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There are many ways in which your brain can “fail” you at the blackjack table and these are just a few of them.

When you’re playing card games, it’s very important to stay focused at all times. Winning at blackjack takes more smarts and practice rather than luck. If you want to maximize your chances of leaving the casino with a lot of cash in your pocket, you have to stay on top of your game.

Everyone can learn how to use basic blackjack strategy to their advantage. And if you make a little effort to learn how to count cards, you’re all set for success. But this is a fast-paced game that requires some pretty intense mind-work.

Focusing on cards and values, adding and subtracting, remembering what moves to make… All this can sometimes mess with your brain. It’s not just stress that gets to you; there are also a number of illusions and unusual mind tricks that can put you off your game.

Read about how your brain can mess up a perfectly good night at the blackjack table:

5. Your memory can be manipulated with repetition

Some people – like those who own casinos or work for them – might want you to believe something that is not true. For example, you may know that taking insurance is never a good idea. But did you know that, if you’re told something enough times, you’ll end up believing it?

One casino may publish a short “Blackjack tips” article on their website and squeeze this piece of information in there. Then several other websites will pick it up and you’ll read the same thing all over again. At a certain point, your brain will become convinced that this is the truth and if the manipulation is fully efficient, you will never change your mind again, even when presented with evidence of the opposite.

How can you avoid this? Only take advice from experts, memorize only tips and tricks that have been tested and work to your advantage and don’t pay attention to people who have a direct interest in manipulating you.

4. Your brain can cause you to be half-blind

The brain is a fascinating and complex part of our bodies, but when it comes to processing visual information, it can get very lazy. How so? You’ll be surprised to find out that sometimes your brain actually fills in what you are seeing with generic information, a method also known as “Teamster approach”.

An experiment called the “Invisible Gorilla study” revealed that, when people are asked to focus on the ball during a game of basketball, to count how many passes players make, they’ll hardly even notice or remember a guy dressed as a gorilla, as he walks across the court. This means if you focus on one thing too hard, your brain tends to ignore other things going on right in front of your eyes.

But what does this have to do with you and blackjack? Well for one thing, keep your eyes on the cards, sure. But don’t let yourself become so absorbed that you don’t notice what’s going on around you. Otherwise, the dealer might take advantage and totally dupe you.

3. Your brain can also make stuff up

You might think we’re talking about repressed memories here, but that’s not quite the case. Recent studies have found that many of the things we believe to be “repressed memories” are, in fact, lies made up by our brains. Go figure!

If you don’t believe it’s possible, think of all those vague memories that pop into your head occasionally, when you seem to remember an interesting story, but can’t quite remember where you’ve heard it. Sometimes, you’ll be telling everyone about this distant experience you vaguely remember from your childhood, before one day you realize you actually read it in a book but just forgot.

There’s a neat word to describe this phenomenon and it’s “confabulation”. It’s when the brain confuses imagination with actual memory. So before you try counting cards like they did in that movie, thinking it was all real and that it will work for you, think again.

2. Your mood influences your memories

Well this is a pretty obvious one, isn’t it? Happy experiences tend to become more vivid in your memory. They will be kept safe and could even more positive as time passes. All the other bad circumstances will fade from your memory, as the happy ones are taking over.

Scientists have shown that, in order store a memory accurately, just as it happened, you have to be in the right mood. What’s the conclusion here? Make sure you’re in the right mood when you’re working on memorizing all those blackjack strategy charts!

1. Obsessing over the fact that others are just luckier than you

Saying you’ve had some bad luck is a common way of reassuring yourself, when you don’t want to look at things more rationally and see the mistakes you’ve made. You’re not getting what you want because you ran out of luck, not because you didn’t practice your strategy enough, right?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: blackjack is not a game of luck. Blackjack is a game that involves strategy and complex techniques which you need to understand, learn and practice until you get it right. If you’re playing blackjack, you have a great deal of control on the outcome of the game. Worst case scenario – that is when you have bad cards – you bet the minimum amount of money, so that you won’t lose much. This is what it’s all about.

So these are the five most common ways your mind can mess with you. Have any of these things happened to you?