It’s believed Blackjack dates back to 1700 and French casinos where the original game was called Vingt-et-Un.
When translated this literally means 21 and reaching a accumulative points score of 21 with your cards, without going bust is the main aim of the game. Either playing online or at a real table, your main objective is to beat the dealer. This is unlike poker where you compete against other players.
Most people interested in casinos and gambling have heard the rumour that Blackjack is the one game at which it is possible to beat the house. Well, it’s certainly true that choosing the correct strategies throughout the game will definitely give you more of a statistical chance of winning.
Blackjack for beginners
Whether you are playing on a real table or online getting closer to 21 than the dealer without going over that number is the name of the game. Playing good blackjack is about strategically considering all the possibilities and choosing the move that statistically gives you the greatest expected return. It’s therefore crucial to know how each card is valued. You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with the rules of the game as quickly as possible. The ace in the pack can be used as either 1 or 11 (whichever number best suits your hand at the time) and the numbered cards in the set are their face value. Finally, the jack, king and queen cards are all worth 10.
First you’ll place your bet to confirm how much you are prepared to gamble on the game then you are dealt two face up cards by the dealer. It’s then a time to evaluate your hand. Importantly, at this stage, and while both your cards are visible, only one of the dealers two own dealt cards is visible.
So, depending on the combined total of your two cards it’s time to either ‘stand’ whereby you chose not to take any additional cards. ‘Hit’ which means you then receive another card/s. ‘Double-down’ means you double your original bet and receive one additional card. Then there’s ‘split’ which means you add an additional bet to turn two cards of the same value into two separate hands. Finally, if you receive an Ace and a 10 card you’ve achieved ‘Blackjack’ and all you have to do is sit back, enjoy your win and collect 150% of your original bet.
To help you with your decision making, there’s an optimal decision to be taken for each hand you are dealt and pro players call this ‘basic strategy’ Once everyone in the game has completed playing their hand the dealer will then reveal his second card. A this point your hand will be evaluated against the dealers and if it’s the closest to 21 between the dealer's hand other players on the table you win.
By remaining alert to possibilities and applying your mind carefully when playing Blackjack it will give you a competitive edge. There’s also some easy to follow tips which will make sure you have the best chance of coming out on top. It’s generally considered best to stand when your hand is 12-16 and the dealer has 2-6. It’s best to hit when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 7-Ace. You should always split Aces and 8s and Double 11 versus the dealer’s 2-10. Finally, Hit or double Aces-6.
Blackjack for pros. What Works On and Offline
Now you’ve got the basics it’s time to take a look at some of the more advanced tactics which will help you be successful playing live and online.
Counting cards requires observational, maths and recall skills.The method is quite simple and stems from the idea that when there are lots of 10 point cards left in the deck it favours the player. Simply by keeping track of all of the cards that are being dealt means you can work out situations when there are actually more 10 point cards still to come. The idea is then to bet heavily when the odds are the best. There’s a challenge though, and that’s actually keeping track of everything as it happens in a quick game situation - without alerting the casino’s attention.
You definitely need to keep track of the cards being dealt by counting each of them as +1, 0 or -1 as they come out. It’s called the ‘running count’ and it helpfully tells you when there are more than an average number of 10-point cards left in the deck.
One of the most most misunderstood of the strategies in the game is the ‘surrender strategy’ because lots of players think it’s a kop out. Quite the opposite, used well it’s a very shrewd move in the place of others. After being dealt your first two cards you might think it’s too difficult to make it up close to 21 and the option is their to forfeit playing your hand altogether. It means you lose half of your wager but you’ve still saved funds for future games.
There’s a couple of type of surrender tactics. One’s late surrender and the other is early surrender. Late surrender means you can only surrender your hand after the dealer take a look at the hole card when an ace or a ten is shown, to determine if the dealer has Blackjack. If the dealer does in fact have Blackjack then the surrender option is no longer there for you. You’ll then lose all of your bet- unless you also have a Blackjack. When utilised properly, late surrender will reduce the dealers edge by around 0.07 % in a multi-deck game.
