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Can You Win as a Short-Run Player in the Long-Run Game of Casino Blackjack?

Aug 18, 2014

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Advantage play techniques can tip the edge into the player’s favor. But one still need to play hundreds or thousands of hands to make a living from this mysterious game.

Contrary to what some casual players believe blackjack is not a game of luck or hot and cold streaks; it’s not a game of superstitions or even of psychology. Blackjack is a game of careful mathematical analysis, of probabilities; of risks and rewards.

As one digs deeper into blackjack strategy they find that more statistical models have been created concerning the game. Usually this stuff pertains to house edge. If the player is not allowed to re-split after aces at a particular casino, what effect does it have on house edge?

If the edge of a standard blackjack rules game is .53, what tinkering does the casino have to do in order to push that edge in their favor without being so obvious as to push you away from the table? And considering that lower minimum bet tables tend to have higher edges, which combination is best for your bankroll and skill level?

Mathematics of blackjack only work for the long-term

All of these questions are valid, but what frustrates many blackjack disciples is that these mathematical equations determining house edge and risk/reward are only completely accurate when played out over thousands of hands. Not hundreds, thousands.

While the use of a card counting system might tip the edge in your favor by .2 percent, theoretically you will need to play for a very long time to fully realize that advantage. This can be frustrating and discouraging, because you can go on long losing streaks – dropping large amounts of money at the casino – even when the mathematics say you should be winning.

But of course it works the other way as well. If you are using only basic strategy and the casino has an edge over you it will take them a very long time to take your money. And in some cases you’ll go on a winning streak and win a lot of money even when the mathematics say you should be losing.

Blackjack is a long-run game but as human beings most of us are oriented toward the short-run. Many aspiring blackjack professionals gave up on the game fairly early because they didn’t see those quick results they were looking for.

And on the other hand the casino has an almost unlimited bankroll. Perhaps you brought $1,000 to play with, but the casino brought an unlimited amount of money. The house is willing to sit down and play blackjack with you until the end of time. Are you willing to do the same? 21 is really not a game for instant gratification.

Why none of that matters

If you’re serious about mastering the game of blackjack, none of the issues detailed above should mean much to you. You can still gain an advantage over the casino by doing things the right way, and even though the edge only works out perfectly when played out over thousands of hands, it still has significance in every individual hand.

What do I mean? Let’s say that your advantage play techniques give you an edge of .2 percent. So by wagering you will theoretically pocket only $2 in take from the casino. If you want fast money, it isn’t all that impressive. So what.Rather than the casino taking your money over time, you’re taking the casinos money. If you wager $100, you win $.20, which is better than losing money.

Properly applied advantage play techniques like card counting or shuffle tracking give you an inherent advantage over the casino, and the more you wager the more you will take home. It’s similar to investing. You need to find an instrument that pays back positive returns, and then you put as much money into it as you are willing.

Moral of the story

The point is that blackjack is a long-run game. Because all casino games are long-run. When the edge is in the houses favor, the longer you play and more money you wager the more money you will lose. When the edge is in your favor, there is the vice versa. In contrast to other games like roulette, craps and slots, at least blackjack gives you the opportunity to control your own destiny.

And if the casino is going to beat you in the long-run, it’s probably going to beat you in the short-run as well. If you want to have any chance at winning money you need to have a lot of patience and accept that you aren’t going to win fast money. It’s not winning the lottery, it’s winning at blackjack.

Professional blackjack players are aware that their margin of error is relatively small and they need to play a lot of hands, and win a lot of them. That’s why many successful card counters opt for placing a massive bet when the count is in their favor.

So if you want to be a serious blackjack player and actually win money the majority of nights you step onto the casino floor, hunker down. You’re in this for the long haul.


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