Natural Blackjack: From inherent computation to pro gambling career.
There aren’t a whole lot of professional gamblers out there today. Sure, there are plenty of people who gamble a lot. Some of them might even call themselves pros. But real, genuine, career gamblers exist in a very small minority; especially when you only count the ones who are successful.
The fact is, most people don’t have what it takes to be a pro gambler. It isn’t just about understanding the math – although that is an essential element. It’s about having the money, the patience, and the fortitude, to outlast the swings, and an unwavering commitment to progressive education. It’s about patience, discipline, determination and sacrifice. If you possess these qualities, you just might have…
What it Takes to be a Natural Blackjack Pro
#1 Know the game, inside and out.
Blackjack isn’t just a game of simple rules. It’s a game with a wide array of variable rules. One table might require the dealer to hit a soft 17, while the next requires him to stand on 17. The player might be able to split only once, or twice, or up to three times in a hand. You need to understand each and every rule, and especially the ones that can vary from table to table, because every slight alteration effects the house edge.
#2 Learn how each rule impacts the edge.
Each rule will slide the edge further into the player’s or house’s favor. First, study which rules are good and bad for your game. As you progress, get to know how good or bad each rule is. For instance, the standard payout for a natural 21 is 3 to 2. If a game pays 2 to 1, it pushes the edge 2.27% into the player’s favor. If it pays only 6 to 5, it adds 1.39% to the house’s edge. Most rules are more subtle than this. If a player can only split once, that’s a -0.10% adjustment. Playing with 6 decks (as opposed to 8) improves the edge +0.02%. As small as these seem, every hundredth of a percentile counts to a professional.
#3 Scout the tables.
None of this information will do you any good if you don’t take the time to scout the tables. You have to know where the good games are, and what tables to avoid. Knowing the edge you’re up against will help you determine if a game is beatable. But the rules alone will never give you an edge. Which brings us to…
#4 Inconspicuous card counting.
What gives a professional blackjack player their edge is card counting. If you can’t count the cards, you cannot possibly turn the edge into a player advantage. It takes a great deal of practice to count cards. Start with a basic counting technique, like the famous High/Low System, then progress your way into more intricate systems like the Omega II. Eventually, you can delve into other advanced tactics like Deck Tracking and Ace Sequencing.
Most importantly, do not be obvious about it. If the casino knows you’re counting cards, they will stop you. It’s not illegal, but they do have the right to stop you. Depending on local laws, they can either ask you to leave, or change the cut-card deck penetration to impair the efficacy of counting. Either way, if you’re caught, you’re out of luck.
#5 Never deviate from basic strategy.
Basic strategy is not something you do some of the time, or most of the time. Basic strategy must be followed at all times, on every hand, and in every decision made. If you don’t have the discipline to apply basic strategy 100% of the time, you are not ready for a pro blackjack career.
#6 Managing a big bankroll.
Even with card counting, the player advantage isn’t going to be great. Sliding the advantage to 1% is fantastic in this profession. There are going to be swings – sometimes heavy ones – and they won’t always be in your favor. You must have a large enough bankroll to survive them, and manage it well enough to ensure the longevity of your career. Think of professional blackjack like an investment career. You have to have money to make money.
#7 Practice, practice and practice some more.
Some people have amazing powers of memorization. In fact, most natural blackjack pros do. It’s what draws them to this career in the first place. They are inherently capable of doing all the things required of them, without feeling undue anxiety or stress. Everyone requires practice, but if you do not have the natural skill, you can acquire it through extensive training. Online blackjack is a perfect medium for practicing basic strategy, but you’ll need a physical deck to practice counting. Above all, remember that – as with so many things in life – patience and discipline are the keys to success.
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