Count cards fast. Speed is everything when it comes to Wonging. You need to be able to keep a track of counts at tables (yes, plural) with multiple players. Schlesinger says that he's able to count a full deck of cards in 14 seconds - that's impressive, but also something you should go for. Always take time to review and choose the right card counting system. For beginners, the KO and Hi. The Basics of the Speed Count Blackjack writers tell us that the average hand of blackjack is 2.7 cards, meaning more people take three cards than two.
Blackjack is supposed to be one of the easiest casino games to beat. After all, it features a low house edge in comparison to most games.
However, you still may find yourself struggling to book winning sessions on a consistent basis. Even when you are winning, your profits can drain out as you continue playing.
In these cases, it really helps to know why you have such a tough time beating blackjack. Below, I’ll discuss 5 reasons why the dealer keeps kicking your butt along with how you can change things around.
1 – The Dealer Acts Second
Some gamblers have adopted an extreme strategy that involves mimicking the dealer. Their thought process is that if the dealer wins most of the time, then they can at least match the croupier by playing by the same rules (I.e. hitting until a hard or soft 17).
The same gamblers are dead wrong on this strategy! Mimicking the dealer results in a massive 7% house edge. But why?
The croupier doesn’t win just because they play by a strict set of rules. In fact, being forced to hit until a soft/hard 17 actually lowers their chances of winning.
Instead, the dealer’s biggest advantage comes from acting after you. They deal the cards and wait for you to play your hand before doing anything else.
If you bust out, then you automatically lose. Meanwhile, the dealer beats you without ever having to make a decision.
The casino tries to soften the blow by giving you extra actions that the dealer doesn’t enjoy. You can split pairs and double down when rules permit.
These special privileges help when you’re trying to reduce the house edge. But they still don’t allow you to totally overcome the dealer’s advantage.
2 – Not Everybody Bothers With Blackjack Strategy
One of the most-entertaining parts about blackjack is that it features in-depth strategy. You can improve your chances of winning by knowing how to act in each situation.
Here’s an example of a tricky blackjack scenario:
- You hold a pair of 9s.
- The dealer’s upcard is 7.
- You split these 9s in most situations.
- However, basic strategy calls on you to stand in this specific instance.
There’s one right way to play the above situation and multiple wrong ways. You’ll run into these types of decisions again and again in blackjack.
You won’t automatically know how to deal with tricky situations. That said, a basic blackjack strategy chart can do wonders for your results.
These charts, which are extremely easy to find by the way, show the correct move for every situation. As long as you can read a color-coded chart, you can play perfect blackjack.
Nevertheless, many gamblers still don’t bother to take the two minutes it requires to find one of these charts online. They instead think that they’ve already mastered the game through experience alone.
Most gamblers can play reasonably well as long as they don’t try mimicking the dealer. But they’ll still surrender anywhere from 2% to 4% edge by ignoring strategy.
3 – Blackjack Games Move Fast
It seems like the casino already benefits quite a bit from the dealer acting second. But as I’ll discuss later, you can still lower the house edge to 0.5%–or even less in certain cases.
The problem, though, is that casinos can still beat you badly even if they only have a tiny advantage. Blackjack games are built to move fast so that the house can capitalize.
More action creates more entertainment when you’re gambling. However, it also leads to bigger losses over time.
You might still not feel like taking breaks and slowing the game down after reading this. After all, the point of blackjack is to have fun rather than trying to minimize your losses. But the fact remains that the casino wins more money, on average, when you’re exposed to more hands.
4 – The Rules Are in the Casino’s Favor
As I covered before, casinos give you special options that the dealer doesn’t have access to. Doubling down and splitting in the right situations give you a better chance at beating the dealer.
Even still, any competent casino will still ensure that they skew the rules in their favor. They tweak each rule to ensure that they at least hold a small advantage.
Of course, you can counteract this to some degree by looking for tables with the best rules. Even then, though, you’re not going to find any games that give you the edge.
Some casinos use tricky moves to fool you into thinking that your chances of winning are better. For example, they’ll offer single-deck tables with 6:5 natural blackjack payouts.
A single deck reduces the house edge by 0.59% when compared to the common 8-deck games. However, the 6:5 natural payouts boost the house advantage by 1.39% compared to 3:2 payoffs.
You know to look for this rule and avoid it in the future. But you’re still going to face other rules that increase the house edge.
5 – Casinos Boot Card Counters
Card counting is the most-popular way to gain an edge over the casino in any circumstance. In fact, blockbuster movies have been made about the subject.
However, casinos don’t just let you walk into their establishments and make easy money. They’re private businesses and they have the right to stop you if they think you’re counting.
You might feel that this is unfair when considering that the casino can take your money but is afraid to lose. But every gambling jurisdiction, except for Atlantic City, allows the house to boot counters.
It’s still possible for you to evade casino detection and make money. But you’ll find camouflaging your play to be much more difficult than simply learning card counting.
What Can You Do to Beat the Dealer in Blackjack?
You can see that you’re up against a lot when trying to win blackjack profits. Luckily, you can boost your chances of success by following the tips presented below.
