What Blackjack errors are really costing you

In Donald Schlesinger's book Blackjack Attack: Playing the Pro's Way, he illustrates the monetary cost of deviating from basic blackjack strategy and you'll be surprised to find which of the game play errors you're making are costing you the most.

Blackjack strategy is the mathematically optimal way of playing every blackjack hand based on your own hand as well as the dealer's upcard. It is a set of rules that govern how you should play, when to hit, stand, double, split or surrender on every hand you're dealt.

When playing according to sound strategy, blackjack players are not guessing, but rather skilfully and strategically playing their hand in order to lower the house edge, decrease losses and increase their own returns. This makes blackjack one of the few casino games worth playing at online casinos.

Thanks to the advent of computers, mathematicians have been able to analyse every conceivable blackjack hand a player and dealer could possibly hold in order to devise optimal blackjack strategy. Yet some players don't apply this knowledge in their games at all. Why? Probably because they don't realise just how much ignoring these techniques is costing them as they simply "play for fun".

If you're going to play, why not play for fun and profit?

If we take a standard card deck consisting of 52 cards and ask you to choose a card, you'll find that you probably guess what card you'll pick and whether it will be red or black. In this instance you would be playing a guessing game because the odds of drawing either red or black card are 50-50.

If we asked you to choose another card from the same shuffled deck, you'd probably guess that it would be black (of course with the one red eliminated there are more black cards now). You may lose with the guess, but the odds would have been in your favour if you guessed black.

And this is the way it is with basic blackjack strategy in online casino blackjack games. If you always hit when a dealer shows a 10 because that's what strategy dictates, you may still lose, but if you choose to stand, your odds are worse and your expectation would be that you'll lose more than you'll win over the long term. Given these facts, blackjack strategy is just a mathematical way of advising you on the best play for every hand that you are dealt so that the odds work in your favour and you ultimately win more than you lose.

If learning blackjack strategy seems boring, let's look at what playing according to your hunches and deviating from it actually costs you in real world terms. For this we'll refer to Schlesinger's book and the data from a four-deck game so that you can see the monetary implications of your decisions.

The information below assumes that you play with $100 and 100 blackjack hands per hour.


  • Splitting 10's against Dealer's 7-A: $246
  • Standing on 12 against dealer's 7-A: $111
  • Splitting 10's against 2-6: $73
  • Hitting 16 against Dealer's 2-6: $68
  • Standing on 14 against Dealer's 7-A: $71
  • Standing on 16 against Dealer's 7-A: $29
  • Not doubling on 10 against Dealer's 2-6: $38
  • Insuring every hand: $28
  • Hitting 13 against Dealer's 2-6: $23
  • Standing on A-6 against Dealer's 7-A: $20
  • Taking even money on blackjack: $1.35 (this figure is low because the frequency of holding blackjack when the dealer has an Ace is statistically rather low at just once in every 288 hands).

As you can see from the above, the cost of deviating from blackjack strategy can add up fast and you're just giving away a lot of your hard earned money.

So while you may get lucky when you play your way based on hunches and gut feeling, if you follow blackjack strategy each time you play, you'll end up far better off financially. It is a proven fact that you can take to the bank.