Las Vegas is always looking for ways to increase the house edge on blackjack. So are the operators of online casinos. The smart blackjack player must always look for ways to increase their odds of winning. Recently, a prominent statistician has revealed ways that the odds in blackjack can be shifted in the player’s favor.
The Wizard of Odds
Michael Shackleford knows a thing or two about blackjack. He is more than just a fan and student of the game. Shackleford is also a mathematician who created a website about gambling called The Wizard of Odds. Shackleford’s interest in gambling has roots in academia.
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Shackleford previously served as an adjunct professor at UNLV. He taught casino math to gaming majors who ultimately pursue careers in the gambling industry. In his capacity as a professor, Michael Shackleford devoted his life to studying all of the casino table games. He meticulously studied their odds and how those odds could be affected by styles of play. One could say that Shackleford truly is the Wizard of Odds.
In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Shackleford addressed the ways players can increase odds at blackjack and other table games. The professor believes that players have a tendency to blame other players when they lose, especially the player on third base. He contends that this is improper and players should instead focus on five ways they can increase their odds.
Stay Away From 6-5 Blackjack
For years the standard has been to pay a player 3-2 on a blackjack. Today, some live casinos and online casinos are changing this and paying players 6-5 on a blackjack. Shackleford belives playing this game can greatly reduce the advantage a player has in the game.
The odds for a blackjack are posted on the table for all players to see. Before sitting down to play, the player should make sure that the game offers 3-2 on a blackjack. Most of the online casinos recommended by Counting Edge pay 3-2 on blackjack.
Insurance is Always a Bad Bet
Shackleford insists that taking insurance at the blackjack table is always a bad bet. The gimmick behind these bets is that they are there to help the player minimize losses. The truth is that insurance is nothing more than a glorified side bet. Side bets are regularly used by casinos to increase the odds for the house.
Counting Edge has always recommended players avoid taking insurance. The exception to this could be when a player has a knowledge of card counting. In that instance it may be profitable sometimes for the player to make this side bet.
Use Surrender if Available
There aren’t too many live or online casinos anymore which offer surrender. This player option allows you to forfeit half of your original bet after you have seen the dealer’s up card. Shackleford believes that there are times when surrender should always be used to the player’s advantage. One of these times is when the player holds a 16 against the dealer’s 10.
The reason for this should be apparent. Players should always assume that a dealer has a 10 in the hole and use that assumption to guide how they act on their hand. A 16 is a very bad hand for the player. To stand on it is pointless and to hit the hand is a very big risk. Surrender of this hand is the best option.
Of course, the trick is finding a casino which offers surrender. Not many do. But if you do your due diligence you will be able to find a casino which offers the bet.
Take Advantage of Soft Doubles
If you are a Counting Edge reader then you are familiar with the concept of hard and soft hands. A soft hand is one that cannot be busted by taking a card. What some players don’t realize is that they should be doubling some of these hands when the dealer is weak.
Shackleford states that players should double a soft 13-18 against a dealer 4-6. What makes this piece of advice difficult, though, is that there are a few exceptions. One of these is to avoid doubling a soft 13 against a dealer 4. There are many strategy charts available which detail the best times to make these doubles.
You will need to find a live or online casino which permits doubling down on any two cards. That is the key to implementing this strategy. Most casinos today allow you to double any two original cards.
Side Bets Are Sucker Bets
Shackleford concludes by stating that all side bets are sucker bets. Some of these bets can increase the odds for the house up to 20%. Players should adopt a general rule of staying away from these side bets. A side bet most often appears in a new variation of blackjack, so players can stay away from side bets by sticking to standard blackjack.
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