This is it. The third and final part of our Blackjack series is finally here and we’re going to look at the best tips for playing insurance, playing soft 18s, and most importantly, leveraging your tablemates.
Don’t do it. It sounds like a somewhat prudent idea when you’re asked about to lay down a wager, but all the Dealer is doing is sucking you into a useless bet that will run your playing stack down way quicker than you need it to.
To recap, if the Dealer has an Ace showing, he will then go around the table and ask any players if they wish to purchase insurance. Insurance allows you to wager half of your original bet and if the Dealer hits Blackjack, you double up and thus break even on the round. If he doesn’t hit Blackjack, you lose your insurance bet but you’re still in play on your original wager.
Insurance does not protect your hand. This is the perception and one that the casinos have cultivated, but it should be made clear that you are essentially betting that the Dealer will hit a Blackjack at 2/1 odds. To contrast, the odds of the Dealer hitting a Blackjack, after showing an Ace, is 9/4. So if you’re playing $10 hands, resulting in $5 insurance bets, over the course of 100 hands, you will lose $10 through insurance. Keep this math going, and over the course of 500 hands, you will be out approximately $50.
You may get lucky and win an insurance bet here or there, but over the long haul, the numbers strongly suggest you will end up in the hole and run your chip stack dry.
Playing Soft 18
If a Dealer is showing 9, 10, or Ace, you have to hit on the 18. If you have a soft 18, you definitely have to hit. Most players feel comfortable with an 18 and are willing to run the risk that the Dealer won’t go 19-21.
If you have a soft 18, you always need to be hitting because you can’t bust and you might be able to steal a card away from the Dealer. Furthermore, it’s rare to play a hand with zero risk, yet incredible upside. This is the equivalent of free money so don’t be seduced by the number 18 and play the odds to up your chances of winning.
Playing A Crowded Table
Lastly, when you’re at a casino, it’s always best to play with a crowded table.
First, the more players at the table, the less hands you see. Given that the house has a .5% edge over you, it makes sense that the lower amount of hands you see, the less advantage the house has over you. Secondly, you can strategize with the table and if you’re ever unsure about what to do, you have a crowded table of players telling you exactly what you should do. Last, but certainly not least, if you’re counting cards, you’ll be able to recognize if a deck is hot much quicker than normal given the high volume of cards that are coming out per hand.
You will never have the advantage of the house, but playing a crowded table gives you the best opportunity to close the gap as much as possible.
There you have it! With all three parts of this series, you are now ready to head to the casino and take home the biggest Blackjack cashout of your life.
Or, you’ll never want to ever play Blackjack again. Either way, you’re not losing any money!