Online blackjack stands as one of the most entertaining and potentially lucrative ways to enjoy online gambling action. For newcomers, however, it’s easy to fall into one of the common traps that can actually hurt your chances of winning. With that in mind, we’re here to tell you about the top ten mistakes to avoid when playing online blackjack.
If you’ve been following along with us for the past few weeks, you know we’ve been giving you all the details about online blackjack. After all, many people don’t have the opportunity right now to get out to their favorite casinos to gamble. Luckily, online blackjack can provide you with the same kind of excitement and money-making opportunities without you ever having to leave the house.
For those who have been following our online blackjack articles, you know that we’ve been giving you tips about how to play the game. We’ve gone over how to learn the right strategy when making decisions. And we’ve also talked about how to tell the difference between online blackjack games in terms of slight rules adjustments.
In other words, we’ve been telling you what to do. Now we’re going to flip the script and tell you what you shouldn’t be doing. We’re explaining the top ten mistakes made by online blackjack players.
Strategic Errors in Online Blackjack
Many of these mistakes have to do with strategy. Newcomers often are so excited to ger started playing that they don’t take the time to learn the intricacies of game play. That can lead them down a number of bad roads that can detract from their potential payback.
Some of the other mistakes on this list have to do with the process of simply choosing the online blackjack game that you’re going to play. Again, the mistakes made in this area are often ones that come from haste. But it’s true that you can have airtight strategy and still lose out in the long run when it comes to which online blackjack you’ve decided to spend your time playing.
The funny thing about these mistakes is that you don’t have to be a newcomer to make them. Many people who have been playing blackjack for a long time have been committing basic errors. If nobody has told them any different, it’s certainly possible that they’ve been compounding those errors for years, damaging their winning potential in the process.
Hopefully, this article will help you prevent these errors once and for all, whether you’re just starting out or have been around the block a time or two playing blackjack. The good thing about the top ten mistakes made when playing online blackjack is that they all can be easily avoided. Once you’ve identified them, you’ll know how to keep clear.
Mistake #1: Not Playing Against the Dealer
This is a mistake that players who are brand new to real money blackjack often make. And this comes from an incorrect description of what the object of online blackjack actually is. You’ll hear people say, incorrectly, that the object of the game is to get as close to 21 without surpassing 21, which would be a bust.
In actuality, the object of the game is to beat the dealer. You can win a hand with 12 if the dealer busts. And you could lose a hand with 20 if the dealer manages 21.
What that means is that every decision that you make when playing online blackjack should be made with an idea of where the dealer stands. The tricky part, of course, is that the dealer only has to reveal one card.
As a result, you have to use playing card probabilities to give yourself an estimation of what the dealer’s total might be. You also have to consider the actions that he can take.
Remember that the dealer’s actions are limited compared to what you can do as a player. And you can commit to those actions pretty much at any time regardless of what the value of your hand is. The dealer can only hit until 17 and then must stand.
The bottom line is that if you follow advice that only has you concerned about your own hand, you’re likely going to make some serious errors. Any solid basic online blackjack strategy should be based on what the dealer has as well.
Mistake #2: Assuming the Dealer Has 10
This is perhaps the most common of all online blackjack mistakes, and it is also one of the most damaging. It’s a kind of substitute strategy for people who don’t want to take the time to learn the real thing. That laziness will cost you several payback percentage points on average.
How does this theory work? Well let’s say the dealer has a 2 showing. You would make your decisions based on the dealer having a total of 12, since you’d be assuming whatever their hidden card might be equals 10.
This common online blackjack mistake is easily proved wrong by doing a little math. There are 52 cards in a deck. Of those, 16 cards (four each of 10s, jacks, queens, kings) have blackjack values of 10.
Doing some quick division, you can then extrapolate that the chances of any card having a value of 10 is less than one in three. And yet the “assume 10” theory essentially says that you believe that every hidden the card the dealer has is going to have a value of 10.
What compounds this error is when players also assume that the dealer’s hit cards will have a value of 10 as well. We’ve just shown you that it’s less than likely that the hidden card will have a value of 10. The odds really work against the possibility that the dealer will have get two 10-value cards in a row.
