While many professional gamblers would tell you that being a professional blackjack player is not as profitable as some movies would make it out to be, there are people who earn six figures by professionally playing blackjack. If you think you might want to become a professional blackjack player, there are several steps you need to take in order to earn enough money to live on and be successful.
Learn the strategy
Blackjack is a strategy game, and requires you to know the strategy well in order to play successfully. First, before you do anything else, you need to have a thorough knowledge of the game. This means you have to know the rules of play for all different forms of blackjack. There are three types of blackjack games, and although the end objective for any of the blackjack games is to beat the house by getting 21 or as close to 21 as possible without going over, the games differ in rules of play.
Classic or Traditional Blackjack is the most popular form of the game. Classic blackjack can be played with one deck or as many as eight decks. You and the dealer are dealt two cards: one face up and one face down (the hole card). Your combination of two (or more) cards must be 21 or below for you to win, and it must be higher than the dealer’s to win.
Progressive blackjack is played much the same way as traditional blackjack, but in progressive blackjack, players are allowed to bet increasingly larger amounts of money each round. In European Blackjack, two decks are used. The dealer is dealt one face-up card, and his hole card is not shown until the player decides how to play his or her hand. The dealer’s hole card can be split, hit, stood on or doubled depending on his or her score.
Digging Further Into Blackjack Strategy Through Counting Cards
Once you have mastered the basic rules of blackjack, you will then need to figure out a strategy so you can determine your odds and place bets. Counting cards offers a way to bet based on what cards the dealer has and what cards are still in the deck.
In order to begin counting cards, you must have a strategy for assigning cards a numerical value. The most common version is to assign small numerical values to cards: For example, the most common card counting method is to count cards 2-6 at +1; counting cards 7-9 as 0; and counting face cards and aces are counted as -1. Practice until you can count down an entire deck of cards in under a minute. Remember that alcohol and drugs are readily available in casinos, so drink lightly while you are playing, since alcohol can impair your judgment. Once you can successfully count down a deck of cards, continue to add cards and practice counting until you can count down six decks in two minutes or less. You can then begin to practice watching and counting cards in a casino setting.
All of this counting of cards and repetition is not done immediately, but over time. It will take you hundreds of hours to become proficient in counting cards and observing cards at a casino. When you have really developed your skill as a card counter, you need to be able to calculate the value of the cards remaining in the decks of cards that have not been dealt yet (called the shoe). As with the practice counting cards in one deck, casinos can give you the best practice with keeping a running count of which cards have not been played and which cards have been discarded.
What Is the Table of Numbers?
If you want to vary your bets and your play based on the card count, you need to learn about the table of numbers. Usually, if your true count is strongly positive, you would bet more, or even double down on your bet. However, if your bet is negative, you would hold off betting too much, as your chances of losing are greater. There are programs available that will help you learn the table of numbers. Books are also available to help you learn the table of numbers.
In addition to the table of numbers, many blackjack dealers use a mathematical formula called the Kelly Criterion. In the Kelly Criterion, a formula is used to calculate a series of bets to continue to gain wealth. While some critics have stated that the Kelly Criterion is not effective in placing bets, especially if the player’s own “gut instinct” overrides the mathematical formula of the Kelly Criterion, testing of the formula reveals that the player does earn more money over time if he or she follows the formula.
To embark on a career as a blackjack professional, you have to learn basic blackjack strategies. First, you need to learn the terms: surrender, split, double down, hit or stand. You will then need to learn the basic strategy of blackjack. For example, player can surrender (give up his or her hand) and forfeit half his money if the dealer appears to have a hand that the player cannot win. For example, if the dealer has 10 and you have 15, the chances of you beating the dealer on the third card is small, so you can surrender half your money and live to play another day.
Other basic strategies include: splitting aces and eights with the dealer, never splitting fives and tens with the dealer, and double down when you have a nine and the dealer has number cards three, four, five or six. Mastering basic and advanced strategy will help you become a better blackjack player.
Visiting the casinos in your area is an important step towards becoming a professional blackjack player. As with all the other steps towards your new career, each step is painstaking. First, you will need to save up your bankroll, so that if (when) you lose, you are not taking money out of your regular account. Second, you need to visit casinos in your area. Choose a town with multiple casinos. Begin playing hands at tables with low minimum bets and carefully keep track of your wins and losses. If you make more than one mistake each hour, you are losing your margin of success.
Once you feel comfortable and you have reduced your errors, you can move to tables where you can bet larger amounts of money. Be sure to be as inconspicuous as possible so that casinos don’t take notice of you and you don’t get banned. If you chose a town with multiple casinos, do not stay at one casino the entire day or evening—move around to different casinos so that security at casinos doesn’t become suspicious.
It takes time to become a professional blackjack player, but if you are patient, take your time and put in the hours needed to study the game, you will be successful at your new career.
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