The key to success for most blackjack card counters is the act. It is the very essence to the art of twenty-one. It is what distinguishes the average card counter who has trouble finding a good game and the blackjack expert who manages to make the game good.
A player once told me that he gave up card counting because every time he raised his bet the dealer would shuffle up on him and intimidate him by trying to deal faster. If this player had used some common sense and not acted so obviously like a card counter he probably would have been left alone. A good card counter should be able to keep up with the fastest dealer, however, if you are having issues with this, here is a tip: Just play your hand slower and think about every decision. Don’t let the dealer dictate the speed of the game! To be successful at twenty-one you not only have to be able to count cards you must develop a unique style of play that is different from what the casinos are looking for.
CARD COUNTERS DON’T DRINK
All books recommend that players not drink. All casinos realize that drinking affects judgment and card counting and drinking don’t mix. Therefore, players who drink are not a threat to the casino and more likely than not they are preferred to your average player.
I also recommend that you don’t drink when you play but no one ever said you couldn’t pretend to drink. I will often order a Heineken or dark bottle beer only to empty 95% of its contents out and refill it with water. This completes my full gambler/tourist act. It doesn’t cost much since you can always refill your beer bottle with water. Just don’t try carrying your beer bottle from casino to casino. You might get arrested!
EARLY MORNING PLAY
Many card counters prefer to play early in the morning (3-6AM) because they tend to get better games and there are less crowds. However, most casinos also realize this. If your schedule calls for early morning play, try not grooming yourself when you wake up. In other words, don’t shave or shower. From the casino’s point of view, you will appear to be a player that has stayed up all night and thus less of a threat. Some players push this to an extreme! I once ran into an fellow card counter1)Yes, a card counter can usually identify another card counter in the casino. I remember the first time this happened to me many years ago. I was at the Silver City Casino in Las Vegas playing a $1 minimum single deck game. It only took about 15 minutes. I didn’t like the fact that this player was practically mirroring my bets. I later discovered after talking to him that he was using one of Lawrence Revere’s Point Count Systems. Recently, I found a fellow counter playing much higher stakes on a cruise ship. He was betting $50 to $500 or so. I watched him for a few days and after being convinced he was accurately keeping the count, I would occasionally jump into his game betting my maximum bet whenever he had $500 or more on the table. who attempted to block seats while smoking, drinking and essentially acting like an idiot.
One give-away that you may be a counter is that you sit quietly and stare at the cards. You need to get over this! A glance is all that should be necessary to accurately pick up the count. You should be counting cards as efficiently as possible – counting cards in groups of 2, 3 or more and canceling cards out. For minus counts, never think “minus X”. Always think “my X” or something simpler. It is shorter and more efficient. If you get distracted for some reason, have a method to “lock in” the count. Using chips or a chip location has worked for me.
ALWAYS BE FRIENDLY
Probably the best advice I can give to increase longevity in the casino is the ability to talk with other players, the dealer and pit personnel while accurately keeping the count and playing perfectly. For more ideas on putting on the perfect “act” be sure to read The Blackjack Player’s Guide to Idiot Camouflage and Ian Andersen’s book below.
Why? This was the long awaited sequel to one of the best-selling blackjack books ever written, Turning the Tables on Las Vegas. Included powerful camouflage strategies to avoid detection by casino staff while card counting.
Yes, a card counter can usually identify another card counter in the casino. I remember the first time this happened to me many years ago. I was at the Silver City Casino in Las Vegas playing a $1 minimum single deck game. It only took about 15 minutes. I didn’t like the fact that this player was practically mirroring my bets. I later discovered after talking to him that he was using one of Lawrence Revere’s Point Count Systems. Recently, I found a fellow counter playing much higher stakes on a cruise ship. He was betting $50 to $500 or so. I watched him for a few days and after being convinced he was accurately keeping the count, I would occasionally jump into his game betting my maximum bet whenever he had $500 or more on the table.
Background image courtesy of Michael Godard, the “Rockstar of the Art World”.
Blackjack is as much a game of skill as it is of chance, and this is one of the reasons why it has consistently remained so popular. From measuring your bet to calculating the odds and far more, the elements which make up a good strategy are wide and varied.
In this article, we want to look at how you as a player might balance all of the available factors so you can maximize the daily expected value you can get from the game. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a better gaming experience.
Before we can even think about helping you pursue the best value, we first need to be able to define exactly what, in your mind, counts the most. For some players, value is all about being able to place a wide range of bets, from small bets to huge investments. For others, the value lies in being able to enjoy the experience for as long as possible, regardless of the winnings on the table.
In order to move on, you need to decide what counts as your value. Some of these tips might not apply for your game style, or in other instances, they all might be equally important.
EDITOR NOTE:Expected value(EV), as defined in Dalton’s Encyclopedia of Blackjack, is the theoretical outcome per wager and a measure of how much the player (or casino) can expect to lose (or win) in a particular game. For a basic strategy player, your EV is usually negative. Card counters and advantage players strive for positive EV when playing. This article looks at an alternate definition of EV from the gambler’s perspective. For the gambler, EV can be a combination of how much one enjoys playing, the ability to play longer, the quality of bonuses and comps given, etc. To someone who is not an advantage player (AP), expected value has nothing to do with a theoretical return on investment.
Bang for Your Buck
For players who wish to spend a long time at the tables, it can be difficult to track down the experience which is best catered to you. Even in the cases where you can find a table which enables low bets to be placed, not all are created equal.
Take a regular brick and mortar casino for example. For these locations, you’ll be playing with your money all day, and this can limit even the most contained spenders. Compare this to the online betting opportunities available which often come with enormous bonuses. These bonuses like deposit matches are found on many websites and can keep you engaged on the service’s dime far longer than any older casino could manage.
If you’re in it for the long-haul, note that online casinos will always have the edge in this regard.
Learn Your System
While we can’t recommend turning to card counting as a way to get ahead, at least in this instance, we absolutely recommend becoming familiar enough with your systems that they become second nature. Every player has their own tendencies, but those who wish to really make their mark are those who understand the statistical realities of the game.
