Mastering the Basics—Simple Tips When Starting Blackjack as a Beginner

By Dennis Lillee.

Blackjack has been around for many centuries, and with its low house edge and ability to give you great wins, there has never been a better time to start playing this famous game. There are many tricks to learn as a newcomer in the game of blackjack, not to mention the skill of card counting — then you’re on to some really big numbers and a long-term game plan.

Playing Blackjack

Currently, it sits as the most popular casino game in the world, but what makes it so popular, and what are some tips when coming in cold? We’re going to take a look at the history of this renowned game, what makes it so great — and how to take it up for the first time.

History of Blackjack

The origins of blackjack are very much still under discussion, but many researchers have agreed that it goes back as far as the 17th century. First thriving in the French casinos in the early 1700s, blackjack has had many names throughout the years it’s been popular. From 21, twenty-one, pontoon, and piracy — the main thing that keeps it synonymous is that the majority of people know the rules, and it’s available everywhere. Just as popular then as it is now, blackjack is the most famous card game in both brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos, because it can be played both in the virtual realm and in physical locations — making it the most accessible way to reach lady luck at the table. It comes with many variations, but it’s ultimately a solid choice for most players who enjoy cards.

Although it is confirmed to have existed in the 17th century, there are history books that show it could go back as far as the Roman empire, as there is no question that the Romans loved to gamble. Using wooden blocks in place of cards, with numbers etched on, they found ways to bet with one another even in times when there were no mainstream amenities.

By the 18th century, Vingt-et-Un, the original name for blackjack, made it to the shores of America, all thanks to the French colonists. Though it didn’t spread and do well in France in the 19th century, it was only getting bigger and more popular in America.

Although the rules were different in the original blackjack that was taking the New Orleans gambling scene by storm, it was still a revolutionary new game for bettors to play, making it an exciting pastime to take up. Since this evolution, we have seen leaps and bounds in the world of gambling, and so many changes. You can now play online blackjack for real money; with the help of technological advances, you needn’t even leave your seat. And although you may not be a newbie to the world of gambling, you may not have dabbled in blackjack before — which is why we’re here to bring the lowdown and some top tips for taking up this great form of entertainment.

Now, let’s be clear, you probably won’t ever become the next world-famous card counter, and that’s okay. Especially with online casinos, it’s a completely impossible trait to use — as everything is done online, without the physical realm of the casino around you to work your magic. However, these few tricks should set you up for gambling prowess, no matter what stage in your journey you’re at. We all know casinos are on the rise, so it stands to reason that blackjack is too!

You need a strategy

The art of playing blackjack comes from the strategy you go in with as a new player. “Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail” is a phrase that gets thrown around in modern society, and it rings true in the world of gambling. A sound strategy is one of the strongest tools in every gambler’s arsenal, and it provides a roadmap for your decision-making success.

It enables you to follow a plan for all of your decisions based on the combination in your hand at that present moment, compared to the dealer’s up card.  This is called blackjack basic strategy and is essential to keeping the house edge as low as possible.  Here is a sample of some critical plays:

  1. If the cards you are holding make a sum of between 121)EDITOR NOTE: The exception here is 12 versus a dealer 2 or 3.  In these cases, basic strategy tells us to hit the hand. and 16 (do not include pairs) and the dealer is holding up cards from two to six, we recommend that you stand. This trick uses the dealer’s hand and advises you to make use of their likelihood of busting because they have a weak hand.
  2. When you get to the part where the dealer has a strong card, and that’s when it’s totaling 7 to Ace, we recommend that you hit — if your cards total between 12 and 16. This prepares you if your dealer has a stronger hand, and lets you improve your own hand.  Once your hand is 17 or better you should stand.
  3. Always split Aces and 8s. If you are given a pair of Aces or 8s, we recommend splitting them into two separate hands from one another. Besides the fact it will stop you from going bust from the get-go, it lets you start two hands with good to great starting cards.  In the case of Aces, most casinos will only allow one card on each.  When you split a hand of two 8s, you’re setting yourself up for success, as 16 is less than advantageous for any blackjack player to start with.
  4. Double down on your strong hands such as 10 versus a dealer 2 to 9 and 11 versus a dealer 2 to 10.
  5. Never take insurance or even money as this is the worst bet in blackjack.
  6. Never play in games where blackjacks pay 6 to 5 or worse.

Of course, these are not all of the basic strategy plays for blackjack.  For more information, visit the applicable section on this web site. 

And finally, apart from card tactics, you must always ensure that you manage your bankroll. Don’t go in without a clear idea of what you’re willing to spend and ultimately face losing. We recommend placing bets with one to two percent of the total bankroll you start with, per hand. This lowers this risk, lets you play for longer — and gives you a good start to get practicing and begin experiencing some real lady luck.

IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr.com

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1EDITOR NOTE: The exception here is 12 versus a dealer 2 or 3.  In these cases, basic strategy tells us to hit the hand.

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