The first thing you must consider is whether or not you have the desire and discipline to learn, study and practice. Like anything else profitable, both in the casino world and in the rest of the world, you have to work to be good at something and convert that prowess into profits. You need to set aside an appropriate amount of time, devise a schedule and stick to it.
It won’t come easy but it will come if you make the effort.
You’ll have to familiarize yourself with everything from hitting, standing, doubling down and splitting to surrendering and taking insurance. Know when each one is allowed and the specific rules that apply to each at different casinos. Where does the dealer hit on soft 17 and where does he stand? Where can you hit on split Aces and where is it forbidden? As a professional blackjack player you’ll play at a lot of different casinos and you need to know the specific rules that apply to the games at each.
It also goes without saying that you’ll have to learn basic blackjack strategy like the back of your hand. The importance of basic strategy cannot be overstated because when you reach the next level of blackjack play, which is card-counting, you will still play your hands in accordance with basic strategy 80% of the time. Knowing the best decision in every situation, based on your own hand and the dealer’s upcard is imperative. It is important to note that slight changes in game rules or the number of decks can change basic blackjack strategy, so keep that in mind when studying up on your blackjack strategy charts.
If you want to play blackjack as a business, you can only do that by counting the cards. Playing perfect basic strategy alone will not tilt the odds in your favor. Card counting can actually give the player the statistical edge against the casino, which means that in the long run the sufficient card counter will come out ahead, just like the casino comes out ahead in the games where it has a built-in advantage.
You’ll also have to learn about money management. Know how to bet to make the most of your bankroll and when to stop playing to hold on to your winnings or minimize your losses. The idea is to avoid what is called the “element of ruin,” going broke. A safe way to protect against that is to never bet more than 1% of your bankroll. So if your bankroll is $10,000, your maximum bet should be $100, regardless of how favorable the situation might be.
And finally, the professional card-counter must learn how to avoid greed and pick up when the casino is on to him counting cards. Remember, casinos have known about card-counters for decades now, and they constantly do their best to harass them and chase them away from the tables. So you as the card-counter must develop your own internal control and security apparatus, which means sometimes leaving in the middle of a favorable situation—or not even playing at all.
It’s just like that old poker adage: “Know when to hold’em and know when to fold ‘em!”
There is also a great book called Playing Blackjack as a Business, written by professional blackjack player Lawrence Revere. This book is a must-read for anyone who is thinking about playing blackjack professionally and covers everything from basic strategy to card counting and money management.
Even though it was published in the 1970s, it is still considered the bible for people that treat blackjack as a business.