Blackjack is a game of skill and a scenario in which luck plays a leading role. There will inevitably be ‘ups and downs’ and a string of individual decisions that will affect the final outcome. Several superstitions have been created over time to give ‘reason’ to that which essentially boils down to a combination of skill and sheer luck. These beliefs lend themselves to oftentimes strongly held expectations for the ‘rules of engagement’ at the Blackjack table. When novice competitors or strong-willed pros make decisions that ‘go against’ the superstitions or pre-conceived notions regarding the rituals, custom, and myths that shroud Blackjack, they can disrupt the harmony and cohesive feeling at the table. Most of the myths that these expectations formed upon are, in all actuality, misconceptions that are not based in fact.
Blackjack Can Get Intense
Many avid Blackjack fans firmly believe these misconceptions that have no merit. Over the long-run players will experience highs and lows due to the nature of the game. There is a level of skill that is necessary to make the most ‘ideal’ decisions throughout the course of the game, but the truth is that certain things are a matter of chance, no more - no less. New players may be unaware of the myths and wonder why competitors become agitated over decisions they make. A great example of this would be when a third base player “takes the dealer’s bust card”. Imagine the dealer was holding a 4 and you have a 13 your strategy should be to ‘stand’ but you have a gut feeling that you need to hit.
You get hit with a 9 and bust while the dealer has a 10 down card and hits, receiving a 7 for a total 21. Now the four other players may get hostile now if they believe that by ‘going against’ basic strategy you are at ‘fault’ for their loss. The fact is that hitting, standing, or splitting will change the cards in later hands and you messed up the flow by taking that hit. In reality any decision that leads to a ‘change’ in which the order of the cards is altered could be good or bad, there is absolutely no way to know whether a decision will fare well for any given player in subsequent hands. If you opt to play by your own ‘strategy’ you may want to develop a ‘thick skin’ for the die-hards that fervently believe the myths. Applying ‘basic strategy’ is not a rule but the other players may attempt to intimidate the ‘offender’ into leaving the table.
Superstitions and Myths Debunked
Another superstition that is quite similar to that of the third base player ‘taking’ a card that ‘should have been’ dealt to another player has been referred to as “the sacred flow”. A prime example of this superstition is the story about a lady sitting at a blackjack table playing two hands for numerous rounds, and then flipping the script to just one hand. A new player sits down and a few rounds of play commence. The lady then decides to go back to playing two hands, and the new player got incredibly upset with her, telling her ‘not to mess up the cards’ like that. That player bribed her with $50 to forfeit playing the second hand because he was so certain that she was messing up ‘the sacred flow’. The curse of bad players is yet another myth that is believed by many a Blackjack aficionado. This superstition is also unfounded, as evidenced by the next example. On the first hand at the top of the deck the player under scrutiny decided to hit on his 12.
At the time, two of the players had 20, and one stood on his 14. The dealer at the time had a 4 ‘up-card’. The player with 14 became highly agitated and yelled at the player with the 12 who took the hit, throwing up his arms and exclaiming “Why did you do that? She’s (the dealer) got to draw!” The man with the 14 believed, mistakenly so, that hitting on a stiff (12-16) is a ‘no-no’ because the dealer would have to hit. Ironically the player that decided to hit was dealt a 7 for a total of 19. The dealer then drew a 10, flipped up his hole card which was a 9 and busted. In the end the dealer would have had a Blackjack if the player with 12 decided to stand on his 12 and the player that flipped-out was clearly wrong about his assumptions. Another superstition involves casino staff playing at the tables to incite players to have a seat. A dark cloud of mistrust surrounds these players, which is unsubstantiated and tenuous, at best.
Blackjack players are not competing against the dealer, not each other. There are in fact rules for casino players, or ‘shills’ that dictate the options available for them, much like the dealer options. A ‘shill’ may never double down, draw on a hand that can break, or split a pair. Last but not least we need to debunk the myth that females bring bad luck with them to the Blackjack table. True the number of women that play Blackjack is arguably less than their male counterparts, but this myth is not based in any type of factual data. Historically speaking, women were simply not welcome at Blackjack table. It is possible that this particular superstition was born of the favor that a female actually holds at the table. The chivalry of males, whether it be dealers, pit bosses, or competitors can lead to potential ‘distractions’ , allowing the women who maintain focus an advantage. After all, women are ‘weak’ and ‘innocent’ and certainly can’t compete with the level of skill that a man brings to the game. Or so the superstition would have you believe. Among the ranks of seasoned, clever, calculating, and adept Blackjack players are women! And that’s not bad luck, that’s just good game!