Blackjack: How to Avoid the Casino’s Psychological Traps
No matter how good a blackjack player you think you are, you will eventually experience a losing session. How you manage yourself when this happens is just as important as knowing when to double down and split.
Sometimes players’ lose their money because of their lack of self-control caused by the exciting atmosphere in a casino. I wrote about this in my book, The Ten Best Casino Bets. Here’s what I had to say about this.
“When you enter a casino, you are entering a place of business. Moreover, like all successful businesses, the casinos are run by shrewd businesspeople whose job is first, to keep you playing and happy, and second, to separate you from your money as quickly and painlessly as possibly. To meet these objectives, they create an atmosphere in the casino that can be described as a “Disneyland for adults.” No clocks to let you know it’s time to leave this utopia, no windows to let you see out to the real world, free drinks at the tables, free lounge shows, and, of course, plenty of pretty girls to keep you happy and playing. And what happens to the gambler when he enters this casino-designed excitement? For him, the rewards of winning all of the casino’s money far outweigh the risks of losing his meager bankroll. Moreover, this exciting atmosphere makes it easy for the average player to feel lucky and go for broke at the chance of winning the jackpot. First, and foremost, in order to be a winner, you must learn to control your emotions in the casino. As casino gambling author Lyle Stuart succinctly put it, “The real struggle when you are playing is, in most cases, not between you and the casino, but between you and yourself.” You will find plenty of temptations to keep you playing and losing; therefore, you must develop a sense of timing or awareness (i.e. discipline) of when to play, and more importantly, when to quit.”
Here are some specific tips that you can use to avoid the casino’s psychological traps that doom players into losing.
- If you are tired from a long drive or flight, now is not the best time to hit the tables. Play only when you are rested and alert.
- Watch the alcohol consumption when you play. From the casino’s perspective, there’s a reason why they offer players free alcoholic drinks (if you don’t know the reason, I’d strongly recommend you stay away from the blackjack tables).
- If you get ahead, don’t be caught in the trap of thinking that you are betting with the “casino’s money.” Once the chips go from the casino’s chip tray to your side of the table, that’s now your money and not the casino’s.
- Keep track of time and set reasonable win goals. Unless you are a card counter, the odds are stacked against you so be content with a modest win. If you manage to get ahead by, say, 30% or more of your starting bankroll, pocket half of your profit plus what you started with, and play with the rest. This way, even if you lose “the rest,” you’ll still be able to go home with a profit.
- Set a stop loss … and discipline yourself to stop playing if you reach it. You have nothing to be ashamed of if you have a losing session. The casinos will always be open for you to try your luck again, hopefully, with better results.
- There’s a reason that you bet chips and not cash in a casino. If you were to put down a couple of ten- or twenty-dollar bills on the felt as a bet, you might think twice about doing it. However, once your cash is converted to chips, players often lose sight of the fact that those chips represent hard-earned money. Betting chips rather than cash makes it easy for players to over bet their bankroll, resulting in a quick and painful losing session.
- The odds of winning the next hand don’t change just because you lost the previous hands. If you run into a buzz-saw dealer, who consistently draws to 20 and 21 and beats the table, quit, and take a break. Relax, catch your breath, and try your luck at another table.
If you heed the above advice, you’ll become a much better disciplined blackjack player, and more likely to experience additional winning sessions.
By: Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of the smartgaming.com website and the editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter (for a free three-month subscription, visit www.bjinsider.com/freetrial). He also teaches a blackjack course featuring Speed Count. For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards, and software for casino players, call toll free 1-888-353-3234, or visit the web store at smartgaming.com.