Blackjack tips and tricks
Blackjack tips and tricks
Blackjack is a favorite casino game to many players, and with good reason to boot. It’s not hard to earn some quick money while playing it, even for the inexperienced player. On the surface, the game looks simple and it has a miniscule house edge, making it a favorable choice for many beginners. However, as simple as a game blackjack may seem to be, it is quite difficult to master. There is plenty of potential hiding behind its deceptive surface, and the deeper you dig, the greater your chance of long term profit.
In blackjack, the object is to beat the dealer or hit 21. When playing, there are two parties involved; the dealer and the players. The game is played using one to eight basic decks of 52 cards. Kings, queens and jacks are worth 10 points, 2 through 10 are worth their face values, whereas the ace is somewhat of a wildcard – it is valued at 1 or 11, depending on which option suits the player or dealer.
The game begins with the dealer dealing cards to the leftmost player and progressing to the right, until he deals a card to himself. Cards are initially dealt twice in increments of one. All initial cards are dealt face-up, except the dealer’s first card which is dealt face-down. Once the cards have been dealt, it’s the player’s turn to act. You have the following options:
- Hit (requesting another card)
- Stand (you are done taking cards for that round)
- Split (if you have a pair of cards with identical values, you are allowed to split them and proceed with play as normal)
- Double (doubling down means you double your stake, after which you will be dealt one card and one card only for the rest of the round)
- Surrender (surrender returns half of your bet, it can only be done on the first turn once your initial cards have been dealt)
- Every blackjack table has different rules, so the flow of the game may vary from table to table. To better understand the game, playing a couple of hands for fun will help you immensely in that regard.
Blackjack basic strategy
The blackjack basic strategy is a set of strict mathematically calculated rules and guidelines. It eliminates all doubts on what your next move should be regardless of situation. By perfectly employing basic strategy, the house edge is reduced close to 0.4%. While it does not overthrow the house edge (nothing can), it is a simple, yet very powerful tool that will increase your winning chances.
Take a look at the following guidelines extracted from simplified basic strategy. They will teach you when to hit, stand, double down, split and surrender. We are assuming a 4-8 deck game where the dealer must stand on a soft 17.
When to hit in blackjack
- Hard 4 to 8
- Hard 9, double down if dealer has 2 to 6, else you should hit
- Hard 12 to 16, only when dealer has 7 to A
- Soft 13 to 15
- Soft 16 to 18, double down if dealer has 2 to 6, else you should hit
When to stand
- Hard 12 to 16 if dealer has 2 to 6
- Hard 17 to 21
- Soft 16 to 18 if dealer has 2 to 6
- Soft 19 to 21
When to double down
- Hard 9 vs dealer’s 2 to 6
- Soft 16 to 18 vs dealer’s 2 to 6
When to split
- When you have a pair of 2’s, 3’s, 6’s, 7’s or 9’s vs dealer’s 2 to 6
- When you have a pair of 8’s and Aces
When to surrender
This is the one and only time you should surrender, without exception. With all other combinations, the risk of getting a better hand is absolutely worth it, as it’s been proven mathematically.
- Hard 16 vs dealer’s 10
The guidelines above do not completely reflect blackjack basic strategy, instead they offer a more simplified approach that is a right fit for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the very basics of the strategy, you can progressively move on towards mastering the entire rule set.
What is double down in blackjack
Doubling down in blackjack is no different than hitting, in essence. When doubling down, you double your initial stake and are dealt an additional card by the dealer. You may not request more cards past that point.
Doubling down is beneficial when you have a strong starting hand, such as a 9, 10 or 11, whereas the dealer has an unfavorable up-card (2 to 6). If you win, you will receive double of what you would normally win, because of the doubled stake. Not all blackjack tables allow doubling down, some will allow it only on 9’s to 11’s, and some won’t allow you to double after a split. Having double down as an option is always beneficial to players.
Blackjack is a game centuries old, it’s only natural that over time people have looked towards crafting special strategies to always come out ahead. However, the game’s longevity should only speak of its impenetrable shell of game rules. Nothing can be done to overthrow the house advantage, but what we can offer is some advice and tips that you may have not known beforehand.
Blackjack has a house advantage because of one thing and one thing only – the player acts first. If you bust, but the dealer would bust if he got to chance to, you are on the losing side. Fortunately, by perfectly employing basic strategy, it’s been mathematically confirmed that the house edge is reduced to a mere 0.4%.
When you take basic strategy and combine it with simple or advanced card counting strategies, the playing field is almost evened out, and you can consider making some serious money on blackjack.