How to Win Blackjack Without Counting Cards

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Most blackjack articles will emphasize the importance of counting cards. This is because mastering the game does, to some degree, involve mastering the statistics and the odds. No one’s disputing that (or the success of master card counters who have made millions off their mathematical skills).However, there are ways to win at blackjack that go beyond card counting— and it would be a disservice to the great blackjack players to say that all you need to be good at the game is to become a human calculator. For a truly well-rounded game, and a chance to beat the casino odds, you’ve got to develop other skills than card counting.

One of the most important things you have to do is to use the basic strategy, a set of rules that tell you how to manage your cards based on what the dealer has presented. These rules are available on the web, or even on basic strategy tip cards that are sold in bookstores and casino gift shops. Beginners should print out a copy of these tips and know them by heart. You can download the charts off the Internet, although others prefer to recopy them on to small index cards for easier reference.

Don’t deviate from basic strategy just because you have a strong and crazy gut feel. Many casinos have made millions because a player decided to stand with a 16 against a dealer’s 10 because their “heart told them to”. Split and double if that’s what the strategy tells you to do—these odds were studied by the masters, and they have reason for telling you that it’s the best move to make.

Another important factor in winning a blackjack game is to choose a table with best odds. Look for games where there are fewer decks, preferably (if you’re a beginner) those limited to just one or two. Avoid the six deck games—the winnings may be larger, but so are the risks of losing big. This is because it is harder to apply a strategy when you have to contend with a larger “base” of possible cards.

Many articles will tell you that you should increase your bet after a round that had a large number of low cards. This may work, but as a word of caution, it is more likely to work in a single or double deck game. Don’t try this at all in a large deck game. Furthermore, betting on a “gut” feel that you’ll get good cards on the next round is not a good habit to develop at all.

Another trick is to keep records. When you play, keep a pocket notebook near the PC, where you can write down all your records and study your moves. After all, more than counting cards, you’ve got to monitor your level of game play.

Keep track of your winnings, your losses, and which tables where you have better luck. This is also an excellent way of monitoring your cash flow and controlling any impulse to blow it all in one game. Remember, blackjack has swings: you have good days, and bad. When you’re on a losing streak, cut clean—your records will remind you that there’s always another day to come back and earn it all back.