There are a lot of different strategies you can use here for multi-deck, double-deck and single-deck. Players already intimately familiar with the game will undoubtedly already have their preference for game type picked out, but even in this case, it can be a good idea to widen your horizons.
In some places, your preferential type of blackjack might not be available, so being able to rely on a strategic fall-back can ensure a more sustained level of play.
If you do use blackjack strategy cards, then we understand it can be annoying to have to consult them every time, but after just a short while these concepts and numbers will easily become second-nature.
The final component we need to look at is the surrounding environment of where you choose to play. Our environment often affects our mental state, so uncomfortable or frustrating surroundings can cause us to lose focus, or otherwise growing tired prematurely.
It’s not just decoration and noise which needs to be taken into account either, as food availability, comfort, and fellow players also need to be considered. Some players out there might be lucky enough to live in areas with a lot of options from which to choose, which can be great for these random elements.
For the rest of us, it can be useful to instead create our own little corner haven for online play. Remember, live casino games are also available online for those after a more visual experience.
Only by examining all of these aspects together should you be able to generate some idea of how you might get the best daily value out of your blackjack experience. If you’re not yet sure or haven’t experienced all that this world has to offer, then it might be a good idea to go and see some of these options for yourself.
Wherever you settle, there are no wrong answers. Do what is right for you, and your experience will be all the more valuable for it.
This article originally started out (in the 1990s) as an Internet discussion group topic called “What New (Blackjack) Players Do.” I would like to thank Grimy Fellow for posting the topic and Max Von Count, JW, Curious Amateur, BJ, Grinder, Slick, and Don Schlesinger for contributing items and ideas.
“…the less you ‘look’ like a counter the longer your play will be welcome.”
The point of this topic was to come up with ideas to improve a card counter’s cover at the table. When you get to a comfortable level of proficiency in card counting you often forget that your play may be monitored. The last thing you want is for a casino to suspect that you are good enough to beat its game simply because you act and look like a good player. Although it is almost impossible to count cards indefinitely without being detected the less you “look” like a counter the longer your play will be welcome.
Obviously, not all of the plays below can be incorporated in a player’s camouflage repertoire but many of them can with little or no loss in expectation:
Making a few (or a lot) of playing errors. (This can get costly – See update below!)
Over-tipping or just tipping in general. (This can get costly – See update below!)
Telling the dealer you want to double down when you really want to split a pair. (You don’t want to do this with a pair of 5s.)
Having consultations with friends or other players about how to play your hand.
Putting an insurance bet out equal to your first bet.
Doubling down by betting twice the amount of your first bet.
Going WILD over winning a $5 hand! (Or at least getting overly excited when you get a blackjack — even with a small bet.)
Referring to a basic strategy card. (usually a bad one)
Doubling down for less. (usually because they have run out of money)
Placing medium to big bets off the top of the deck or shoe. (This can get costly – See update below!)
Pressing your bets when you win.
Chasing your losses.
Always (or usually) taking even money. (This can get costly – See update below!)
Running over to the slots for one lucky pull.
Attempting to shake the dealer’s hand.
Drinking too much while playing. (You can act can’t you?)
Splitting tens. (I’d be careful about this one!)
Trying to “hand” the dealer cash when you want chips.
Having a cup full of slot tokens on the table.
Touching the cards to split them in a face up game. (a definite no-no!).
Placing money on “top” of your original bet when doubling down. (You can only get away with this once per casino!)
Asking what insurance is “after” the dealer asks “Insurance anyone?”
Asking what surrender is. (if sign mentions surrender is available).
Asking if there is a bonus for a 5-card 21.
Asking if the dealer wins ties.
Not paying attention to the game when distracted by the cocktail waitress, friends, or by the noise of someone who just won a slot jackpot.
Getting upset when third base takes the dealer’s bust card. (An indication that a player is not really new to the game, however, is superstitious.)
Stacking chips in the betting circle in no apparent order (e.g., green on top, red on bottom, etc.)
Not using hand signals or incorrectly using hand signals.
Not using correct terminology at the table. (Like bust, hit, stand, felt, insurance, tokes)
Taking too much time to play a hand.
Here are a few “new player” habits that are applicable only in hand-held games:
Picking up the cards with two hands.
Leaning too far back with the cards, thereby removing them from above the felt — a definite no-no!
Failing to tuck your original cards under your bet, in the circle, when you stand. (The usual move is to simply drop the cards in front of your pile of chips, thus annoying the hell out of the dealer who has to pick them up and give instructions on “tucking”!)
Failing to turn over your blackjacks.
Turning over your cards when you hit to 21. (thinking that this is the same as a natural)
Bending the cards when you look at them.
Peeking under the cards as if it were a poker hand.
Once again, be aware that some of the above plays may not be suitable or cost effective as cover. You obviously don’t want to over-tip the dealer and you obviously don’t want to make costly playing errors. But not all playing errors are costly! A good source of information on this topic is Don Schlesinger’s article entitled “How ‘Dumb’ Can You Afford to Appear?” in the September 1993 issue of Blackjack Forum. One of the conclusions of this article was that appearing very “dumb” at the outset of play may remove any potential heat after just a few hours. Schlesinger wrote “Pit bosses often formulate ‘first impressions’ that last for the duration of the trip. So you might not have to continue to make ‘mistakes’ all the way through.” Schlesinger presents charts of every basic strategy play possible with hand frequencies and conditional and absolute penalties for deviating from basic strategy. According to Schlesinger study, of the 254 plays on the chart almost 100 of them carry penalties of less than one cent per $100.
In the 1990s, I integrated many of the above ideas, including an occasional playing error from time to time, into my overall blackjack strategy. If you want a long playing career, you should give the above ideas serious consideration! Good luck!
2019 UPDATE:Playing errors can be costly! I no longer recommend making playing errors for the sake of camouflage. Most pit personnel probably won’t even know a “playing error” from an appropriate card counter’s “play deviation” anyway. Oh…. and be careful with tipping! If you tip at all, I suggest tipping at the “end” of a session only, which also suggests that you only tip if you won.
