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Are you a non-professional blackjack player that would like to win money playing blackjack online? Perhaps you would like to take a trip to Las Vegas and try out the live blackjack tables. You don’t have to be a professional player to win. When you combine chance and skill, the blackjack odds tilt in your favor.


The Chance-Skill Blackjack System was designed for the recreational player. It combines some very basic information that will increase your odds of winning. Unlike other blackjack systems, this one does not take many years to master. It only requires that you study three simple lessons. These lessons can make you a blackjack expert in a short period of time.

About the Chance-Skill Blackjack System

The Chance-Skill Blackjack System first appeared in Systems That Win-Volume 2. The blackjack book was published by the Gambling Times in 1984. Although the system is now more than 30 years old, it still works very well.

Thomas Cate developed the system. His goal was to offer the weekend blackjack player a set of tools that could reduce the house edge in the game and increase the likelihood of winning. Cate believed that intuitive play was the key to success. He thought that players should master a set of basic techniques to the point that they could execute them during play without thinking.

Here’s a good way to think about it. If you are a driver and have been driving for even a few years, many of the processes of driving become intuitive. You don’t really think about them. When you make a turn, you flip the turn signal. When you want to slow down, you tap the brake. When you want to speed up, you push the accelerator. All of these actions are accomplished without mentally analyzing the process. You perform them intuitively, out of habits and memory connections that have been built over time.

The same can be accomplished with blackjack. You can train your mind to respond to certain blackjack situations without excess thought. When you see 8-8, you intuitively know to split the hand. When you are dealt an 11, you instantly know to double.

There are multiple advantages to learning this system. As mentioned, it was created for the novice player who has very little time to practice blackjack strategies. It can also help experienced players who find themselves in a less-than-ideal playing situation. Perhaps they are in a noisy live casino or maybe they are being tormented by other players at the table who are obnoxious or have had too much to drink. This system doesn’t require as much focus as some other, more complex methods.

Blackjack Involves Both Chance and Skill

As the name of the system suggests, blackjack is a game that depends upon chance and skill in order for players to succeed. The appearance of the cards at the table is pure chance. They are dealt in an unknowable order. Skill enters the equation in the form of basic strategy and card counting.

Basic odds at blackjack are determined by the rules of a specific casino. The player can do nothing about the rules. These are set in stone and unable to be changed. Skill is the manner in which the player is able to shift the odds in his or her favor. Learning blackjack skills is something the player can indeed do something about.

There are a multitude of books available on learning blackjack skills and card counting. You can even read about some of these books on Counting Edge. The unfortunate thing is that some of these blackjack books are very difficult to understand. They offer up complex methods which can take years of practice to master. An occasional player just doesn’t have the time to learn all of the information in a book written by one of the blackjack greats.

It used to be that the only way to practice blackjack was to visit a live casino. Many people did not live within a reasonable driving distance of one. Today, live casinos can be found in many United States cities and in numerous locations abroad. It is possible for the player to get away for a weekend of play and refine their blackjack skills.

But there is also another way to practice. Online blackjack is one of the most popular forms of gambling today. Players can play blackjack right at home on their computer, phone, or tablet. And they can play for real money! Best of all, online blackjack doesn’t require a huge investment like playing in a live casino. The minimum bet online is often $1 per hand.

Online blackjack wasn’t around when Thomas Cate published his Chance-Skill Blackjack System. We tend to think that he would advocate his system for those who want to play online. It makes a perfect companion to the creation of an online gambling account.

Women Love This Blackjack System

One of the things that Cate noticed was that his blackjack system found lots of favor with women. When asked why, most of the women responded that learning the system was easy and based on intuition. They felt that other systems eliminated the fun from playing blackjack. Those other systems were too much work.

Therein lies the real beauty of this system. There are mathematical wizards and nerds who love solving math problems and counting numbers. For those people, complex counting systems might be a great fit. The average player, however, does not want to geek out over numbers. They simply want to play blackjack and have a good time.

This a fact: winning is always more fun than losing, especially when it comes to your hard-earned money. Women seem to appreciate this fact more than men. Nevertheless, men can also become fond of this easy system for winning at blackjack.

Bankroll Requirements for the Chance-Skill Blackjack System

If you are a regular reader of Counting Edge, you know that we recommend a starting bankroll of 50X the table minimum. This is a general rule that, when applied, gives the player a better chance of overcoming variance. This means that the player can remain in the game longer and wait for a run of good hands.

Cate recommends that a starting bankroll of 100X the table minimum be used for the Chance-Skill Blackjack System. So, if you were to apply this system while playing online blackjack, you could begin at a $1 table with $100. A $5 minimum bet would require $500 to start. We advise you to stick to Cate’s recommendation if you want to leverage the power of this blackjack system.

Blackjack systems are like a recipe for baking a cake. If you follow the recipe, the odds of getting a good result go up. If you start tinkering with the recipe, there is no way of knowing what you are going to get. If you are going to use a blackjack system, it is best to stick with the system as it was described by the author. That is the only way that you can truly judge the effectiveness of the system for yourself.

