Games

How to Handle Losing Blackjack

My tenure as a somewhat amateur blackjack player has been riddled with losing streaks. I expected this as much. At the end of the day, blackjack is still a game of luck no matter how adept you are at counting cards or calculating formulas. There is always a part of the game we have no control over and in that small percentage where we lose most. I’ve had my fair share of reaction to losing. I have had bouts of anger and a few instances of uncanny calmness. But what I’ve learned through all these experience is that how you handle winning is closely linked to how you handle losing.

Losing Gracefully

Expect the Inevitable

You win some and you lose some, as the saying goes. The faster you accept that fact the better you are at handling the lost. Everyone goes through losing and that is fact especially in card games like blackjack. The number of times I’ve lost is uncountable but the only way I was able to deal with it is because I was expecting it. Not expecting to lose a hand, but rather expecting to lose every once in a while. I’ve had it stenciled in my game so when it does happen I am able to reign in my emotion and handle it better.

 

You Lose More Than You Win

Statistically, or in my rough estimate, I’ve lost more blackjack games that I have won. But money wise I’ve won almost as much as I’ve lost. This is due to experience. I’ve learned to sort of predict a bad hand so I can minimize my losses. Likewise, I double my bet when I know I’m going to win. But this is all due to practice and hard work. I have invested time and effort in honing my skills in the game.

No Such Thing as Beginner’s Luck

Most of the loss I’ve experienced was when I was a newbie in Blackjack. This is to be expected; my skills at card counting or decision-making are not how it is now. I was inexperienced so I’ve made a lot of bad bets. My reaction to losing has also been developed during this period. I went from shouting accusatory words at the dealer to calming smiling as I leave my place in the table. It was a rough time in my blackjack “career” but a necessary one.

Never Blame

The game of blackjack all boils down to luck, pure and simple. Blaming yourself, the dealer, or others will absolutely get you nowhere. Blaming yourself will only undermine your confidence and the efforts you’ve put into honing your skills. And blaming others, especially the dealer will only get you kicked out and banned from the casino. The best thing to do is accept the loss and learn from it. Dissect it like you would a frog in biology class, understand the factors that lead you to lose and how best to avoid committing the same mistakes again.

Play Black Jack with Your Friends

One of my friend group’s most anticipated weekly events is our blackjack Thursday nights. It’s basically a night where we come to a friend’s house bringing food and drinks and play blackjack until around 12 midnight. We’ve had this tradition ever since we realized we enjoy playing the game about 4 years ago. Since then, we have hardly missed a game night and our group has expanded from four members to 10 or 12 members. A few of our officemates have joined in as well as our individual significant others. Suffice to say blackjack game night is a big part of staying close with my friends.

House Gameplay

Dealing

 Before starting a game we shuffle the cards. We ask one player to cut the cart and insert the cut into the deck then we insert it into the shoe. Before dealing cards to the players, we remove the first card from the deck and discard it without looking at it. This is called a “burn” card and why we do it is a mystery to us but we’ve always done it this way and no one seems to complain. Then players are asked to put their bets down before they receive their cards. We always deal left to right from the dealer with one card facing up for each player, then a down card for the dealer. We follow it up with a second card facing up for the players then an up card for the dealer.

Insurance

 If the assigned dealer’s up card is an ace, he asks the players if they want insurance. We are allowed to make a separate insurance bet and for our game, it pays 2-to-1. For example, if my initial bet is $6, I could lose it all if the dealer has blackjack. If I make an insurance bet of $3, I may lose $6 but stand to win $6 from my insurance bet. Normally, I never make insurance bets unless I’m card counting and I calculated that there is a high chance the dealer’s down card is a 10.

Getting Blackjack

 If we, as players, get blackjack and the dealer do not, our rule is we are paid 3/2 of our initial bet. So if our bet is $10, we receive $15. If, however, the dealer also has blackjack, this is considered a “push” and every player who got blackjack gets to keep their money. All other players who didn’t get blackjack lose their bet.

Hit, Stand, Double Down, or Surrender

If we hit, the dealer deals us with one card. If we busted, going over 21, we are out of the game and our bets are collected, leaving only their cards on the table. If we didn’t bust, we can take another hit. After a hit, we can no longer split or double down. Players who want to double down receive one more card then they must stand. They should also double their initial bet. If we surrender, we forfeit our hand but we get to keep half of our initial bet. This is a good strategy for when we receive a 15 and the dealer has a 10-point up card.