It isn’t entirely unknown for a football player to become a professional card player when they retire from the game. Evan Mathis, Calais Campbell, and Antoine Winfield are a few of the former players who started playing poker seriously.
There are fewer obvious examples of NFL players turning to blackjack. Yet, there are some very good reasons why they could find plenty of similarities between the games.
Ability to Memorize Plays
One of the things that most impress some sports fans is how football players can remember so many complicated plays. It isn’t just about remembering the plays, though. They also need to recall them instantly in the heat of the moment and in a highly pressurized situation.
Of course, something similar occurs at the blackjack table. When your hand is dealt, you need to instantly decide whether to hit or stand. If you can memorize all of the different possibilities and recall them during the game, then you have a far greater chance of winning regularly.
Determination to Win
Everyone who reaches a good level in a sport as demanding as football has to show an intense will to win. There is simply no way to achieve success in this game without having the determination to keep going even when the odds are stacked against you.
Blackjack may seem like a laid-back game to outsiders. However, the best players have that same, fierce desire to win every hand. They will also feel bitterly disappointed with themselves if they make a mistake that causes them to lose.
Football Fans Can Play Blackjack Too
It isn’t just the guys out on the field who have got an advantage when it comes to playing blackjack. Just by watching NFL games, you could be picking up some valuable tips that help you at the card table later on.
For instance, if you work out the best football odds to place a bet then you are used to considering the possibilities of different outcomes and how much to wager on them. You will also be used to mentally working out figures quickly and accurately. All of this can really help when you play blackjack.
High Level of Self-Control and Discipline
Football players need to take care of their bodies if they are going to enjoy a long, successful career at the top of the sport. Young athletes who gain a football scholarship in the USA can expect to practice with their team for up to 30 hours each week. Away from the action, they need to live as healthy a life as possible.
Blackjack players also need to put in the hours to learn the game. Once the cards are dealt, they will need to show self-control and discipline in order to stick to their game plan even when something unexpected happens.
Knowing When to Take Risks
If we look at some of the greatest plays in the history of football, some of them involved taking risks. Often, when a team is trailing and time is short, something out of the ordinary is called for. However, a great player knows when to take a risk and when to stick to the plan.
Equally, a lot of blackjack playing is about sticking to a pre-planned strategy. Yet, there may be times when an experienced card player realizes that it is worth taking a risk for the chance of the rewards it could bring.
To sum up, while they look very different at first glance, it is clear that there are some interesting similarities between football and blackjack. Perhaps it is the ideal combination of games for certain people, since they both involve wise techniques and approaches.
For many players, the attraction of blackjack is the simplicity of the rules and the bets placed. However, for some, these are a big disadvantage of the game. Some players are not satisfied with the even money game and want a little more excitement, and potential profit, from their game play. This is why many casinos now offer blackjack side bets to enhance the action and add some variety to the game play.
Blackjack has been played for centuries, with the first mention of ‘trente-un’ appearing as early as 1440. Players back then could never imagine how competitive the world of casinos, both brick-and-mortar and online versions, would one day become. Blackjack side bets are a way for casinos to attract new players with new ways to win at the oldest of card games.
What is a blackjack side bet?
These bets are predictions based on the initial cards dealt to the player and the dealer. They have nothing to do with the main game, and there is no skill or strategy involved, although it is theoretically possible to count cards to make your predictions more accurate. For most players, however, it is simply a matter of guessing which cards will be dealt.
Blackjack side bets offer a far greater potential return than the main game, but they also come with a much higher casino edge. In the main Blackjack game, the bet pays even money, or 2:1, for a blackjack, with a casino edge of just 0.5%. Side bets, on the other hand, can pay anything up to 5000:1, but the casino edge is also significantly higher, often over 10%. So, while you may win more in the short term with side bets, over time you will inevitably lose.
Typical side bets
The side bets available will vary from casino to casino, but here are a few of the more common varieties of wagers.
Insurance – This side bet covers the player against the dealer making blackjack if their card on show is an ace. You bet half your stake, and it pays 2-1 if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack.
Perfect Pairs – This bet predicts that you will be dealt a pair with your first two cards.
5-1 for a mixed pair of the same value
12-1 for a matching color pair
25-1 for a perfect pair of identical cards
21+3 – This bet predicts the combination of all three upturned cards from the player and the dealer.
5-1 for a non-consecutive flush
10-1 for a non-suited straight
30-1 for three of a kind
40-1 for a straight flush
100-1 for three identical cards
Over/under 13 – This bet predicts the total value of the player’s cards will be more or less than 13. It is an even money bet, with the house collecting all bets if the sum is exactly 13; however, some casinos take bets that pay around 6-1 for this outcome.
Royal match – This bet predicts the suited cards in the player’s hand and returns 25-1 for suited kings and queens and 5-2 for other suited cards.
Lucky ladies – This bet predicts that the total of the player’s cards will be 20. It pays 4-1 for an unsuited 20, 10-1 for a suited 20, 25-1 for a matched and suited 20 and 200-1 for two queens of hearts. This increases to 1000-1 if the dealer has a blackjack.
Super sevens – This bet predicts that the player will be dealt sevens and pays 3-1 for one seven, 50-1 for two mixed sevens, 100-1 for two suited sevens and 500-1 if the third card is also a seven. If all three sevens are the same suit, you will hit the jackpot with a 5000-1 payout. (Note—some casinos will not deal a third card if the dealer has a blackjack, so check their policy before placing this bet.)
A shot in the dark
At the end of the day, the cards you are dealt in blackjack are no more predictable than the final resting slot for the ball in roulette. This means that side bets are just as much down to chance as picking a number at random from 1-36. But if you are after a little extra fun on the side of your serious blackjack strategy play, then they could be just what you are looking for.
In blackjack, a lot of players make some pretty significant mistakes. What might seem like a “common sense” play is actually a pretty serious misplay if you consider the odds.
