Making a living playing blackjack is extremely challenging and not feasible for most people. While there are a few individuals who have been successful at it, there are several significant factors and risks to consider:
Skill and Strategy1
To make a living playing blackjack, one must have an exceptional level of skill. This includes a mastery of basic strategy, card counting techniques, and other advantage play methods. These skills require considerable time and dedication to develop.
A substantial bankroll is necessary to withstand the natural variance and swings in the game. Blackjack, even with perfect play, involves periods of winning and losing, and one must have enough capital to weather the losing periods.
Risk of Ruin3
The risk of losing one’s entire bankroll is a realistic concern in professional gambling. This risk is compounded by factors like table limits, casino countermeasures, and the need to constantly find playable games.
Casinos are adept at identifying skilled players, especially card counters, and may take actions like banning them from playing blackjack, limiting their bets, or shuffling more frequently to counteract their advantage.
Earnings from professional blackjack play can be highly unpredictable and irregular, making it a risky and unstable source of income.
The lifestyle of a professional blackjack player can be demanding. It often involves extensive travel, long and odd hours, and dealing with casino environments, which can be stressful and tiring.
Legal and Ethical Considerations7
While card counting is legal, casinos reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Professional players often have to employ various tactics to disguise their skills or switch casinos frequently, which can be a gray area both legally and ethically.
No Benefits or Job Security8
Unlike traditional jobs, playing blackjack professionally offers no job security, health insurance, retirement plans, or other benefits.
Tips and Strategies To Make a Living Off of Blackjack
While making a living off blackjack is challenging and not recommended for most people due to its high risk and variability, here are some tips and strategies for those considering attempting it. Remember, this is a high-risk profession with no guarantees of success:
Master Basic Strategy: This is non-negotiable. You must know the optimal way to play every possible hand. Basic strategy reduces the house edge to its theoretical minimum.
Learn Card Counting: Choose a card counting system that suits you (like the Hi-Lo system) and master it. This involves keeping a running count and adjusting it as cards are dealt to estimate the composition of the remaining deck.
Understand Bankroll Management: Have a large enough bankroll to withstand the natural swings and variance in the game. A professional blackjack player must be prepared for the possibility of losing streaks and have enough funds to sustain them through these periods.
Bet Size Adjustment: Learn to adjust your bet sizes based on the count. When the count is in your favor (positive), increase your bets. When it’s not (negative), decrease your bets or consider not playing.
Learn to Camouflage: To avoid detection by casino staff, you must learn to camouflage your play. This can involve anything from varying your bet sizes in a less predictable manner to acting like a typical recreational player.
Handle Emotional and Financial Stress: Be prepared for the emotional and financial stresses that come with gambling for a living. This includes dealing with losses calmly and not letting emotions dictate your play.
Keep Learning and Adapting: The world of casino gambling is always changing. Stay informed about the latest strategies, casino conditions, and any changes in the rules of the games you play.
Travel and Flexibility: Be prepared to travel to different casinos, as you may be barred or restricted from playing at certain locations if you are identified as a skilled player.
Legal and Ethical Considerations: Understand the legal and ethical landscape. While card counting is not illegal, casinos can ban players they suspect of counting cards.
Practice and Experience: Spend significant time practicing and gaining experience in real casino conditions. Start with lower stakes to build your skill and confidence.
Plan for Financial Security: Since blackjack doesn’t provide a steady income, health benefits, or retirement plans, make plans for financial security outside of gambling.
Responsible Gaming: Always remember the risks involved and ensure that you are not gambling with money that you cannot afford to lose. Responsible gaming is crucial.
Avoid intoxication or playing under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Your brain is your most valuable asset when you’re looking to win at blackjack. If you drink alcohol or use intoxicating drugs, your judgment will become compromised. It can also hurt your memory recall and affect your card-counting skills.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
A simple blackjack strategy chart is the easiest method to understand this technique. The strategy sheet shows you whether to double down, surrender, stand, or hit. For instance, the chart will tell you that you should not hit…
Any player’s hand worth 17 or higher (that is, 17, 18, 19, and 20) – It doesn’t matter what the dealer’s up-card is; you should not hit these numbers. That is because your hand has a higher probability of going over 21. They are high numbers, too, so they have a higher chance of beating or tying with the dealer.
