Blackjack is so tremendously popular because it allows both online and offline gamblers to be in control of the outcome of their wagers. The gameplay requires mostly fast and optimal decisions and not so much luck as it is the case with other casino games such as slots and roulette. No wonder, this formula has been so successful in gaining loyal fans! Nobody likes random and totally unpredictable gambling outcomes whereas everyone loves to feel awesome by earning money thanks to personal expertise. The urging desire to master the decision-making process and lower the casino’s edge to some record-breaking values is what has initiated the birth of many blackjack strategies. If you search around that topic you might easily get confused as everyone has their own variety of tactics, tips, and tricks when it comes to blackjack. To keep it simple, yet effective, we’ll focus on the 2 basic and most popular techniques! They are more than enough to provide a successful start and to better your performance.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
Basic strategy is a useful tool telling you the ideal move in any given blackjack situation. This is not something you have to understand, doubt or think about, it’s something you must memorize. Depending on your opening hand and the dealer’s face-up card, there is always a perfect move which you can see in the table below. Find your opening hand’s total and connect the row with the column showing the dealer’s first card. The box where the two meet holds the statistically most correct action.
The basic strategy was created a long time ago through millions of math and computer simulations. The results of these calculations have been summarized and slimmed down to what you see in the chart below. The goal of the strategy is to increase your winnings and decrease the losses. The opening hand in blackjack is where optimal decisions are highly needed. This is the moment when, if your hand is more advantageous, you could double down or split to eventually win more. On the other side, with not so beneficial starting hands – Stand, Hit or Surrender are the perfect moves if you aim to lower the possible losses.
The most common mistake gamblers do when it comes to putting the basic strategy into practice is playing according to the chart’s suggestions but not completely. They often use it as a foundation to build their own personalized strategy which is usually highly influenced by various myths, superstitions or just some form of intuition. The truth is, basic strategy doesn’t provide suggestions, but Must-Follow Rules! Only the strict (100%) following of the rules cuts the casino’s advantage to 0,5%. Of course, this percentage is extremely beneficial for the player, but it doesn’t guarantee constant wins and getting stinking rich overnight. The casino still has its advantage and no wins are certain.
The best approach, specially if you’re a beginner, is to try and quickly memorize the entire pack of ideal strategy moves. There are various online tools especially created to help you practice, but you can also do it on your own. Simply deal cards on the table and try giving the correct move. Playing online is also a good exercise. There are a lot of free demo games at almost every online casino, so you won’t be risking any real money while still learning. The goal is to get the basic strategy patterns in your head so that they become a subconscious habit.
Unfortunately, the basic blackjack strategy is not enough! The best way to think about it is as a solid foundation. However, if you’re planning to beat the game of blackjack, you will need a little extra help! Counting cards sounds illegal and complicated but it’s not! Even though it does require some time to master, it’s totally worth the effort. Most people avoid card counting because of the false assumption that it has something to do with memorizing numbers or cards (which I admit does sound unpleasant). In reality, it’s not that complicated and requires only basic mathematical skills. In short, card counting is about keeping track of the low to high cards ratio at all times during the game. To do that you must assign a value to every card. The most common system features the following values:
- 2-6 = +1
- -9 = 0
- 10-Ace = -1
As each card is dealt, the player should either add 1, subtract 1, or do nothing depending on the card value. The running count is happening in your head and must be updated with every new card revealed. Yet, if there are multiple decks in play, you should aim to find the ‘True Count’, meaning to divide the running count by the number of decks. Then all that’s left to be done is to raise your bets when the true count goes up and the other way around. It’s logical if you think about it: when the concentration of 10’s and Aces left in the deck is higher, your chance of scoring a blackjack and the dealer busting increases. Whereas when there are more low cards left, the blackjack opportunities for the player decrease. It’s a simple idea, yet it takes a lot of practice and dedication to transform it into a winning strategy.
More Blackjack Tips and Tricks
Besides basic strategy and card counting, there are also some small tips and tricks when it comes to playing blackjack. I would start with a quick warning to limit the use of side bets and insurance. These two have a higher house edge than any other bet and are usually used to add extra excitement for the player and generate a greater profit for the casino.
Another risky strategy in blackjack is following the Martingale system. It requires doubling your bets after every loss with the idea to break even in case you score a win the next time. This negative progression strategy is rarely worth the risk and is usually the fastest route to a bankroll disaster. Managing your cash balance is just as important as any other strategy out there and must be implemented with no exception.
Blackjack is indeed the most player-friendly game but as with anything else you must carefully choose your betting strategies. I would leave you with my final advice which is to research all the steps towards beating the game and to practice each of them for free until you feel confident to start with the real money bets.