Here are four commonly misplayed blackjack hands that you should avoid.
While you might feel tempted to take an insurance offer when the dealer reveals an ace, you should resist the temptation. The logic behind this play is that there are four cards (10, J, Q, K) that will give the dealer blackjack. If the face-down card is one of these, you will be able to regain your original bet.
So why exactly is this a bad play? Well, the odds are actually in the dealer’s favor by a significant margin. If you choose this option, there is a much bigger chance that the dealer actually doesn’t have blackjack.
In this situation, you are much better off turning down the even money insurance bet. Instead, you should try for the 1.5x win.
Not doubling on 11 vs 10
If your dealer is showing they have a 10, there is a good chance they will also have another one in the face-down position. If you have an 11, the chances of getting a 20 or a 21 are significantly higher than the chance the dealer has a second face-down 10.
While you might think that doubling down when the dealer has 10 is a counter-intuitive strategy, according to comparison site CasinoGuide, you are actually playing to the odds. Let’s say you bet £10 and hit your 11. In this situation, you will win 56% of your hands according to the statistics. If you doubled your bet amount for £20, you will win this bet 54% of the time (remember that doubling means you only receive one more card, and then automatically stand).
Since there’s a small difference in these bets, it wouldn’t hurt to double your bet, as you’d get a significantly higher return for just 2% less of a chance of winning.
Standing on a 16 vs 7
In this situation, drawing a small number such as a 2 or a 3 can significantly increase your chances of winning. You should always hit on a 16 when you are playing against a dealer with 7. You might get lucky and hit a low enough card to get you the win. This will improve your odds to the point that it should mitigate your losses over time.
The following is a good rule of thumb to follow: An 18 against a dealer’s 10 is somewhat better than a 16, whereas an 18 vs a dealer’s 7 is significantly stronger.
Standing on a soft 18 vs 10
While you might feel like an 18 is a hand you can’t improve on, this is not always the case. While an 18 may bring you a win more often than not, the odds are not necessarily in your favor.
For example, against a dealer’s 10, the odds are not on your side. If you were to stand on a soft 18 in this situation, over time, you would lose more hands than you would ever win.
This is also true if you were to hit, but you wouldn’t lose quite as much. This means you should be brave and give yourself the best chance of winning: always hit on that soft 18.
Practice, practice, practice
Being good at blackjack can take time. You need to have an acute understanding of the rules and you need to be able to estimate the odds on the fly. Or just use a blackjack strategy card.
A great way to practice and refine your strategy is to play online blackjack games at live dealer casinos that allow you to experience the fun atmosphere and face-to-face interaction of the game, within you own home. Away from the pressure of being in a real casino surrounded by experienced gamblers and impatient dealers, you can take the time to get comfortable with your own blackjack strategy.
We have designed this ultimate guide for all blackjack lovers looking for trusted online websites to play this game for real money. It’s a difficult task to find the best one, so read through the following information to learn the basics of blackjack, and get valuable tips on choosing the casino of your dreams. We will also provide you with some of the most reliable casinos that we found on AllHighRollerCasinos.Com. So, sit back, relax, and let’s go!
The industry of online gambling is wide-reaching as it slowly yet effectively attracts more players from land based casinos. There are thousands of websites which offer various games from all-liked shiny slots to skill-demanding poker to luck-driven lotteries. Online casinos attract millions of users all over the world because of great convenience and comfort. Online players can enjoy favorite games without spending their bucks on trips to Las Vegas or Macau.
To understand the industry scale, let’s check the comprehensive study by Financial Times, which reveals intriguing data. According to it, there were 51% of the UK gamblers, who accessed casinos via mobile phones and tablets in 2018. At the same time, the UK Gambling Commission revealed that it had issued 888 licenses for online operators. And it’s only one country out of 193 UN members!
Things will look even brighter for web-based casinos, Juniper Research claims. In its recent report, the team predicts that there will be 61 million online gamblers who will bring casinos more than $1 trillion revenue in 2022. Without doubt, a solid portion of this money will come from blackjack tables.
Let’s start with the very basics. This section will be especially useful for newcomers who don’t know how to play blackjack or want to discover something new. Further, we want to guide you through the major rules of traditional blackjack versions and reveal some extra game variations available at online casino websites. It’s obvious that basic rules are similar for both brick and mortar and web-based gambling facilities but additional options may vary, so pay attention to games you choose. Without further ado, welcome the blackjack 101 course!
Key Blackjack Rules
Blackjack is a card game where gamblers confront a dealer. Basically, all players and a dealer blackjack get cards from the common deck (there can be from 1 to 8 combined decks), calculate their scores, and compare them. The main objective here is to get the total value of as close to 21 as possible. Hands with 21 always win, though you always lose if you exceed this amount. The game combines 50% of luck with 50% of strategy and math.
Ultimately, the classic version features three stages. During the first one, participants wager money, then they receive two cards each, and define scores. Gamblers can see only their hand cards and one dealer’s card while others are hidden. Finally, each player can make a move: to hit (take a card), to stand (do nothing), to double (double the bet and take one extra card), to split (separate cards to create two hands) or to surrender (return half of the bet and end the game). Knowing these rules is enough to start gambling, but we will cover more hints and strategies later.
Remember also the rules related to cards’ values:
● Aces can cost either 1 or 11 points depending on other cards ● All face cards cost 10 points ● Number cards cost as much as indicated on them
If you want to know more about specifics of blackjack casino games, check the related articles in Wikipedia or Dalton’s Encyclopedia of Blackjack. This huge encyclopedia covers everything from the origins of the described game to the least known exotic variations.
The Game’s Versions
Gambling websites list different variations of blackjack to meet the demands of different users. Some of them stem from the early brick and mortar casino offerings, while others are modern inventions. Usually, you will find from 2 to 10 versions on a single website. Below are the most popular ones (we mention only variations from the classic version). Note that the mentioned types are also available as live dealer games.
