Live Blackjack Techniques to Become a Pro
Written by Phoebe
Published date · March 14, 2022 | Last Updated · Dec. 14, 2022 | Read Time: 6 mins
If you’re reading this guide, you’ve probably mastered the basics of blackjack and are comfortable with the concepts in our intermediate guides. Maybe you’re thinking you know enough to play to win and make money instead of just playing for fun. Alternatively, you might be wondering if there are any advanced strategies and tricks you can learn to make playing recreationally profitable. If any of these sound like you, you’ve come to the right place! Just remember that becoming a professional blackjack player isn’t easy; it takes a lot of hard work, practice, smart money management, and a healthy dose of luck. In particular, you’ll need to make sure you master your skill sets and know your blackjack strategies in and out. Finally, you’ll need to adapt your strategy and tactics to suit your chosen blackjack medium (online, live, and land-based), blackjack variants, the number of decks, and the house rules. Read on to see if you’ve got what it takes to play blackjack like a pro! If you think you’re already there, then be sure to check out CasinoRange’s recommended Live Blackjack and Online Blackjack options.
Think Like a Dealer
Knowing what the dealer is thinking and how they react to certain situations will help you make the best decisions possible. While it is impossible to know what they are thinking exactly, it is always good to put yourself in the mindset of the dealer. The dealer’s thoughts and actions will also depend on the house rules, the number of decks used, and whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. Similarly, if you play online blackjack, the game’s dealer will be programmed to act in specific ways - something you can take advantage of. Stepping aside from pro blackjack tips for a moment, learning more about dealing can make for a fun social evening with friends too! Check out How to Deal in Blackjack if you’d like to learn more about the whats, hows, and whys of blackjack dealing.
Blackjack Variants and Nuances
If you’ve been reading our beginner tips, you’ll be aware that Blackjack comes with many different variants with nuanced rules and betting options in modern times. Crucially, these differences will affect your chances of winning and the payout ratios. Understanding how progressive blackjack and classic blackjack differ is a must. As an aspiring pro-blackjack player, you’ll need to choose the right variant for you. You should also be fully aware of any game-specific differences regarding house rules, house edge, surrender options, pay-out rates, and side bets. Also, make sure you adapt your strategies and money management according to the number of decks used. Ignore these tips at your own risk; unfamiliarity with these differences will reduce the impact your skill and strategies have and leave you more reliant on your luck!
Implementing the Right Blackjack Strategy
Choosing the best strategy available is essential to any would-be blackjack pro. This process can be complicated and even scientific, as demonstrated by the MIT researchers who came up with the Quantum Entanglement blackjack strategy. Don’t worry, though; while we said you’d have to work and practice hard, a degree in quantum physics is completely optional for a blackjack pro. Math-magicians beating the house aside, learning and memorizing the ins and outs of your chosen blackjack strategy will help you win considerably more than if you don’t. There are lots of strategies to choose from, so be sure to do your research. Blackjack strategy charts are a great starting point for would-be professionals. Just keep in mind that these charts often depend on fixed variables like the number of decks and blackjack variant rules, so make sure you apply them correctly! There are a lot of charts out there, so make sure you choose and learn the ones that suit you and your chosen blackjack variant(s). It’s worth staying away from side bets when you’re using a strategy chart, as side bets will change the house odds unfavorably. Finally, since you can’t really rock up to a casino carrying a bunch of strategy charts, try to memorize them before you go - or play online. Just be sure to put in the hours when it comes to practicing your blackjack strategies.
How to Play Particularly Difficult Hands
Hopefully, you’re already fully familiar with the actions you can take (hit, stand, double, split, surrender) and know the differences between soft and hard hands. If you’ve read our guide on what to do with a 14, 15, or 16 card hand, you’re fully aware that sometimes you’ll be dealt difficult hands and need to make even tougher choices. If you can consistently make the best out of a bad situation, you’ll minimize your losses and even snag the occasional unlikely win against the dealer. Here are some hands we recommend you have a plan for: hard 16, soft 17, and soft 18. Pro blackjack players will generally not split 10s, but they’ll know when and why they should too. Knowing when to double down and when to split can help you make the most of a good opportunity too. While not universally available in blackjack games, the options of early and late surrenders are worth considering. Just remember, even if you try to make the most of every hand, there will still be hands you lose even if you always make the mathematically perfect decision.
Everything You Need to Know About Card Counting
Card counting is what really separates casual blackjack players from professionals. A more enthusiastic amateur might dabble with card counting, but few besides perhaps the best professional blackjack players are close to fully mastering this mathematical art form. Although not illegal, the practice of card counting is frowned on by all types of casinos, and you may get barred from playing if caught. So even if you can count cards like the best, you’ll have to make sure your body language and tactics don’t get spotted in a brick-and-mortar casino. It’s worth noting that dealers in Live Blackjack will have a tougher time spotting card counting but tend to shuffle more often than their physical casino counterparts - this can be to the point where card counting becomes largely pointless. Card counting is also useless in online blackjack, which uses RNG to determine card draws. If you know how to count cards, you’ll be familiar with different card counting strategies and their varying complexity. Whichever method you use, make sure you practice to the point where you can count effortlessly, or you’ll run the risk of making card counting mistakes. Finally, make sure that your money management lines up with your card counting skills - a lack of either will hurt you in the long run. Card counting isn’t for everyone and there is a lot of stigma around it, but don’t worry you can win at blackjack without counting cards! So play however you feel most comfortable.
Even the most skillful and lucky blackjack players need to make smart choices when it comes to managing their money. Bankroll and money management are key skills you will need to ensure that your strategy pays off in the long run. Some recommend your bankroll is at least sufficient for 100 hands. For example, this would mean that if the minimum bet size is $5, you have a bankroll of $500. Importantly, the risk of ruin goes down as you increase the number of betting units, so for longer-term bankroll management, more is better. Remember to adjust this up or down depending on house rules, number of decks, and other variables.
Hopefully, this recap of the skills needed to be a professional blackjack player has helped you decide if you’re up to the task. Just remember that while possible, being a professional blackjack player is far from a stable or reliable career path. Besides what has been discussed in this guide, there are other considerations to be aware of when playing like a pro. First and foremost is picking the right blackjack option - this should be based on good odds, fewer decks, the right table limit for you, and favorable house rules such as dealer stands on soft 17 or allowing surrender. Some are fairly obvious as doing so will impair your judgment, don’t play for long periods (2 hours is a good benchmark), don’t drink and play, and don’t let your emotions dictate your play. At the very least, these tips could help you change your blackjack experience from purely recreational to one where you can enjoy calculated and strategic wins like a pro. Good luck at the online blackjack table, or virtual!