In its strictest sense, Blackjack can be considered a purely solitary sport. The game, after all, is between you and the dealer, and what other people you are at the table with do has no direct affect on the outcome of your game. You’re not playing for the group or for anyone else in the table – you’re in it for yourself. But that’s what other people may think.
For Blackjack can indeed be a team sport and many have done and have proven that this may be so. Normally, players would only pay close attention to what they are playing in their hands and entirely disregard what other players in the table have. But if every player does so, the house will take in the greatest advantage and every player in the table will eventually lose. But the table can work together to actually affect the decisions and outcomes of every deal – players will have more chances of beating the house and winning.
Learning from History
One of the greatest masters in blackjack team play is Tommy Hyland, who is known not only as an exceptional blackjack but more so as an effective blackjack team manager – one of the most successful in the history of the game. Tommy constantly improved his game by reading and studying other players, and from this he came to the conclusion that an effective blackjack team is necessary to reach much achievement in this game.
His first team had reached much success in a short period of time, although there were several challenges and issues along the way. He never gave up though, although many of his team members left. He soon moved on to work with other players and managed them to a long-running success that was attributed to his great organization skills and loyalty to his members that eventually gained their trust – a vital ingredient for achieving success in this game.
Tommy Hyland and his team were not the only ones who achieved great success in working as a team to bring down the house. There was Ed Thorp who tested his blackjack theories with two-couple teams in Las Vegas. Another one is Ken Uston who earned millions from the casinos through his elaborate but structured network of players who worked with him for several years. Most famous among these teams are the MIT math students who brought down the house with their exceptional computer-enhanced card-counting skills that earned them more than $400,000 in a single weekend.
Working with a Blackjack Team
So how did they achieve this? How did these team managed to beat the house? Although their primary weapon in their arsenal is their card counting skills, it’s not the thing that could ensure them success in these games. Teamwork, proper coordination, proper positioning and honing each other’s skills, they should also maintain effective communication methods in order to share information on card counts as well as pool whatever resources they have to have bigger bet values.
Although there is no need for each member of the blackjack team to be exceptional in card counting techniques, every member does have a specific role to play to ensure success for the team. There is the back spotter who counts cards and signal other teammates, particularly the “gorilla” that moves from table to table. And then there’s the “big player” who eventually handles the bets at a table with more favorable card counting odds.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Blackjack Team Play
There are certain benefits as well as pitfalls when trying to work with a blackjack team. There are definite advantages that would entice other people to leave their solo play behind and work with a team. But there are disadvantages as well that would make one rethink their strategies in playing this game.
Team Play Advantages
- Pooling your sources together will enable each player to have a bigger bankroll that they can use to afford playing in higher-staked games and bet larger amounts of money. The larger the bets, the larger revenues everyone would eventually win.
- Instead of going solo, you now have a good team working with you, behind you, and supporting you all the way. You can all learn from each other’s strengths and weakness, allowing each member to eventually improve their own game – and have fun doing so
Team Play Disadvantages
- Friendships could be strained or damaged should things not work out well with the team. A team member might panic in the heat of the game and do things his way apart from the team’s original gameplan.
- There could be chance for betrayal, particularly for team members that you really don’t know that well.
The Composition of a Good Blackjack Team
The total number of players in a blackjack team is not fixed although it would only be logical to start with four members. The key thing here is to stay under the radar of the casino lookouts. Although team play and card counting is not illegal, casinos frown on this practice and will eventually blacklist any team identified of doing so.
The characteristics of a good team that will have better chances of beating the house and winning the game of blackjack are as follows:
- Team members should be honest and trustworthy
- Members have specific skills and playing abilities depending on the part they play
- Each player should share the same philosophy and expectations
- Like-minded and aiming for the same goals
Lastly, the team should have someone who is willing and able to take on the task of leadership and as manager of the team. He is the one responsible for ensuring that everyone in the team sticks to the gameplan and follow rules that everyone has agreed to. He would also be the one to make the final decisions that would be inline with the team’s objectives and goals.
Having all these elements together and properly in place, everyone would be on their way of getting financial success in this team sport called blackjack.