7 Warning Signs You’re Playing Too Much Blackjack


Blackjack is easily one of my favorite casino games.

I love how you can use basic strategy to lower the house edge and win more money. It’s also cool that this game offers an advantage-play method in card counting that anybody can learn with some effort.

But as fun as blackjack may be, there’s a point where you need to draw the line on how much you’re playing. I’ve personally struggled with this point in the past, although I’ve developed a much healthier blackjack habit these days.

If you feel that you’re playing too much blackjack, keep a lookout for the following 7 warning signs.

1 – You Keep Pulling Your Phone Out to Play a “Few Blackjack Hands”

Mobile blackjack has been around since the mid-2000s. But it wasn’t until the early 2010s that mobile blackjack became truly viable, thanks to more casinos offering mobile play.

I really appreciate how you can now play blackjack and other online casino games through your smartphone or tablet. This is really handy when you’re on the go or waiting for an appointment and want to play a few hands.

Of course, you also have to be more disciplined so that you don’t keep trying to play blackjack during downtime.

I remember pulling out my phone and telling myself that I’d only “play a few hands.” But a few hands ends up being many more when you’re playing in the passenger seat of a car, waking up in bed, having a snack, or watching a football game.

I don’t play mobile blackjack at multiple points of the day anymore. If you really enjoy the game, it’s hard to simply stick to a few hands.

I’ve gotten to the point where I only play a few times every week.

Recommended Reading:A really good way to limit yourself like this is by using the StayFocused app for your favorite casino site(s).

StayFocused is normally used by online workers to keep themselves from procrastinating on different websites. But it also comes in really handy when you want to stop yourself from playing blackjack too much.

You can set a limit on how much time you can spend on a particular website(s) each day. StayFocused will run a timer whenever you’re on these sites.

Once the time limit is up, StayFocused prevents you from visiting these sites until following day. I’ve added my favorite mobile casinos to this app, and it really helps me avoid playing too long.

2 – You Spend Hours Playing Social and Casino Blackjack Apps

Social blackjack apps offer a fun perspective on a classic casino game. Instead of featuring realistic settings and seeing you play for real money, these apps deliver rewards points and social features.

One example is MyVegas Blackjack, which operates like a colorful blackjack trainer. As you may know, a trainer points out when you make right and wrong blackjack strategy decisions.

MyVegas Blackjack does the same thing, except it also has playful graphics and gives rewards for making correct and even incorrect decisions. You can exchange your points for cool features in the game and enjoy detailed Las Vegas backgrounds.

Note:These apps are good for recreational players who don’t visit land-based or online casinos. But they’re also a huge time-suck if you already play real money blackjack.

I got into MyVegas Blackjack and some other social casino games for short while. But I also continued playing at land-based and internet casinos.

The result is that I spent nearly double the time playing after adding social blackjack to my routine. This is bad from both a time perspective and a strategy standpoint.

In the case of MyVegas Blackjack, you’ll sometimes earn more rewards for making bad plays. The idea is that you’re getting extra points for learning the correct play.

But players can purposely make mistakes to collect extra rewards. And this can seep into your basic strategy for real blackjack.

Long story short, I had my fun with these apps and eventually deleted them so that I didn’t waste so much time and hurt my regular strategy.

3 – You Start Making Basic Strategy Mistakes Due to Overplaying

Anybody who’s really into blackjack will understand that mistakes can result from overplaying sessions.

Everybody has a certain point at which they become fatigued from playing too much blackjack. My maximum is 4-5 hours before I start making little mistakes that I wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

Beginners who have to concentrate hard will only be able to play for 2-3 hours before they begin making strategy blunders. The key is to know yourself and make a mental note of when you’re no longer playing optimal blackjack.

This is crucial for other reasons beyond just making small strategy mistakes. Playing too long also leads to chasing losses during a bad session.

Sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself away from the blackjack table when you’ve been losing. After all, nobody wants to walk away a loser.

If you have trouble quitting blackjack sessions before you should, I recommend only bringing a certain amount of money with you to the casino. And if you’re playing online blackjack, you can only deposit what you need for a single session.

This creates a temporary inconvenience that can convince you to stop playing.

4 – You Start Blaming Others When You Lose Hands

Once you study enough basic blackjack strategy, you’ll realize that other players can’t affect your long-term results. This is something that many other players just don’t understand.

