By Chip Green.
You’ve heard it before, anyone with enough desire combined with an iron will and proper training (also, assuming a full size brain) can learn to play winning blackjack. I define winning blackjack as average-units-per-win greater than average-units-per-loss, coupled with winning more frequently than losing. Think of it as a batting average >0.500 with more RBIs scored for winning games than for losing games. Easy, right? (Note that either one of the above taken separately may result, but does not necessarily result, in net winnings. Taken together, playing winning blackjack is a certainty.)
Obviously, getting to a point where it all comes together: the basic strategies, money management, employing a counting scheme, surreptitious play–or a good act, all while maintaining a positive attitude and self-control, can be a long, long road.
So what’s your point, Chip? It’s all been said before. Well, almost all of it: I believe that there is a majority of experienced, well-read players who go through an extended period of playing losing blackjack, before finding the right road. Why? My theory is that some people are stuck in a losing rut while paying their blackjack “tuition”, before they graduate to winning blackjack. Why? Probably due to blowing the very slim edge that is (sometimes) attainable for only the best of players. Realize that with a 1-1/2% edge (about the best you can hope for), if you lose more than 1-in-100 hands due to playing errors, you’ve lost your advantage, and in the long run –YOU WILL GO BROKE!
“A friend of mine did a
little four-wheeling in
the woods before
finding the paved road.”
A friend of mine did a little four-wheeling in the woods before finding the paved road. He bought every book in sight: Uston, Wong, Snyder, Thorp, Griffin, Andersen, and even Dalton… He read and re-read every nuance… He studied the various basic strategies and 100+ indices for the Hi-Lo count… He practiced hundreds of hours on a blackjack computer program… He was ready…a self-proclaimed expert! He puffed out his chest and strutted into the Valley of Death…into casinos in Las Vegas (got booted twice)…into A/C (lost nearly every single visit), at Indian reservations (got scalped), and he lost lots. He was losing 60% of the time and he was losing way more each session than he was winning. Only occasionally would a good size win surface. Technically, his knowledge was sound; but, in practice he was losing at an unheralded rate for over two years. Recently he found the road, and this last year joined a small minority of blackjack players who can honestly call themselves winners. His batting average is >0.580 (58% wins) and his average win exceeds his average loss by »40%. How did he do it?
He was honest; there were four weaknesses he admitted to and overcame:
- drinking at the tables to try to “fake” a drunk act (and not having to act!);
- staying too long at a single table or casino and not using a stop-loss (translated: “refusing to accept any loss, great or small”);
- playing at games with a negative expectation (those rotten A/C 8-deckers or L/V shallow 1-deckers1)EDITOR NOTE: Remember that this article was written in 1994, when playable single deck games were still available. Today, all single deck games pay 6 to 5 on a blackjack, rendering them unplayable unless you are using other advantage play techniques.) without appropriate counter-measures (Wonging, money management); and,
- realizing that if (1), (2), or (3) is ignored, a loss was much more likely than a win.
My friend now has a positive attitude, his expectations are more realistic, his playing sessions are more brief, he selects only beatable games (and uses Wonging), his imbibing is saved for after playing (the beers are cheaper that way), and his winning continues. He never stops reading, he never stops re-reading and studying. Rarely does a 1-in-100 error occur. He is a cold, steely-eyed blackjack winning machine (with a new appreciation for beer, after a win).
The graph shown depicts actual results for one year’s blackjack play of 135 “visits” (a visit »1-3 playing sessions of »2 hours each). The results shown are as follows: batting average =0.585, average win =89 units/visit, average loss =63 units/visit, net result =+25 units/visit. Longest losing streak =6 visits; longest winning streak =10 visits. Even with these favorable results, it is interesting to note the statistically acclaimed random walk with an upward trend…
Coincidentally, my friend has recently graduated from units of $10 to green chips. Can “black action” be far away?
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[ This article was originally published in the Fall 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]