The Three Key Blackjack Techniques

This system only requires that you master an understanding of three techniques. By master, we mean that you must become familiar enough with them to execute them intuitively without thinking about them. Here are the three areas the system includes.

First, you must understand basic blackjack strategy. You can find basic strategy tables at Counting Edge or in many blackjack books. You will notice that some authors elaborate on basic strategy and attempt to refine it. This is fine, but this system simply requires a straightforward approach to basic strategy. It pares down all the refinements and leaves you with a few simple rules to follow.

Second, you need to understand the odds of the game. This means that you need to know why the house wins when the game is played without any form of system or strategy. Knowing a bit about the house odds will help you to understand why some actions are taken. When you know why the actions make sense, your brain accepts them as an intuitive reaction. The brain has difficulty when it attempts to internalize something that doesn’t make sense.

Finally, the system demands that you learn a very basic form of card counting. The method presented is simple and does not require excessive study. All you need to do is practice a few hours when you can. A good way to practice is to play online. It is affordable and you can keep a count while working on building up your bankroll.

Now, we will take a look at each of these steps individually. Once we have looked at them all, we will explain how all three are tied together to form a cohesive blackjack system.

Basic Strategy

It should come as no surprise that basic blackjack strategy is the foundation of any effective blackjack system. The problem is that basic strategy isn’t so basic anymore. Pick up any blackjack book and you will be confronted with different variations of strategy for blackjack. Every author seems to have their own take on what is the best approach.

Beat the Dealer by Ed Thorp is the book Cate recommends as a basic strategy guide. The advantage of Thorp’s method is that Thorp himself was a mathematician who spent hours feeding data into computers to determine the best form of strategy. He established his basic system by running computer simulations to determine which plays were most effective in every situation.

However, Cate notes that basic strategy can be altered based on the rules of the casino. For example, basic strategy for Las Vegas blackjack would be different than that for blackjack in Atlantic City because the rules are slightly different. Cate originally formulated his basic strategy chart based on the rules in the live casinos of Tahoe and Reno

Our work at Counting Edge is to adapt this system into something that is useful at online blackjack. To that end we recommend our own basic blackjack strategy chart. The reason for this is that we have selected the best strategy to use in online blackjack games. As a general rule, blackjack games online follow the Las Vegas style of the game.

So, your first step in mastering this system is to study the chart we have provided and memorize it. It isn’t enough just to memorize, though. You need to practice it enough so that you can visually recognize a situation and act accordingly.

For example, the Counting Edge chart advises you to stand on every total of 17 or above. That is simple to understand. Therefore, when you see that you have a 17 no additional thought is required. You intuitively stand on this hand. If you are dealt a hard total of 9, the chart calls for you to double down when the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5, or 6. Again, this should be practiced until you visually recognize the situation and intuitively make the right play. It should be automatic.

You will notice that we have given strategy charts for both hard and soft hands. The strategy is different, so be sure that you work with both tables to affect the correct play.

Cate recommends that you practice basic strategy at home in this manner. Begin by selecting a hard total for your hand. For example, choose 9-9. Then, use the rest of the deck to simulate the dealer’s up card. Just turn over a card, reference the strategy chart, and then make the right play. Continue doing this multiple times with the same hand. When you begin to intuitively recognize and make the right play without looking at the chart, you are ready to move on to another total.

Understanding the Odds

The second part of the Chance-Skill Blackjack System is understanding the odds. Your mind needs to grasp why the house is guaranteed an edge in the game of blackjack. To begin, accept that casinos would not offer blackjack as a game if it did not offer a statistical edge for the house.

Forget about percentages for a second and ingrain this maxim in your memory. The house wins at blackjack largely because the player must assume the risk of drawing and busting before the dealer does.

When you play blackjack, nothing matters if you bust. It doesn’t matter if the dealer busts after you, you still lose. Therefore, acting on your hand with proper basic strategy is crucial. You cannot win without playing properly.

When you realize that your risk of busting is a hazard, you will better understand why the game of blackjack is played like it is. In may cases you will find yourself in a losing situation from the very start. Here’s a strong example. The dealer shows a 10 and you have been dealt a 16, the worst possible hand you can have at the game of blackjack. Even worse, your 16 is not 8-8 so you cannot split. What do you do?

The correct play is to surrender the hand, if allowed, or hit it. Period. You must intuitively recognize that you are already beaten in most cases. It is therefore better to hit the hand and pray for chance to shine on you. But what really matters is that you hit the hand consistently. Every time. When you begin to deviate from basic strategy because you have a hunch the dealer doesn’t have you beat, all hope is lost. Basic strategy only works when you use it consistently.

Think for just a moment about the possible outcomes of a blackjack hand. You will either win, lose, or push. Your goal is to win as many hands as you can. When you stick with a consistent form of basic blackjack strategy, you are impacting the odds and the house edge. Consistent play will result in lowering the house edge against you. Basic strategy is there for the sole purpose of helping you make the mathematically best possible play every time.