Look for Games With Favorable Rules
Casinos have slowly added more and more rules that favor themselves. The house edge now pushes 2% in some gambling establishments—even when you use perfect playing strategy.
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for these terrible games. You can still find fair real money blackjack tables both online and in land-based casinos.
The main thing you want to look at before placing a bet is the table felt. Specifically, you need to ensure that natural blackjacks pay 3:2 instead of 6:5. This is lone rule improves your chances of winning by 1.39%.
You can also look for one or more of the following rules that reduce the house edge:
- Single-deck 8-deck blackjack – Lowers house edge by 0.59%
- Double down on any total vs. doubling on 9 through 11 – Lowers house advantage by 0.25%.
- Dealer stands on soft 17 vs. hitting – Lowers house edge 0.2%.
- Double down after splitting (DAS) – Lower the house edge or advantage by 0.17%.
- Re-splitting aces – This reduces the house advantage by 0.08%.
- Late surrender – This lowers house advantage by 0.07%.
Learn Blackjack Strategy
It never ceases to amaze me how many blackjack players refuse to learn strategy. The same gamblers are basically throwing money away by not putting their pride aside.
Blackjack Counting Tips
You merely need to find a strategy chart through Google to get started. You can probably complete the search within 15 seconds.
Land-based casinos don’t want you slowing down the action by referring to your chart on every single hand. But if you’ve already practiced online first, you won’t have to look at the chart so often.
Try Card Counting
Earlier, I discussed how the main challenge associated with card counting is getting away with it. Casinos almost everywhere have the legal right to throw you out for counting.
But you should still consider this advantage gambling method if you’re truly serious about blackjack. You can use card counting to gain an edge over the house ranging from 0.5% to 1.5%.
You might be surprised to know that learning how to count cards isn’t that difficult.
The dealer’s biggest advantage is that they get to act second. Assuming you bust out, then they automatically win before even flipping over their hole card.
The croupier also benefits from the lack of common blackjack strategy knowledge and rules skewed in the house’s favor. If they deal at a fast speed on top of this, then you’ll really have some trouble winning.
Nevertheless, you can still improve your odds by learning strategy and seeking favorable rules. You might even try your hand at card counting to see if this helps too.
There are basically two approaches to card counting: one is to increase your bet sizes when the deck gets good, and the other one is to join the game when deck gets good, also known as 'back-counting,' 'table-hopping' or 'Wonging.'
When back-counting, your job is to find a game that's going to be profitable when you enter the game. So instead of counting your way through the whole deck or shoe and bet more when you have an advantage. This means that you
There are two major advantages to this in a nutshell:
- You bet mostly when it's profitable. When you're not back-counting, you have to make smaller bets no matter what the profitability is like. When back-counting, you only make good bets.
- Less need for bet spreads. The problem with spreading your bets when counting cards 'the regular way' is that dealers and pit bosses pay attention to those things, especially if changing bet sizes seems systematic. When back-counting, the shoe is already good and you can start making bigger bets rightaway. You don't need to spread your bets to get an advantage; you already have the advantage.
That is not to say you don't have to use traditional card counting methods when back-counting; the shoe will get worse eventually and you have to adjust your bet sizes, or you may use a strategy like Mr. Schlesinger:
'Getting back to the bet scheme: one unit from +1 to +2; two units from +2 to +3; four units from +3 to +4; six units from +4 to +5; and two hands ofsix units from +5 to anything higher.' Don Schlesinger, Blackjack Attack
Naturally, Schlesinger is referring to true counts in that quote. Being +1 in running count is barely an edge at all, and the following hand could easily make the shoe unprofitable again. Therefore it's essential to play with a margin of safety that guarantees you'll be able to play at least a while before the shoe turns bad. You don't get involved to find out when the shoe is profitable; you get involved when the shoe is definitely profitable.
There is no such thing as a ‘loose’ or ‘tight’ slot machine. In modern casinos, slot machines are programmed to deliver a precise return percentage, somewhere around 95 per cent. That means 95 per cent of the money that goes into a slot machine is paid back out. Modern slot machines use a computer to generate random numbers, and these determine the outcomes of the game. The important thing to remember is that the results are truly random. The game doesn’t work on any kind of cyclical basis, and slot machine jackpots. How do modern slot machines work youtube. Most modern slot machines are designed to look and feel like the old mechanical models, but they work on a completely different principle. The outcome of each pull is actually controlled by a central computer inside the machine, not by the motion of the reels. The computer uses step motors to turn each reel and stop it at the predetermined point.
The amount of decks is something to consider as well -- generally, Wonging works best in games of four, six or eight decks, since the count is less stable in games of one or two decks. You want to make the vast majority - all if possible - bets when you have the advantage, and the less decks there are, the more you have to keep getting up leaving the game, which, of course, easily makes the casino staff suspicious.
But you can read about card counting theory throughout this site and those principles are simple anyway. In order to back-count successfully, however, you need to develop good tactics to not get caught.