Best Blackjack Apps

I love playing blackjack. As much as time permits, I’m with my friends playing or sitting in my computer betting a few bucks in an online casino. The thrill never goes away for me. I always feel the excitement coursing through my body knowing I’m about to beat the dealer and win the prized winnings. And I play to hone my skills, too. I want to be great at the game not just for the monetary incentive but for the sake of being good at something. I want to be adept at all its variations. At some point in my life, I was known as the blackjack man by my friends and family and they’re right, the game has become my passion. Even while commuting I’m on my phone in one of my blackjack apps playing to pass time. There are many of these apps in the App Store and Google Play and many of them are free with different features and modes for players to enjoy. A few of them require in-app purchases but there is a few that offers the classic game with no purchases required to enjoy it fully.

Most Popular Blackjack Apps

  1. Blackjack Free

This is one of the most popular apps for blackjack in app stores. It accommodates both beginners and advanced players with many levels and possibilities to improve our skills and learn new strategies. The app has a user-friendly design which makes learning the ropes of the app easy and also fun. What makes this one of the popular blackjack apps in the market today is its high-quality graphics.

  1. Ultimate Blackjack Reloaded

 With many customizable features included, this app is also one of the popular games for mobile. Its modern design makes it a favorite app for some players, myself included. An added feature which a lot of players appreciate is the Las Vegas atmosphere that it emulates. It also offers tutorials for beginners, or for more advanced players, start competing with players around the world.

  1. Blackjack 21

Originally designed for iOS devices, it now offers a version suited for Android users. This app provides a great experience of playing Blackjack. The app doesn’t offer different modes but it tries to give players the real-life experience of playing the game based on its original rules and principles. When we start playing, we are given a set amount of chips and we only lose when we lose all of it. For beginners, tips are provided to help make sense of the game’s rules. This app is perfect for those of us who like playing the original version of the game.

  1. Blackjack by Brainium Studios

This is a beautifully designed game which can help us master the game through its various levels and modes. An added bonus is that this app has no in-app purchases so we get to experience the game as it is, with no distractions. For beginners, hints are given for them to follow. There is also a training mode that can help improve a player’s counting skills.

Black Jack Variations

I grew up playing the classic blackjack with my brothers and cousins during a family reunion. We stuck to using a single deck during the game with no changes in the betting besides the initial bet to be able to play. We were allowed to surrender but that would mean losing half our bet while the other half the “house” kept. It was the perfect kind of blackjack for us kids who were quite new to the game. As I grew older and learned the ropes of the game, I realized to really develop my skill in the game, I needed to step up my game and try other variations. Blackjack inherently has many variations and with the rise of online casinos, it seems that every casino has their own version of the game.

Most Popular Variants

These are the kind that most people are familiar with. It is played in most land-based casinos as well as online ones. The rules are straightforward with very little difference from the classic rules of the game.

  1. Double Attack Blackjack

Also known as Double Blackjack, this version highly resembles another variation of the game called Spanish 21. This game excludes four cards valued 10 points from each deck. This version also uses eight packs. The rules and objective are still the same; players still need total 21 or close to that point without going over. One big difference is that after the dealer is dealt his two initial cards, players can double their bets.

  1. Super Fun 21

This is one of the famous variations of the game. It was invented by Howard Grossman, a blackjack expert and a gaming consultant in some of the big casinos in Las Vegas. This version offers players a chance to bet before the initial cards are handed. Once the cards are dealt, we are given a chance to hit, stand, or surrender on the two cards we are dealt with. And any players that have blackjack always beat the dealer which increases their chances of winning the game.

  1. Triple 7s Blackjack

This variation has a bit of exclusivity to it that makes it a fun game to play. This is one of the popular variants played online. The game gives players a chance to win big bonus prizes and win consecutive jackpots but players are required to keep a side bet. The prize money is determined by the player’s card combinations and the total of the hand they have. This game is also usually played with five decks of cards.

  1. Vegas Strip

The Vegas Strip Blackjack is a popular variation usually played in Las Vegas casinos, as the name implies. The rules are similar to the classic blackjack with a few little tweaks in its rules. Players interested in playing this variation should learn its subtle nuances in the game rule before betting. But generally, the game is played with four decks with the dealer standing on a soft seventeen. A soft hand is any hand that contains an ace that’s counted as 11.

Black Jack History

To this day, the origin of the game Blackjack remains hotly debated. Many researchers still can’t figure out how the game started but a lot of them seem to agree that the game probably started in France during the 18th century. It was called then Vingt-et-un which means 21. Let’s delve deeper into the history of the game Blackjack and how it came to be popular in casinos the world over.

