Blackjack players are three times as likely to lose by failing to draw a card as they are by busting, Dutch psychologists report.
Gideon Keren and Willem A. Wagenaar analyzed the play of 112 gamblers in more than 11,000 blackjack hands in an Amsterdam casino. They suggest that "losing by busting accumulating a card total over 21 may seem psychologically worse than losing to a dealer's superior hand," Psychology Today reports. People would rather be able to blame their loss on chance than on their own decision to take one card too many.
The goal in blackjack is to accept cards from the dealer until the total is as close to 21 as possible without going over. Each player's hand is compared to the dealer's, with the higher one winning. Ties go to the dealer.
A player can expect to lose about 1 percent of his or her money by following a set of rules called "basic," in which the decision to "stick" or be "hit" -- accept another card -- is based on the player's total and the dealer's exposed card see chart .
But most players don't follow the odds, and unless they can remember which cards have been played, they will lose more money. The "illusion of control," however, keeps them coming back to the blackjack table, Keren and Wagenaar say in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
If you hit and bust, it seems like your own fault, the authors suggest. But if you "stick" and still lose, you can blame it on bad luck.