Aces count as 1 only, and the winning hand is slightly different as you have to build a three-card combo with an ace and two 10-valued cards.
21 Face Up / Double Exposure
In this variant, both of the dealer’s cards are exposed to gamblers. Some exotic versions require that all participants show their cards, as well.
21 Match Play
This game is played without 10-valued cards. Instead, you can make use of several bonus hands which vary across casinos.
In addition to removing 10s, this variant has extra rules: ● Gamblers can surrender anytime ● Gamblers can surrender after double down ● Gamblers can increase bets at any hands ● Gambler’s 21 beats the dealer’s 21
21 Super Fun
Here, the player’s 21-valued hand also beats the dealer’s one. Plus, participants can split hands 4 times – the hand with 6 cards and the total value of 20 win automatically.
As the name suggests, this variation lets you have five hands simultaneously, instead of only one. Be aware that it’s a pretty challenging game though!
All bets placed during splitting or doubling down are protected. It means, you don’t have to wager additional money for these actions, but in the case of a win, you will get a double prize. However, the dealer’s 22-valued hand pushes all other hands except 21s here.
This one introduces extra side bets. You can wager on getting a mixed pair (just numbers), a colored pair (numbers and colors) or a perfect pair (numbers and suits).
Obviously, the game features only one deck of 52 cards. It’s easier to count them and the game itself is more profitable as it has the lowest edge among all versions.
In Blackjack Switch, players get two hands and can exchange two upper cards within them freely. Similarly to Free Bet, the dealer’s 22 push other combos except for blackjacks.
Suggestions for Beginners
Extending our introductory section, we would like to give some general hints to newbie online gamblers. If you are a seasoned punter, feel free to skip this part and proceed to advanced strategies.
The very first hint is simple: don’t play for money if it’s your first blackjack run. There are hundreds of casinos which offer demo plays with virtual tokens, so try them to get the idea. Learn about the rules, terms, strategies, and features.
House edge is probably the most essential concept to be aware of. It defines how much money the casino gets from each bet on average. For instance, the game with a 5% edge means that the website wins $5 from each $100 bet. Despite the number is rounded and each particular bet can bring different return to a casino, we recommend choosing projects with the lowest edge to guarantee the maximum potential profit for you.
Check some of the blackjack features and how they affect payouts:
● Extra splits. If you can split the already divided hands, you will decrease the house winnings. ● A number of decks. The fewer of them are used, the lower the casino return will be. ● Payouts. The 3:2 scheme is a safer choice, because 6:5 or even 1:1 options increase the edge. ● Split aces. This one also boosts your revenue and reduces the casino’s one. ● Surrender. This feature increases your payout significantly.
At the end of the day, choose games with a few decks, options for splitting aces and surrender. Combined, these features can increase your odds by a few percent. Respectively, avoid unfavorable payouts, side bets, and exotic rules, especially if you haven’t mastered the game yet.
Advanced Tips and Tricks
Now, it’s time to look at more advanced blackjack strategy types. Undoubtedly, they will be useful for newcomers and experienced players alike, so we suggest that you check them carefully. As was mentioned above, blackjack results depend on both luck and skill. You can’t control luck, but you can still improve skills. By mastering blackjack in land-based or Internet casinos, newbie gamblers evolve into real professionals. Still, mindless plays are destructive.
If you want to figure out when it’s better to hit and when – to surrender, explore the next sections.
Put simply, there are two categories of card combinations:
● Hard hand. Generally, any pair of cards without an ace. Hard hands with aces occur only when these cards are counted as 1. ● Soft hand. A combo of an ace and any other card. In this case, an ace can be counted as 1 or 11, so soft hands are more flexible than hard ones.
You can choose various strategic moves, which we will reveal a bit later. For instance, soft 19s and 20s require standing almost all the time. It’s better to receive a soft hand because you have more options with it but hard alternatives can also be beneficial as they have related moves, too.
Experienced blackjack players know that there are cool things called cheat sheets. They highlight how you should move under a specific scenario. You can find multiple guides for different game versions but the structure is always the same. While cheat sheets are intuitive, we have prepared some instructions on how to read them.
In any cheat sheet, you will see the “Dealer” title with numbers under it. This row represents the dealer’s visible card, where 10 also stands for face cards. You will also see “Your Hand” with all possible combinations. Pairs mean two-card combos, while single numbers show sums. At the intersection of the dealer’s cards and your scores, there are suggested moves which include standard hit, stand, double, split, and surrender, as well as extra points like surrender or hit, split after a split or hit, and so on. In general, you should just compare hands and do what the table says.
If used appropriately, cheat sheets can boost your game results significantly. For classic versions, they can reduce the house profit by 4-5%. That’s a lot.
Here, we don’t want to dive in too complicated mind games, so we will list four popular strategies. They work fine for real money games.
1. Wait for the dealer’s hit if he/she has 4, 5 or 6. The mentioned cards are pretty risky because they leave enough space for an extra hit. Most of the dealers with soft hands will attack trying to get close to 21. Note that you can double at this moment and earn more in the case of the dealer’s bust. 2. Split aces and 8s, but don’t split 10s. There are no exceptions. Always split aces and 8s because they are great basic cards for winning combos. Instead, never split 10s because they work better together. And of course, follow your gut feeling and look at the dealer’s cards. 3. Stand in the case of your own hard 17. With it, winning chances are relatively low as you are far enough from 21. Nevertheless, it’s not worth risking and grabbing extra card because math layouts aren’t in your favor. 4. Never insure. Some blackjack versions support the insurance feature. It allows participants to protect their bet if the dealer has an ace. If the house wins with 21, all insured bets will be returned. However, stats reveal that such outcomes are rare and you will only lose the price of insurance.
Plus, more strategic moves like Hi-Lo or Hi-Opt can be found in pro cheat sheets available on gambling websites.
Another advanced hint is related to bets. First and foremost, play when you are sober, calm, and positive-focused. As you play for money, you should realize the risks and know what to do exactly. Such an approach can protect from dangerous addictions or significant losses during the gambling rush.
