Kaplan’s Golden Rules for Better Blackjack

Ever heard of Bill Kaplan? Well you should have – he’s the guy that put together a crack team of MIT researchers with the sole intention of taking casinos for everything they had. Rather than simply throwing a random team of card players together, he treated it like a business. He came up with a blueprint for his business idea, provided an extensive training program and kept a close eye on his team members at all times. They started out with around $90,000 and managed to double this in about two months. After this, they hit a bunch of casinos and walked away with millions.

Of course, it’s not as if the rest of us have the time, resources or indeed the grey matter required to follow directly in Kaplan’s footsteps. Which is why it’s fortunate that he was at least willing to share a few of his most helpful tips and tricks for blackjack players. It’s not to say that any of the following can guarantee you a healthy payday, but use these insights combined and you’ll certainly stand a better chance of upping your winnings and minimising losses:

The Basic Math

Blackjack is a numbers game, meaning it’s all about statistics. Statistically speaking, you should always stand hard on a 17 or higher, double down on 11, split 8s and aces and always hit a soft 16. On the flipside of the coin, it is said that it is a bad idea to stand on 12 to 16 if the dealer’s score shows 7 or more. There’s always going to be a strong degree of chance and luck when it comes to determining the outcome, but in a statistical sense these are wise moves to make.


Bad Habits

Breaking bad habits is one of the most important rules of all when it comes to blackjack success. And right at the top of this list ranks playing for too long without taking breaks, making foolish plays just to see what happens and falling into the trap of thinking you are on a winning streak. Even the best runs of luck eventually run out.

There’s No Hot and Cold

Contrary to popular belief, the myth regarding hot and cold dealers and tables is precisely that…a myth. Even in instances where you’re told everyone seems to be striking it seriously lucky with one given table or dealer, it’s still a 100% random occurrence with no pattern or rule to it. There’s technically nothing to lose in trying out a table or dealer you believe to be hot, but it won’t improve your chances of a win in the slightest.

Tips on Tipping

If you happen to be playing in a real life casino or a live dealer room online, don’t ever assume that tipping is mandatory. Some make the mistake of thinking that to tip the dealer is to tip the odds just that little bit in their own favour, when in reality this isn’t the case at all. Feel free to tip if you want to, just don’t assume you have to.

The Sweet Spot

When it comes to the number of decks used by the dealer, 5 is acknowledged as something of a sweet spot. You’ll come across plenty of tables that use 6 or 8 decks instead of five, which will see your odds take a knock but only to the tune of a fraction of a percent, so it’s not to be sweated too much. Single-deck games are comparatively rare these days as they are far too easy to stack in favour of the dealer/casino.

Don’t Fear the Shuffle

Unless you plan on counting cards with pinpoint precision, it’s really irrelevant how many times and how thoroughly the cards are shuffled each time. When playing online, the random number generators used to shuffle cards provide an infinitely more compressive shuffle than any manual shuffle. Card counting is rendered 100% impossible when it comes to online blackjack, so it’s really not worth bothering trying.

Park It

Think there’s a lucky seat at the table with your name on it? Or perhaps there’s a seat you won’t park your backside in due to superstition? Well, it’s all pure cobblers – there’s no such thing as luck one way or the other when it comes to seating. There’s no harm in putting a little faith and stock in lucky charms and the like for a bit of fun. But when you find yourself in a position where you’re basing your decisions around luck and superstition, you’re on very thin ice.

Go Uninsured

Insurance is a highly-debated element of the game, though as far as Kaplan and Co. are concerned, it’s to be avoided. The reason being that unless you are keeping a pinpoint watch of the remaining 10-cards and aces, the odds will always be against you, so there’s technically no point.


Progressive Piffle

Instinct may tell you otherwise, but the reality of things is that betting progressively as a means by which to maximise winnings is a strategy that simply doesn’t work. Regardless of how much you choose to bet or how long you stay at the table, the disadvantage will always remain the same. Meaning that if the player has a disadvantage of 1%, sooner or later they will lose 1% of all the money they bet at the table. So while you can certainly win more by upping the ante, you can also lose a lot more and probably will!

Sweet Emotion

Your blackjack playing should be governed by one thing and one thing alone – fun. The moment you let emotion creep into the equation is the moment you will no doubt find yourself making stupid decisions on the spur of the moment, or letting caution go out the window. If the fun stops, it’s time to stop.

Keep it Simple

Last but not least, it’s very much in your best interests to download or print off a basic blackjack strategy chart, which should be studied and memorised before getting started. This will basically show you the right and wrong moves to make in accordance with each and every possible card combination in conjunction with the card the dealer is dealt. The reason being that if you follow these rules to the letter, the disadvantage you’ll face while playing will be no more than about 5%, making for fewer losses and bigger wins.

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