Blackjack for Advanced Players
We’ve divided most of our blackjack pages into 3 categories:
Blackjack for Advanced Players The fundamentals of playing, some straightforward strategy concepts, and definitions of terms used in the game were all covered in the part for novices.
We covered the following topics in the part for intermediate players: the entire basic strategy, game selection, and the fundamentals of card counting.
Now we discuss more complex subjects in this section. These consist of shuffle tracking and card counting advantage play strategies. Dealer tells are also covered.
A newbie should aim to reduce the house edge to around 1%, in our opinion. Get the house edge as low as you can, ideally to zero, for an intermediate player, in our opinion.
However, we want the more experienced players to be able to play at a big edge over the casino.
And the only way to do so is to become proficient in at least one, ideally several, advantage play strategies. Blackjack for Advanced Players
Advantage Play in Blackjack
Gaining competitive advantage when gambling is known as advantage play. Because advantage play doesn’t require altering the rules of the game, it differs from cheating. Simply put, advantage gamers are more skillful gamblers than the average person.
You can’t generally gain an advantage in casino games. There may or may not be a way for you to get an advantage in some games. Let’s speak about various other games and why you can or cannot acquire an edge playing them before we discuss blackjack, one game where you can definitely obtain an edge. Blackjack for Advanced Players
A Roulette Example
Due to the straightforward math in roulette, we frequently begin these conversations with it. There are 38 numbers on a wheel of roulette in America. 18 of them, or nearly half, are red. Nearly 50% are black (18). And there are two green ones.
The likelihood that the roulette ball will land in any certain slot is the same for every spin of the wheel: 1/38. There is an 18/38 chance that the ball will land on a black number. The outcome of the previous spin has no bearing on this probability.
The same 38 alternatives are available on each spin.
It is obvious how the home acquires its edge.
Consider placing a $100 bet on black. You’ll win even money on such a wager 18 times out of every 38 occasions. $1800 in wins are involved.
But you’ll lose $100 20 out of every 38 occasions. Losses of $2,000 are involved.
The house advantage is the difference between the $1800 in winnings and the $2000 in losses. If you average it out per bet, you’ll have a net loss of $200 split by 38 bets. You lost $5.26 on average for each wager, so.
This same house edge applies to all wagers at the roulette table. In this situation, 5.26%, a percentage is typically used to convey it.
Imagine, though, that we altered the game.
Imagine that each location where the ball landed would be excluded from consideration for subsequent spins.
Based on the previous spin, the chance would fluctuate on the following spins. Blackjack for Advanced Players
Here’s an example:
When you’re playing roulette, the ball consistently lands on the color black. Every single one of those black digits has been taken out of the game.
35 outcomes are now possible. Of those, 15 are black. There are 18 red ones. There are 2 green ones.
Black results are now more likely to occur 15/35 times or 42.89% of the time. Red results are now more likely to occur (51.43%).
Red is now without a doubt the wise wager.
This is what happens when you’re playing blackjack, isn’t it?
Once a card is dealt, it’s no longer in the deck, so the probability of getting a certain combination changes.
But can you get an edge at roulette?
It is unlikely.
Finding a biased wheel is the only legal roulette advantage strategy we are aware of.
A roulette wheel could have some mechanical issues because it is a mechanical, not an electrical, instrument. It could be slightly deformed, which would give some portions of the wheel a marginally higher likelihood of having the result than others.
Such a flaw would not be obvious to the unaided eye.
The wheel would have to be “clocked” in order to reveal such a flaw. In other words, you would have to keep track of the outcomes of countless spins. Any flaws or biases would be apparent based on those outcomes.
This is not a viable advantage play strategy, in our opinion.
This is why:
First, you might clock a wheel for hours only to discover that it has no bias at all. Not all roulette wheels have a bias, let alone most of them.
Second, roulette wheels aren’t always left in the same spot in casinos. At some point, you’ll have to return home and get some rest. The casinos transfer these wheels between tables at various periods.
A wheel might be relocated to another table in the middle of the night after you have spent 16 hours timing its results at one table.
How about Slot Machines? Blackjack for Advanced Players
A game where it’s impossible to get an advantage is slots.
Here is a condensed explanation of how a slot machine game’s probability functions:
There are three reels in your game, and there are ten symbols on each one. Each symbol has an equal chance of appearing.
Each wheel has a 1/1000 chance of producing a specific symbol: 1/10 X 1/10 X 1/10.
However, the jackpot for that symbol is set to pay out at a ratio of less than 1000 to 1, frequently much less. One symbol might have an 800 to 1 payoff, another would have an 80 to 1 payoff, while yet another might have an 8 to 1 payoff.