These people develop a basic understanding of blackjack strategy. But they also fall for the myth that bad blackjack players will cause them to lose.

Here’s an example of what angers these types.

  • A novice blackjack player is sitting at third base (seat to dealer’s immediate right)
  • They receive a hard 12 on their first two cards
  • The dealer is showing a 5 upcard
  • Optimal strategy is to stand with a 12 vs. the dealer’s 5
  • The beginner hits their 12 and busts out after drawing a 10
  • The dealer then draws a jack and 6, giving them a total of 21
  • Multiple players at the table get mad at the beginner for “taking the dealer’s bust card”

If we’re only looking at this individual situation, then, yes, the novice caused some players to lose. But they could’ve also taken a card that would help the dealer.

In the end, beginners who make bad strategy decisions help just as much as they hurt. The end result is that a bad player never changes the house edge.

But what about when you fully realize this, yet still get mad at the novice who takes the dealer’s bust card?

I admit that this is has happened with me before. And this is always a great sign that I’ve playing blackjack too long.

A good, rational blackjack player knows that it’s stupid to get mad at somebody for a single loss. If another player makes a poor decision that helps the dealer, this is just as much bad luck as it is the player’s choice.

Therefore, I know that it’s time to quit a session when I began acting irrational like this.

5 – You Play at Tables with Bad Rules Just Because They’re Available

The good thing about mobile blackjack is that you can quickly visit casinos with the best rules. Here’s a short list of online gaming providers that offer blackjack games with low house edges.

  • Microgaming’s single-deck blackjack (Vegas Downtown = 0.31% house edge
  • Playtech’s blackjack surrender = 0.35%
  • Betsoft’s single-deck blackjack = 0.38%

Unfortunately, you can’t just visit land-based casinos with a few taps and scrolls on your smartphone. Instead, you need to actually walk, drive, or fly to these gambling establishments.

This means that you’ll sometimes find yourself at casinos with bad blackjack rules because not every land-based casino gives players a good chance to win.

Here are some of the bad rules to watch out for.

  • 6:5 natural blackjack payouts – Raises house edge by 1.4% when compared to 3:2 payouts
  • 8 decks – Increases house edge by 0.57% when compared to single-deck games
  • Double down from 9 through 11 – Increases house edge by 0.25% when compared to no double-down restrictions
  • Dealer hits on a soft 17 – Increases house edge by 0.20% compared to dealer standing
  • No double down after splitting – Increases house edge by 0.17% when compared to being allowed to double down
  • No re-splitting aces – Increases house edge by 0.8% when compared to being allowed to re-split aces

As long as you know what to look for, you can always choose blackjack tables that give you a better chance to win. But when you’re obsessed with blackjack, you may pick bad tables anyways just because you want to enjoy the game.

This isn’t a huge deal if you’re playing $5 hands, because a 0.5% or 1% house edge difference isn’t as significant at these stakes.

But I highly suggest that you avoid playing when dealing with $25 tables that have bad rules. The following example illustrates the effect of playing bigger stakes with worse rules.

  • Player A sits down at a $25 blackjack table
  • They play 60 hands per hour
  • 60 x 25 = $1,500 in hourly bets
  • The house edge is 2%
  • 1,500 x 0.02 = $30 in theoretical losses per hour for Player A
  • Player B is also playing $25 blackjack at the same hand rate
  • The house edge is 0.5%
  • 1,500 x 0.01 = $7.50 in theoretical losses per hour for Player B

If I’m at a casino that has bad blackjack tables, then I’ll just choose a table game with a static house edge like baccarat (1.06% on banker bet) or craps (1.41% on pass line). This way I can still have fun in the casino without facing a higher house advantage.

6 – You’re Constantly Thinking About Getting Back to the Blackjack Tables – Rather Than Being Present

Many people find blackjack to be a fun form of entertainment. And it’s all the more fun when you have a hot session and rake in some good profits.

But once your time is up at the tables, you should put your focus back on the present and your daily routine.

Of course, this is easier said than done when you’re thinking back to how much money you won or lost in the casino. I’ve caught myself many times thinking about my previous blackjack session and when I’m going to play next.

Note:This is a sign that you’re not only playing too much blackjack but thinking about it more than you should. And meditation is a good way to get yourself out of this habit and help you start enjoying the present.

