Online Blackjack for Real Money

Films like 21, [1],following the story of the infamous MIT students who broke the bank at several casinos, have glamorized blackjack and casino gambling on the whole, but they’ve also led people to believe that to succeed at this game you need to be a mathematical genius like Richard Munchkin. Whilst it is true that a basic understanding of maths, odds and probability can go a long way in the game of blackjack for money, you don’t have to be Rain Man to make a profit at the tables.

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Best US-Facing Odds in Online Blackjack and Probability Analysis

In this article we’ll look at the technical side of the game, but with those who are not mathematically inclined in mind. We’ll look at house edges, probability, common mistakes and how you can use all of these to improve your game. At the end of the article we’ll also look at whether it’s possible to make a living from playing blackjack, and whether blackjack, both online and offline, is a better investment than stocks and shares. First up, though, we’ll take a look at the mistakes that many gamblers and blackjack players make, many of which revolve around what they believe is the mathematical, statistical or probable outcome of an event, but is actually the complete opposite.

Common Mistakes/Fallacies

Gambling is not difficult. Depending on which form it takes it usually requires just a few simple rules and a lot of common sense, but there are traps that many gamblers fall into and these need to be avoided.

Probabilistic Fallacy

In simple terms a probabilistic fallacy is one that infers a conclusion from the premise that violates the laws of probability. In even simpler terms it predicts what it perceives to be an “obvious” outcome based on a premise, that actually violates probability. For instance, if a slice of bread was coated in butter on one side, with an equal weight of jam on the other and then dropped from a great height, using the probabilistic fallacy someone may predict that if that bread lands butter-side-up four times in a row, it will land jam-side-up on the fifth drop. This goes against the rules of probability simply because there is a 50/50 chance of either occurring, regardless of what occurred previously.

Gambler’s Fallacy and Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy

Also known as the Monte Carlo Fallacy, after the famous gambling city and casino, this is well known in the gambling world and has been researched extensively [2] throughout the years. It is based on the belief that if the uncommon becomes common for a short period of time, then the chances of it doing so in the future will decrease. For instance, if a coin toss was to land on heads 9 times in a row, then the gambler’s fallacy is a belief that for the next toss there will be significantly more chance of a tail than a head. In truth, a coin toss is always 50/50, and any such deviations are coincidental and do not impact on any future tosses, but therein lies the gambler’s fallacy.

This fallacy is the result of gamblers believing that a 50/50 event will “even out” and that a tail, in this case, is “owed” to them. In the instance above, the chance of there being ten heads in a row are incredibly unlikely, but the odds of such an occurrence are actually the same as they are for 9 heads and 1 tails, and there is no more chance of that tenth flip being a head than there is of it being a tail. There is also something known as an Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy, and in this case that would state that because heads has appeared 9 times in a row, then the odds that it will appear again drastically improve, which as we have discussed is just as incorrect.

These are fallacies for a reason, and they relate to most forms of betting, including blackjack. There are those, for instance, that have done the math on how many times they will win and lose at blackjack, concluding therefore that if they slip into the “red zone” — when the stats increase above the norm for their loss percentage — they are “owned” a win, so they increase their bet sizes accordingly. In such a case the fallacy can become very costly, as the only thing worse than a bad gambler is one who believes he has found the perfect system and a gambler with such a system is on a fast track to bankruptcy.

The “System”

Whatever form gambling takes, be it horse racing, sports betting or casino gambling, you’ll always encounter those who think they have the perfect system. You’ll typically find these punters in the betting shops, trying to make sense and see patterns in something that makes no sense and has no patterns, but they also cross over into blackjack every now and then.

Let’s get one thing straight, you may have had some luck by deviating from standard blackjack strategy, but that’s all it is and sooner or later that luck will turn ugly. Basic blackjack strategy is mathematically sound and can not be improved upon by anything other than card counting. You certainly can’t beat the game using a “system” unless that system includes card counting and/or robbing the dealer at gunpoint.

Playing Angry

One sure-fire way for all gamblers to lose a lot of money is to play angry, to let a loss get to them, to start throwing real money at bad hands and making big bets that they can’t afford to lose. Sometimes these pay off, their anger fades and all is well, but more often than not they lose it all. If you feel yourself getting angry following a big loss then take some time to cool down, and read our blackjack ethics page.

Chasing Losses

We all know that you should never chase losses in sports betting, and the same goes for blackjack. If you lose then don’t increase your bet sizes just your stake back. If anything, lower those bets until you get into your groove and until you break even again. A good gambler is a careful and responsible gambler, a bad gambler is the polar opposite, and if you find yourself basing losses regularly then you may have a problem [3]

Odds

When it comes to blackjack, “odds” typically refer to the house edge. This is a number that calculates the player’s chance of winning at any given hand, and it is often less than 1%. This is a very low number, particularly when you consider that many other casino games [4] such as the slot machines have an edge of over 10% in the house’s favor.

