Who: If you enjoyed the first post on Gambling Intelligently (Part 1), then you’ll be sure to love this one. If you want to learn more about common gambling myths and the truth behind them, this post is for you.
What: This post is the second post in a series on gambling intelligently. This post will discuss some prevalent gambling myths and why the myths are indeed untrue.

One of the most popular games in a casino is Blackjack, so that will be the subject today’s myths. Please note that a preliminary understanding of how to play Blackjack is required in order to understand the ideas discussed below. For information on the rules and strategy behind this game, you can check here (insert some links to blackjack rules that you like).

Myth 3: Submitted for the approval of the personal finance society, I call this story The Tale of The Terrible Blackjack Player. We begin our tale at a Blackjack table deep inside The Casino of Despair. To the dealers left at seat 1, we have Jack Ass. Seat 2 (to the left of seat 1) is occupied by his son, Jack Ass Jr. Seat 3 (last to act before dealer) is occupied by Bob Livious. At this point, Jack Ass has stood on 18, Jack Ass Jr has stood on 19 and Bob Livious has a King and a 6 (the dealer is showing a 6). Bob makes an incorrect play and decides to hit. He gets a King and busts. The dealer flips over his other card and now has a Jack and a 6. The dealer hits and gets a 5, giving him a total of 21. Jack and Jack Jr begin berating Bob Livious for hitting incorrectly. Had Bob stood with his 16, the dealer would have received the King and busted, making everyone a winner. Are the Asses correct?

Truth 3: As you may have guessed by their names, the Jack Asses are not correct. Another player’s actions on the Blackjack table do not have any effect whatsoever on your expected winnings over time. Read that again if you glanced over it the first time. It is important. Memory can be a funny thing. You know how you never notice all the Ford XYZs on the road, until you buy a Ford XYZ and all of the sudden they are everywhere? Believe it or not, this phenomenon is not due to everyone copying you. Instead, you just notice the Ford XYZ more often than you did before (in this case, because you bought the car). [Editor’s Note: For more info on this and related phenomena, check out this neat little article] Since many have heard the myth of Bob Livious and his bad play, people often take notice when he takes an extra hit that causes him to bust and the dealer to get 21. We still tend to block from our permanent memory however, all those times where Bob Livious doesn’t hit when he should, leaving the dealer to go bust or land on hard 17. The fact is that over time, Bob Livious will foil the dealer just as often as he foils other players. Next time you beat up on poor Bob, keep this in mind.

Myth 4: Card counting is the gambler’s panacea.

Truth 4: Card counting is not as glamorous, profitable, or as easy as many people think. The first and most important point I want to make is that *card counting is hard as hell*. You not only need a good memory and extreme discipline, but a very quick arithmetic mind and immense patience. Even with all of that you need weeks, months, or even years of practice to even become somewhat good at card counting. Various forms of card counting cost casinos billions of dollars per year so you can bet that they do everything they can to minimize it. Finally, card counting is only very slightly profitable. The *best* card counter playing under *optimal* rules are able to gain 0.5-1.0% advantages over the house. This means for every $50 bet that they make, they are making anywhere from a quarter to fifty cents (on average). Doesn’t sound so glamorous anymore, does it?

Anyone want to see a little primer/discussion on card counting? It is sort of off-topic, but sound off and let me know!

Stay tuned for Part 3 and Part 4 of this series where I will discuss tips to save money on gambling.

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