Blackjack: Is it a game of luck or a game of skill?

4 mins read

Anyone who has spent much time around the casino scene – online or offline – will have been exposed to some debate over whether the games people play are based in luck or in skill. For those of us who have picked out an online casino or two using Wish, we’d all like to think the games we play are skill-based. When we win, we want it to be because we’ve done well. When we lose, we like to think we’ll learn from our mistakes, and go again.

It’s probably true to say that some games in casinos are more luck-based and some are more appropriate for skill players. Most people would argue that blackjack, for example, is one of the more skill-based games in an online casino. But is that absolutely true? It’s a good idea to look more deeply into this, because solid blackjack strategy is dependent on knowing what you can control (skill) and also what you can’t (luck). So let’s evaluate to what extent blackjack really is in the former category.

Why blackjack is a “skill” game

 Your decisions in a game of blackjack are based on the cards you have (which you can see) and the one card the dealer shows before you choose to hit or stand. Making the right decision demands that you evaluate your hand as it is, and what it could become – and then setting that against what the dealer might have. If you’ve got hard 16, and the dealer is showing 5, you have to decide whether you’re better taking another card, or letting the dealer play. It takes skill to know that the dealer has a lot to do from there to beat you, and it’s not worth risking the bust that is likely if you take another card.

Why blackjack is a “luck” game

Of course, there’s no way to really know what awaits you if you “hit” in a blackjack game. If you’ve got 4-9 and the dealer is showing 10, you have to play, that much is clear. If you draw an 8, you’ll have 21, so if the dealer pulls anything other than an ace you’ll win. On the other hand, you can be standing on A-9 while the dealer is showing a 4. That’s usually enough for you to win, but the dealer could turn over two eights and score 20 to beat you. You didn’t do anything wrong but you still lost – luck can play a part in your favor or against you, and it’s worth remembering that. It’s not like Jeopardy, where only a better player can beat you.

So is it worth trying to get better?

As good as you are at calculating the right way to play at a given time, you do have to admit that blackjack is won and lost predominantly on the luck of the draw. You can’t make good cards appear, so accepting the limitations of your strategy is essential – you can make all the right decisions and still lose. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practise, though. Even players who make shocking decisions can see an RTP% of 90, but through making smarter decisions, you can find yourself coming out ahead more often, something that can’t be said for a lot of other casino games.

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