For those unsure of the numbers, in an average game of blackjack the dealer typically has a 55% chance of winning the hand, and the player has 45%. This can change based on the variant of blackjack played, on the strategy used and on whether or not card counting is employed. To start though, you need to ensure that you pick the right blackjack variant.

In European Blackjack, commonly played at casinos in Europe, the house edge is typically 0.39%, whilst in Las Vegas and Atlantic City it is around 0.38% and 0.49% respectively. In fact, these odds are very generous to European Blackjack, as it can be a very difficult game to play and is always heavily weighted in the house’s favor, so your best bet is always to go to Vegas. Reno is also a great choice.

When it comes to online blackjack, you can’t do better than Blackjack Switch, which at just 0.17% has the lowest odds of any blackjack variant around. This is available online and live, and should never be passed up should the chance to play arise. It basically allows the player to play two hands at once and to swap the top two cards of both of those hands. Double Exposure Blackjack also comes with decent odds and is a very interesting game, forcing the player and dealer to expose both of their cards.

The king of blackjack games, without a doubt, is Single Deck Blackjack, which is played with a single deck of cards. This is rare and is somewhat of a gold mine for all blackjack professionals. The odds for this game are fractional, often even less than Blackjack Switch, which is why the big casinos try to limit its availability.

Best Available Odds for US Players

US players don’t have much choice when it comes to online casinos, but there are still many legal and trustworthy casinos out there that use premium blackjack software. Whether they use Microgaming, Playtech or something else, they all have games of blackjack that can tip the odds in your favor. One of the best games for this is Classic Blackjack, which uses the basic blackjack rules without any tweaks. The fact that it uses one or two decks is irrelevant online as the cards are shuffled immediately after play, but these games still come with very a low house edge.

If you’re playing in a land-based casino then Single Deck or Double Deck games offer the best odds, whilst games such as Super Fun and 7s — those that offer a lot of bonus bets and essentially try to draw in the punters with fancy offers — should be avoided as they tend to have a high house edge.

Best Available Odds for Worldwide Players

Bet365 [5] uses Playtech software, where Blackjack Switch[6] can be found. As discussed above, this has the best odds of any blackjack game other than Single Deck Blackjack, and can be very profitable for those who know the game and understand the rules of this variant. Bet365 accept customers from all over the world, but not from the United States, and as one of the biggest bookmakers in Europe they can certainly be trusted with your money. William Hill, another large European bookmaker, also has a very good game of blackjack that uses classic rules. They allow for 5 hands to be played at once, but this increases the house edge so it’s best to limit yourself to 1 hand at a time.

Blackjack as a Safe Medium to Invest your Real Money

Although it sounds like a bizarre proposal, online blackjack can be a very good way of investing your money. You don’t have to be a professional at the game, you just need to know the basics, and although this can take some time, the same can be said about learning the basics of the stock market, commodities or of any other investment opportunity.

We’ll do a comparison with Blue Chip [7] stocks as opposed to penny stocks, as the latter are very volatile and the argument we are making is that Blackjack is relatively stable — maybe not as much as Blue Chip companies, but certainly more than the penny stocks.

If we take the mighty Google [8] as an example, their stock acts much like a savings account. When it goes down it will eventually come back up, and vice versa. Unless you’re a shrewd day-trader, then you’ll probably get out what you put in. The same can be said for much of the big stocks, and when they do increase they do so steadily over the course of many years. That’s what Blue Chips are all about.

It can be a little different with commodities, but even then you’re limited to when you can buy, as anyone who buys at the top end of the market is not going to make a penny. With blackjack, you’re effectively always starting off at the bottom of the market, because as soon as you sit down and play that first hand, that’s effectively when the market opens.

With the right game, the right strategy and some patience, you can even the odds at the game, just like putting your money into Google. But many land-based casinos give perks for extended play, which can turn level play into profitable play. Of course, there are other elements to this, variants if you will; sometimes you’ll hit a bad streak, sometimes you’ll hit a good streak, and the same goes for the stock market, as it rises and falls on a regular basis. In both blackjack and the stock market though, these two often counteract each other in the long run.

There is one other factor too consider for both the stock markets and live blackjack, one that can tip that probability in your factor. In the stock market it’s insider trading, knowing when the big news will break, being there first and using this to your advantage, and in blackjack it’s very much the same, only its called card counting. We’re obviously not endorsing insider trading, but we’re definitely endorsing card counting. A casino will tell you it’s immoral, but when morals are concerned you don’t take advice from billionaire corporations. Card counting is perfectly legal, and when it comes to profiting from live blackjack, it’s a necessity.

And that’s where online blackjack falls flat, because card counting is not possible. You can find low house odds, and with a perfect strategy you can come close to leveling the balance, but you’re always fighting against the tide. There are casinos out there that offer loyalty points, and just like the perks from live play these can turn it into a profitable venture, but few blackjack pros ever turn to online blackjack. They stick to the live game, because as we have discussed in this article, real money blackjack is all about probability and odds, and your odds of winning live are far greater than your odds of winning online.

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