You ever just wanted to go to a casino and try your luck? Wish you could play a flawless hand? Even though you can’t win every time, with some good advice and some practise, you have a good shot at success… if you apply your strategy right.
I was in Sonoma County, home to the Graton Resort & Casino, not too long ago. When I went to a casino for the first time, I, like many other first-timers, was overwhelmed and confused by the variety of gaming tables and the seemingly endless supply of slot/gaming machines. There is a dealers course, which is great news for me. It’s a condensed version of the training programme that aspiring drug dealers must complete, and it really opened my eyes. Even though I had never played blackjack before, with the help of Brian Rogers, Graton’s native blackjack expert, I was soon able to play with confidence. Rogers has been a part of the casino industry for over 30 years, beginning in Atlantic City and ending up in Las Vegas before landing at Graton. Rogers educated and certified over 800 locals to operate as dealers before Graton’s 2013 debut. He still oversees the on-site dealer training programme and helps run the tables.
After welcoming us with a broad grin, Brian guaranteed us a fantastic time. He told us that blackjack offers some of the best player odds of any casino game or slot machine. Assuming the player is competent, the odds of winning are very close to even when playing blackjack against the house. “Theoretically, of every 100 hands played, the house (on typical) wins 55 against a skilled player,” Brian said. “But the cards don’t know that, so very many times you win way more than you lose.” Blackjack is one of the greatest games to play if you’re looking to socialise and have a good time, as it is both simple to pick up and master basic strategy for, increasing your odds of winning. Brian believes that “people people” make the best dealers as they are able to connect with customers on a personal level and end up making them feel more at ease, both of which are crucial in a service industry like gambling. I was so excited to learn blackjack that I begged Brian to share his five best tips and some dos and don’ts with me.
Playing Blackjack: Five Top Strategies
Get a handle on the fundamentals and stick to them. There is a high statistical likelihood that card the player can’t see is a 10, so they should always play as if it is. All face cards (cards 2-9) are worth their face value, but the 10, jack, queen, and king each are worth 10 points. Aces are unique in that they can function either as a 1 or an 11. When in doubt, refer to the basic strategy charts, which list the best moves to make with each possible hand. The optimal times to hit, stand, double down, and split are detailed on the chart. This will never ensure success, but it will greatly increase your chances. These tables are available online, and you can even buy pocket cards to keep with you at the table. You can also find entertaining apps for your mobile device that can be used for games and training. Always use hand signals to convey your intentions to the dealer. When dealing, dealers are not permitted to take verbal cues from players. Scratch the table with your hand between your cards and the dealer’s to request a “hit” (an additional card). Hold your hand perpendicular to the table top, palm down, and wave it from side to side, as if waving goodbye to the table top, to “stand” (keep the cards you hold and not get any more). To double down, you must place an additional wager equal to or lesser than your initial wager and use only one finger to draw a single card; to split, you must place an additional wager equal to your initial wager and make a “peace-sign” with your fingers, extending them towards the cards but not touching them.
If your initial two cards add up to 11 and you have any aces or eights, split them because you are going to bet on obtaining a 10.
Avoid splitting 10s and 5s at all costs. Two fives are to be treated as a ten. When dealt two 5s, you could end up with a pair of 15, but if you play them as a 10, you have such a good chance of obtaining a 10, making your total when hit 20.
There tend to be streaks of success when playing blackjack. If you’ve won three hands in a row, or more, Brian says you should up your bet so you can make the most of your winnings. You should reduce your wager once you notice you are losing. The most common mistake gamblers make is waiting too long to cash out. Decide how much money you want to walk away with, and then cash in your chips when you’ve doubled that quantity or reached your goal. Don’t give in to the temptation to keep gambling away your winnings; you never know when your luck will change.
Join the casino’s loyalty programme if there is one. You’re leaving cash on the table if you don’t sign up for the casino’s rewards programme, which is based on how much time and money you spend playing rather than how much cash you take home.