Also, try to develop a solid plan and stick to it. For example, set a money-loss limit to stop gambling after reaching it or take breaks regularly. You can also choose more complex strategies: betting schemes called Martingale, Fibonacci or Paroli but be warned that these strategies will not give you an advantage and can be dangerous to your bankroll if used to the extreme. Their efficiency isn’t proven but they may help if you need some guides.
Choosing the Best Blackjack Casino
Blackjack is a simple game and it can be mastered quickly with enough practice and proper strategic plans. The critical question related to online gambling for money is built around platforms to use. The market is now jam-packed with web-based and mobile casinos, so it’s difficult to find the most suitable one or, at least, a reliable one. Remember about these three primary indicators and you will be able to spot the best online casinos.
Read, reread, write down, bookmark, send to friends, print, and add to reminders the following info: you should gamble via licensed casinos only! It’s really important as gambling facilities without licenses or certificates can host rigged games and steal your money or credentials. Always check the footer of the main page or “About” section to find current licenses which are marks of trustworthiness.
Usually, famous casinos have certificates from:
● The United Kingdom ● Malta ● Gibraltar ● The Isle of Man ● Belgium ● Denmark ● Estonia ● Costa Rica ● Curacao New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and South Africa also have local commissions so you should check their rules.
In addition, there’s a global organization called eCOGRA. It issues certificates, which prove that the games and RNGs are unrigged. The combination of a national license and an eCOGRA paper is a solid proof of reliability.
The second thing you should consider relates to games. The chosen casino has to list at least one variation of blackjack with certain platform compatibility. Usually, there are three options:
1. Desktop. Install the casino’s client with a set of games to enjoy them from PC. 2. Instant play. Access games directly using Flash, Java or HTML5. 3. Mobile. Get games downloaded on your phone/tablet.
Make sure to choose the best gameplay mode. Also, pay attention to the types of games as not all casinos list the same versions, so you can be disappointed with the lack of your favourite Switch or 21 Spanish. Finally, check the quality of software to know that blackjack rooms are stable and you will not face a painful disconnect at the pure 21.
Last but not least, if you want to play real money games, you need to know how deposits and withdrawals work. These options vary across countries and casinos, so check the allowed money systems on official gambling websites. The most popular ones are:
● Bank cards ● Global transfers via the likes of American Express ● E-wallets ● Cheques ● Cryptocurrency
For different banking methods, casinos set different deposit/withdrawal limits – per transaction, per day, per month, etc. Be ready to pay fees, which also vary with the chosen method. Usually, the fastest options feature the highest fees and vice versa.
Insights into Blackjack Bonuses
Bonuses are a convenient tool, which casinos utilize to attract players. For example, you can multiply money with the deposit bonus, and get some free cash or free entries to tournaments. At first, it seems that bonuses are great for newcomers, who don’t have enough money to play big. Let’s say, you can deposit $50 and get a 100% bonus with an extra $50 for free. Some sites even reward new users with totally free money.
Still, all bonuses have a catch called ‘rollover’. After agreeing to the offer, you will have to bet significantly more money to be able to complete a withdrawal. Thus, the mentioned free $50 with a 40x rollover would require that you wager $2,000 before cashing out. Moreover, blackjack has a low edge, so casinos impose even stricter requirements.
Examples of the Leading Casinos
Finally, we are ready to introduce the best places to gamble online in 2019 where you can enjoy real money blackjack. The section is divided into two parts dedicated to desktop casinos and mobile applications. You might have already heard about one of the most popular blackjack casinos – Bovada Casino. If you are a newbie, it is worth checking it first. Here, we will list other big brands and give some characteristics.
Top-Rated Online Websites
Without further ado, enjoy the list of trusted casinos for desktops! They provide both classic and live blackjack games.
1. Betway Casino
A number of blackjack games: 68. Maximum starting bonus: $1,300.
2. Jackpot City
A number of blackjack games: 31. Maximum starting bonus: $1,600.
3. King Billy
A number of blackjack games: 56. Maximum starting bonus: $1,130 + 200 free spins.
4. Mr Green Casino
A number of blackjack games: 13. Maximum starting bonus: $115 + 200 free spins.
5. TonyBet Casino
A number of blackjack games: 49. Maximum starting bonus: $10 without a deposit.
Additionally, you may be interested in mobile blackjack apps, so check them now! Some of these projects offer sports betting, too.
1. 888 Casino
A number of blackjack games: 5. Maximum starting bonus: $100 without a deposit.
A number of blackjack games: 15. Maximum starting bonus: $400 + 200 free spins.
A number of blackjack games: 26. Maximum starting bonus: $800.
4. Royal Panda
A number of blackjack games: 5. Maximum starting bonus: $115 + 10 free spins.
5. William Hill Casino
A number of blackjack games: 14. Maximum starting bonus: $400.
Running Your First Game
After you have chosen the best casino for online blackjack, you can actually start playing. Good research will point you towards reputable online gambling platforms with quality games, so make sure that you have spent enough time on it. Here’s a quick reminder on the key steps for running your first game.
Register and Set Preferences
Find a tab called “Register” or “Create Profile” to become a new user. Enter contact information in the required fields, set banking methods, and check available bonuses. During this step, check the data several times because typos may lead to issues with withdrawals later. If possible, turn on 2FA to increase safety and be sure that your account is protected.
Unless the casino has provided free money as a bonus, you will have to deposit some money to start playing. Go to your profile and find a section dedicated to transfers or deposits. Here, you can link bank cards/accounts or wallets, set permissions, and perform first transactions. Extra confirmations for money deals are desired, too.
Choose the Game
To start playing blackjack, simply find this game on the website. Check which types are available and which ones are your favorites. Normally, blackjack rooms are located in “Card Games” or “Table Games” category where you will find various versions from Classic Blackjack to multiple 21 variations.
