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Ten Requirements for Winning at Blackjack
Blackjack Professor
by Lance Humble

In studying the lives of successful professionals, and in tapping my own experiences in developing winning gambling systems, I have found ten requirements necessary to play winning Blackjack:

1. A Complete Knowledge of the Game.
You can't hope to win at something you don't understand. While you may be familiar with the rules and procedures, what you must know is the game! This includes Basic Strategy, mastering a card-tracking system, the ability to wager properly, and how to keep from being cheated.

2. The Keeping of Records
It is critical to keep records when playing. You need to know where and when you played, your impression of the dealer and pit boss, (were you being watched or possibly cheated?), and most important, your win/loss record. By tracking the pattern of your wins and losses you can monitor your bankroll and identify casinos and dealers who are difficult to win against.

3. Self Knowledge
Gambling is so psychologically powerful that it can totally transform you. You must closely watch your feelings as you play. Are you the type who keeps gambling when behind, or one who can quit when losing? Can you relate to other players who may irritate you? Can you stay cool when playing against a dealer you don't like? There is no quick way to self-knowledge. You gain it by playing and paying attention to your feelings.

4. Independence of Thought and Action
You must have confidence in your own judgment and act independently. You cannot allow yourself to be influenced by others, be they friends, foes, dealers, mates, or whomever. By the same token giving advice to another player when asked, is a poor idea. My answer is now standard. A woman, seeing that I was winning, asked me, after drawing a 4 to her exposed 9/8, if she had made the right play. I said, "Lady, when you win it's always the right play."

5. Mental Readiness For Sufficient Concentration
Mental readiness not only means being alert, it is also the ability to concentrate on cards regardless of what is going on around you. It can only be acquired through practice. You must be able to track cards and carry on conversations with the dealer and others at the same time. Whatever method you use for practice, the time spent will more than pay off.

6. Physical Readiness
This means having your body ready to play at least four hours a day, a combination of not only good physical condition but also an adequate amount of sleep. A casino is a Disneyland for adults. There are no clocks, no set mealtimes. It is difficult keep your biological balance in such an atmosphere but fortunately most of us have a built in "fatigue alarm." Pay attention to it! When it goes off, stop playing and get some rest. People who try not to miss anything usually end up missing only one thing: their money!

7. Basic Knowledge of Odds in Cards
You must know card odds to understand the effects of streaks on your play. When you don't know what kinds of losing streaks can be expected you are more subject to cheating. This lack of knowledge dulls your sense of suspicion. Secondly, card odds help determine your bankroll. Knowing the percentage advantage you have with the system you play makes it less likely to lose an inadequate bankroll due to fluctuations in the game. Thirdly, you must know the percentage advantage you have to determine if you are winning at the expected rate. If not, the possibility of dealer cheating must be considered.

8. Self Control
This is the most important psychological requirement in winning. It is particularly important when you are losing. No matter how good your system or play is, when you lose you must quit! The road from Las Vegas Strip to the airport is paved with losers who couldn't stop; who sold their return tickets to "get even."

9. A Game Plan
Having a plan can mean the difference between success and failure. How many gambling trips do you intend to make? How many days will you be staying for each one? In what locations do you intend to play? How big a bankroll will you need? How many hours a day will you play? Will it be "strictly business," or do you intend to socialize? These and other questions should be answered in the planning stage. Without a game plan, you will not control the game; the game will control you!

10. Experience
There is no greater teacher than experience. There is only one way to get it in Blackjack, and that is to play under fire in every different condition you can find. Play in large casinos and in sawdust joints. Play against young and old dealers, beautiful and ugly ones, and dealers of different races. Play in single and double deck games, games with four, five, six, and even eight decks. And yes, even play at your kitchen table against an imaginary dealer!

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