It is one of the worst feelings that any blackjack player can experience. We’re talking about the blackjack beatdown. It is a whipping at the blackjack table that is so severe and humbling that it will leave a scar on your emotional and mental state. These types of beatings can happen at online blackjack or in a live casino. In either case they involve large losses and a breaking of the gambling spirit.
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There is way that you can become skilled at avoiding a blackjack beatdown. It involves sticking to some simple principles and having the discipline to walk away from the blackjack table when things are going bad. Learn these things well and you’ll never have to face the unpleasantness of a total annihilation at the game of blackjack.
About Blackjack Beatdowns
Before we talk about some strategies to avoid a bad blackjack session, let’s identify what a beatdown is. You need to be able to recognize when you are in the midst of a blackjack beatdown so that you can get yourself out of it.
In poker they have another name for this kind of thing. They call it running bad. Some poker players may go through months of running bad before they are able to turn things around again. Some of them are unable to sustain themselves and lose their whole bankroll. They quietly disappear from the poker scene never to be heard from again.
A blackjack beatdown is the same thing but it usually happens over a few sessions instead of a few months. A terrible losing streak is the best way to describe this event. Here are some of the signs that you may be taking a brutal beating at the blackjack table:
- You are getting 7, 8, or 9 losing hands in a row with regularity
- The dealer is hitting every draw
- Doubles and splits all fail to produce the desired result
- You are becoming frustrated and angry
We know what some of you are saying. Most of the things we mentioned above are just the result of bad luck. They happen and eventually things will turn around. We agree to an extent but we’ll call it what it is – variance. Variance can be ugly when it kicks in at full force, and it can blow your bankroll away like a hurricane.
Variance – The Force Behind a Gambling Beatdown
So many articles have been written on variance that we are not going to attempt to cover all of the mathematical ground behind the concept. Instead, we’re going to use a very simple example to illustrate the effects of variance.
Let’s say that you and a friend are going to flip a coin 100 times. On each flip you will bet $1. At the end of the 100 flips each of you walks away with the money that you have made. You surely understand that you have a 50% chance of winning each flip, right? So, you and your friend should both walk away with 50 wins. Since each of you put up $50 of the $100 flip money you will both break even.
The coin flips begin. You watch in amusement as your friend wins the first five flips, but you are not concerned. The 50% chance will even it all out. Amusement gives way to some other emotion you can’t define when your friend wins 15 of the first 20 flips. When it is all over your friend has won 70 of the 100 flips and you are mad. You accuse your friend of using a phony coin.
He agrees to repeat the game and give you another chance. This time he wins 80 of the 100 flips. At this point you are livid and no longer making sense with any of your arguments. How could this have happened?
The answer is variance. A coin flip does indeed give you a 50% chance of winning – if the flips are carried out to infinity. But on the way to infinity there are a lot of flips. There is nothing strange about one side of the coin coming up 5, 10, even 15 times in a row. Nothing at all. In the end it will all even out, but none of us have an infinite life. So, we must learn to deal with variance.
If you try that same coin flip tomorrow your side of the coin may come up 75 times out of a hundred. Or you could lose again. There is no way to predict variance and when it will occur. All you can do is recognize it and get out of its grasp if possible.
Tips to Avoid Extended Blackjack Losing Streaks
Although there is no way to conquer variance in the long run, there are things you can do to protect yourself against bad swings. These are the times when you can’t seem to do anything right at the blackjack table and every card that comes up is against you.
The most important tip is not to play when you are tired, frustrated, angry, or otherwise emotionally upset. Doing so will only make things worse. You tend to make bad decisions when you are tired or in a bad emotional state. Learn to recognize the signs from your body and mind that are telling you to take a break from playing blackjack.
Retreat, retreat, retreat. The moment that you sense a blackjack beatdown is in progress, start betting the minimum amount on each hand. Once you are certain that the beating is going to continue for a while, stop playing. The only sure way to avoid a losing streak is to put less money at risk. Ideally, you want to preserve as much of your bankroll as possible.
Do not deviate from your proven winning strategies. Many players make this mistake. When they start losing they think that something is wrong with the way they are playing. This is usually not the case for a skilled blackjack player. When you move away from basic blackjack strategy and start depending on hunches or intuition to play your hands, the losing will continue.
Stay positive and remind yourself that variance will ultimately swing in your favor. Do not become dispirited and give up. Each fresh blackjack session brings fresh hope that the cards will be in your favor. You just have to hold on until that happens.
Finally, don’t go broke. Losing your whole bankroll to a bad streak only means that you are out of the game until you get more funds to play. Blackjack is a game where you win some and you lose some, but you can always live to fight another day if you have a bankroll to play with.