Ideally, you will end up with some winnings. While it’s possible to leave the money in your casino account and continue playing blackjack, a lot of gamblers prefer to cash out a certain portion. For this, return to your profile and open the tab with money transfers. If previously connected banking methods support withdrawals, just make a transaction. Otherwise, you will need to add another option for cash-outs exclusively.
Other Noteworthy Hint
Check some useful hints to succeed in blackjack games:
● Look at the dealer’s card to understand how to act. ● Avoid first seats as there you will have the least time for thinking. ● Start with small bets to check how the game is going today. ● Don’t analyze other players’ actions as you don’t compete with them. ● Set time and money limits to avoid huge losses. ● Never gamble when overwhelmed with emotions or drunk.
A Word About Responsible Gambling
For the final section, we have prepared some info related to responsible gambling and, particularly, responsible blackjack plays. Most likely, you already know that the gambling industry is full of scammers, fraudulent websites, and rigged games which allow underage gamblers and insolvent users. These casinos have spoiled the reputation of the whole industry, so we beg to avoid them.
Play via trusted websites or use reliable applications. Remember about social responsibility. Just think how difficult it is to earn real money online and how easily illegal gambling platforms can steal it! It doesn’t take a lot of time to check licenses and read users’ reviews, but it can protect you and your close ones from potential huge losses and even addiction. Consider gambling as a hobby to enjoy it without harm.
Phew! It’s a pretty comprehensive guide, isn’t it? Feel free to bookmark it and return later to reread major takeaways. Firstly, make sure that you know the rules and have enough experience to gamble for money online. Then, choose a reputable casino with licenses and suitable banking methods. Lastly, remember about bonuses, their requirements, and gambling algorithms. Following these simple rules, you will be able to enjoy blackjack and earn money without issues. Good luck!
Just so everyone is clear, UNR/OSU cancelled the table game track of their presentation in Tulsa, and I won’t be traveling to Oklahoma to teach. Instead, I have enrolled in the 11thAnnual Las Vegas Anti-Money Laundering Conference and Expo. The conference and expo, presented by Casino Essentials, will be held the week of August 13that the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino. I plan on attending a majority of the meetings Tuesday through Thursday, including all of the events put on by Dowling Advisor Group (DAG). Jim Dowling and his company are working closely with Artichoke Joe’s Casino in order to upgrade our casino’s BSA/AML program. All of Artichoke Joe’s key executives will be attending this conference. From what I understand, this Casino Essentials event in Las Vegas is considered the “Superbowl” of casino industry BSA/AML conferences. For more information on the conference, please go to http://www.casinoessentials.com/events/title-31-las-vegas/.
Answers to Important Emails
Correcting a loop-hole in their manual multiple deck shuffle
Below is the follow up to an email I received two months ago. The casino executive contacting me had been watching a BJ customer punishing him with occasional large bets in the casino’s multiple deck shoe game. The game was a higher limit table, and was hand shuffled. Base on the original email I noted that the shuffle they used did not incorporate a deck “strip” in the shuffle procedure. When questioning this oversight, I was told that any shuffle, or change to the shuffle, had to be approved by the gaming regulator. I advised the casino executive that it was imperative that the casino insert a deck strip during each card grab selection where the cards are riffle shuffled. I received the following reply the middle of July;
Reply by the casino executive:
I just wanted to drop you a quick follow up…
We obtained approval to change the shuffle procedure to incorporate a more standard riffle, riffle, strip riffle for all cards during the shuffle, and…
Our most recent suspected AP and associate returned, checked into a comped room, bought in for a large amount, observed the shuffle, played utilizing a minimal bet spread redeeming all the match plays available to him, retired to his room with his associate cashed out a short time later checked out of his room and left property in an Uber. I can’t thank you enough for your insight and recommendations.
Additional comment on this subject: Regulators need to understand that for the most part, they do not possess the knowledge needed to judge and dictate various procedures required to make their casino providers’ games safe from scams and advantage play. I appreciate the job done by regulators, and I respect their watch-dog position for protecting the industry, however many regulators need to lose their egotistic attitudes, admit they don’t know the best method for conducting certain tasks and procedures, and seek outside expertise.
No commission Pai Gow Poker Variations
Email from a Director of Casino Games: Have you ever seen a commission free PG that offered player banking? I can’t think of anything that would vary the math away from the house and that would be different from a standard commission game. In the game in question a Q High Pai Gow for the Banker results in a push of all Pai Gow hands. We would just simply add a rule that states if a player is banking and the dealer’s hand is a Q high Pai Gow the “Banker’s” hand would then always push with the dealer. Have you even seen a casino do this? Thanks for any input. Also thanks for your input a few month ago about Baccarat. Our game is up and running now and doing quite well. Hope this finds you and yours well.
My Reply: There are versions of “Pai Gow Poker” where the game is dealt without charging the customer a commission on winning “player” bets. I have attached a PDF of a slide I use in my math presentations. It show three forms of PGP where commission is not charged on the customer’s winning player bets. Remember, the banking customer is either prohibited from banking or still charged a 5%commission on winning banking results. These games are based on a joker being used wild for straights/flushes, and as an Ace otherwise.
You can change the standard PGP game to commission-less, however it reduces the H/A% from 2.7% down to 1.23%. All customers banking results are still charged 5%, and are subject to the standard H/A% of 0.12%.
In “Commission Free” PGP the bank pushes ALL bets with a 9 high (or less) low hand (based on house way). Because a “9-high” low hand can be manipulated, customers are not allowed to take the bank. House H/A% of 2.5%.
In “EZ Pai Gow Poker” the bank pushes ALL bets with a Queen high (or less), and the customers can still bank, but are charged a 5% commission on all winning bank outcomes. House H/A% of 2.47% on the player hands, and I’m not sure about how the customer bank is handled.
That should help answer that question. I do believe that the Commission Free PGP and EZ PGP games are both proprietary (if the patents are still good), and you will have to contact with the vendors.
