I love gambling at the casino when drunk. Not drunk, so that drinks and chips are being spilt. But a nice drunk, where the alcohol lets you play text book blackjack with your heart and not your head.
It’s not easy doubling down a £40 bet when the dealer shows a ten but sometimes that’s the only way you can beat the casino. And once you’ve got a system that suits your play, it is easy to follow it no matter how many Jack Daniel’s have been drunk.
At blackjack I’ve found a pattern of play that works best for me and my pocket. Playing £5 per hand I typically walk away from the table with between £200 and £400 in chips.
Here’s how …
CASH IN POCKET
I accept that to make that profit I have to start with a loss. So I play a £5 game and change £40 of cash into chips. It is not uncommon for me to have to do this three or four times at the start of the night. So I have £300 available. Some money for the game, some for drinks and money to get home, if it all goes badly wrong.
Before I play I watch one or two games to checkout the players on the table. This is really important as you need to know if there are players who will take a card when they shouldn’t, such as splitting tens or not doubling when they should, when they have two fives. Their decisions will affect the dealers card and therefore your chance of beating the dealer.
PICK A SEAT WISELY
So if there’s a player who looks poor I’ll sit to their left. I don’t like sitting on the very far left seat as I’ve found that I feel obliged to take cards that I’d prefer to stand on – but I often do as it gives an air of status to the other players, that you know what you’re doing.
If you sit in the far left seat and don’t play textbook blackjack, expect to hear a lot of huffing and puffing and receive some glares.
My most profitable seat is one in from the left (right to the dealer).
Even if it’s a £2 table I play a £5 game. I play one box and don’t play the extra options, such as gambling that you’ll receive a perfect pair or a flush will be dealt with your two cards and the dealers one. You can get 30/1 for a perfect pair, ie if you’re dealt 8 clubs and 8 clubs – but do you see that often enough to justify it? I don’t.
WON A HAND
OK, I’ve played my first £5 hand and fortunately I’ve won. Now for the next hand I can bet £5 again, double it or take the money and run. I bet £10 but it’s not considered a double bet. I’ve increased my bet by my unit stake which is £5.
With £10 on my second played hand I win again. Great start. The dealer passes £10 of chips over and I now have £20 in the box.
For the third game, I increase my bet by another £5. So I take £5 from the box, put it back on my own chip pile and now have £15 riding on my cards.
THE £15 MOST IMPORTANT BET
This £15 bet is the most important. If I win I am in profit and can continue to play for free with the casino’s chips. If I lose I am even. It would be a shame to be even after winning the first two hands. Here are two scenarios:
THE £15 BET LOSES
The third game is played but the dealer wins and takes away the £15 in chips. At this point, there’s been no gain nor loss after winning £5 + £10 but then losing £15.
Now, it’s time to start again. You don’t continue betting £15 or even £30 to chase what has gone before. It’s back to betting £5 again and repeating the process.
THE £15 BET WINS
You’ve got three £5 chips piled in the box and the dealt cards are good and the dealer busts. You’ve just won £15 and now have £30 of chips in the box.
For the fourth hand, take £10 of chips away from the box and get ready to bet £20 on the next hand.
£20 is a significant amount to bet when you only want to play with £5 but look at it as a free bet. You see you’ve won £30 now, from £5 + £10 + £15. If you bet this £20 and lose you’ve still made a £10 profit.
And if you bet the £20 and win, well it gets really interesting and the dealer will start to get twitchy.
THE £20 BET WINS
With the £20 bet winning, you’re now in a very strong position. No matter what happens now there really is no need for you to walk away from the casino with a loss.
You’ve not only got a profit but it’s exponentially increasing at a pace that you’d not achieve if you’d stayed with £5 bets all evening.
At this point £5+£10+£15+£20 = £50 is available to play with. The next bet is going to be £25.
YOU WILL LOSE AN EXPENSIVE HAND
Playing this system it is a fact that you will lose a hand. You have to and it may involve a lot of money but the money that has been accumulated from the previous hands is profit and so it’s therefore affordable.
My best run of winning blackjack hands back-to-back is a staggering 12. So I won my 12th hand in the winning run but lost my thirteenth.
So at this point, on my 12th hand I was betting £60
5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5 = £60
I won it and received £60 back, so had £120 in front.
