Blackjack player’s win or lose, depending primarily on decisions they take before and during the course of play. The very first decision, of course, is where to play, so given here are a number of tips to help players find the best tables and then take the greatest advantage possible once the dealing begins.
Rewards – It really pays to play at a casino that has an active Player’s Club, either online or off, to get the full benefit of loyal play. It should start with a new member promotion and extend to regular gifts, cash and comps, plus lucky drawings, special bonuses, rebates and free play. Play only where play is valued and rewarded.
Limits – While some casinos specialise in tables for high rollers, others cater to a less wealthy clientele. Play where the average wagers are suited to the bankroll available and the table stakes are easily affordable.
Markers – Casino credit (markers) is readily available, but only to those who ask for it. Applications are usually offered at the cashier’s cage. Necessary information will include photo identification, a bank account and references. Expect a credit check to be performed, too. Those who qualify will have access to an interest free loan every time they visit the tables, so it is worth looking into right from the start.
Ambience – Distractions abound on the casino floor, from blaring music and background noise to sporting events broadcast on big-screen monitors and crowds milling about the pit area. Choose a casino that has an enjoyable atmosphere. Are drinks served for free while playing? Are there tables for smokers/non-smokers? It’s much easier to concentrate and win when comfortable.
Staff – No two dealers are exactly alike. Observe a few hands before taking a seat. Is the dealer friendly and helpful? Does she/he deal at a consistent rate? And what about the pit boss? Is he/she supportive and likely to give out comps? Also, do the table servers come by frequently, and are they friendly?
House Rules – Nothing has a greater impact on the odds of winning than the specific rules by which the game is played. Does the dealer stand on soft 17? Are single- or double-deck tables available? On what hands can a player double down, and how many times can pairs be split on one hand? Look for tables where the House Rules deliver the very lowest House edge.
Seating – Most players have a favourite position at the table, often “third base,” which gives the player the advantage of being able to see all cards in play before making decisions. Others prefer “first base,” having the opportunity to go first on each hand. Don’t play at a table just because there is a seat available. Choose a table that has seating in the preferred position.
Chips – Seek out tables where everyone appears to be having a good time, with large stacks of chips in front of them. It’s a fair indication that if the dealer’s chip tray going on empty, that lots of winners are being dealt. On the other hand, if the players appear to be depressed and many are down to just a few last chips, the dealer may be on a hot streak for the House.
Players – There’s no need to sit down and play straight away. Take a little time to watch a few hands and learn how others are playing. There’s little upside to playing at a table full of beginners just learning the game or several “friendly drunks” having a night on the town. Similarly, avoid sitting where “table bosses” try to tell everyone else how to play their hands. It is often preferable to play alone against the dealer, rather than among bad players or bossy ones.