Those who have studied the game of blackjack extensively place the house edge at somewhere between  0 and 1%, depending on the rules of the individual casino. This house edge does not change unless you play consistent basic strategy.

Here is the takeaway. If you apply no form of strategy, the house wins every time. You may win in the short term, but ultimately you will return it all and then some because return it you must. Blackjack inherently favors the casino. Understanding that will reinforce in your mind that you must adhere to basic strategy.

Card Counting

The final component of the Chance-Skill Blackjack System is card counting. The advantage of this system is that you are not required to learn a specific card counting method. Cate recommends a very simple method, but you are free to choose from any of the methods described on Counting Edge. But before you decide which method you will use, it is best to break down your understanding of card counting to its simplest terms.

When you play a lot of blackjack hands online or in the live casino you will notice that sometimes a run of 10-value cards occurs. Both player and dealer will be dealt high hands when the deck is 10-rich. By the same token, you will note that runs of low cards occur. When this happens, a dealer will receive hands in the range of 12-16. This requires the dealer to take a hit on the hand.

If you flip a coin the chance of landing on heads or tails is 50%. This doesn’t mean that when you flip a coin ten times that you will see five heads and five tails as a result. That percentage only reflects what would happen if the coin toss were carried out to infinity. It is possible to get heads 5, 6, or more times in a row. The same with tails. In blackjack, the same phenomenon can occur.

But there is a vital difference. You cannot possibly predict the outcome of a coin flip. But you can predict runs in blackjack thanks to card counting. Card counting lets you know when a run is more likely to occur. It does this by tracking the ratio of high cards to low cards.

Now, before you dismiss card counting out of hand as too complicated there are a few things you should do. First of all, forget what you have seen in the movies about card counting. It is rarely accurate. Card counters do not keep track of every single card in the blackjack shoe like an autistic savant. They track the ratio, not the individual cards. Second, know that card counting has made a lot of people filthy rich. It works, plain and simple.

Therefore, the first thing to know about card counting is that you are making a determination if the deck is 10-rich or 10-poor. Simple. You want an idea of how many tens remain the shoe as compared to low cards like 3, 4, or 5. In a 52-card deck there are 16 ten-value cards. This means that you have roughly a 30% chance of being dealt or drawing a 10 from a full deck.

Now, what happens when four small cards are dealt from the full deck before you receive your cards? Your chance of receiving a 10 has now improved. 10’s are what you need when playing blackjack. A 10 is the only way you can make a blackjack and collect a 3-2 payout on your bet.

Here’s the question you must ask yourself: if you knew that your chances of receiving a 10 were improved, would you raise your bet? Of course you would. This is the simple premise of card counting. It serves as an indicator of when the odds are in your favor. If you knew which side of the coin was likely to occur on a given flip, you would bet that side and bet big. You can know in blackjack.

When you are playing blackjack in a live environment where cards are dealt from a shoe, the best chance of encountering a run will be near the middle of the shoe. When you are playing online, a run is pretty much a moot point. The software at an online casino shuffles the deck after each hand. This nullifies the benefit of counting cards. Even so, you can still count cards online for the purpose of practice.

Here is an explanation of the card counting method devised by Cate. You can easily practice the method at home with a single deck of cards.

The count begins at 0. When you see a 10, subtract 1. When you see a 3,4,5, or 6, add 1. Do not count aces or 2, 7, 8, and 9s. This is what you need to mentally process. When you see a ten, this is bad for you. When you see a low card, this is good. More low cards being dealt means there are more 10s in the deck for you to receive.

With your deck of cards, begin to deal. As the cards fall keep track of a running count by adding and subtracting like so:

  • Card 1—10  -1
  • Card 2—A  -1 (Do not count aces)
  • Card 3—6  0
  • Card 4—3 +1
  • Card 5—5 +2

Continue on until all the cards have been dealt. You will know if you have got the count right if your ending count is 0. This is called a balanced count.

Now, this is a very simple system. You will certainly find more complicated methods in our list of card counting techniques. But, for the Chance-Skill Blackjack System this is good enough. It does what it is supposed to do, which is give you an idea how many tens are left in the deck compared to low cards. That’s all you need.

The way in which you use this simple method of card counting is also easy. As long as the deck is at +1  or below, you will bet 1 unit. In other words, the minimum. When the count goes to +2 or higher, you will bet the same number of units as the count. So, if the deck is at +3, you will bet three units. You will be raising your bet each time the count moves higher because your chances of receiving a big hand are improved.

Putting it All Together

Now you have all the elements you need to put this system together for your benefit. You know basic strategy. You know why the house always wins and how basic strategy can impact that. And you know how card counting gives you the ability to predict runs of cards.

Before you try this method at a live casino, why not give it some practice online? You can sign up for an account at one of the casinos listed here  in just a few minutes and claim a big welcome bonus. Best of all, you can play blackjack on your computer, phone, or tablet.

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