For the 13th hand I bet £65.
5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5 = £65
I lost. I lost £65! Wow. That’s a lot of money to gamble and lose. But if you look, that £65 bet was offset by the £60 received in the previous hand, so look at it as a £5 bet. And you’ve not lost the lot, over the previous 12 hands, this was won …
5+10+15+20+25+30+35+40+45+50+55+60 = £390
Having lost, the next hand was played with one £5 chip and the process starts again.
Doubling cards is the most important tactic to boost your chips. I’m fortunate that my local casino allows players to double on any two cards. Some casinos only allow it if you have 9, a ten or Ace.
When the opportunity arises to make a profitable double you have to take it. Here’s some scenarios based on what’s dealt to you …
ELEVEN: Double the bet if the dealer has anything but an Ace. Yes, even if the dealer has a Ten. Get it doubled.
TEN: Double a Ten unless the dealer has Ten or Ace.
NINE: Double a 9, only if the dealer has 3, 4, 5 or 6. If the dealer has a 2 don’t think this is good. It’s a very tricky card to beat and so best not be too aggressive against it. If the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, Ten or Ace then assume they’re going to hit another Ten to complete their hand.
EIGHT OR LESS: Hit with an eight or less. You may be tempted to double against a low picture card if you have an 8 but keep your options open to take another card.
I sometimes get my splitting techniques a bit wrong but here’s my general guidance.
TENS: Never split Tens. I repeat, never split Tens. I know it looks like you can win two hands but you already have one very very strong hand. Why waste it? If you have two fives then don’t split but double.
ACES & EIGHTS: Always split Aces and Eights. Even if the dealer is showing an Ace or a Ten. I assume it’s best to split two eights as keeping 16 wouldn’t be profitable at all. When I played in Macau I split my eights on my first hand and another eight appeared, then another. So I’d emptied my wallet on my very first hand. Fortunately for me, the dealer bust and I won four hands.
More recently I split Aces when the dealer also showed an Ace and by this point my stake was at £25. So I split and another Ace was dealt to me, which I was allowed to bet on. So I had £75 staked againt an ace. I hit two blackjacks and won two of the three hands.
£25+£25+£25 = £75 staked
(£25+£25)+(£25+£25)+(£0)= £100 returned
For reference, for the next hand the stake was £30.
FOURS: Never split them, not even against a poor dealer card. Assume it’s more beneficial to try and hit 18 than busting twice with two fours.
DEALERS CARD: As a general rule of thumb, be afraid if the dealer shows a Ten or an Ace. If the dealer has 4, 5, or 6 play on the assumption that they are going to bust and exploit that as best you can. If the dealer has a 2 or 3 don’t be deceived, they’ve got a lot of chance to get a great hand.
Finally be brave and enjoy yourself. Playing with my method of increasing your bet by a £5 unit steak with each win and doubling at the right opportunity can very quickly turn your pile of £5 chips into piles of £25 chips and £100 chips.
However, it does get scary. If you’ve won your seventh hand on the bounce and in the eighth you’re dealt Ten against a dealers 9, you may not want to double and just want to hit. Be brave. If you win £160 will be returned.
Initial: 5+5+5+5+5+5+5+5 = £40
Double: Initial £40 + £40 = £80
When I’ve got a lot of money at stake during a good run and I’ve been dealt 16 against a dealers 7 or 8, I often back-off and stand in the hope that the dealer will get a poor card and then a Ten to bust. I often wince when I see a card 5 or lower being turned next.
I’ve found that when I’m on a winning streak like those described above then typically I’ve a little audience watching the game. In Macau I got high fived when I left the casino. In Leeds, I make do with some friendly banter. Tip and smile with the dealers.
Blackjack players will ask you what they should do with their cards as they don’t want to make the wrong decision for their own but also my own run. So if that opportunity is there take it and have a friendly chat with them.
Don’t give other players grief if they make some awful decisions either. Just sit to their left and allow them to play whilst drunk.
PRACTICE TO PERFECTION:
Most casinos now have blackjack and roulette tables where you can play for pennies and a dealer shows you the tips and tricks. It’s in their interests that you’re enjoying yourself and feel comfortable.
You can also play online in your own home at Jackpotjoy Casino.
I hope you’ve found this post useful. You can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/befuddle, where I generally update from the casino at the weekend.