Everyone is different and that also makes us all have a unique way of gambling. Despite that, the way we start gambling on a particular game is the same for everyone.
One starts by learning the basic rules. When one has mastered these, little by little one will deviate from the basic rules more and more. This is logical, because if you don’t try anything, you won’t learn anything new.
You think that deviating from the basics is no problem at all. Any mistakes you will rationalize. After all, you know how the game works and what you are doing, yet that is not the best approach.
In blackjack, it takes time to master basic strategy. When you haven’t played for a while, you start to forget some of those rules. This is why even the best blackjack players mainly use basic strategy.
Playing with basic strategy gives you the best chance of winning at blackjack
Why keep practicing blackjack?
If you play blackjack regularly you might think there’s no reason to practice it even more often. Yet there is a difference between practicing and playing.
By practicing, you teach yourself a certain style of play. In this way, you create routines and habits. Once behavior is a habit, you keep doing it over and over again. Think about bad habits like drinking, smoking and snacking.
Other habits also continue to haunt us throughout life. Leaving the tube of toothpaste open or just always checking that the cap is on the tube. When no one reminds you to put the cap on the tube, it eventually becomes a habit.
In blackjack, too, we develop good and bad habits. When we play we use them. When practicing, we can try to correct them at our leisure.
But how do you know when you are playing well or not. You can do this by seeing if you are still playing according to basic strategy. If you’re not sure whether you should split eights, then it’s time to revisit that basic strategy.
How do bad habits arise in blackjack?
In the beginning, everyone who starts playing blackjack will make mistakes. Then they will read articles about blackjack and make some adjustments. This process continues until you feel you have mastered blackjack or until you are able to apply basic strategy.
Once you have mastered it, the logical next step is to experiment. For example, basic strategy states that at 17 you should always pass. However, those who ask for another card may of course be lucky enough to be dealt an Ace, two, three or even a four.
Statistically, however, that chance is smaller than drawing a higher card. Bad habits don’t develop in a few days. When you ask for a card every now and then at 17, it doesn’t have to become a habit, but when you win, you will do so more often.
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Difficult to replace bad habits
Going back to the basic strategy is not difficult. If you have forgotten some parts of it, you can easily look it up somewhere and reread it. The problem with unlearning bad habits is the perception you experience afterwards.
Those who go back to basics from a bad habit may find that the game is no longer exciting enough. If you want to take more risk while playing, leave your comfort zone by placing higher bets, but not by starting to add bad habits.
The basic strategy is bet neutral. Although the house edge in blackjack is small, it is still difficult to win much with this. Slightly higher bets than the table minimum are therefore the best choice.
The habit that guarantees better performance
You can call it self-testing or self-evaluation. Whatever you call it, you need to look at how you play the game in a conscious, detailed way. Challenge yourself to stick to basic strategy and note things you adjust.
Reward and punish yourself for whether or not you maintain or deviate from the basic strategy. One trick may be to take away a chit from your play credit as a penalty every time you deviate.
Put the chit in your pocket as if that were a curse jar where you have to pay with each swear word. Once you see your play credit slowly shrinking and your pocket filling up with chips, then you know it’s time to act.
Raise the stakes of your game
By indulging in bad habits, you allow yourself to lose more money. A nasty side effect is that it’s hard to determine exactly how much you’re losing because of those bad habits.
When you realize that you are playing badly out of habit, you can correct it by, for example, lowering your bet. By doing so, you call yourself to order and force yourself to start playing according to that basic strategy again.
Keep track of the costs of your strategy
It’s surprising how quickly we start lying to ourselves. We rationalize small (bad) choices in life because they save us time or maybe they are less expensive options. But there are hidden costs to every bad decision.
If you’re not sure how much a risky strategy will cost you, why take the risk? You need to know what you are betting when you gamble. If you don’t, you lose control.
A skilled player always maintains control and awareness. If they don’t, the casino’s house edge ensures that they always lose, even in the long run.
Players do not have the luxury of asking the accounting department how much money is left in the bank. You decide how to handle your money, so you should always take that task seriously even while gambling.
You don’t need to make the game of blackjack more complicated to enjoy it. There are many other ways, besides increasing your bet, that can make blackjack more interesting.
In blackjack, you can choose to play the game with a higher house edge. If you learn the rules of that game, instead of acquiring bad habits because they make the game more exciting, you will look for variations (but keeping the basic strategy).
This will allow you to enjoy the game and also end your session with a profit. You’ll continue to enjoy blackjack and never have to feel guilty about making bad decisions.