11 Blackjack Tips the Casinos Don't Want You to Know
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Bill Kaplan, co-founder of the MIT blackjack team that took Vegas for millions, has a few tricks up his sleeve. You may not bring down the house, but here are 11 of his tips that will give amateur gamblers an extra edge.
Always hit a soft 17 (i.e. ace-6), split aces and 8s, double down on 11, and stand on a hard 17 (or greater).
Never split 5s or 10s and never stand on 12 through 16 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher. Never play cards when you're drinking. Never believe you're on a winning streak and never over-bet or make foolish plays. Never play for extended periods of time without taking a break, getting a drink of water, eating a snack, or simply stretch your legs.
There's no such thing as a "hot" or "cold" table or a "hot" or "cold" dealer.
You should only tip the dealer if you feel like tipping. Unless dealers are doing something dishonest -- and there are hundreds of cameras in the sky to make sure they're not -- they can't do anything that will affect your play.
A 6- or 8- deck game is slightly more disadvantageous to a player (10ths of a percent) but there's more potential for a player to be cheated in a handheld single-deck game (although this rarely happens at reputable casinos).
For a professional player, an automatic shuffler makes tracking specific packets of cards or specific cards through a shuffle theoretically impossible. Most handheld shuffles are not perfectly random and therefore can be beaten by simulating the shuffle on a computer and then devising a system to exploit their non-random nature.
All seats at the table are the same. Surprisingly, cards have no preference for particular seats. Only superstitious people do.
Never take insurance. Unless you're keeping track of the ratio of aces and 10-cards remaining in the stack of cards still to be played (i.e. the shoe), the odds are against you.
There is no way to bet progressively to maximize winnings. Progressive betting does not change the probabilities of the game. If you're playing with a 1 percent disadvantage, you will lose an average 1 percent of all the money you bet at the table. Typically, progressive betting will only serve to force you to bet more than you might otherwise bet and therefore you will lose more in the long run.
One should never get emotional about cards. Emotions are distractions and might cause you to make excessive bets or playing strategy errors that will cost you dearly.
Don't sit down at a Blackjack table without first memorizing a "basic strategy" chart. This is a one-page chart that specifies every hit, stand, double down, and split decision to be made at the table for every possible combination of cards in your hand and the dealer's "up" card. You can find this online or in countless Blackjack books. Once you've learned basic strategy, your disadvantage at the game will be .5%, which makes Blackjack the best game to play in the casinos.