Plug These 5 Common Blackjack Leaks – You’ll Save Money!
Blackjack has the potential to be the best game in the casino, as far as the house edge is concerned. Live you can find games at 0.2% in favour of the house, online the best games still come in at < 1%.
Casinos make a lot of their profit from mistakes – or ‘leaks’ – that their players have. The more mistakes that are made at the table, the more money goes into the casinos coffers. It does not matter about the outcome of a particular hand, you can make an error and still win big. What matters is the mathematical edge that this hands to the house over time.
The 5 common Blackjack leaks below are designed for those just learning the game and it’s strategy. If you plug these, your money will last a lot longer!
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Blackjack Leak #1 – Insurance Side Bet
When the dealer shows and ace as her upcard, you’ll be offered the ‘Insurance’ bet. This is optional and is actually a side-bet and not a core part of the game. The bet involves you placing half of your stake, and getting a payout of 2-to-1 if the dealer reveals a 10 or a picture card. This would effectively ‘save’ your initial stake – thus the insurance name.
Over the long run, this bet has a horrible house edge – 12.5% in favour of the house!
This is just about the worst bet in any casino (only some Keno bets come out worse). The maths is simple, there are 9 cards which do not make Blackjack (ace through 9) and 4 which do… you are getting a payout of 2-to-1 on a 9:4 chance… and that is one ugly bet.
In a live game, it might raise some eyebrows, however your bankroll will last a lot longer if your default answer to the offer of insurance is ‘no thanks’.
Blackjack Leak #2 – Not Knowing Basic Strategy
This is a HUGE leak and should be plugged before you next play. Basic strategy involves memorizing the correct (mathematical) action to take with each point total you have for each possible dealer up-card.
Most of these decisions are easy, you’ll always take more cards on 11 or under, and always stand on a hard 17+. Where you can give away a lot of money is with the in between numbers. For example do you hit or stand against a dealer showing a 5 when you have a hard 13?
If you make mistakes with the basic strategy, you could easily be giving up an extra 5% or even 10% to the house every hand.
While subtleties like the splitting and doubling strategy depends on minor rules variations and enters the realm of expert players – there is simply no excuses for not having the basic strategy in place!
Blackjack Leak #3 – Playing Above Your Bankroll
Bankroll management is a topic which gets a lot of new players yawning. The thing is, if you do not use it, the casino will have your money before you get a genuine chance to hit an upswing. I recommend at least 30 bets for your game before you sit down to play. Any less than this the natural ‘variance’ in the run of cards might not give you a chance to get established and start to enjoy the game.
Blackjack Leak #4 – Choosing a Bad Game
At a detailed level, this is in the realm of the experts, however there are some ways in which knowing what to look for can help you choose the games with the lowest house edge – which will naturally keep your bankroll going for longer. Things to look for are dealer stands on soft 17, and making sure that player Blackjack pays 3:2. If you see a table where player Blackjack pays 6:5 or even worse even money, then the house is taking an extra slice of your cash.
Blackjack Leak #5 – Playing Blackjack Side Games
Many games both live and online have side-bets which add a bit of excitement to the game. These can result in some nice windfalls, some even involve progressive jackpots (or wins of 100-to-1). Examples include Perfect Pairs, Bonus Blackjack and games which pay extra when the dealer busts out.
These games all have bad odds. We are talking 7%+ which is 6+ times the edge of the main game. This might not sound like much, however that kind of edge every hand will burn through your bankroll incredibly fast.
I’m not going to advise always declining every side-bet. After all, these do add some excitement to the games and can give you a welcome big win.
What you need to be aware of is the price you are paying for that added excitement. That way you can make up your own mind about whether or not to play.