Of all the games you can play online, blackjack is something of an outlier. It is, by some margin, the most popular of all the table games available at online casinos, beating roulette into second place, and a major part of its appeal is the strategic side to the game. Players like to feel that they are not just helpless victims of fate, and blackjack is a game in which you can play smart to improve your chances and control your own destiny.

That’s great as far as it goes, but the converse also applies. Many head for the blackjack tables in their local casino, or choose the best blackjack sites to visit from home, knowing they can reduce the house edge from 2.5 percent to less than 1.5 percent by playing smart. Yet that edge can rapidly go the other way if their strategy is not up to snuff. Here are some schoolboy errors that are all too common.

Taking insurance

Let’s get this out of the way upfront – the insurance bet is not actually insuring anything. It is a side bet that the dealer has blackjack, and has zero to do with your hand. Get that clear in your mind and you can see that the odds are highly unattractive. What it comes down to is a 2/1 bet on a 30 percent likelihood. The truth is that for every insurance bet placed, the house edge is 7.8 percent, so leave it alone.

Splitting 10s

Just – don’t. There are some who think splitting 10s is a good idea if the dealer is showing a six. To those who understand the mathematics behind the game, this is like nails on a blackboard. Don’t try to be smart, a pair of 10s means stand, end of story.

Standing on 16

16 is seen by many beginners as the borderline number for hitting or standing. However, if the dealer has an ace, seven, eight, nine or ten, standing will make you a loser more often than a winner, as you are relying on the dealer going bust. Take control of your own destiny and hit!

Not splitting eights

It’s that dreaded 16 again, and it can cause beginners to forget everything they have learned about basic strategy. If the dealer has five or lower, the temptation to stand can be almost irresistible. However, the statistical analysis shows that is the wrong call. If you have a pair of eights, always split them, regardless of the dealer’s card.

Taking a “team approach”

This one is more about attitude than strategy, but it can be just as harmful to your bankroll. In blackjack, it doesn’t matter who else is at the table and what strategy they are adopting. They might as well be on the moon, and anyone who says you have to “play as a team” to beat the dealer is chasing shadows. Focusing on the wrong thing is nothing more than a distraction and will lead to frustration and mistakes.