Playing blackjack on a professional level requires a heightened skillset and a great deal of time devoted to the tables. Unfortunately, those two obligations don’t always go hand in hand. The longer one plays, the more likely they are to get tired or distracted, losing their edge against the casino. By taking short breaks and keeping a log of the previous session, a professional blackjack player will have a much easier time maintaining focus.
We should all know the basic rules of playing long sessions at the live blackjack tables, but I’ll go over them briefly just to be certain. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before, avoid heavy meals and keep the mind-altering beverages (alcohol, caffeine, energy drinks) to a bare minimum. Interact with other players enough to look natural, but not so much as to break your card-counting concentration.
Keeping a Blackjack Log during Breaks
As one who’s pulled my fair share of all-nighters at the casino, I can’t stress enough how important it is to take breaks. Much like tournament poker players who receive regular breaks, it’s important to give your mind a rest from the deep concentration required to count cards and make strategic decisions in blackjack.
Players should take a 15 to 30 minute break at least once every two hours. Not only will it give your brain a rest, but it will give you time to script of log of the previous session. Taking notes will allow you to keep track of your bankroll as well as reflecting on mistakes you, or the dealer, may have made in that period of time.
By noting your own mistakes, you can avoid repeating them. Perhaps you didn’t increase or decrease your bet size when you should have, or maybe you veered away from basic strategy by doubling down or splitting at the wrong time. Whatever the case may be, writing these things down will help you avoid making the same mistakes, thereby minimizing unnecessary losses on the blackjack table.
If you noticed any mistakes made by the dealer, be sure to note them as well. Blackjack dealers don’t have the easiest job, and although they are generally very well trained, they also make errors sometimes. I’m not talking about defective dealing that could compromise the integrity of the game, but rather subtle slips, like accidentally lifting their down card just enough to reveal it to a player. Dealers get tired, just like players, and when this occurs it can present a great opportunity for the most observant participants at the table.
Perhaps most importantly, you should be keeping track of your blackjack chips with every session played. The worst mistake a blackjack player can make is to calculate their winnings, but not their losses. In doing so, a player could easily be losing more money than they are winning, in which case some major adjustments need to be made.
Along with the observances listed above, a log should show how long you played, what blackjack rules were involved in that game and the size of your bankroll at the start and finish of the session. It could be that you do better with one hour sessions than two hours sessions, or that you find more success with a 6 deck shoe as opposed to an 8 deck shoe. These are all subtle aspects that we may not even think to consider, but could greatly impact the success of a professional blackjack career.