Eight simple rules of blackjack

We are going to talk about Blackjack now, but not the basic strategy that you need to know in order to play the game properly. If you are looking for basic strategy, try Wikipedia. If you don’t know the basics of the game, this guide is not going to make much sense to you. Do feel free to come back here once you have the basics down.

One other thing, don’t think that the ‘basic strategy’ is actually Basic, and that you should go on to the ‘advanced’ strategy afterwards. The basic strategy is the only strategy for playing blackjack properly. There is no advanced strategy as such.

Okey, so on to the rules.

First rule, don’t take insurance. I could go on with the reasons for this, and the math, but suffice to say that it is a losing proposition overall and so should be avoided. Ok, take insurance if you want, but decide before hand how you will play the game and stick to it. If you like to take insurance, do it rigidly. Don’t determine on a hand by hand basis weather you will take it, either do it or don’t do it.

Same goes for splitting Aces, or doubling down (I do love to double down). decide before hand how you will play and stick to those rules. Changing how you play arbitrarily based on your gut instinct is not the best way to gamble in any game.

Beautiful blackjack!

Beautiful blackjack!

Second, play in a reputable casino. Does that sound too basic for you? Too simple? Well, it’s not basic, or simple. Playing in a reliable casino should be basic for every player, but if it was, then dodgy online casinos wouldn’t exist. But they do. Do some research and find a reliable casino. And don’t just go by the respectability of the brand. Many mega corporations tack on an online gambling division without ever knowing what really goes on in their site. Or they use less than reputable software, without knowing better.

If you really don’t trust any online casino, consider playing in a live dealer online casino where you can see the dealer and watch what they do. That should be enough to satisfy you that the deal is random and straight.

Actually, now that I think about it, that rule should be number one.

Three, figure out how much you will bet, and risk, before you start playing. If you have a gambling problem this bit may be tricky. But if you do have a gambling problem, then you have already figured out how to handle it, or you have gone broke. Decide on a figure that you can live with losing, and don’t use more than that.

Let’s say that you decide on $100 as the most you are willing to risk losing in order to have some fun and maybe win a few dollars. Then decide how much you will bet per hand. If you have picked $100 as your bankroll for the session, the bet size should not be so low that a win or a loss makes no difference to you. If you decided to bet one dollar flat on each hand, then should you win a few hands in a row, and be up say four dollars, that is not going to be significant to you. Likewise if you hit a bad run and are down $5 you are not going to be too bothered either.

That is not actually a desirable situation to be in. The win or loss should actually matter. Firstly, you will get bored winning or losing one percent of your bankroll, and then run the risk of doubling up a few times until you are out of control or out of money. And second, you will play for too long. That too is a bad thing, as the longer you play the more likely that the house edge will catch up with you and wipe out any lucky streak gains that you may have made.

If you are playing with $100 then a reasonable size for a bet is $5. You can take twenty losses in a row before going broke. You can quit after getting ahead by just 5 bets and be up $25, which is a reasonable win on an initial risk of $100. You can also double down or split without the bet becoming too big for you to think straight.

Ok, four. Decide how much you want to win. Like under point three, if you get ahead by $25 then are you going to keep playing or are you going to take your winnings? To continue playing runs the risk of the odds levelling out on you and quitting runs the risk of cutting a winning streak prematurely short. Decide before you start how much would be a nice win and stick reasonably close to that number. If you say you want to win $100 and get to being up $95, you could probably call it a day.

Rule five. Figure your style of play and stick to it. Basic strategy will tell you to always hit 16 against a dealers ten. Sometimes, when you are in the middle of a game, it can be hard to hit this 16. For whatever reason, call it your gut, you think that in this instance you should stand. Well, don’t. If you change how you play the hands randomly, you will be left with the post mortem, where you stand on 16 this time and see a five being drawn to the dealer, plus of course a four. You then know that had you (properly) hit your 16, you would have landed 21, with the worst possible outcome being a tie. So next time you hit your 16 and draw a ten. Them is the breaks, but it won’t matter too much if you stick rigidly to your rules.

Six. And this goes directly against rule 5 above; be reckless if you want. The idea of gambling is, or should be, to have fun. Sticking rigidly to your rules of good blackjack may make the game a drudge for you. If that is going to be the case, then don’t do it. Consider instead that the initial bankroll you put up is your entertainment money, and playing recklessly is the entertainment you are paying for.

So if it costs you $100 for ten minutes of reckless blackjack fun, so what? If that is your thing then do it. Sometimes these kinds of sessions can result in crazy wins. Most of the time they will end in the loss of your stake, but again, so what? If that is what you figured would be the worst outcome then it doesn’t really matter too much does it?

Right. Rule number seven. Flat betting or varying yoru bets. Which one is for you? Flat betting is steadier, with managable wins and losses, and makes estimating your time at the game easier. Varying your bets allows for you to bet low if you feel the cards are going against you and increasing your bets when your luck is in. I don’t think there is anything wrong with either way of betting.

The only problem there can be is when you decide to increase you bet size in order to recoup your earlier losses. This is not a problem for me per se; it is only a problem if you are doing it involuntarily. That is, you are not betting rationally, but are responding in a knee-jerk fashion to the cards at the table. To recap, knee-jerk reactions to bad cards is a problem; increasing your bets as part of your strategy should you lose, say, ten flat bets, is a reasonable bet to make if you have decided in advance that that is what you will do in those circumstances.

And, finally, Eight. I don’t really have a rule eight. It was going to be about time management, but now I think that it might be a bit redundant. You should, as a reasonable gambler, budget your time as well as your bankroll, but if you should hit an amazing lucky streak, you can’t just break off gambling because your predefined hour is up now can you?

So Seven rules will have to do. Hope they help.