It was an unbelievably hot afternoon in the summer of 1968 when the young couple arrived in Las Vegas. It was their first trip ever to this gambling Mecca and they didn’t know what to expect. Certainly the 120 degree temperature was nothing they had ever experienced in their native New Jersey. When they arrived at the Aladdin Casino Hotel, they were taken aback by the elegance of the casino. The adrenaline was already flowing through the young mans body as he couldn’t wait to play blackjack. They agreed that she would stand in the hotel check-in line and he would “check out the casino”.
It didn’t take long for the young man to take a seat at a blackjack table. He placed two crisp one hundred dollar bills on the layout and asked for chips. When his wife eventually caught up with him, he was ahead about fifty dollars and feeling good. She was tired from the long plane ride and decided to go to the room and rest while he stayed to play more blackjack. With what little he knew about playing strategy, he did quite well and now he was in Vegas and already he was winning!
Eventually, his luck and the cards started to change. He lost his profits and was now down a hundred bucks. He thought the cards would have to change, so he increased his bet size. Where it took him about an hour to lose the first hundred, it now took only 30 minutes to lose the second hundred.
He was sure he was going to start winning so he took out the last hundred dollar bill the couple had allocated to gamble during their four days in Vegas and asked for more chips. After all he couldn’t face his wife knowing he had already lost most of their bankroll.
You probably know the ending to this story. I certainly do, because that young man was me. To this day I can still remember the miserable time my wife and I had on our first trip ever to Las Vegas after I lost our entire bankroll in just two hours.
During the next four days, I vowed I would not return to Las Vegas until I learned more about the game of blackjack. It was a vow that consumed a lot of my time and energy for years to come.
A lot has happened since that first ill fated experience. I made good on that vow to learn all I could about the game. I read books, did computer studies and quickly discovered blackjack was in fact a beatable game. After a lot of practice and patience, I eventually got good at blackjack and with Atlantic City in my backyard, I was able to play regularly and profit handsomely.
If blackjack is a beatable game, why do casinos offer it? The reason is quite simple. Remember it’s the skillful player who can win and to be skillful, a player must devote a certain amount of study and practice to learn these skills. So, while the majority of the public who play blackjack lose, a relatively small majority of skillful players win.
There are other reasons why players continue to lose at a game that can be beaten. I call these player excuses the “blackjack myths”. These misconceptions about the game are unfortunate because in most cases these are the reasons or excuses given by players for not learning how to win. Here are a few common myths of blackjack.
Myth 1: “It’s impossible to win at blackjack. It is a game of luck.”
Entirely false. Blackjack is a game of skill, not chance, and it is the only casino game in which you can enjoy a long term mathematical edge over the casino with skillful play.
Myth 2: “You must have a photographic memory or be a mathematical genius in order to win.”
Not so. Anyone with the ambition and desire to improve their game can learn the basic playing strategy and tracking technique with practice. No photographic memory or mathematical background is required. I currently teach Speed Count in cities throughout the United States to average players. In one weekend, students master a simple counting technique and have the edge over the casino when they play.
Myth 3: “You need a tremendous bankroll to win appreciable amounts of money.”
Even if you have a small bankroll it is possible to still win a lot. The key is to increase your bets in proportion to your bankroll. As you begin to win, your bankroll will increase as will your bet size and the amount you win.
In future columns I will get into the specifics of how to win at blackjack. Until then play smart.
By: Henry Tamburin
Author Bio: Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide http://www.888casino.com/blog/blackjack-strategy-guide/), editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com), lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, and host of smartgaming.com.