12 if the dealer is showing a 4, 5, or 6
13 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
14 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
15 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
16 when the dealer’s up-card is low (2 through 6)
Ace-8, Ace-9, and Ace-10 against any dealer’s up-card
Ace-7 against the dealer’s 2, 7, or 8
Ace-6 if the dealer’s up-card is a 2
A pair of 10s – If you hold any pair of 10s, you should not hit no matter what
A pair of 9s against the dealer’s Ace, 7, or 10
Is online blackjack a bad idea?
Playing online blackjack isn’t inherently a “bad idea,” but you can’t count cards online, so you’re saying goodbye to that possibility. Here are some other factors to consider:
Pros of Online Blackjack
Convenience: You can play from the comfort of your home, without the need to travel to a physical casino.
Availability: Online games are available 24/7, offering flexibility to play at any time.
Variety of Options: Online casinos often have multiple variations of blackjack, offering different rules and betting options.
Lower Minimum Bets: Compared to land-based casinos, online blackjack can have lower minimum bet requirements, making it accessible for players with smaller bankrolls.
Promotions and Bonuses: Many online casinos offer bonuses and promotions, which can be used to play blackjack.
Cons of Online Blackjack
Lack of Social Interaction: Unlike in a physical casino, you don’t get the social aspect of playing at a table with others.
Risk of Addiction: Easy access to online gambling can increase the risk of gambling addiction for some players.
Fairness and Security Concerns: It’s crucial to play only at reputable online casinos to ensure fair play and the security of your personal and financial information.
Regulatory Differences: Online gambling laws vary by country and state, and in some places, it’s not legal or regulated, which can pose risks.
Faster Pace: Online games can play faster than physical ones, which could lead to quicker losses if you’re not careful.
Technical Issues: Internet connectivity issues or technical glitches can disrupt pla
Who is the best blackjack player in the world?
“Best” is hard to define, but there are some names that stand out from the pack. In no particular order they are:
Edward O. Thorp: Often considered the father of card counting, Thorp is a mathematician who wrote “Beat the Dealer” in 1962. This book was the first to mathematically prove that the house edge in blackjack could be overcome by card counting.
Ken Uston: A famous professional blackjack player known for popularizing the concept of team play in blackjack. Uston was also known for his legal battles with casinos and his books about his gambling experiences.
Stanford Wong (John Ferguson): Known for his book “Professional Blackjack,” Wong developed and popularized several advanced blackjack strategies, including “Wonging,” which involves watching the game until the count becomes favorable.
Tommy Hyland: A well-known professional blackjack player and manager of one of the longest-running blackjack teams.
Don Johnson: Gained fame for winning over $15 million from three casinos in Atlantic City during a six-month period in 2011. His success was not just due to card counting but also to negotiating specific rules and rebates on losses with the casinos.
Max Rubin: A professional gambler, author, and expert on casino comps and advantage play strategies.
Can you make a living playing blackjack online?
Making a living playing blackjack online is highly challenging and not a practical or sustainable option for most people because without the benefit of card counting the house has too much of an edge.
Is blackjack profitable in the long run?
Blackjack is rarely profitable in the long run because the game has a house edge. The average casino advantage is 0.56% for standard blackjack games. That means you will likely experience a loss of $0.56 for every $100 you stake on blackjack in the long run.
Can you really make money playing blackjack?
Yes, making money playing blackjack is possible both in-person and online. In land-based casinos, skilled players use strategies like card counting. Online, players can benefit from bonuses and promotions. Consistent winnings require understanding of blackjack strategies and responsible bankroll management.
Can you be successful at blackjack?
Yes, success at blackjack is possible, especially for skilled players who understand basic strategy and card counting. Such players can reduce the house edge, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome. On average, the house holds a slight advantage, but with optimal play, the odds can be nearly even, enhancing winning prospects.
Is blackjack still profitable?
Blackjack can still be profitable for players using perfect basic strategy, although profitability has decreased. With changes in casino rules like dealers hitting on soft-17 and 6:5 blackjack payouts, the house edge has grown to about 1%. However, disciplined bankroll management and skillful play can still offer winning opportunities.
What are the odds of making money at blackjack?
In Blackjack, a player has approximately a 42% chance of winning and making money. The dealer’s chances are slightly higher around 49%, impacting the player’s odds. Efficient strategies and bankroll management can improve a player’s odds of turning a profit in the long run.