It’s simple to see how the casino will end up winning in the long run.
On a slot machine, there is no way to change the probabilities other than by cheating. Keep in mind that you cannot alter the game’s rules. This implies that no mechanical or electronic device of any type can be used to influence the result.
Which Games CAN You Get an Edge Playing?
Only a small number of gambling games actually offer advantage strategies. These consist of:
- Sports betting
- Video poker
Playing better than the other players will give you an advantage when playing poker.
But being somewhat superior to the competition is insufficient. You have to be so much better than the other players that you can beat the rake since the house keeps 5% of every pot as a rake.
By assessing the odds and handicapping the games better than the sports bookies, you might get an advantage when you bet on sports. This is improbable since the Vegas books use cutting-edge software and knowledgeable handicappers to set the odds.
Similar to poker, you must obtain a big enough edge to beat the rake. Only in sports betting is it referred to as “vig” rather than “rake”. Typically, in order to earn $100 on a wager made at a sporting event, you must wager $110. In order to have even a slight advantage over the book, you must win your wagers more often than 53% of the time.
Finding a video poker game with a pay table that gives you an advantage over the casino is necessary. These are uncommon, yet they are not inaccessible.
That’s not all, though. Additionally, you must be able to play that game with flawless strategy.
Even if you did, it wouldn’t be worth your effort because the majority of video poker games with such pay tables are played for such tiny sums.
Here’s an example:
Consider finding a Deuces Wild game with full pay. The house has a 0.76% advantage over you, assuming faultless play.
But there is only a quarter-machine version of the game. Consequently, you are wagering $1.25 per hand.
At a video poker game, an average player wagers 600 times every hour. That indicates that you are working for $750 per hour.
$5.70 an hour is 0.76% of $750.
No one’s going to become a professional video poker player making $5.70 per hour.
But how much can you make playing blackjack as a professional?
Assume that you have a continuous 1% edge over the house using your varied advantage play strategies.
And let’s imagine you have a sizable enough bankroll to be able to wager, on average, $50 per hand.
You only play at tables where a few other players are present, so you place an average of 80 bets per hour.
That works out to $4000 each hour that you are working. You can expect to win $40 every hour with a 1% edge.
A little more intriguing than $5 or $6 an hour is that.
However, you may play for an average of $100 every hand or even $200 per hand if you build up a sizable enough bankroll to endure the ups and downs of luck.
Now your options are predicted gains of $80 per hour or $160 per hour.
That is a more alluring possibility.
But how do you get an edge over the casino at blackjack?
The most obvious method is card counting, but professionals have other ways to get an advantage.
The most common blackjack advantage play strategies are briefly discussed below, but some of them are addressed in great detail in separate sections of our website.
Blackjack for Advanced Players Counting Cards
The premise behind counting cards isn’t as complicated as you might think. Card counting works because of 2 things:
- You get paid off 3 to 2 if you get a natural.
- The deck has a memory.
It is difficult to discuss one of these two issues without also addressing the other because they are so intertwined.
The thing about a natural is this:
The ace and the 10 are the only two cards that can form a natural. (Of course, the deck contains four cards totaling 10: 10, J, Q, and K.)
The majority of the cards in the deck, at least, have memories. However, there are several exceptions.
You play from a new deck each time you play blackjack if the game has an automatic shuffler that runs continuously. In such a game, you cannot get an advantage.
However, depending on the cards that have already been dealt in a game that is played by hand or from a shoe, the cards in the deck change. Your chances of being dealt a blackjack may go up or down as a result.
Here’s an example:
Consider a scenario in which all four aces have previously been dealt in a single-deck game. Right now, your chance of getting a blackjack is zero percent.
If there are no aces left in the deck, it is not feasible to get a blackjack.
On the other hand, your chance of getting a natural card increases if half the deck has been dealt, no aces have yet shown up, and many low cards (such as the 5s and 6s) have already been used.
Now, imagine that you increase your stake amount when your chance of receiving the 3 to 2 payment increases and decrease it when your chance of receiving a blackjack decrease.
You should earn more money if you wager $100 when there are proportionately more aces and 10s in the deck than if you wager $10 when there are proportionately fewer aces and 10s there.
It resembles the way tight-aggressive poker players play their hands. They aggressively bet and raise when they hold a hand that has a higher chance of winning. They will check and fold if they have a hand that is more likely to lose.
When you have an advantage, wager more. When you don’t, wager less money.
That is a guaranteed technique to get an advantage when gaming.
But how do you know when to raise your bets and by how much?
