7 Lessons I Learned From Losing at Blackjack

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Losing at Blackjack

Most gamblers lose, and that’s a fact. Casinos depend on losing gamblers. If it weren’t for the house edge over players, casinos wouldn’t be able to operate their businesses.

I’ve been playing blackjack for almost as long as I can remember. And for over two decades, I was a losing blackjack player. Eventually, I started learning from the mistakes I was making while playing blackjack.

I could’ve shortened my learning curve if I’d learned from the mistakes that other blackjack gamblers were making. That’s why I put together this article. This guide will help you improve as a player by learning from the mistakes I made playing real money blackjack.

Here are seven lessons I learned from being a losing blackjack player. Once I learned how to correct these mistakes, I started winning.

1 – 6:5 Tables Are Killing the Game

I used to sit down at any blackjack table that had an open seat. This meant that I sometimes played on tables that only paid 6:5 for a blackjack. This is the same mistake that many blackjack players still make.

I eventually ran the numbers and found out that playing 6:5 blackjack was costing me a great deal of money. Since then, I’ve never played on a 6:5 table.

Here’s a quick look at the difference between playing 3:2 blackjack and 6:5 blackjack. Once you see the math we’ve done here, you’re likely never going to play 6:5 blackjack again.

Let’s say that you’re using a $40 average wager size. Feel free to adjust the numbers based on the average size of your bets.

Now, when you risk $40 and get a blackjack that pays 6:5, you win $48. But when you risk $40 and get a blackjack that pays 3:2, you win $60. That’s a $20 difference! Choosing a 6:5 table costs you money every single time you get a blackjack.

Other rules are important too, but this is the number one thing I look for whenever I head to the blackjack tables. And it needs to be the first thing you look for, too.

2 – Insurance Bets Are Worse Than They Seem

I hate it when I finally get a good hand but the dealer has a blackjack. I’m sure you feel the same way. But even so, you can’t make the mistake of taking insurance when you have a good hand.

When you take insurance and the dealer has a blackjack, it gives you the false feeling that you broke even on the hand. This makes you feel good based on appearances. But that’s not actually true.

You can’t just consider all the times the dealer has a blackjack. You have to look at every hand when you take insurance, including the hands when the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.

Playing Cards

When you take insurance and the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, you lose your insurance wager and your original wager and hand. When you consider both possibilities, you can start seeing how insurance doesn’t actually work in your favor.

And when you look at the odds, you’ll understand how bad it actually is.

Let’s say the dealer’s odds of getting a blackjack is 4 out of 13. This means the odds against it are 9 out of 13. But the wager only pays 2 to 1. This means the odds of the dealer having a blackjack are worse than what the wager pays.

In simple terms, every time you take the insurance offer, you’re putting more money at risk and you’re making your return percentage go down. These are both eating into your bankroll and making you think you made the right choice.

3 – Why the Split Rule Is So Powerful

When you play blackjack, you’re playing against a house edge. The casino has a built-in edge which locks in a long-term profit. You need to take advantage of every situation where you can reduce this edge. The “split rule” is one of the situations where you can make certain plays to help you win.

The split rule in blackjack is powerful for two reasons. The first reason why it’s powerful is because you can avoid a bad starting hand. When you have a pair of eights, the total of 16 is the worst starting hand possible. But you can split this into two hands that both are better than a 16.

The second reason why the split rule is so powerful is because it lets you get more money in play when you have an advantage. Any blackjack hand with an ace is a favorite to win. And when you start with a pair of aces, you can double the amount of money you have in play and start with two hands with an ace.

4 – The Reason Why the Double Down Rule Rocks

In the previous section, you learned why it’s powerful to be able to get more money in play when you have an advantage. And this is why the double down rule rocks.

When you double down on a blackjack hand, you get to double the amount you’re risking. And some hands have an advantage when you can draw a single additional card.

The most common totals to double down on are 11, 10, and 9. You have to look at what the dealer has when you decide if doubling down is profitable. But when it is profitable, you need to get more money on the table.

You can use blackjack strategy, which is readily available, to determine when you have an edge and should double down. You can learn more about strategy in section six of this page.

5 – Reading Helps

I used to be stubborn about gambling. I wanted to learn everything I needed to know through experience. And there’s nothing wrong with learning from experience. But it’s not always the best way to learn.

When I started reading books and articles about blackjack and blackjack strategy, my results started improving immediately. I quickly learned that it didn’t cost as much to learn by reading as it did to learn from making costly mistakes at the table.


A combination of learning from experience and learning from others is the best way to get better at blackjack.

You can start with a good blackjack book. Even if you don’t like to read, if you read for 15 minutes a day, it’s going to help you learn faster.

6 – Strategy Is Required

When you play a hand of blackjack, you have to make a choice about how you play. You have to use the information you have, including the cards you have and the card the dealer is showing.

Most blackjack players look at this information and guess what the best play is. But smart blackjack players know that each hand only has one correct way to play.

When you learn what the best way to play every blackjack hand is, you’re using strategy. Every decision either costs you more money than it should or makes the return as high as possible.

If you want to have the best chance to win in blackjack, you need to learn how to use strategy.

Blackjack strategy is easy once you learn that you can get a strategy card that has all of the correct plays listed on it. And you can use a card at the table so you never make a mistake.

7 – You Have to Count to Earn Profit

The hardest thing I learned as a blackjack player was how to count cards and get away with it. But once I learned how to win using counting, I was able to start making money playing.

For years, I assumed that card counters had to memorize every card that was played. But this isn’t true. When I learned how counting really worked, I found that it’s much easier than how movies and tv shows make it seem.

It takes most blackjack players somewhere from 20 to 50 hours to learn how to count cards. This might sound like a lot of time, but when you consider that you can use these skills for the rest of your life, it’s not a large investment.

And once you get good at counting, you can play blackjack with an edge over the casino instead of the other way around.


The number of mistakes I’ve made playing blackjack are too many to count. But the seven mistakes included on this page are the most important. And you don’t have to make these mistakes to learn how to avoid them.

You now have the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. This is a smart way to improve your blackjack results without having to waste time and money making these mistakes yourself.

The easiest mistakes to avoid only take a few seconds. First of all, don’t take insurance. Refuse to play at 6:5 tables. The other mistakes might take more time to master, but they’re worth the effort.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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