Mistake #3: Buying Insurance
Insurance is a play which can confuse novice players who think it’s a good idea. But it’s actually a lousy play no matter the situation using basic online blackjack strategy. And the reason is very similar to the one we just gave for Mistake #2.
What is Blackjack Insurance?
For those who need a refresher, insurance is a bet you can make when you don’t have blackjack on your first two cards and the dealer is showing an ace. The concern that leads to insurance is that the dealer will have a card with a value of 10 hiding, which would mean blackjack for the dealer and an automatic loss for you.
Insurance is a side bet that the player can make to help offset a potential blackjack. You can bet up to half your original bet.
If you buy insurance, you would win at odds of 2 to 1 if the dealer has a hidden 10. You would still lose your original wager for the hand. Essentially, a successful insurance bet allows you to break even on a hand where the dealer has blackjack.
If you buy insurance and the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the insurance bet is a loss. You would then play out the hand to see if you would win or lose your original bet.
The problem with insurance is that the payback isn’t worth the risk. We’ve already told you that there is a less than one in three chance that the dealer’s hidden card will have a value of 10. Yet you’d being paid just 2 to 1 if it is.
For an insurance bet to be worth it, you’d need the payback to be at least 4 to 1. You’re not going to find those odds at any online casinos, which is why insurance should always be avoided.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Surrender Opportunities
There are two ways this mistake can manifest itself in online blackjack. First of all, you can choose a game where surrendering isn’t an option. You might not think it matters too much in the long run and therefore don’t see the difference in playing a blackjack variant where you can’t surrender.
The other thing that can happen is that you might play a game where surrendering is available and yet you simply choose not to do it. Doing this is simply ignoring a useful tool.
First of all, you should try to choose a game where surrendering is an option. And then you should be ready to avail yourself of that option when the time is right.
A surrender wager requires you to give up your hand after the deal, assuming that the dealer doesn’t have blackjack. When you do, you only lose half of your original bet instead of the full amount.
For some people, refusing to surrender might be a psychological thing. You play online blackjack to win, after all, not to give up.
But you should be focused on the long run. And, in the long run, surrendering makes sense when the dealer is at a distinct advantage based on the cards being dealt. Cutting your losses will give you chances to win big down the road when playing online blackjack.
Mistake #5: Being Too Strict With Your Doubling
You can generally double your bet in online blackjack after the deal as long as you or the dealer doesn’t have blackjack. To do this, you add another bet the size of your original bet. And, in most cases, you get to play out the hand from that point as you always would, winning double the original amount if you bear the dealer.
Novice online blackjack players are often reluctant to double unless the cards are obviously in their favor. They might not even consider doing it unless they’re sitting on 10 or 11 after their first two cards.
The problem with this is that they’re falling into a similar thought process that leads to Mistake #1, in that they’re playing just their hand without considering the dealer. If the dealer has a card showing that puts them at a disadvantage, there might be times when doubling on values might be a good idea.
If you look through a basic blackjack strategy chart, you’re likely to see several instances where it’s suggested that you double with 9. You might even see some instances where you should double with 8.
If you neglect those opportunities, you are essentially harming your chances of winning the maximum amount. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on doubling, even if it doesn’t seem like a sure thing winner.
Mistake #6: Splitting 10s
In most cases in online blackjack, you can split any two cards as long as their value is the same. So for the sake of this mistake, we mean players who split 10 and jack, or queen and king, or any two cards with the value of 10. Whatever those cards might be, the bottom line is that this is a mistake.
You might think that there are windows of opportunity when splitting 10s make sense, such as when the dealer is showing a disadvantageous card like a 5 or 6. The theory there would be that having two different hands, each starting with a 10 card, gives you two chances to win against that card.
But you also have to consider what you’re giving up. If you have a pair of splittable 10s on the deal, it also means that you have a potential single hand of 20. That’s pretty good, especially on those cases when the dealer is starting with a 5 or 6.
You would win hands like that more than 80 percent of the time. And the profit that you can make playing the hand that way actually outranks what you could expect splitting the 10s. Keep in mind that you don’t know what you might get as the second card in your two hands, which can drastically affect your win expectations.
This is a case of a bird in the hand being worth more than two in the bush. Take the near-sure thing of 20 instead of opening yourself up to more variables by splitting the 10s.
