Tough Decisions Every New Blackjack Player Must Face

By in Casino & Gaming on
7 Minute Read

One of the most enticing things about blackjack is the seemingly countless situations players must learn to face. Knowing the best way to handle situations and scenarios based on the cards in play is a skill any good player can master.

More experienced players learn to love facing uncertainty at the tables, but beginners might not feel the same way. It’s often daunting to make decisions under pressure, especially when there isn’t a sure-fire path to victory.

Those decisions made under pressure are often the difference between winning and losing money at the table.

It’s common for new players to change their approach to the game and subsequently crumble when their back is against the wall. Most veterans will agree that learning how to navigate tricky hands and handle tough situations at the tables comes with time.

If you find your decision-making abilities to be lacking, that isn’t a cause for concern; you’re not going to win every hand.

But by following a few easy tips, you’ll be able to turn hands you normally lose into wins. Here are 7 tough decisions every new blackjack player must face to become a successful gambler.

Playing With Consistency, Regardless of the Cards

When playing blackjack, things can dramatically change in a matter of minutes.

Your chip count, demeanor, and rate of success are all subject to rapid increases and decreases. One minute you might be playing loose after winning several hands in a row. The next might find you shell-shocked after watching the house take a large portion of your bankroll.

It’s no secret that gambling is much easier when you’re winning. Seeing your pile of chips grow over time typically results in a more relaxed approach to the game in question.

Losing several hands in a row, however, can force certain gamblers to be more conservative. In their minds, playing less aggressively will put an end to the losses.

While that logic is less dangerous than the alternative, it likely won’t lead to a reversal of fortune.

Blackjack players should always abide by basic blackjack strategy, otherwise known as the book. Regardless of how much money has been lost, it’s foolish to abandon that strategy.

It’s tempting to completely alter your game plan if you can’t seem to buy a win. That might be a tactical ploy when playing other games, but that isn’t an appropriate response if it means ignoring a proven, effective strategy.

Deciding When to Change Tables

Before getting into some of the more challenging in-game situations, it’s essential to discuss the concept of table selection. There isn’t a right or wrong answer when initially picking a table, but there are some things to look out for.

The decision should come down to price and payout. Always pick tables where you can afford to play for a decent stretch of time. Also, try to avoid tables that only pay out 6:5 for blackjack if possible.

Other factors such as the dealer, area of the casino, side bets, and proximity to the casino bar are purely subjective.

Finding a table that works for you, where you feel comfortable and confident, is essential to successful gambling.  But, occasionally, you’re going to make the wrong decision and get stuck in a horrid game of blackjack.

Once you realize a particular table doesn’t work for you, it’s advisable to immediately hit the eject button. There’s no point continuing to play if you’re losing money or not enjoying yourself.

A subpar blackjack table can be the result of a bad dealer, annoying tablemates, or terrible luck. You should never feel obligated to stick around a table for longer than necessary. Anytime you feel like it’s worth testing out a different game, go with your gut.

Figuring Out How to Handle a 16

No hand of blackjack is more controversial than 16.

It’s arguably the most disappointing hand to be dealt with and typically leaves gamblers with a difficult decision. That disappointment is often amplified by a dealer showing a 7 or higher.

This scenario is one of the most grueling in blackjack and seems to happen far too often. While gamblers agree that being dealt a 16 is unfortunate, many disagree about how it should be handled.

In my opinion, you should never hit 16. It doesn’t matter what card the dealer is showing: never hit a 16. Some might disagree with this, but you can decrease your chances of winning if you choose to hit.

A problem I often notice with lower quality blackjack players is an inconsistent approach to 16. If a dealer shows a 10, it’s tempting to take another card to get closer to 21.

It’s important to resist that temptation because the likelihood of busting is higher than that of improving your hand.

Doubling an 11 When the Dealer’s Showing 10

Doubling down an 11 is one of the most exciting moves in blackjack. If done effectively, you stand to win twice the amount of money you initially bet.

But, it’s always incredibly disappointing when the dealer is showing a 10 against your 11. Whereas you were envisioning a profitable win, now you have a tough decision to make.

This scenario is a nightmare for inexperienced players who have always been advised to double down an 11. In their mind, the dealer has 20, and they don’t want to risk losing double the amount they would usually bet.

Due to the fear of losing big, they commit an unnecessary mistake and avoid doubling down.

Even if the dealer is showing a 10, gamblers should always double down on an 11. I understand the hesitation, but it’s still the right move.

Refusing Insurance and Even Money

Blackjack dealers often have a way of making certain situations far too dramatic for anyone’s liking.

A Typical Example:

When a dealer asks the table if anyone wants to insure their hand against an ace. Those seconds you spend anxiously waiting to see if the dealer does, in fact, have a blackjack are excruciating.

Making matters worse is the occasional gambler who decides to take the dealer up on their offer. Cue the collective eye roll and biting of tongues from the other, more experienced gamblers.

Taking out insurance against a dealer’s ace is a “weapon” that should be removed from every gambler’s arsenal. No one wants to see the dealer hit a blackjack, but you’re wasting your money by insuring hands regularly.

While it may be less frowned upon, it’s also inadvisable to take even money if it’s offered to you. This occurs when you hit blackjack on the same hand a dealer is showing an ace.

If you both have blackjack, you’ll push. But in the long run, it’s more profitable to wait and see rather than decrease your pay out.

Gambling With Incompetent Players

Sometimes difficult in-game scenarios aren’t the most demanding ones you’ll face at a casino.

Occasionally you’ll encounter someone who makes being dealt a 16 against a dealer’s 10 seem like a walk in the park.

Casinos attract a variety of people, and blackjack tables often feature a completely random combination of people. Most of the time, the tables are calm and copacetic. The conversations taking place are civil and often enjoyable.

On the Rare Occasion, Though, You Might Not Get So Lucky.

Some gamblers have an uncanny ability to irritate anyone unfortunate enough to sit at the same table as them. One of those more aggravating types is the people who have never gambled a day in their life.

It can be difficult for some to handle these types of situations appropriately. While other players don’t affect your chances of success, it’s easy to blame losses on their errors.

Games of blackjack flow better when everyone is competent and plays according to strategy. If that flow is interrupted by someone’s consistent poor play, it’s easy to get distracted and upset.

Deciding how to handle unskilled blackjack players comes down to whether or not you can ignore the way they’re playing. If you’re incapable of doing so, it’s definitely worth scouting out another table.

Tuning Out Any Type of Distraction

Casinos are full of distractions that can easily take your mind off the cards in front of you.

Eventually, these distractions become commonplace and easy to ignore. However, new gamblers can often struggle to tune out the action around them and maintain focus.

Playing blackjack for real money requires more attention than other types of games. The fast pace and complexity of the game are some of blackjack’s greatest attributes.

If you can’t decide to ignore the nonstop action around you, it might not be the game for you.


Any given hand of blackjack can result in a gambler facing a variety of tricky situations. While the correct decision is often far too obvious, the pressure and fear of losing money can be tough to handle.

Thriving under pressure and successfully navigating tricky hands can make all the difference in the world. Anyone incapable of doing so will be hard-pressed to achieve success at the blackjack tables.

Most of these challenging decisions come during games, as several popular hands often lead to beginners’ unforced errors. It’s crucial to play by the book and be consistent from hand to hand if you want to win money.

Other decisions can be more complicated, especially when deciding how to handle other gamblers. If you can’t find a way to maintain focus and composure, then a change of scenery might be necessary.

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 since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]