Blackjack can be a lot more complex than it looks. A game with a basic premise also provides numerous variables that all players need to be aware of if they are to enjoy success when at the table (live, virtual, or otherwise).
The game has, of course, been designed to give the house (the dealer) the edge, but the odds are favorable enough for players to enjoy success playing blackjack. That being said, without understanding some of the basic blackjack strategies, it is far easier to consistently lose than it is to win.
Here are some key tips to keep in mind that can give you a solid footing for next time you’re playing blackjack. While luck will always be a major factor, this guide will give you the right tools to avoid sustained losses and how to capitalize when the cards are in your favor.
Basic Blackjack Strategies
We’ll take it as a given that you understand the premise of blackjack, but if you need a quick explainer, then this guide to the rules of blackjack provides the lowdown. Now you know what to do and when based on which cards appear on the table. By adopting this as a guide, you can reduce the house edge from the typical 1-2 percent down to 0.5 percent.
When to stand: Stand when your cards total 12-16 and the dealer’s card is 2-6. Why? Because the dealer is compelled, under most blackjack rules, to continue drawing cards until their total reaches at least 17. With the odds tilted toward a card worth 10 (10, Jack, Queen, King) being drawn if the dealer has 2-6, it places them in a strong position to go bust.
When to hit: Hit when your hand is 12-16 and the dealer holds 7-Ace. Why? Like the previous reason but in reverse. If a card worth 10 is most likely, then a dealer will hit 17 or more if they hold any cards between 7 and Ace. It will therefore be worth the risk to hit if you hold 12-16.
When to split: Always split when you have a pair of Aces or a pair of 8s. Why? Because Aces are flexible and can be deployed either as a 1 or an 11. Therefore, holding two Aces can only be worth 2 as 22 will mean your hand is bust. By splitting Aces, you give yourself a great chance of landing blackjack. In the case of 8s, splitting gives you a better chance of landing at least 18 whereas keeping them together totals only 16.
When to double: Double when your two cards are worth 11 and the dealer holds 2-10. Why? Because holding 11 from your two cards gives you the best chance of landing blackjack through your third card. Meanwhile, the dealer – if they draw a 10 or picture card – can only reach 20 if they already hold a 10 or picture card. Plus, if they hold 2-6, they will be forced to draw more cards, thus increasing their chances of going bust.
Other Blackjack Tips
Those above are the basic strategies to implement next time you are at a blackjack table, but there are other factors to consider beyond in-play tactics. Here are a few…
Ignore insurance option
All blackjack experts agree on this. Insurance bets are when the dealer offers you the option of a side bet that protects you if the dealer gets blackjack. It is typically offered when the dealer’s first card is an Ace. If the dealer does land blackjack, you will not lose the bet.
However, the households a 6 percent advantage on insurance bets, meaning if you and the dealer both get blackjack you will only win your original bet and the round is pushed. But if the dealer does not get blackjack, your insurance bet is lost. It’s just not worth it.
Analyze the dealer’s up card
What decision you make will depend largely on what the dealer’s upcard is. If it’s a good card (7-Ace) or a bad card (2-6) will make a big difference in how you approach the rest of the round. When you have seen the dealer’s up card, revert back to the blackjack strategies above.
Ignore the ‘experts’
Always remember that when you are playing blackjack, it’s just you against the dealer, regardless of how many people are also at the table. It’s not uncommon to have other players alongside you who profess to have all the answers and come across as a blackjack expert. Just ignore their ‘advice’ and focus on your own hand. This isn’t so much a problem online as it can be at live tables, but if you are playing at a live casino online, turned off the chatbox and focus on your own game.
Know when to surrender
Blackjack is a form of gambling and as such, the casino will always hold the edge, no matter how much you implement these strategies (unless you become an expert card counter!). There knowing the right time for blackjack surrender is crucial.
That means there will be times when the fortune is going your way and others when it feels like bad luck will never end and the game is rigged against you.
Knowing when to walk away from the blackjack table is just as important as remembering all of the strategies. When it’s going well, set an upper limit so you can walk away with your profits intact; when it’s going badly, set a lower limit, and admit it just wasn’t your day.
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