The most difficult part, quite obviously, is keeping track of a count without sitting at the table (actually, you should be able to keep track of multiple counts simultaneously). In other words, how can you not make it look suspicious that you're lurking close to blackjack tables without actually playing? That's the biggest challenge.
But, of course, top blackjack card counters have figured out ways to pull it off, like you'll have to do too. Here are a couple of excerpts from well-known blackjack books:
When to Join the Game
One of the big questions regarding table-hopping is 'when to join the game?' First of all, I've never counted cards for a living; I treat it as a hobby even though I've read about it extensively and done my research.
The point being: I have no absolute need to play. I only do it on my terms, in which case the shoe is clearly in my favour.
My approach to Wonging is simple: I play when the shoe is great, I bet the same amount all the time (to not draw attention) and I leave rightaway once the shoe gets worse than what I want it to be.
I almost always act like I'm busy so that I'll have a good excuse to leave when I need to, and an important part of the act is to share the fact that I'm busy when I enter the game.
Having an act in place at the moment you join the game is incredibly important, but again, I would still put more importance on the profitability of the shoe. Worry about that first and it's much easier to give the impression that you're not counting cards.
'I'm looking for true counts of +1 or higher to enter the game. Zero is still a minimum bet. Why do I want to play when they have the edge?' Don Schlesinger, Blackjack Attack
Sometimes, but rarely, I double my bet after I've just won when the shoe is super-good. (Doubling your bet after winning is not suspicious; doubling your bet after losing usually is.)
Joining the Game
Knowing when to join the game is the easy part; being able to first track the cards and then join the game are harder to do without being recognized as a card counter. Here's what our two authors say about Wonging without getting caught for doing so:
'When looking for a profitable single deck, keep walking as you are looking at the cards at various tables. Never take root and stare. You may stop and watch, if a round is in progress, because you must wait until the round is finished before you make a bet. When the dealer is ready to deal the next round you have only two valid options - bet or walk away. Do not watch a second round at that same table, because your watching may be watched. You do not want anyone to question the chastity of your blackjack playing.' Stanford Wong, Blackjack Secrets
'If your concept of back-counting is literally standing two inches behind a player's back and riveting your eyes on each card as it falls, then you've got this thing all wrong. Look, there's a dealer shuffling at the comer table, the one across the aisle from the craps table. I position myself in between the two. I'll be looking at the craps action almost as frequently as at the blackjack table.' Don Schlesinger, Blackjack Attack
For the most of it, I agree with these approaches, and I think that Schlesinger makes an important point: don't only appear to be interested in blackjack games. Talk to people, perhaps even bring someone you know with you to the casino who you can have a conversation with while keeping your eyes on the counts. There are many ways; find something that works for you and stick to it at least for the most of it.
Leaving the Game
Earlier in this article I explained the tactic I often use: act like you're in a hurry so you'd have a good reason to leave the game when you don't have an advantage anymore. Interestingly, Schlesinger uses exactly the same strategy as I do, while Wong shares his opinion on the subject as well:
'If casino personnel watch you closely in an effort to discover whyyou hop from table to table, you could give them a reason for what you do. For example, you could leave a table only when the count is negative and you have just lost a hand, and never leave a table after a win. Your expected winrate will be reduced slightly if you play occasionally when the cards are unfavorable, but the off setting benefitis that the pit bosses will attribute your table-hopping to your losing a hand.' Stanford Wong, Blackjack Secrets
'I look at my watch constantly. I want everyone to think I'm on the verge of leaving at any moment. In fact, I am; but if they think it's because I'm late for an appointment or because (later in the day) the bus is leaving, my departure from the table is expected and appears more natural. A little common sense goes a long way. I have no hard and fast rule for how long to play in one casino. But I am sure of one thing. Most amateur card counters - win or lose - overstay their welcome. If I win a lot - say 30 units or so - I'll be out the door. I consider it poor taste to shove it down the casinos' throats.' Don Schlesinger, Blackjack Attack
Throughout his book, Schlesinger makes it clear that he always wants to be welcomed back to the casino. That is the reason why knowing how to leave the game is as important as knowing when to do it.
Counting Blackjack Practice
Additionally, read Ian Andersen's Turning the Tables on Las Vegas for more tips on counting cards without being barred by the casino.
What Successful Back-Counting Takes
Speed Counting Blackjack
Aside from the obvious (know systems for counting cards by heart, for example), here's how the main requirements for successful table-hopping can be summarized:
Blackjack Fast Counting Games
- Count cards fast. Speed is everything when it comes to Wonging. You need to be able to keep a track of counts at tables (yes, plural) with multiple players. Schlesinger says that he's able to count a full deck of cards in 14 seconds - that's impressive, but also something you should go for.
- Act well. Often the hardest and most underrated part of table-hopping is acting. It's a skill that you need to respect from the start and work on continuously -- perhaps you could even take some acting classes.
- Good eyesight. You need to be able to see what happens at various tables so you can only see the cards that are dealt from some distance.
Card Counting Blackjack
Finally, I recommend that you read Stanford Wong's Blackjack Secrets and Don Schlesinger's Blackjack Attack, Both of them were quoted in this article and both have sections dedicated to blackjack back-counting.