Color Me Up

The casinos have a unique way of upgrading the size of player bets, which sometimes results in large losses to unsuspecting players.

A beginner at blackjack often seeks out the lowest minimum bet games. The player starts betting at the table minimum, for example $5 a hand. Suppose the player wins a hand and lets the $5 winning chip ride. The player now has a $10 bet and is dealt a hand that requires a double down bet. A win at this point would require a payoff of four red chips; other times the dealer may give the player a green chip ($25) and take away a red ($5) chip as change. This latter transaction is known as coloring up and it effectively reduces the supply of the players lower denomination chips and replaces them with chips of a higher denomination.

So far there is no damage done. But suppose the player runs out of red chips and has only green chips left? What the player should do is ask the dealer for "check change" and convert the green chips into lower denomination red chips. However a lot of novice players do not ask for check change and make the mistake of betting the green chip.

Sometimes the player will get lucky and win the $25 bet. Other times the bet is lost. And conceivably the player could lose a lot more than $25. How? Suppose the player were dealt a hand that required a split. The player would have to add another green chip to the original bet. And in the extreme case, the player may be dealt cards to each split hand that would suggest the best play is to double down. The novice player in the heat of the battle could conceivably bet 4 green chips (that's a total of $100) on the table. Grant it this is the same player that started his play at the table minimum of $5 a hand. And in this extreme example if the dealer got lucky and drew a 20 or 21 the player could conceivably lose $100 on one hand.

You are probably saying nobody in their right mind would be betting green chips with a limited bankroll and limited knowledge about the game of blackjack. Then I'd like for you to join me some time as we watch players play blackjack (I'll even let you pick the casino!). Most of the time it's desperate players betting green chips trying to recoup their losses in one hand. It's the double or nothing mentality. Other times you will spot a timid novice player betting green chips because at some time the dealer colored them up and he/she didn't know any better. Don't let this happen to you!

To prevent yourself from over betting in a casino, always ask the dealer for "check change" to convert higher denomination chips to lower ones. Casino dealers always ask players who are leaving the table to "color up" and that's OK because it's more convenient to carry a few higher denomination chips than a lot of smaller ones. However, if you decide to play at another table, remember to ask the dealer for "check change" so you can bet at a level you are comfortable with.

Over betting is a cardinal sin in a casino. No matter how skillful a player you may be, blackjack by it's nature will result in a your bankroll fluctuating. Mathematician can predict with great accuracy how much of a swing in your bankroll you can expect based on your playing habits. That's why you need to have a cushion or spread between your average bet size and bankroll to weather the storms. And it's just not the novice players who tend to over bet. This is the number one reason why most fledgling card counters never make any money in this game.