Blackjack – specifically professional Blackjack – has a deep heritage. It goes without saying that you can’t last very long without having encountered a few myths. Most of the gambling and Blackjack-related myths I’ve encountered are outright false.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother commenting on myths. If it’s fun and entertaining, what’s the harm, right? But when it comes to Blackjack myths, I do think they can be plenty harmful. And that’s because they get in the way of you becoming a better player. Most of the gaming myths I’ve heard about are nothing but thinly-veiled excuses for one’s shortcomings. And here’s the thing – to become a better player, you need to face these shortcomings head-on, and commit to becoming a better player. You won’t be able to do that with all sorts of myths and excuses swirling in your head.
So without further ado, here are the most common Blackjack and gambling myths I’ve heard. They are great examples of counterproductive, self-defeating habits. Avoid buying into these myths at all costs.
One Player can Screw Up the Hand
When you lose, it’s always easy to blame the person next to you (usually a noob, or a clueless player). I get it, I’ve been there before. And when you’re playing a game like Blackjack, where everyone plays against the house, it’s easy to level blame on another person.
But if you lose it’s never one player’s fault. The game has been designed to always be in favor of the house. That’s the cold, hard truth about playing Blackjack. Professional Blackjack players know this, have accepted this, and simply choose to work around it.
There’s always a 50-50 chance that another player will help you just as much as harm you. That’s the reality of this game. You’re both playing against the house, but this isn’t a cooperative game either.
Instead of blaming another person, instead focus on improving your game. Because that, unlike what the other person does, is something you have control over.
You Can’t Always Win
It takes a certain mindset and personality type to be a professional gambler. In my experience, professional gamblers, specifically pro Blackjack and poker players, are more comfortable taking risks. And they have to – gambling as a career choice is a high risk, high reward endeavor.
But that doesn’t mean professional gamblers are willing to admit how many games they actually lose. I’ve met players that while they are pro, aren’t exactly tearing up the scene. I would call them moderately successful at best, and journeymen at worst. But they keep talking about how they win 90% of their games. I think this is bull.
Even with superior card-counting skills, you will lose more than you win. This is another reality we professional poker players have to face. Let me say that again: as a pro player, you need to get used to losing. You need to play enough (and lose enough) to give yourself a statistical advantage over the house. When you get dealt a good hand, bet hard on it.
But don’t expect to win a game — that is a myth propagated by insecure players.
“The Casino is Cheating”
This is another myth bitter players like to spread. When they lose, they just have to accuse the casino of having an unfair advantage. This is indeed a myth, but like other myths, it does have some degree of truth to it. Allow me to explain.
Casinos do have an unfair advantage. A casino’s physical environment is designed to distract you and dull your game. They’ll give you free drinks, offer friendship (and bad playing advice), all in the hopes that you will keep playing — and keep losing. Heck, even Blackjack itself is skewed heavily in the casino’s favor.
But here’s why it’s pointless complaining about this — this information is common knowledge. The casino did not lie or misrepresent anything. Anytime you walk into a casino, you should know what you’re getting into. If you lose, use it as motivation to get better at the game.
The advantage the house has is actually one of the things that drew me to the world of professional gambling. I see the casino as the all-powerful Goliath, and I’m the tiny David. I get a rush out of knowing that the odds are not in my favor, but pushing forward anyways. And sometimes, I win big. When that happens, it’s enough to make up for all the bad days and loses that I’ve had.
Heaters do Exist
No, they do not. But first, let me define what a heater is. A heater is someone who continues to win successive games, or has a long winning streak. Winning streaks do happen. But you can only call them streaks in hindsight. The problem with heaters is that they are called that during the course of a tournament. That is wrong, because you can never predict whether you’ll win successive games. It’s just not going to be possible, even of the so-called heater has a bullet-proof game plan and godlike card counting skills.
This probably the least harmful of all the myths. But it does take my mind of the game, which could be a bad thing. Even after winning successive hands, I prefer to stay in the moment and focus on the game happening right here, right now.
Winning is More a Function of Luck than Skill
This is another excuse lesser players make when they perform poorly in a tournament or money game. But think about this: if skill doesn’t play a part in this game, why even bother playing? And why bother reading up on all these tips on how to get better? Here’s why: your goal as a professional Blackjack player is to develop incremental advantage, and eventually use that advantage to win big. And it takes cold-blooded skill to build that sort of advantage.
But here’s the thing: variance is very much a thing in Blackjack. To win a lot, you will have to lose a lot. The key is to keep playing enough games to make the statistical advantage swing to your side.