Spreading to America

            French Colonization

            The French brought the game to American through trading with their colonies, where it gained popularity and spread like wildfire throughout the entire continent. The rules of this Americanized Blackjack are vastly different to the Blackjack we know today. Only the dealer is allowed to double and betting round was present between dealing of the cards.

            Nevada and Gambling

            When Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, the game was called 21. To draw people into casinos, they offered a special bet. A hand with either of the blackjacks, Jack of Spades or Clubs, plus Ace of Spades would be paid 10-to-1 odds for the player. They eventually stopped this but the name Blackjack stuck.

Card Counters vs. Casinos

            Changing the Game

            In the 1950s, card counters started to appear to beat the dealer again and again. There were probably other players who used this technique in previous years to beat the game. A book titled “Playing Blackjack to Win” became an immense success for many gamblers and ushered in the rise of card counters.

            Thorp

            A mathematician by nature, Edward Thorp created a ten-count system that had many casinos thinking hard and deep about their method in dealing cards. The Thorp method is only effective on games that were played using a single deck so casinos decided to use multiple decks in their Blackjack table.

Modern Times

            Internet boom

            The consensus is that the game was not invented by one person or country. It evolved over the centuries to what it is today. It still continues to evolve and thanks to the internet, it faces a new dawn of change not just for Blackjack put for other card games. Online casinos, determined to bring more people into the table, continue to tweak the game’s rules creating many different versions of Blackjack.

            Online Casinos

Despite casinos increasing their measures to detect card counters, Blackjack continues to be as popular as ever. The rise in popularity of the internet only ushered in new spaces for people to play the game. Soon, more and more variations of the game started to pop up, all with different rules and betting features.

            Live Blackjack

            One thing that people missed about playing Blackjack in real casinos was the ambiance. Although playing online is convenient, the atmosphere provided by a random number generator in place for a dealer is stale and uninteresting. This brought in real dealers to online games. New studios exclusively designed for online playing were built to cater to players. Video streams were greatly enhanced and camera set up that allows for many vantage points of the game means players are not obstructed during gameplay.

Black Jack Fundamentals

I grew up playing Blackjack with my family and relatives. My fondest memories of my cousins as kids were when we were playing this card game. Every time there is a family reunion, we ultimately end up sitting around the patio table shouting, “hit me, hit me” at my uncle who, for some reason, is always the dealer. The adults, wanting to be a little more responsible, would always limit the bets placed up to a dollar, hoping, I imagine, as a way to discourage us from developing a taste for gambling. We never did, but we never got joy out of the money we won, it was always about the thrill of trying to beat the dealer, our uncle. So for those interested to learn this rather fun card game, below are the fundamentals in playing Blackjack.

The Rules

The game is played with a standard 52-card deck. Each card denomination is assigned a point value. Numbered cards are worth their face value. Cards with faces, i.e. kings, queens, jacks are worth 10. An ace can either be worth 1 or 11. The main goal of the game is to draw cards that totals close to 21, and not exceed. The second goal is to get more points than the dealer.

  • Hit

            A hit means you take another card or cards as you try to reach close to 21. Getting more than 21 means the player is a bust and loses the bet. Wanting a hit has many signals; you can gesture to your cards, scratching the table, or saying “hit me.”

  • Stand

            If you stand, it means you have decided to stop drawing cards in the hopes that your points are more than that of the dealer. You signal a stand by placing your hand over the card. In our family, we just say, “done” to signal that we’ve had enough cards drawn.

  • Split

            Although we’ve never done splits in our family games, many casinos employ this. A split happens when you receive two cards of the same value. You can opt to split the two cards and play each one individually until you stand or bust. The dealer will then deal cards on the second card similar to the first.

  • Surrender

            If a player surrenders, he can keep half his bet and does not play out his hand. This is only allowed when the first two cards are dealt. You win the game by achieving Blackjack (reaching 21), or if the dealer reaches over 21 points. At that point, any player who isn’t bust will win. If the dealer did not bust, whoever has more points between the dealer and the player wins.

Common Mistakes

  • Betting Techniques

            Avoid using betting techniques such as Fibonacci. These take out the fun in the game and using these techniques, while sometimes useful, could be disastrous if miscalculated.

  • Playing While Drunk

            Drinking too much during a card game that requires critical thinking is always a bad idea. You’ll end up losing all your money and ending up being a punchline in family reunions for years to come.

  • Bad Budgeting

            Many players give out bets bigger than their budget allows. Over the years, I’ve learned to budget my money properly, knowing when to surrender or push through. Losing all your money after a few hands mean cutting the game short and sitting on the sideline, watching the rest of your family play.