If you play blackjack seriously you are probably aware of the emphasis on speedy play. In the live casino and online the major players all seem to be playing fast. There is some merit to playing your blackjack hands at a rapid pace, but there are also some pitfalls. Sometimes, learning how to moderate your rate of play can actually lead to greater blackjack profits. Here at Counting Edge, we want you to learn how to play blackjack!
Why The Experts Play Blackjack Fast
Have you seen the guy at the casino who sits in the high limit blackjack pit and plays from $50-500 per hand at lightning speed, often head-to-head against the dealer? Or maybe you sat next to a guy at the $5 table who is always quick to act and pushes everyone to do the same. These guys are most likely heavy hitters…serious blackjack players. They play for a living.
To professional blackjack players the game is a business. It is not a form of entertainment. Businesses that don’t turn a profit fail. When these players sit down to a session, they are very conscious of many factors that affect their profitability. One of these factors is the rate of play.
Ask any professional blackjack player and they can tell you with amazing accuracy how many hands they can play in an hour at the table. They can break down their expected winnings per hour and know exactly how much they need to make in order for their business to make a profit. These players run the numbers and leave nothing to chance. Many different methods are used by blackjack players to calculate their profitability. Here is a simple one.
A player tracks the number of hands he plays in one hour. Let’s say that he plays 100 hands. At the end of one hour he notes his profit or loss. In this case he has made a profit of $100. It is very simple to see that his average win per hand played is $1. So, if the player has a daily win goal of $300 how many hands must he play at this average win rate? 300. At 100 hands per hour the player estimates it will take him three hours of work to reach his goal.
This is a very simple example given only for the purposes of explanation. Not every hour at the blackjack table is going to produce a profit. Some hours will exceed the expected profit. What you need to take away from this is that professional blackjack players know these things:
You see, professional blackjack players have a plan. They don’t just play willy-nilly and hope for the best. Everything is arranged to give them the best chance at making a profit. When the play at the blackjack table slows down, that affects their plan. They have to maintain a certain rate of play in order to stay on target and reach their goal in the time they have allotted to play. If each hand they play averages a profit, as in the above example, the more hands they can play per hour equals a shorter time to reach their goal.
Why You Need To Slow Down Your Blackjack Play
If you’re reading this you are probably a beginning card counter or a recreational blackjack player. If you aren’t a professional, playing too fast can be a costly mistake. There are several things that can happen when you try to keep up with a fast player at the table.
You can lose the count. Keeping track of a running count at the blackjack table is a skill that takes practice to master. It isn’t something that will develop overnight. If you begin to play too fast you could lose the count and jeopardize your chance at hitting the casino hard while the cards are in your favor.
You can make strategy mistakes. While you are focusing on keeping a count at a table that plays too fast your opportunities to mentally evaluate the correct play for each hand decrease. When that happens you will rely on instinct and hunches. This is a sure way to a losing session.
You can abandon your plan. When the first two things we mentioned overwhelm a player there is a tendency to just throw the plan out the window, stop counting, and play like Clark Griswold in Vegas Vacation. If you do that, pretty soon you and Cousin Eddie will be digging up the backyard looking for buried cash to replenish your depleted bankroll.
Playing Online Is The Best Way To Develop Your Tempo
You need to find a speed that is comfortable for you. The best way to do that is by playing online blackjack. In most online casinos you are the only player at the table. You determine how fast or slow play progresses. Experiment with various speeds of play and start learning how to track your average win/loss per hand. This is a key step on the path to becoming a blackjack professional. Once you’ve had some success online at maintaining your average win rate over a lengthy session, look for opportunities to play in an actual casino and see how your tempo translates to a live game. Also check out our own counting edge blackjack system!
One last thing. If you are playing live blackjack and realize you are swimming with sharks—two or three professionals at your table—don’t be ashamed to get out of the water and find a better beach until your are more practiced and prepared.