Ben Franklin Toilet Paper
You know what really bugs me? It's when people don't have the slightest idea of how to play blackjack, and they still go to some casino and play (these people always seem to win as I lose). If you use hundred dollar bills as toilet paper, then fine, do what you want, you're a rich bastard anyways. But if you're like me, a poor, starving student, then I think you should have a real darn good idea of how to keep your money and maybe make a little.
Blackjack, I hear, is one of the better games to play at the casinos. If you follow a strategy found in all blackjack books or on the web, you have about a 0.62 % to 1.5% advantage over the house. Don't get me wrong, I suck at gambling, but it seems like a cool thing to master. I've heard that the authoritative book on blackjack is Edward O. Thorpe's book, "Beat the Dealer." He is a math professor at UC Irvine. Never expect to win at the casino. I get so freakin frustrated sometimes. This past weekend I lost 10 hands in a row! The unspoken rule is to leave the game after 3 consecutive losses, but I thought I could get out of my slump. Silly me. At least I fought back later and only lost a total of 30 bucks. Sigh.
Count the Cards
A good way to play is to learn how to notice which cards have been dealt. Sometimes casinos have single deck games, which gives you the upper hand in blackjack. You can "count cards," which is not appreciated by the casinos, but lots of people do it anyway. By noticing which cards have already come out, you can make a more educated guesses during the game. The more big cards in the deck (ie. 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace), the better for you. A higher ratio of smaller cards in the deck is to the dealer's advantage. I haven't really grasped the concept of card counting and probably never will, but here is how most books teach it (I think): Starting with zero, everytime a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 comes out, you +1. 7, 8, 9 you add nothing. 10, j, q, k, a, you -1. Now, when the card count gets to +3 or higher in a single deck, you have the advantage because you have a better chance of getting a good hand, and the dealer has a higher chance of busting. The dealer is screwed because he/she has to hit if they have 16 or lower (In some casinos, the dealer must hit on soft 17. This means that if they have a total of 17 with an Ace, they must hit. This is news for you, duh.). If the count gets to -3 or lower, then sit out a few games if possible, or leave the table. Practice by going through a deck of cards in 30 seconds. You should start with 0 and end up with 0 also. I probably didn't explain it that well so go read a book. Let me say again that card counting is not appreciated by casino management, so don't add up the cards at the table with a calculator, you moron.
Always assume the dealer's face down card is a 10. Use only one hand to touch the cards and learn the hand signals. Don't touch the money or the dealer will get mad at you! Like Kenny Rogers says: You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money, while sittin' at the table, there'll be plenty time for countin, when the dealin's done." Oh yeah, order the most expensive drink from the waitress. You'll need something strong to cheer you up as you lose all the money you earned working 50 hours at McDonald's in about 5 minutes.
12/30/98 New Revelation
Okay, I have a new view on gambling. Don't do it! I just came back from Las Vegas where, in the words of Chris Tucker in the movie Friday, "I got knocked the fuggout man!" $180 in the hole... No matter what I did, I lost most of my hands at the blackjack tables. Followed every stinkin' rule too. I guess I am just too greedy. I should only bet $5 a hand, not $30. From this day forth, I am not gambling anymore. I am going to stick with sure things, like baseball cards, garbage pail kids, and beanie babies.
Basic Strategy Chart
Here is a chart you can follow. The cards on top (horizontal) are the dealer's up card. The side numbers (vertical and on the left) are your total hand. S=Stand D=Double P=Split and Blank white spaces=Hit. This chart is for informational purposes only. This is not a guarantee that you will win. You will probably lose all your money, but at least you have some kind of chance. This is a basic chart that are in most blackjack books. Set a lose limit and as well as a win limit. Once you reach your limits, leave and don't go back.
Disclaimer: Gamble at your own risk.