Everyone makes mistakes, but as gamblers, we should always be looking to learn from them and avoid making them again in future. Every mistake harms our bankroll, so strive to eliminate them from your game. Here are six of the most common blackjack mistakes – watch for them and if you see them in your own game, do something about it!

1 – Hitting 12 To 16 Against 2 To 6
This a really common sight at the blackjack tables and is a clear indicator of a novice blackjack player who simply doesn’t understand how to win. The object of the game is only to beat the dealer, not to get as close as possible to 21. Here, the player has seen a low value hand and decides that they need to improve this weak hand, showing no consideration for what the dealer holds.

As it happens, when the dealer shows 2 to 6 it is quite likely that the hand is valued at 12 to 16 and therefore they will need to draw, and in all probability, they will bust. This is because we know that several low value cards are out of the shoe (they are on show in both the dealer’s and our own hands) and so the percentage of ten value cards in the shoe has increased a little.

It is generally a good idea to stand in these situations and wait for the dealer to go bust.

2 – Taking Insurance
Never take insurance, ever. It might seem fair enough to take the even money payout to prevent a loss and it sure does hurt when your 20 is beaten by the dealer’s blackjack, but the fact remains that taking insurance is a long term losing strategy and will cost you more money than it earns.

The mathematics behind this are quite straightforward. When the dealer has an ace, there are four cards that can make a blackjack – any King, Queen, Jack or Ten. The other nine cards won’t complete a blackjack for the dealer, so the odds are nine to four against the dealer having a blackjack. So by taking insurance, you are taking even money that the dealer has blackjack, despite the real odds being 9/4. That my friends, is a terrible bet.

3 – Playing When Tired / Playing For Too Long
When our bodies and minds become fatigued, our capacity to perform at our best wanes; in the case of a gambler, this means we won’t always be making optimal decisions. This is so obvious a fact that it shouldn’t even need pointing out and yet thousands of gamblers will load up their favourite online gambling site or head down to the local casino when they’re tired, or worse still drunk, and play for long periods of time without taking a break.

It’s just not a good idea in general to gamble when tired. If you know you’re going to be playing for a long time, plan some rest stops. Get up for a coffee, grab a sandwich and watch the entertainment. If you’re playing online, read your favourite forum or the news. Do anything to take your mind off gambling for a few minutes before returning to the action.

It’s the reason that long distance drivers are legally required to take rest stops and the reason that casino bosses make the dealers change so frequently – when you do something for a long period of time, you become tired and you don’t perform at your best. When you’re excessively tired, you’re damaging your bankroll.

4 – Splitting Tens When The Dealer Has 5 Or 6
There is a common blackjack myth that it’s a good idea to split a pair of tens in the face of a 5 or 6, because when the dealer busts, both of you split hands will win and it’s quite common for the dealer to bust with a 5 or 6. This makes sense on the face of it, but what about when the dealer doesn’t bust? You now have two losing hands.

Mathematical simulations show that standing with two tens makes more money in the long run than by splitting tens. That’s because a hand of 20 is the second strongest hand – why on Earth would you pass up the second best blackjack hand for a strong chance to make two inferior hands? Bank the almost certain winner and move on.

5 – Not Doubling Down With 11 Against A 10
Many blackjack players lose their bottle when faced with a ten as the dealer’s up card, as they are afraid of seeing 20, but by not doubling you are losing money in the long term. Here’s why.

Hitting the 11 will see your hand win 56% of the time. This means that for every £100 you bet, £56 of it will win you money and the other £44 will be lost. So that’s £56 of profit (for each win at the blackjack table is paying you even money) minus the £44 lost, for profit of £12.

By doubling down, you will win less often – 54% of the time in fact (£54 won per £100 wagered, £46 lost) – but the size of your bet is now double, so the returns are doubled. The £54 profit per £100 wagered becomes £108 whilst the £46 of losses becomes £92, making for overall profit of £16 (£108 – £92).

I’m sure you don’t need to be told that the £16 profit per £100 wagered earned by doubling down, is better than the £12 profit per £100 wagered that comes from simply hitting.

6 – Table Selection
Not all blackjack tables were created equally. Casinos are constantly tweaking games in order to try and increase their profits and often, this is achieved by increasing their edge over casino players. One of the more commonly seen examples of this is blackjack tables paying 6/5 instead of 3/2 (6/4), which massively increases the house edge. Avoid these tables at all costs, as they are costing you money in the long term.

If at all possible, try to find a blackjack table offering 2/1 for blackjacks – they do exist. Other rule tweaks that improve a player’s chances of winning at blackjack include the ability to double down on any two cards, surrender early and split aces. Things to avoid are the dealer drawing on soft 17, strict rules about doubling down and of course, a greater number of decks in the show, which harms a player’s chances of winning exponentially.

But that’s not all – different blackjack tables have different limits, so make sure you’re comfortable with the betting restrictions. Don’t play outside of your bankroll and make sure you have enough chips to be able to take advantage of doubling down and splitting hands.

Good luck at the blackjack tables, both off and online!