If you’ve ever browsed the casino gambling section of your local book store, you’ve probably noticed that the majority of the texts focus on blackjack. That’s because blackjack is the one game in the casino that players have the opportunity to turn to their advantage, depending on the rules and pay-table of the game. But learning to do so is much easier said than done.
Of the thousands upon thousands of people who’ve read multiple blackjack strategy books, only a few of them are able to use that knowledge to establish a consistent win rate at the tables. In part, it can be attributed to the dedication and mathematical aptitude of the player, but the information you take from those books can also have a great impact on your success.
A great blackjack player who’s been raking in money from the casinos since the 1960’s (but prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons) once described his experience with blackjack guides as one of great research and comparison. He said that he’s read dozens of blackjack books, all written by professional players brimming with worthy knowledge, but that he doesn’t put too much stock in all of their advice.
In fact, he said the best way to go about increasing your skills on the blackjack felt is to compare the advice that you read before hitting the tables. You’ll need to put a lot of work into it, so set aside some time to dedicate to your research. First, you’ll want to select some good titles that still apply to today’s blackjack games.
Edward Thorp’s Beat The Dealer (1962) may be one of the most famous guides ever written, but it’s text is out of date. No longer will you find a casino that deals single or double deck games all the way down the shoe. Instead, you’ll want to pick texts that still equate to today’s rules, like Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, Radical Blackjack by Arnold Snyder, or anything published in the 21st century by a genuine pro.
Now grab a pen and paper and get to reading. Take notes of the strategies and card counting techniques that you come across most often. Chances are, if a lot of pros are successfully using that same technique, you need to master it as well.
Also take note of any techniques that don’t appear in multiple books. If some particular piece of advice sounds good, but is not shared by any other professional blackjack players and authors, chances are there’s a reason it never made it past the first publication (i.e. it’s no good).
Most importantly, practice, practice, practice! When you’re not at the casino, you can practice at home. Grab 4 or more decks of cards and a good shuffling device, and practice counting it down. If you have friends who play, invite them over to play and practice with you.
Another great option is to download a blackjack training app. There are lots of free ones out there (as well as pay-to-use apps) that will help you learn to integrate basic strategy and count down the cards. Most will allow you to set your own rules, which is a huge plus if you know what games you’ll be playing at the casino.
If you are serious about being a pro blackjack player, you can never let your skills get rusty, either. If you can’t hit the casinos for a few weeks, make sure you’re still getting in lots of practice in the meantime. Isaac Newton said it best: An object in motion stays in motion!