Mistake #7: Guessing At What Cards You Might Receive
Many people make this mistake when playing both video poker and online blackjack. In specific, this refers to those online blackjack where an automatic dealer is utilized.
Automatic dealers are based on random number generator software. This assures that any patterns or trends that you think you might be seeing based on the cards you and the dealer get are completely coincidental.
When you set up for your first hand of online blackjack, your chances of receiving, let’s say, the ace of spades, on the first card that appears on screen in your hand, is 1 in 52. If you don’t get it, the chances you receive it on your next card would be 1 in 51.
Your chances of receiving it on that first hand would increase with every card that goes by and it doesn’t show up. But once you start a new hand, the deck is reshuffled, and you go back to 1 in 52.
As a result, thinking that you can outguess the game is a sure way to making mistakes. Your strategy at any given time when playing online blackjack should be based on nothing more than playing card probability. That’s what’s at the heart of legitimate strategy charts, and that’s what you should base your game play on going forward.
Mistake #8: Counting Cards
Let’s be clear here. Counting cards can be an extremely useful and effective strategy when you’re playing blackjack in casinos and know how it do it correctly and subtly. But counting cards when playing online blackjack is ultimately a lot of effort for not much in the way of results.
If you’re playing online blackjack with an automatic dealer, counting cards is useless. You won’t get any edge in knowing what cards have been played, since the cards are reshuffled after every hand. With an automatic dealer, you simply have to stick to basic strategy.
If you play online blackjack where a live dealer is involved, you might be able to get a slight edge with card counting. Live dealer online blackjack will feature a run of hands where no shuffling is involved. While that is going on, you might be able to get an edge from knowing which cards have been played and figuring out where you have the edge or the dealer does.
The problem is that live dealer online blackjack will still feature much more frequent re-shuffling than would be the case at a blackjack table in a casino. As a result, you might only be to able to scrape together the slightest of advantages by card counting until the reshuffle takes place. You’d be putting in a lot of effort, and potentially putting yourself of drawing the ire of the online casino, without getting much in return in terms of payback.
Mistake #9: Making Side Bets
Side bets are becoming more and more frequent at online casinos offering blackjack. The reason is pretty simple: Side bets are always good for the house. They’re set up so that they’re tempting but actually detract from the player’s potential payback percentage.
The other thing that side bets on online blackjack tend to do is raise the volatility level a great deal. You’d be putting more money at risk on each deal, which obviously means the potential to lose more as well. As a result, your bankroll would be in much greater jeopardy as you play.
To be fair, side bets on online blackjack can certainly be a fun, short-term diversion. And if the only reason you’re playing the game is to win a lot of money in a little time, side bets are certainly the way to go. You’d have the chance of winning a great deal more per deal if the side bets go your way.
The problem, of course, is that the odds are against this happening. If you’re going to be a serious online blackjack who wants to win over the long term, sticking with the basic format and devising a solid strategy is the best way to do that. Should you decide to try side bets now and then, you should consider quitting them if you get ahead, because luck will even out eventually.
Mistake #10: Not Considering the Website
This is a mistake that is made by many novice online gamblers, no matter what game they happen to be interested in playing. They get so caught up in the excitement of playing their favorite games for real money that they don’t consider the risks of choosing an unreliable website. When you choose an unreliable website, you’re putting a lot more at stake than just a few dollars here and there.
That’s why we always recommend that you use resources that will show you what the best gambling websites are. These are the online blackjack sites that are pretty much guaranteed of providing you with a positive overall experience, even if you end up losing more than winning. (And if you do win, you can count on these sites to get the money to you.)
If you choose to research websites offering online blackjack on your own, here are the things that you should be looking out for as you search:
Excellent bonuses for both first-time and loyal bettors
A wide variety of different gambling options for you to choose
Mobile betting options that will allow you to gamble on the go
Solid deposit and withdrawals procedures that are clearly spelled out
Top-notch customer service to ensure any problems you have are addressed
Different methods of funding your account
We hope that you now have a good understanding of the top ten online blackjack mistakes to avoid. By staying clear of these common pitfalls, you’ll be giving yourself the best possible opportunity for long-term profits.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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