Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games online as well as in brick-and-mortar venues. If you’ve ever played the game, the chances are you’ve dreamed about the life of a professional blackjack player.
It’s certainly possible to become a professional gambler, and playing blackjack fits into that particular career. But, as you’ll learn in this blog post, it’s not an easy job. Keep reading to discover what you need to do to start playing blackjack for a living. Other topics addressed include the kind of money you could make, plus some top tips from pro players.
Can You Play Blackjack Professionally?
Many people are skeptical about the possibility of making a long-term profit from playing blackjack. But it is actually possible, and lots of players have achieved their dream of gambling professionally.
However, it requires the right kind of temperament and an incredible amount of effort.
How Much Can a Professional Player Earn?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. After all, there’s no such thing as a professional blackjack player salary. This isn’t the kind of job where you’re going to receive a weekly or monthly paycheck. And there’s certainly no healthcare benefits or staff discounts.
There are so many variables in play that can shape your potential earnings. For instance, the size of your bankroll will dictate the stakes you can play. The distance you live from the casino will impact your expenses.
Even the type of game played makes a difference. For instance, online blackjack tournaments completely differ from playing one-on-one against a dealer in a land-based casino. Other factors include your hand-per-hour rate, your chosen strategy, and your ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
There are certainly professionals out there capable of earning six-figure annual sums. But don’t think for a second that this is a Hollywood movie. Most pros earn enough to pay their bills, but they’re not living in mansions with supermodels and sports cars.
How To Play Blackjack Professionally
Okay, so you want to play blackjack full-time — what should you do to get started? There are three vitally important steps you’ll have to take. Here they are, in order of priority.
Manage Your Money
This is one of the less glamorous aspects of gambling for a living, but it’s the most crucial of all. Many failed professionals, whether they play blackjack, poker, or something else, are extremely talented. But the chief reason they don’t succeed is because they can’t manage their money.
Make sure you set aside a bankroll that is exclusively for blackjack and never use money that should be spent on food and bills. Learn how to correctly divide this into unit stakes to give yourself the best chance of surviving a downswing. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are if you go broke.
Money management is as much about temperament as anything else. Lots of discipline is required to learn the necessary skills to turn pro, as well as being sensible with your funds. You must also have the mental strength to survive tough times without chasing losses. This isn’t even to mention the stamina you’ll need to play long sessions without making poor decisions.
Understand the Game and Basic Strategy
To go pro, you’ll need more than the basic blackjack skillset. Be aware that certain house rules apply in different casinos, such as not being allowed to re-split aces. Make the effort to seek out games with the most favorable rule variations, including surrender and dealers hitting on soft 17.
Rules aside, you’ll need to ensure you can play basic strategy. Since blackjack is a solved game, there is a correct move to make in each situation. By playing perfectly in every spot, you’ll minimize losses and maximize profits. In theory, you can bring the house edge down to as little as 0.5%.
Of course, this isn’t enough to make blackjack profitable in the long run, which is where the next point comes in. But first, you’ll need to sharpen your knowledge of basic strategy by practicing for free. Most sites let you play blackjack online in demonstration mode. That’s a great way to get into good habits without risking your bankroll, before playing for real money.
Learn To Count Cards
The key to turning a profit in this game is card counting. Contrary to popular belief, counting cards in blackjack isn’t illegal. You may be asked to leave a casino if caught, but it’s certainly not a criminal offense. In fact, it’s not even cheating. It’s just a skill that can be learned like any other.
Doing so will completely overturn the house edge, if combined with perfect basic strategy, creating a positive expectation situation for you.
There are many different card counting systems, some more complex than others. It’s really up to you which to adopt, but plenty of resources are out there to help you choose the right one.
A good starting point is the hi-lo system, which is one of the easiest to learn. Perfecting this will help you turn a profit and provide a solid grounding before progressing to more advanced counting systems.
All systems involve assigning values to the cards. You’ll need to keep a count in your head as every card at the table, not only yours, is dealt. This “running” count provides a simple oversight of the state of the deck. But to gain a more accurate picture, you’ll need to make a conversion to what’s known as the “true” count. The equation required to do this depends on your chosen system.
Regardless, when the true count is in your favor, it’s time to increase the stakes and make some money. When it’s against you, you’ll either reduce your bet sizing or simply leave the table and look elsewhere.
Top Tips From Blackjack Pros
To round things off, here are a few tips to playing blackjack full-time, from the pros themselves.
- Avoid tables where blackjack pays out odds less favorable than +150.
- Do play in games with favorable rules, like surrender and soft 17.
- Never play when exhausted, and don’t drink alcohol.
- Look for shoes with fewer decks, ideally just one, as counting is easier.
- Don’t play animated RNG blackjack games; stick to real tables.
- Never deviate from your bankroll and counting strategies.
Start Your New Career at Borgata Online
If you feel you could make it as a blackjack pro, the first step is understanding basic strategy. Practice at free-to-play tables first. Then, when you’re ready to gain experience under pressure, you can graduate to the live dealer blackjack tables and play for real.
Register at Borgata Online today and start your journey to becoming a blackjack pro.