should also take into account how many decks are in play. By the way, keep in mind that card counting only works as a tactic in a land-based casino (or online with a live dealer) as in virtual games the cards are shuffled after each game – which in a land-based casino with a real dealer would be too time consuming.

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5. You will eventually win a hand

In blackjack you win about half of the hands you play in total. This win percentage makes you think that it is unusual to lose consecutive rounds. Some players take this idea too far and claim that they really should win the next hand after losing a few hands in a row. They think the blackjack gods owe them a service.

Here is an example of this particular way of thinking:

– The player loses three blackjack hands in a row.
– He knows he has to win about half the time.
– The player doubles the bet because he thinks he is more likely to win.

The main problem with this way of thinking is that it involves linking a previously played hand to the situation you are dealing with at that moment. Previously dealt hands do not affect blackjack odds unless you know the deck is favourable and you are keeping a count. This is also known as the gambler’s misconception or fallacy and occurs among many casino players.

Players who fall for the gambler’s misconception think that the odds should always be proportional. However, previous blackjack results have nothing to do with what will happen in the future. The odds don’t change because you lose a few hands. Instead, the odds on the next hand remain exactly the same.

Conclusion

Listening to and taking advice from blackjack players who have no idea what they are talking about is a sure way to lose money. Instead, we recommend that you learn the basic strategy and not rely on your own assumptions or the myths told by other players you meet at the blackjack tables. For starters, you should realise that not all blackjack games are equal. Look at the tables with beneficial game rules so that you play with the lowest house edge possible.

Above all, you can greatly increase the chances of winning by using a good strategy. All you have to do is look up and understand a blackjack strategy chart and you can get started. At online casino sites you can always test the games for free before depositing and playing with your own money.

Try one of the blackjack variants for free today and become a better blackjack player before you visit a land based casino. Or you can stay at home and play at an online casino if you prefer not to have other players around you during your gambling adventure!

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