Questions about “Down Under Blackjack”
There has been a lot of interest in the past several years for different versions of blackjack. The most popular by far is “Spanish 21” which is a copy of Australian Pontoon. The next popular variations is the BJ series of “push 22” designed and patented by Geoff Hall. More lately, is the Dave Wisler creation of Down Under Blackjack. For those who are unfamiliar with the game concept, Wisler has developed a hole-card peeking system that actually informs the player about the approximate value of the dealer’s hole-card on every hand. This information is broken into three different categories of “Blue” (low 2-5), “Red” (medium 6-9), and “Gold” (high T & A). The information is helpful to a point, but it still presents the player with a number of hole-card value possibilities that the player has to consider before reaching a hand play decision. Following is my Q&A with this executive.
Executives Email: I am sure you know Dave Wisler from Masque Publishing. He just got “Down Under Blackjack” approved in this State. I remember looking at the game last fall at G2E. Please share your opinion when you have time.
My Reply: In reality, it’s another BJ variation in the same fashion as Geoff Hall’s “22 push” series of BJ games. The H/A% will be the same as your standard BJ games give or take a small percentage, but it will cater mostly to lower limit players (and the occasional high limit player who is temporarily curious). You should also get a high degree of side betting action on the Match the Dealer which should raise the return high enough to easily offset the proprietary fee. To my knowledge, DUBJ does not pose any new game protection issues, however the game does require the floor/surveillance to understand three different basic strategy charts correlating to the three hole-card categories of small hole-card, medium hole-card, and high hole-card. That is my two cents on the game. I hope to see you at one of the conferences this fall.
Scheduled Seminars and Workshop University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies: Table Game Management – September 17ththru 20th, 2018 – Reno Nevada
I always enjoy presenting at the UNR Extended Studies Gaming program regarding table games management. The students are from different gaming regions throughout North American, and occasionally, from around the world. I will be covering the topics of Casino Mathematics and Table Game Management on September 19thand 20th. Following are the topics covered during my two-day portion of the four-day program:
Hold-percentage analysis as a management tool
Game probability and profitability factors
Game selection, location, mix and pricing
Marketing strategies and customer development
Customer service strategies and applications
Maximizing department profitability and efficiency
Casino database management for table games
As I mentioned previously, these are the days I will be presenting; however, to attend you need to sign up for the entire week’s program. I truly believe that price and time spent in this University of Nevada Extended Studies program is well worth it.
Cutting Edge Table Game Seminar – Monday, November 5th, 2018 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada
I will be presenting once again on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference. This is another conference at which I like to present. This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented last year, however I have included mathematics on electronic Table Games (ETGs) I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games. Following is an outline of this year’s session and the times:
Table Games Mathematics (including ETGs) – 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM
The Cost of Table Game Promotions – 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM
The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 5ththrough 7th. For more information please go to their website www.tablegamesconf.com/. I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.
On the Move I don’t have any travel plans other than in the northern California area and home to New Mexico. I will keep everyone informed when that changes. Following are a few of my obligations for the summer and fall of 2018:
August– The 11thAnnual Las Vegas Anti-Money Laundering Conference and Expo (I’m only attending).
September– UNR Extended Studies: Table Game Management, Reno Nevada
November– Table Game Cutting Edge Seminar in Las Vegas
Don’t forget the World Game Protection Conference in February/March 2019 in Las Vegas.
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate to contact me through email. I answer close to a half dozen emails on gaming every day [email protected]
The example card shown on the right reflects a correct basic strategy for multi-deck blackjack games with double after splits not allowed and dealer stands on soft 17.
CORRECT BASIC STRATEGY 1)This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed. Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games. When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.
Surrender hard 16 (but not 88 pair) vs dealer 9, 10 or Ace. Surrender hard 15 vs dealer 10.
Always split Aces and 8s. Never split 10s and 5s. Split 2s and 3s vs dealer 4-7. Split 4s vs dealer 5-6. Split 6s vs dealer 2-6. Split 7s vs dealer 2-7. Split 9s vs dealer 2-6 and 8-9.
Double hard 9 vs dealer 3-6. Double hard 10 vs dealer 2-9. Double hard 11 vs dealer 2-10. Double soft 13 or 14 vs dealer 5-6. Double soft 15 or 16 vs dealer 4-6. Double soft 17 or 18 vs dealer 3-6.
HIT OR STAND
Stand on hard 12 vs dealer 4-6. Stand on hard 13-16 vs dealer 2-6. Stand on hard 17 or more. Stand on soft 19 (A8) or more. Hit hard 11 or less. Hit soft 17 (A6) or less. Hit soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 9, 10 and Ace.
IF DEALER HITS SOFT 17
Surrender 15, 88 and 17 vs dealer Ace. Double 11 vs dealer Ace. Double soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 2. Double soft 19 (A8) vs dealer 6.
The correct basic strategy is a proven winning system for the game of twenty-one. It is a strategy which maximizes the player’s expectation given only knowledge of the player’s hand and the dealer’s up-card. In the good old days when single deck was plentiful and rules were great basic strategy could actually give the player a small advantage. Today, casino managers are aware of the power of basic strategy and generally do not offer games that can be beaten off the top of the deck. However, players should keep their eyes open for promotional games which do surface from time to time!
Basic strategy is powerful! All card counters must master it before moving on to the fine art of card counting. Basic strategy is not difficult! A person with average intelligence can memorize it in just a few hours. Basic strategy is the way to play! Every time you make a play on a hunch or intuition and ignore the “correct” basic strategy play you increase the casino advantage against you.
For example, a pit boss witnessing a player standing on an A-7 versus a ten valued dealer up-card would generally consider this player a novice or an idiot. If you stand on this hand you will win it about 41% of the time. If you hit the hand you increase your chances to 43%. Why would anyone not hit this hand? You can’t bust (at least not initially) and you stand a good chance of improving it. But every time I play this game I witness players standing on A-7 vs 10 with the hope that the dealer doesn’t have a nine or ten in the hole. Don’t be an idiot! Trust in basic strategy and play it perfectly. Your bankroll will thank you for it.
This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed. Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games. When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.