Blackjack is an exciting game that can quickly be learned, but to master the game, one will have to take time and put in some efforts to develop proper game strategies and gain knowledge. Playing like a pro is possible for anyone and with some tips and tricks, players can learn how they can improve their game and play right along with the best players in the world.
The first step in learning how to play blackjack professionally is to familiarize yourself with all of the rules of the game. Many blackjack players stick to the basics-for them the only options are hitting and standing. However, there is a lot more to the game of blackjack than hitting and standing. When you learn all the rules of the game you can learn to effectively double down, split, take insurance and when you should surrender. By understanding all of your options you can greatly increase your chances and make moves like a pro.
When playing blackjack you must be able to execute decisions without a second thought, which is why game skills and the use of proper strategies is essential. As skills are advanced, you will become a better player and can use this knowledge and various strategies throughout a blackjack career. The number one thing to remember is to always stick to a basic strategy when playing. Memorize this strategy and always use it when playing. Never rely on hunches or the thought that the next hand will be a winner. Any professional blackjack player will always adhere to basic strategies because they know they provide information to make the right decisions at the table.
Card Counting is a skill that is used by many professional blackjack players and it is one that can be altered to suit each player. There are different strategies that can be used for counting cards at blackjack, including beginner strategies like Red Sevens, Hi-Lo, and Knock Out Blackjack strategies. It is best to start with these and master them and then move on to more advanced strategies like the Omega II system or Wong Halves that can improve counting accuracy. Practice counting cards at home by shuffling a deck and then counting through the entire thing. If you end on 0 for balanced systems, or on the appropriate number of unbalanced systems, you know you are right on track.
A report from ABC News cites Alan, a professional blackjack player and gambler who states that “card counting can turn the edge against the casino, which is why management bans card counters when they are caught.” (1) While card counting is not illegal by any means, it is a practice that is frowned upon at land casinos. Players will take the risk of being banned if they are suspected of such activities, which is why it is essential to master counting skills and learn how to employ them without being obvious that counting is taking place.
Movies and television have done a great job depicting card counting as a simple task. However, it is quite difficult than what most people believe. While card counting is not the best blackjack strategy, it can provide players with a 20% edge. Great card counters will only gain about 1% in an edge over the casino. Richard, a former professional card counter explains, “As the composition of the cards in the deck fluctuates, the player’s advantage fluctuates. When he knows he has the advantage, he bets higher. When he knows the advantage has shifted to the house, he bets lower.” (1) This take on card counting will help players understand how the strategy can be used to alter bet amounts and know when to increase or decrease wagers.
One of the things that many overlook is the size of the bankroll that will be required to count cards. Most players will not even have a bankroll large enough to survive the different swings while playing, which is why most beginners will find themselves losing thousands in a single night at the blackjack table. It is recommended to have $20,000 or more to be a card counter and to keep your risk level of 5% or lower. (2)
While most players believe that card counting is one of the best game strategies to play like a pro, there are other things that can be more beneficial. Many players will make use of betting systems, where they will use specially designed systems like the Martingale system, where bets are doubled each time a hand is lost. Some players will rely on a bet everything strategy, where they can enjoy huge wins if they are lucky or immediately be out of money and the game.
One of the strategies that can be used by new and experienced players is the use of tells. A tell is a type of communication that is nonverbal and this can include body signals, gestures, even facial expressions. The science of body language can be used to gain an advantage in blackjack. Steve Forte, a professional blackjack player offers tips and tricks on tells in his handbook, Advantage Playing: the Ultimate Way to Play Winning Blackjack. (3) In this handbook, players can learn how to begin recognising dealer and player tells and using these to improve their game and win more often.
The size of the bankroll will relate directly to what a professional player can earn. Professional players will have to bet between 300 and 500 times the average bet (4) in order to win enough to have a career. A working bankroll of $50,000 will be required, where bets will range between $50 and $100 per hand. It is impossible to say exactly what can be earned, though most professional players will make $100,000 and more each year playing blackjack. Of course, this does not reflect the amount of money that has been invested to yield the returns.
Colin Jones, a professional blackjack player has often commented on his career and states that many people do not understand the differences between professional poker and professional blackjack players. He states, “Poker pros are celebrities while blackjack pros stay under the radar. You have much to lose as a poker celeb. You get invited to tourneys, you get book deals and speaking gigs, you intimidate opponents with your largesse, and you amass other benefits with your name recognition and face. A blackjack card counter, however, has nothing to gain and everything to lose with notoriety.” (5) With poker, every player at the table is a competitor, yet with blackjack, it is just one player against the dealer, no matter how many are sitting in on the game.
There are major differences when it comes to skills and strategies as well. Where poker players can become quite successful playing on hunches, this same playing tactic can be the downfall of a blackjack player. Professional poker players also play differently, each having their own style. Blackjack pros will always play the same, since they are always adhering to basic strategies. These differences set the pros apart, though many blackjack pros will be thrown into the same classification as poker pros, which is not only insulting to blackjack players, but also dead wrong. True, both are pro card players, but each has a different set of strategies, skills and knowledge that must be possessed to be a winner.
Playing blackjack can be enjoyable for anyone, but those that are looking for great wins will want to learn how to play like the pros. This article is loaded with tips and comments from professional players that will teach you about some skills that the pros often use, helping you to improve your game and enjoy more payouts.
Playing like a pro will take time, practice and patience, but it is possible. By taking time to learn certain skills like card counting and mastering how to control a budget, you can start to become a better player with more confidence, which can lead to many more winning hands at the table.
(1) Farnham, A. (2010). Blackjack Player Who Won $15 Million From 3 Casinos Reveals How. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/blackjack-player-won-15-million-reveals/story?id=15971410
(2) Blackjack Apprenticeship. (n.d.). Recommended Blackjack Bankroll. Retrieved from http://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/recommended-blackjack-bankroll/
(3) Forte, S. (n.d.) Playing Dealer Tells. Retrieved from http://www.blackjackforumonline.com/content/Tips%20on%20Tells.htm
(4) Blackjack – Should You Count Cards? (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.boxingscene.com/casino-gambling/30401.php
(5) Jones, C. (2014). Professional Poker and Professional Blackjack Players. Retrieved from http://cardplayerlifestyle.com/top-5-differences-professional-poker-professional-blackjack-players/