That’s where the various card-counting systems come in. All card-counting systems share the same goal:
They try to estimate how much of an edge you have.
They do this by assigning a value to each card. You add or subtract that value from the count, and you raise and lower your bets according to that count.
Here’s one of the most basic examples of such a card-counting system. Every time you see a 5, add 1 to the count. Every time you see an ace, subtract 1 from the count.
When the count is 0 or negative, bet 1 unit.
When the count is positive, bet 1 unit + the count.
So if the count is -4, you’d bet a single unit. If the count is +4, you’d bet 5 units.
If you’re playing for $100 on average per hand, you’d bet $100 if the count is -4, but you’d bet $500 if the count is +4.
A more accurate count is the hi-lo count, which is one of the most-used and long-standing counts. Here are the values for that one:
- All aces and 10s are -1.
- 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s are +1.
- 7s, 8s, and 9s count as 0.
Blackjack for Advanced Players Although slightly more difficult, this is far more correct. There are exactly as many cards valued at +1 as there are at -1, therefore if you count through the full deck, you’ll arrive at 0, which is an example of a balanced card-counting system.
But it goes further than that.
Systems for counting cards are designed for games with one deck. The impact of a card being removed from the deck is decreased when you add more decks to the mix.
Consider it in this manner.
When four aces are dealt in a single-deck game, the likelihood that you will receive an ace as your next card is zero.
The chance of obtaining an ace is less likely, but it’s still very likely if you’re playing in an 8-deck game and four aces have been dealt. You had 32 aces, to begin with, after all (4 in each deck). You still own 28 aces.
Card counters take the “running count” and turn it into a “true count” to account for this diluting effect. They calculate the remaining number of decks in the shoe by dividing the running count by that number.
Using the accurate count, they raise and drop their stakes.
Assume you are taking part in an 8-deck game with a +3 running count. Until the count is +1 or above, you won’t increase your wager. The correct count is 3/6, or +0.5, because there are still 6 decks in the shoe. Up until the count gets even better, you keep placing flat bets.
As you can see, it becomes tougher to gain an advantage when there are more decks in play. You’ll likely need to expand your betting range (the number of your high bets compared to your low bets) in order to make up for the decreased frequency of your edge.
There are countless card-counting systems available. Each presents a unique offering. Some offer a more precise assessment of the amount of your advantage over the casino. Others give you a better indication of how you should adjust your approach. Some are simpler to put into practice than others.
Discovering a card-counting method that works for you is the objective. Depending on the count, you might not be interested in changing your fundamental strategic choices. Perhaps you should simply increase the size of your bets to gain an advantage.
If so, you should look for a straightforward method that accurately calculates your advantage over the house.
On this website, we go over numerous card counting systems in depth. We go into detail about some of the more well-known card counting systems, such as:
- The Ace Five Count
- The Hi-Lo Count
- The Red Seven Count
- The Knockout Count
We cover dozens more.
But counting cards is only one tool in the advantage player’s arsenal.
Blackjack for Advanced Players Shuffle Tracking
Even after being shuffled, cards can still group together in a deck to form sequences or packs. You can gain an advantage over the casino if you keep track of these groups of cards during the game. It is simpler to follow these groups the simpler the shuffle.
Because shuffling is an erroneous, imprecise method of mixing the cards, shuffle tracking functions. It works mechanically. Shuffle monitoring is ineffective when used with an online casino, for instance, because the cards are truly randomized by the RNG. Before getting close to actual randomness, you would need to manually shuffle a deck numerous times.
Card counting and “zones” of cards are combined by a shuffle tracker. Consider these areas as tiny decks contained within a larger deck. These areas frequently remain together when the cards are shuffled. When a zone with a high concentration of 10s and aces enters play, you can increase your stakes.
Blackjack for Advanced Players Dealer Tells
Any poker player worth their salt has heard of “tells.” You can infer from these nonverbal indications what cards your opponent is holding. An indication that a player has a powerful hand at poker, for instance, is if his hand quiver when he bets. However, this differs from person to person, and one aspect of a poker player’s approach is to read other players.
When playing blackjack, you may watch the dealer’s actions as he examines his hole card. You can now guess what he’s holding thanks to this. You can correspondingly change your playing style.
In fact, some dealers are so careless that when they check for a blackjack, they reveal their whole card. This gives the gamer a very clear edge.
Becoming an advanced blackjack player means learning enough about the game and how to play so that you consistently have an advantage over the casino. This might involve becoming an expert card counter, but it can also mean taking advantage of other advantage play techniques like shuffle tracking and dealer tells. Blackjack for Advanced Players
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