Nobody goes to the casino or enters a money game or tournament expecting to lose. As professional card players, we’ve mastered the art of positive thinking. We can get dealt a losing opening hand with our bankroll quickly dwindling, but most of us will just hope that a losing hand will make way for bigger winnings later on. That’s just the nature of being a gambler.
Gamblers have a high tolerance for risk. And most of the best professional card players I know have an almost psychic ability to assess risk/reward ratios almost on the fly. But one of the “hidden” skills of professional card players is their ability to lose. Like I said a while ago, nobody sits at a table hoping to lose.
Knowing how to lose isn’t about pessimism or fatalism. Everyone in Blackjack loses. I could tell you how to never lose at Blackjack, but that is simply not possible. The truly great card players can take a negative (losing) and somehow turn it into a net negative. I’m talking about those miraculous come from behind wins. Everybody loses. And when it happens, you need to be able to deal with it, learn from it, and ultimately improve your game as a result.
This reminds me of the quote from Linus in the Peanuts comic strip. He tells his friend Charlie Brown: “We learn more from losing than we do from winning.” And losing is a harsh teacher, but if you listen to what it is teaching you, you will emerge a better player.
Here are a few ways to lose properly in Blackjack. These are skills that you have to learn. They’re just as important as being able to manage your bankroll and count cards. I like to joke with fellow players and tell them winning is easy, but losing takes skill. I’m only half joking. Nobody likes to lose, and because of that, some of the important lessons from it get overlooked.
I’m here to change that. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing ways to lose well in Blackjack.
Accept that Some Things are Out of Your Control
This is the easiest concept to grasp. Blackjack is a game of chance. We can employ the greatest strategies and techniques to improve our luck. We can practice endlessly in an attempt to find ways to beat variance. But in the end, the cards will do what the cards want. Being a professional card player is putting yourself at the mercy of the card gods. You’re only in it for the ride. We call this “variance.” Basically, what that refers to is the luck of the draw. Sometimes you get dealt good cards, sometimes you get dealt crappy cards. If you want to become a professional Blackjack player, you have to accept variance.
And here’s another thing that’s out of your control: the environment itself. Casinos want you to lose, period. They’re a business, after all. And they make money when players lose. To, er, increase the chances of you losing, they employ some sneaky tricks like serving you alcohol and making the place as distracting as possible. There’s nothing you can do about these. But what you can control is your reaction to these environmental factors. So focus on what you can control: your own playing.
Never Take it Out on Other Players and Casino Staff
Blackjack is a social game. It might not seem like it, but the game is very social. Nobody plays Blackjack alone (unless you play online – but where’s the fun in that?). You’re seated at a table with other players being dealt cards by the house dealer. And because of this, you need to make sure your manners are in check at all times… especially when you lose.
It’s easy to be all nice and pleasant when you’re winning. But when you start to lose, and lose big, that’s a test of your character. The crappy players will start ranting and taking it out on other people. This is a bad look and should never be done. You don’t want to develop a reputation of being a bad player to play with. People could start refusing to play with you and you could even get banned from certain casinos So try to be as gracious in defeat as possible.
Clearly Assess Why You Lost
This one might be a little tougher than all the other tips I gave in this article. When we lose big, sometimes all we want to do is drown our sorrows at the nearest bar. But if we do that, we’re depriving ourselves the ability to look back and study why we lost. Was it a bad play? Did you miscount the cards? Or did variance simply rear its ugly head? It’s unpleasant to have to relive your greatest defeat, but this is something you’ll have to get used to if you want to become a winner.
Some of the greatest players I know have developed a thick skin when it comes to losing – I like to call this the Gambler’s Callous. No matter how bad they performed that night, they have no problem looking back and being honest to themselves about how they played. And when they do that, they’re able to study their play patterns and come back another day – hopefully, without repeating the same mistakes.
Apply All the Lessons
Like I mentioned earlier, losing is a harsh teacher. But it reveals so much about ourselves and our game. Once you’ve developed your Gambler’s Callous, study your loses. But you will have to then apply those lessons on your next game. Yes, this is me telling you that you should never give up (within reason, of course – please don’t wager your house or dip into your daughter’s college fund).
Losing will turn you into a better player. With a bit of self-awareness and an honest appraisal of your game, you can go back stronger than ever!