This may sound like an extreme measure to keep your mind from wandering to blackjack. And the problem with meditating is that it conjures up images of a hippie who spends all day sitting Indian style and chanting.

But the truth is that numerous people meditate today, and it doesn’t even take that long. This is a great mental exercise for concentrating on the present.

Here’s a quick rundown on how you can get started.

  • Find a comfortable place to sit
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing
  • Concentrate on how your diaphragm moves up and down as you breathe
  • Block out any other thoughts you may have
  • Your mind is guaranteed to wander, so gently pull it back to thinking about breathing when this happens
  • Start by meditating for 5 minutes every day
  • Gradually increase this amount so that you’re meditating for 10-20 minutes daily

Perhaps you still have no interest in meditating. But I can tell you from experience that it’s a great way to keep yourself in the moment and avoid thinking about blackjack or anything else for too long.

7 – You Devote Countless Hours to Advanced Techniques like Shuffle Tracking and Ace Sequencing

I mentioned that one of the things that I like about blackjack is that any player can learn card counting.

This doesn’t mean everybody will become an expert card counter, especially when casino distractions and other factors are considered. But most players can easily learn a counting system and try it.

The Hi-Lo system is not only one of the easiest systems to learn, but also a really accurate card-counting strategy. The Hi-Lo involves assigning positive, neutral, or negative values to specific card groups.

You can see these groups along with their values below.

  • Low cards (2-6) = +1 (fewer low cards improves your chances of beating the dealer)
  • Neutral cards (7-9) = 0 (neutral cards have no effect on counting)
  • High cards (A-10) = -1 (fewer high cards means your chances of winning are lower)

The general idea behind card counting is that you want to bet more when the count is positive (more remaining aces and high cards) and wager the table minimum when the count is negative (fewer remaining aces and high cards).

From here, you need to convert your running count into a true count. The true count is your running count divided by the remaining number of decks in the shoe.

Here’s an example.

  • Your running count is +8
  • There are four decks left in the shoe
  • This makes your true count +2 (8/4)

Finally, you use the true count to determine when to spread your bets. Here’s a quick guide on bet spreading with the Hi-Lo system.

  1. Determine a unit size (e.g., $50)
  2. Figure out your true count (e.g., +3)
  3. Subtract 1 from the true count (3 – 1 = 2)
  4. Multiply this number by your unit size (50 x 2 = 100)
  5. Your bet should be 2 units, or $100
  6. Return to the table minimum (e.g., $10) whenever the true count is lower than +2

Card counting takes a few minutes to learn and longer to master. But you can see that the learning process isn’t as difficult as trying to be a professional sports bettor or poker player.

Some blackjack players take this a step further, though, and attempt more complicated advantage-play methods like shuffle tracking and ace sequencing.

The reason why players use shuffle tracking and ace sequencing is because these strategies can offer a much larger advantage than card counting. But the downside is that these are also harder to learn and implement than counting cards.

Important:Unless you’re already a skilled card counter who’s making a living through blackjack, I highly suggest that you ignore ace sequencing and shuffle tracking.

These not only call on you to count cards, but also track specific cards as the shoe is shuffled. Only a very small percentage of blackjack players can pull off this feat with consistency.

You also need the right game conditions, including minimal shuffling. Anything other than a one-pass and shuffle isn’t good for tracking cards.

In summary, learning shuffle tracking and ace sequencing is yet another sign that you’re dedicating too much time to blackjack. Odds are that you won’t learn these techniques properly anyways, and you’ll waste a lot of time trying.


Blackjack is a good casino game that can entertain you for hours. And you can especially extend your entertainment by mastering basic strategy.

But blackjack becomes less fun when you’re obsessing over it and exhibiting some of the signs I covered above.

One thing that you definitely want to avoid doing is playing mobile blackjack every time you have a free moment. Additionally, you should avoid dedicating equal time to blackjack social apps and online casinos.

Another critical sign that you’re playing too much blackjack is when you make fatigue-related mistakes.

You definitely know it’s time to quit if you’re using suboptimal strategy just because you’re tired.

Other warning signs include playing at tables with bad rules just for action, constantly thinking about blackjack, and attempting to learn complicated advantage-play methods.

Remember, blackjack is an enjoyable game that combines skill with a low house edge. But you need to find a time balance in order to fully appreciate blackjack.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.