How to Win at Blackjack

By Ben Hamill - October 04 2015
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You may have heard that winning at casino games is a matter of luck. This is true in many cases — after all, testing your luck is one of the most exciting aspects of casino gambling entertainment. However, there are some games in which a basic strategy can help you increase your odds and add to the chances that you’ll win. One of those games is blackjack

What is Blackjack Basic Strategy?

Blackjack basic strategy is a strategy for heightening your opportunities to win at the game, based on the mathematics of the game. The blackjack basic strategy, as refined by trial and error and tested through computer simulations, gives blackjack players some direction in how to play any particular hand in any specific blackjack variation. People who subscribe to the basic strategy believe that, when a blackjack gamer follows the strategy correctly, he can reduce the house edge to the minimum — generally about one-half of a percentage point.

Since everyone has their favourite blackjack variation, there are minor adjustments to the basic blackjack strategy, depending on which variation you’re playing. For example, in some blackjack variations, there’s a double-down option, while in others, there’s an insurance option. Some variations give you the option to split while others involve playing with one deck of cards. There are also blackjack variations which involve multiple card decks. Different variations dictate the options that a dealer has in various situations. And, of course, the dozens of types of kinds of blackjack games mix and match these options.

It’s not hard to follow the Blackjack Basic Strategy, since much of the strategy is simply based on good common sense. But when it’s laid out for you, and you memorize it, you’ll be able to enjoy a more satisfying blackjack event.

Basic Strategy Chart

Casino advisors suggest learning the Blackjack Basic Strategy by referring to aBasic Strategy Chart. A strategy chart demonstrates your options for playing your first two cards, according to the dealer’s up card. The player must act first — this is one of the ways that the house gains it edge. So, if you learn how to proceed in any given situation with your first two cards, you’ll immediately reduce the house edge.

Examples

Since every blackjack variation has its own parameters, you’ll want to find a chart that shows you what to do in the blackjack variation that you’re playing. The chart will show you what the options are, given

  • the dealer’s face-up card
  • your first 2 cards
  • what your options are for hard-hit totals, soft-hit totals without pairs and soft-hit totals with pairs

So, let’s say that you’re playing a multi-deck variation in which the dealer will be standing on a soft 17 and your first two cards are and a three and a five. Since you have a total of eight, the chart tells you to take a hit. Now, you draw another 3, giving you a total of eleven. According to the chart, you should double on 11. If you follow these instructions, your odds increase. That’s what’s meant by following the basic blackjack strategy.

Different Situations

Sometimes, different situations arise, especially after you move past your first two cards. The Basic Blackjack Strategy obviously becomes more complicated here, since there are so many more alternatives, but there is a strategy in these situations as well, and if you follow it, you’ll increase the possibilities of reducing the house edge.

Basic Strategy for the most Common Hard Hands and Soft Hand Situations

Some of the suggested procedures for these situations include:

  • Playing Hard Hands — hard hands involve your two starting cards in which no ace is included. Blackjack advisors suggest that you always take a hit on a total hand value of eight or less, double on nine if the dealer’s up card is a three, four, five or six, and, in other situations, take a hit.

If you have a ten and the dealer has a two — nine, double. Otherwise, take a hit. If you have an eleven and the dealer has a two — ten, double, but take a hit if the dealer has an ace. If the dealer has a two or a three and you have a twelve, hit. Stand if the dealer has a four, five or six. Otherwise, take a hit.

Stand on a thirteen through sixteen if the dealer has a two, three, four, five or six. Otherwise, take a hit. And never double or hit if you have a seventeen or over. Always Stand.

  • Playing Soft Hands — soft hands involve a starting hand that contains an ace.

Expert blackjack players advise that, if you have an ace plus a two or an ace plus a three, you double if the dealer has a five or a six. Otherwise, take a hit. If you have an ace plus a four or an ace plus a five, double if the dealer has a four, five or six. Otherwise, take a hit. If you have an ace plus a six, double if the dealer has a three, four, five or six — otherwise, take a hit. If you have an ace plus a seven, double if the dealer has a three through a six and stand if the dealer has a two, seven or eight. Otherwise, take a hit. If you have an ace plus an eight or nine, stand.

  • Playing Pairs — On a pair of eights or aces, split your hand and continue with two hands. If you have a pair of twos or threes, take a hit unless the dealer has a two or a seven — if that’s the case, split. On a pair of fours, take a hit unless the dealer has a five or a six — if that happens, split the hand. For a pair of fives, double if the dealer has a two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight or nine. Otherwise, take a hit. On pairs of sixes, double is the dealer has a two, three, four, five or six. Otherwise, take a hit. Split on a two through seven if you have a pair of sevens. Otherwise, take a hit. On a pair of eights or nine, split two through six and eight or nine and stand if the dealer draws an ace, seven or ten. Always stand on a pair of tens.

Live Vs. Online

Playing live blackjack is fun and engaging. Many online casinos offer the option of playing live blackjack on your PC or mobile screen. However, unless you’re an advanced player and have memorised the Basic Blackjack Strategy, you won’t have time to check and see what to do in every situation if you’re playing live. If you play online, you have more time to take your time and make sure that you’re making the best moves in any given situation. So blackjack advisors strongly suggest that, if you’re relying on Blackjack Strategy, you play blackjack online, at least while you’re learning the strategy.

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