The Key Strategies to Utilize in Blackjack

Blackjack Basic StrategyBy Sophia Jones.

Blackjack is a game that has enjoyed a rising profile in recent years. It has gone from being one that only true casino connoisseurs are familiar with to something that lots of people like to play. In the same way you can play strategy games online for the pure enjoyment, blackjack has become a game that people play even if they aren’t gambling with real money.

In some parts of the world it is now ranked as the biggest table game of all, surpassing perennially popular games such as poker. A big factor in that are online casinos, and particularly, live casinos with dealers on video streams.

That has introduced a generation of online gamblers to the nail-biting excitement of playing blackjack one-on-one against the dealer. It is not the easiest of casino games to play though and knowing some strategy will make a big difference to your chances of winning.

So let’s take a look at some good blackjack strategies for both new and experienced players.

Basic Strategies for New Players

We will start by looking at some of the simple strategies that newcomers to blackjack can use to better their chances. Some will tell you that basic strategy does nothing to reduce the house edge, but they are wrong.

If used well it can cut the house edge to 0.5 percent (or less) from 1 or 2 percent (or higher), which clearly makes it worth your while.

  • Learn about the rules and the table layout

This sounds obvious, but you really do need to understand the rules of the game and how everything on the blackjack table works before starting to play.

  • Find out what the house edge is

The house edge is built into the game so you can play blackjack online or at a land-based casino and it will always be there. The house edge varies from one casino to another though, so you will need to find one where it is lower to give you better odds.  The house edge is based on the rules of the game and the number of decks.

  • Play games with fewer decks

A new player should start by picking blackjack games that involve fewer decks. If the rules were the same the house edge is lowered considerably (about 0.5%) in a single versus 8-deck game.  Blackjack can be played with any number of decks but the most popular are single, double, 6-deck and 8-deck.

Unfortunately, you usually will not find a single deck game with the same rules as a shoe-game.  One rule to be careful about is the payoff on a blackjack.  Don’t play in games that only pay 6 to 5 at blackjack.  The proper payoff is 3 to 2.

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In-game Strategies

Now let us move on to looking at actual moves that can be made during blackjack games to give you an advantage.

  • Surrendering

Not every blackjack game lets you do this and those that do will only permit it on your first couple of dealt cards. If you have accepted a hit card you will not have the option of surrendering.

Surrendering can enable you to pay just half of whatever you first bet after the dealer has checked for blackjack. It can cut the house edge between 0.022% (single deck) to 0.065% (multi-deck).1)If the casino allows you to surrender “before” the dealer checks for a blackjack this rule is much more attractive for the player.  Early surrender can cut the house edge between 0.3% and 0.7% depending on whether surrender is allowed against a dealer ten only or a ten and Ace.

Two basic strategy situations where a surrender is usually the right call are when you have cards totaling 16 and the dealer has 9 through Ace, and when you have 15 while they have 10.

  • Splitting

You can split your hands only if the first couple of cards you are dealt are ones valued at 10 (e.g. King or Jack) or are a pair. By making a single hand into two, splitting can potentially convert one poor hand into a couple of strong ones.

For example, you should always split 8s and Aces but never split 5s and 10s. Otherwise it can depend on what the dealer has and whether double after splitting is allowed.  Refer to the basic strategy chart for more details.

  • Doubling

Doubling in blackjack means increasing your first bet by as much as 100 percent. It is a move you make if you think you have a good drawing hand where all you need is one more card.

You can only do it after getting your first couple of cards from the dealer. For example, good hands to consider doubling are when you have a 9, 10, 11 or a soft hand such as A2 through A7.  Of course, it depends on the dealer up-card.  If the dealer shows a 2 through 6, be more prone to double.

  • Hitting or Standing

Hitting means taking a further card from the dealer while standing means sticking with what you have. For example, you should hit if the dealer has an up-card between 7 and Ace and you have a hand between 12 and 16.  It is ideal to read about good strategies online.

It also will make sense to stand if you have a hand of between 12 and 16 while the dealer is between 2 and 6.  What you are hoping here is for the dealer to bust.  There are some exceptions to the rule so be sure to review the basic strategy.

Of course, if you have a hard total of 17 through 21 you will stand.

This is just scratching the blackjack strategy surface.  Blackjack can be one of the more complex casino games to master especially with the many different rule differences and game variants available.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1If the casino allows you to surrender “before” the dealer checks for a blackjack this rule is much more attractive for the player.  Early surrender can cut the house edge between 0.3% and 0.7% depending on whether surrender is allowed against a dealer ten only or a ten and Ace.

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