Early surrender, which is offered by some casinos and online is considered a much more player helpful option than late surrender. It means the player can surrender their hand to a dealer’s ace and/or ten value upcard before the dealer has checked if they have a Blackjack. Crucially, early surrender against the Ace gains you 0.39 % and against the 10 it is 0.24 % making a total value to the player of 0.63% for a six-deck game.
Splitting pairs is a useful weapon to have in your armory but it’s very misused method. Most users either do it too many times, never or do it recklessly without any good reason. It’s an unfortunate fact because pair splitting was actually introduced to help the gambler but it’s not usually utilised properly meaning the dealer wins.
The rule is that When you are dealt two cards of the same value, you can split them into two separate hands.You should always split when you get aces because they are rare. With so many 10-value cards in the pack, hitting 21 is easier with an ace showing. It’s good advice to always re-split your aces too.Playing two aces as one hand is a poor strategy because they are worth either 1 or 11. You should always split when you get eights. Two eights make 16, and if the dealer is able to stand on 16 you will, at best, likely end up with a 'push' (which is a tied hand). It's better to play the two eights separately and aim for two hands worth 18 each.
You shouldn’t split when you get nines or tens because they are considered strong hands with which to beat the dealer with. Certainly 20 is a great hand to start with and is very hard to improve upon if you split. You also shouldn’t split when you get fives because it’s a fabulous hand for doubling down on if that option is there. Finally, don’t split when you get fours because it’s a good starting hand with which to hit 18. Splitting fours essentially just gives you two low hands to begin again with. Obviously, hitting a 10 on one of them only gives you a 14 to work with which normally isn’t going to be competitive enough of a number to win with.
The worst couple of starting hands you can get in BlackJack are between 12 and 17 and you are going to be dealt that number about 4 out of every 10 hands. It’s because regardless of what the dealer’s open card is, at that point you statistically stand to lose more hands than you win in the long run.
Insurance betting is sometimes available online and in casinos. The option is only available after all of the initial cards have been dealt out, and only if the dealer shows an ace. To activate an insurance bet you have to put up half your wager. If the dealer has Blackjack you win the insurance bet and it’s usually at 2 to 1 odds which means you actually break even on that hand.
Insurance betting divides opinion in the pro world but the general consensus is that because you are betting that the dealer has a ten-value downcard to go with their Ace upcard. A winning insurance bet does pay 2-1 but those odds of winning are worse than 2-1. It means that even if you have a Blackjack, and the dealer actually offers to even money you should decline it.
It’s key to avoid what other players are doing and sticking to your own strategy. It’s not a team game and you have to have a single minded and concentrated approach. Don’t be put off by other playing methods and stick to your strategy.
There are other methods and betting systems players will use which can be equally as good used either playing online or at a real table. For example, the ‘Martingale’ system recommends doubling your bet each time you lose a hand. Some players actually depend on a bet everything strategy where they can be lucky and win a huge amount or be quickly eliminated and out of money and the game.
A strategy that is very much more suited to offline playing is the use of ‘tells’. It’s a type of communication that isn’t verbal but can include body language, gestures, signals and facial expressions. Whether playing online or off, whilst playing Blackjack you should stay off the booze as much as possible because you need to keep a clear head throughout your session to make sure you give yourself the best chance possible of making the correct decisions.
A crucial way of minimising risk and playing the long game at the table is by sensible bet sizing. Smaller, but bigger bets can reduce and even end your chances. However, if all of your competitors are making very small bets it might be quite sensible to be bolder early on in the game if you are in a good position. Conversely, If there are actually some bold gamblers at the table, it’s going to be sensible to bet just enough to maximise your bankroll. Mixing things up and making small bets on a regular basis with a few bigger bets thrown in you can actually fight both styles of players at the table.
Assessing the bets of all your opponents before opting for a bet size is advisable. It’s because you can properly assess the bet amount to give you a lead without risking too many chips.Making smaller bets when you’re in the lead can actually give your opponents the chance to get in the lead.Pick your battles and don’t play unnecessary large bets. Don’t consistently place medium-sized bets either because you’ll be at a disadvantage as your bankroll depletes.
There’s certainly plenty of Blackjack betting systems and each player at the table will no doubt have their plans.Making sure you know the rules and various tactics others might be bringing to the table is crucial.