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Playing "No-Bust" is a Psychological Barrier in Blackjack

August 4, 2012

Unlike some other casino games, where the player cannot make strategy decisions that matter, the maneuvers a player executes in blackjack can truly make a difference between winning and losing. And whenever there are decisions to be made, psychology plays a factor. In blackjack, it doesn't necessarily make sense to talk about the "house advantage" all that much, because ultimately it is a reflection of how good (or bad) the player is.

And so let's look at that psychological factor. One of the aspects of blackjack  that makes it more attractive to some people than roulette, craps or baccarat in that there seems to be a greater sense of control because the options that are available during play are more plentiful. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the psychological pitfalls one can experience are what can genuinely reduce the skill level of a player, not to mention creating a certain barrier that has the potential to prevent a player form ever learning to play effectively.

Does it get in the way of learning a proper Basic Strategy? You bet it does. One of the things that can become a real killer is the fear of busting, which manifests itself in what is commonly known as the "No-Bust" strategy.

This creates a lot of difficulty when it comes to the player being encountered with the hard hand totals of 12 through 16. There is a correct play as per the Basic Strategy, which calls for these hands to be hit against the dealer's upcards of seven (7) through Ace. What sometimes happens is that players will hesitate to hit their hand according to the Basic Strategy in situations like this, because they fear they will bust before the dealer gets a chance to play the hand. And there are a couple of different reasons for this.

One of those reasons is that they figure it's worse to bust than to do nothing and lose to the dealer's superior hand, since whatever happens with the dealer is out of the player's control. Also, there is that feeling on the part of a player to want to stay in the game and keep their hopes alive for as long as they possibly can. This necessitates that they stand on the hand and wait for the dealer to play the hand out. Do you want to hear some numbers? The worst upcards for the house to have (5 or 6) will produce only 42% busts on the part of the dealer, so as you can see, when you adopt the strategy of not busting, it's not a successful one.