This is why playing blackjack makes you smarter

Anyone who sees a group of children playing a card game might not immediately imagine that while they are playing they are also learning. And yet that is exactly what is happening.

Regardless of whether it’s a simple card game like blackjack or a more complicated card game like poker, you learn a lot.

In this article, you will read more about how playing blackjack contributes to your learning process and thus makes you smarter.

Blackjack man and croupier
Blackjack helps improve your thinking; do I split or double or take another card

The basic rules

If you play blackjack chances are you know some basic math. This doesn’t mean that learning the basic rules of blackjack and playing other games can’t make you even smarter. Your mind is a great tool that you can use to keep yourself sharp.

The more you use your brain, the better it works. When playing blackjack, you learn to add up numbers quickly. You also work with at least one variable number if you have an ace because it is worth 1 or 11.

Blackjack also helps you improve your reasoning and critical thinking skills. Do you double or just take a card? Do you split the pair or is it better to just play both cards in the same hand? Do you take out insurance or not?

All these decisions require processing available information. Most blackjack players, of course, have little difficulty with this. But you do need to know how to process all that information correctly in order to be successful with it.

Many blackjack players take insurance because they don’t understand or know the numbers and odds. Some players know they shouldn’t take insurance, but they don’t understand why. You can do a simple calculation to understand why insurance is a bad bet.

Instead of just believing that insurance is bad, go through the numbers to prove it. This is more valuable than just learning that insurance is a bad bet. It is valuable because it teaches you to think about things and figure them out for yourself.

If you don’t know how to start doing that, apply the following calculation:

If you accept insurance you place a bet that pays out 2 to 1. This means that for it to be a good bet, the odds of the dealer getting blackjack must be 2 to 1 or better. Should the odds be worse, the risk is more than the reward.

The dealer gets a blackjack if he has an ace which is shown on average 4 times out of 13. This means that the ratio is 4 to 9 or 9 to 4. Compare 2 on 1 to 9 on 4 and you’ll see that 9 on 4 is worse than 2 on 1.

2 to 1 is the same as 8 to 4. You can multiply both numbers by 4 without changing the ratio. For this to be a fair bet, the dealer must get a blackjack of 8 to 4 or better or the bet must pay 2.25 to 1 or better.

Now your job is to use the same kind of thought process and actions in other situations. You can then take that to other things in your life besides blackjack.

Calculating Bonuses

Online casinos offer players all kinds of bonuses. But how do you know what’s a good or bad bonus? Most bonuses are not as good as they seem. In fact, it’s rare to find a bonus that actually allows you to win money.

You can use the information you learned in the previous section to determine whether a bonus is a good deal or not.

You will find a casino bonus that pays 100% of your deposit up to a maximum of €500. Now you need to wager the bonus 50 times in order to withdraw any winnings.

Let’s say you deposit $500 and receive the $500 bonus, this means you have $1,000 in play credit. Now you must wager at least €50,000 to clear the bonus. Now you use the house edge to see what your expected loss is on €50,000.

If you look up the rules and discover that the blackjack game has a house edge of 1%, you will see that that 1% x €50,000 gives you a total expected loss of €500. This means that you can expect to lose €500 while you unlock the bonus.

In this example, this means that the bonus is effectively a break-even proposition. You should have somewhere around your original €500 left after you clear the bonus.

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Strategic thinking

To play with the lowest casino advantage you need to use blackjack strategy. The way to determine the best strategy is based on the odds of what can happen with each decision you make.

Suppose you have a pair of eights, then you can play the hand as it is or split it into two hands. If you play the hand as is, you have a hard 16. This is the worst hand you can have. The odds are extremely high that you will lose that round of play.

If you split the eights, then you start 2 hands with 8. You have good chances of getting a card better than an 8 on every hand, so the best strategy is to always split the eights.

This is an easy example to understand, but some hands are more complicated. Each hand can be played with the best strategy based on odds. You should use a strategy chart and the probability chart for each hand to see why a strategy decision on the chart is correct.

Blackjack various cards on game table
What is important is how you play your hand. If you have a pair of eights; do you play this hand or do you split for more chance of winning

Understanding the house edge

This is important when you play a gambling game so that you understand why you actually just always lose when you gamble. But blackjack has a lower house edge compared to most other games. And that house edge changes based on the rules and the choices you make.

A blackjack game with advantageous rules has a house edge of 0.5%. This can get even lower when you use a good strategy. Many other blackjack variants have an advantage of 1% or lower when you use the best strategy.

If you compare this to other games with a higher casino advantage like slots of 3% to 13%, you can see why blackjack is better. But you need to understand how much better and this is easy to see when you understand how the house edge works.

If you know the house edge you can determine how much you can expect to lose at a casino game. You just need to know how much you are risking.

Here is an example of determining your expected losses for blackjack and slots.

Suppose you are playing blackjack at a casino rate of 0.5% and bet €20 per hand and play 54 hands per hour. The expected loss per hour is 0.5% x €20 x 54. So this is an expected loss of €5.40.

But suppose you are playing on a slot machine with a 6% casino advantage and you bet €2 per spin and play 523 spins every hour. You use the same method here. 6% x €2 x 523 is an expected loss of €62.76.

As you can see, once you know the formulas, you can make better decisions when you gamble. Blackjack is not just better than slots, it really is 10 times better!

Counting cards

There is a special strategy called card counting that you can use to get an edge when you play blackjack. This is an important facet in blackjack because card counting is not possible in most other casino games.

But it is even more important to learn the process because it helps you think about gambling in a different way. Counting cards in blackjack to get an edge is simply keeping track of how many low and high cards have been played.

You do this by changing the count by one with each low and high card you see. You bet more when there are more high cards left and bet less when there are more low cards left. If you do this correctly, you gain a slight advantage over the casino.


Children often learn to play blackjack at an early age, although they often call the game something else. As a result, they learn mathematical skills without thinking of it as learning.

Starting with the basic rules of the game, they learn how to add small numbers quickly. They also learn to make strategic decisions. Not everyone will want to learn how to count cards, but if you want an advantage over the casino, it’s what you should do.