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Excerpts from Playing 4 Keeps – Blackjack for Winners

©Copyright 2008-2023 Michael Vernon


Playing blackjack is not a team sport. It is you against the dealer. Your best friend is discipline. Learning to pick your game, and pick your exit, is all about discipline. The key ingredients of successful play are, discipline, perfect basic strategy, card counting, money management, and recognizing the energy. When I am playing, I am looking for reasons to leave the game, not reasons to continue with play. The reasons to continue are obvious. The signals providing the “heads up” that the game is going south are subtle, and you need to be keenly aware in order to perceive the information. Getting out at the right time is a skill. “The only way to quit winners, is to quit while you are winning.” It is too late after you have lost the profit.


How much is enough to win? A win is a win, and one dollar is a win. This may sound silly to you. But, if you are not able to accept a $1 win, what will you accept. If you lose $100 in twenty minutes, but win $100 after playing for an hour, some how the two do not seem equal, emotionally. The loss seems to be a bigger loss, compared to the amount of the won. The win never seems to be enough. Here's a misconception about blackjack. It is a game based on the units played, verses the units won, or lost. Winning 6 to 12 units should be recognized as doing well. If you get up to the 16 to 20 unit range, that's fantastic. Once you are able to accept the 6 to 12 unit profit, you will see how most games you  play, actually will profit of 6 to 8 units. The hard part for some players is accepting the win and walking away. Too often this “easy come, easy go” syndrome kicks in, and the player's tendency is to keep on playing thinking that the 8 units will soon turn into 16. Yes, it can happen. But look at the emotion behind the thought form of that kind of play. Perhaps you'll see how it is chasing for more. Remember, your goal is to win, and end up leaving the game with more cheques than you bought in for. It is better to take the bird in the hand, 6 to 8 units profit, than to shoot for the moon each session. Do not be caught up chasing a loss. Losing your betting stake is no big deal. It is part of the game, and it will happen. However, as you understand that the profits come in smaller increments, it makes it difficult to overcome a 30 unit loss, winning 6 to 8 units.


You have your hands on a strategy that can produce, on average, around 12 units per session. If you are a $5 player, winning 12 units means $60 per session. It will never result in $600 per session. If you want to win $600 you have to bet larger units. Simple! The game has no awareness, and the cards do not know if you are playing $5 units, or $100 units. What is known, is the expected rate of return, for one session. Winning more money, is just a matter of having a larger bankroll.


 Sometimes you will find yourself in a dog fight. For all of your skill, and effort, the game does not go your way. At these times, it is better to cut your losses early. Have the courage, and discipline to let that losing game go. Know that you can find a better game latter. Taking breaks is important too. Playing too long will have a negative effect on your bankroll. It is best to plan your playing time. Decide when and where you will play. Develop an action plan, and stick to it. If it is not working out, it is better to abandon the game than to abandon your plan. Three to four sessions a day is a lot of blackjack to play. If you get one or two sessions in the morning, and allow for an afternoon session, take a break, and then one or two evening sessions, that should do you.


Lesser Known Considerations about the Game:


No one likes to be beat at their own game. Even though modern day basic strategy and card counting have been around since the 1960’s, most players haven't bothered to learn either advantage. With the advent of the Internet, and legalized gaming is most states, the popularity of blackjack has exploded. As with any popular pastime, some individuals will strive for innovative methods of improving their results. These days, casinos are corporate businesses, traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock holders do not want any fluctuation with the bottom line. The game of blackjack is very different from all other casinos games because the rules are not set in stone. As a result, it is not unusual to find rule variations from casino to casino. Here are examples of what I speak of and each example is a huge take-a-way from the player.


  1. Deck penetration. As a way of discouraging card counters, casinos have limited the number of cards dealt from each single deck, double deck, and a shoe. Not being able to see 30-50% of the cards, leaves an unknown factor for the player tracking a ratio of cards. Playing fewer cards means a less likely event of an imbalanced ratio to occur. The single deck game has returned to some Las Vegas casinos, but with strict rule changes. Deck penetration is controlled by the dealer, shuffling after every hand. There is no way to have an advantage counting cards in this game. In a two deck game, 25% of the 104 cards may be burned right off the top and another 25% off the back end, leaving about 50% of the cards in play. Less than 80% penetration makes it rough for a card counter. The six deck shoe is slightly better, about 30% of the cards are burned from the back of the shoe. I learned to play blackjack at the Mirage in Las Vegas, at a two deck pitch game. In 1990, the dealer would deal down to the last of the cards before the shuffle. With that kind of penetration, it was like taking candy from a baby.


  1. The Cut Card. Regarding the cut card and the removal of cards from play, this is an illusion on the part of the casino. Casinos have resorted to burning cards off the top, and from the back of the deck. The ratio is not affected. The count will still be exact, only that the cards removed from play will have no bearing on the game. In other words, if 20 cards are cut out of the 52, they do not disappear to change the ratio. You simply have fewer cards in play, affecting by penetration. It reduces the potential of an imbalance of plus and minus cards. The cards that you may be expecting could be burned out of play. Dealers are now instructed where to place the cut card. If you can find games where dealers still may indiscriminately place the cut card, look for the one giving the most deck penetration.

  2. The 6 to 5 Blackjack Bonus. Some other changes you will see have to do with the blackjack bonus paying 6/5 instead of 3/2. This will cost the weekend blackjack player....


Blackjack for Winners contains fifty-six pages, over 30,000 words as a 8.5 x 11 PDF. It's all about playing blackjack and how to win. Order your copy today and you too will be Playing 4 Keeps®


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