The Rules of Engagement: Some Tips for New Blackjack Players

Every once in a while I am asked to post an article aimed primarily at new players or those who play infrequently.

These are often the most fun of all — although I enjoy covering blackjack tournaments around the world.

I play a lot of blackjack, poker and backgammon and am fortunately enough to visit casinos around the world (and online…which I suppose is another category altogether, cyberspace).

So, here goes. And next week, we’ll get back to covering tournaments and profiling people and online casinos. Which I know a lot of you like me to do as well.

Here we go. 1. First, understand that even in Blackjack, the casino always has a clear-cut long-term advantage over all players. Even if you win in the short term, in the long run, the odds are on their favor. It’s how they stay in business, bud.

It’s rare (though not impossible) that the average player has enough skill, and money, and time to overcome a casino’s advantage.

2. Don’t count on blackjack winnings to pay your bills. Remember rule #1: the odds are in their favor.

3. I don’t belong to Gambler’s Anonymous, but here’s a tip: don’t borrow money to gamble.

4. Play with what you can afford, not your household food money. If you don’t have extra money to play with, don’t friggin’ play!

5. Be prepared. Study charts. Know basic blackjack strategy. It DOES help. Know when to fold, hit, double down, etc.

6. Don’t play when you’re pissed off. Or desperate. You need to be able to think clearly. For that matter, don’t play drunk.  I have done that (when younger). BAD idea.

7. Pick your table carefully. Me, I like to play in the fifth position because I’m a slow thinker (I admit it) and need to strategize before it’s my turn. You might be different. Also, pick the right minimum table for you. $5 tables are coming back. Good for beginners.

8. Know when to quit. Because with average players… the longer you play the more the odds revert back to the house. If you are happy winning $100, stop there.

9. Don’t take insurance. It’s for suckers. [Insurance is when the dealer shows an ace…]

10. Finally, what I like to do: treat the dealer (especially if you’ve won) with dignity.  Don’t criticize other players at your table. It’s bad karma.  OK, I’m a 60s guy.

11. Have fun.

If anyone has other rules (funny or not) send me your rules of play. Best rules wins a copy of my first book on the Lottery, simply called “Jackpot.”

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