Bad Blackjack 21 Strategy

Blackjack "don'ts" and bad ideas while playing 21

There are a few ideas that you need to watch out for when playing the game of twenty-one. You may have heard about one of these at one time or another and you may assume they work but the ones below are blackjack don'ts and bad strategy ideas. The best advice we can give is to avoid the temptation to use the strategies listed below because they will decrease your odds and mathematical edge against the house. We will also explain the logic behind these below.

Choosing your seat and seating position at the table

The blackjack table usually allows between 3 and 7 players to sit in a semi-circle while the dealer passes cards around the table in a clockwise direction. Normally you may choose to sit at the first seat, which is fine unless you are playing in a tournament with no button or if you are not into card counting. If you know how to count cards, a good strategy would be to sit in the seat right in the middle. This way you are able to see all the cards on the table easier and count the cards better. If there is no button and the dealer is making the player on seat 1 make their moves first, then sitting at the center of the table allows more time to think about moves.

Avoid copying the same moves as the dealer

This is a tempting strategy but there is actually no reason to do this. Blackjack dealers have no skill in the game other then shuffling the cards in some fancy way or being charismatic. They have to follow just a few rules that the house lays down during the game. Usually they just listen to what moves you want to make and then they deal their own cards down.

The dealer must follow the rules that are printed on the table so they normally have to stand on all 17 point hands or higher while automatically hitting on every hand that is lower than 17. Essentially, a computer can do this task and that's why online blackjack even exists to begin with because it runs automatically through a computer. Even if you follow the same strategy as the dealer, you can never get the same odds as the dealer since the house has an automatic advantage. Although there is a strategy that you can use against the dealer by reading tells from the dealer, which works a lot like poker where you could see some extra information.

Surrender can sometimes be a bad idea but not always

Another bad idea in blackjack play can come from an option called surrendering in some games of twenty-one. A great strategy to improve your odds is to know the mathematics and odds of the game first. Many players tend to think of the "surrender" option as being cowardly and it starts to take a psychological and emotional response. In some cases though, surrendering is mathematically the wisest move to make.

Surrender is different than insurance and it allows players to surrender half of the original bet. This prevents losing the entire amount in a tough situation. Usually the best time to use the surrender option is when you have a 15 or 16 hand while the dealer is holding a 9, 10 or Ace. Note that it is not always a good idea to surrender in this situation but usually it is. The two worst hands you can possibly have is a 15 or 16 because of the high busting probability of going over twenty-one.

Here is a few examples of the best times to use the surrendering option. When the player has a 10-6 or 9-7 hand, these both add up to 16 points. So it is not a bad idea to surrender when the dealer is holding a 9 or Ace card. When the player has a two card hand of 9-6, 9-7, 10-5 or 10-6, these add up to 15 and 16 points. If the dealer has a 10 card showing, then the best idea is to surrender in all of these scenarios. Note that these decisions depend on the particular rules of the twenty-one game you are playing.

This shows that the surrender choice is not such a bad strategy in blackjack. Usually this system is too complicated for the majority of casual players to figure out on their own so the casinos make money off of poor decisions. It pays off good for the player if they know what they are doing and how to use this option. It is a bad idea to use the surrender strategy if you do not understand the mathematical odds and specific rules of the game though.

Don't take insurance unless card counting while playing 21 blackjack

The insurance option is one of those kinds of options that the casino lets players take to make the game more interesting. Like many of these interesting bets, they usually have a huge edge in favor of the casino. Blackjack insurance is something that you can take when the dealer has an Ace card showing. Because of basic strategy assumptions, there are more tens in the deck than any other card so a twenty-one blackjack is much more likely to be dealt.

The insurance works by letting the players make an extra bet before the dealer deals the card. This supplemental bet is half of the original wager. If the dealer actually gets 21, you would win back half of the money you lost. Now this option is not always bad but this applies to card counters. If you do not count cards, then the odds of the dealer getting that 10 card is 4 to 13 or about 30.8%. Likewise, there is also a 69.8% chance that the dealer will not get a 21 so the odds are against the house.

This is just the mathematical proof that insurance is unnecessary in this case. In the case that you are into counting cards, then you have information on how many 10's are still in the deck. If there is a high count, then you will actually have information to suggest that the dealer has a greater chance than 30.8% of getting a 21. The higher the count, the higher chance the dealer has. In contrast, if the count is low, the dealer's chance is also lowered. The only time to use insurance in blackjack is when the card count is very high to the point when the dealer has a more than 50% chance of getting a natural blackjack.

Don't count cards if you are not good enough yet

You definitely should not try to count cards if you have not gotten a system down good enough. One of the obvious reasons you should not try to do it before mastering a system is being caught. A beginner is usually much easier to spot and without enough experience, the casino could catch you trying too hard to count cards and you may be kicked out.

Not only is the inability to hide you're counting a bad strategy, but also not knowing the system itself can be a bad idea. You should master the basic strategy of blackjack first before card counting. If you do not know even the basics such as when to hit or stand on certain combinations of hands, then this can dramatically ruin your game and you could lose a lot of money.

Not mastering the basic strategy of blackjack

Counting cards is hard enough as it is, but you must know basic strategy before doing anything else if you are to maximize your edge against the house. Basic strategy is a system that tells you when to hit and stand in order to give you the highest advantage possible against the casino. Memorize and practice this routinely if you are going to get serious with 21. There are many combinations of hands between the player and the dealer to memorize. Some are very easy and obvious but you should practice the not-so-obvious plays to make. The best thing to remember that will turn a bad strategy into a good strategy is: "practice makes perfect".