Strategy is the most important aspect of blackjack. Most professional gamblers know that blackjack, played with optimal strategy, can reduce the house edge to as little as 0.3 percent. Unfortunately, this figure isn’t shared around amateur circles too often, and so a lot of beginner players head to the casino believing that strategy isn’t important.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term ‘house edge’, it’s the percentage a casino is almost guaranteed to take from every stake made. For example, if a game has a house edge of 20 percent — keno, for example — the casino stands to make $2 out of every $10 played. This figure drops to around 2.7 percent when playing single zero (European roulette), with blackjack coming in at an insanely low 0.28 percent. While blackjack’s house edge is already incredibly competitive, with optimal play this can be reduced to nearly 0 percent, or even in the minus figures (player advantage) when card counting is involved. Of course, card counting is a difficult skill to master, so we’ll throw you a few pointers that you can use straight away.
Try to memorize strategy when playing at real casinos
Basically, by following our guide you’ll be playing optimal play without even noticing it. Even when your gut says to stand with a soft 17 (ace + 6), you should definitely hit. Likewise, while you might think it’s a great idea to split 10s, it definitely isn’t. Why? Because the guide says so. It’s been compiled by experts so you don’t have to think, so follow it.
You are in complete control when playing
This little nugget is often forgotten, but it always should be at the forefront of your mind. You are in control.
While you can’t control the way the cards fall, there are so many other elements of blackjack that you can control. First of all is how much and how often you bet. If you’ve stumbled into a bad run of luck, and you’re losing hand after hand, you have the ability to stop. Sometimes the cards won’t fall and you have to accept it isn’t your day. The answer isn’t to have a few shots of whiskey to spruce lady luck back into action, as that can only make things worse. What you need to do is go outside, take a breather and relax.
Secondly, you have the option to hit, or fold. Unlike roulette and craps, where everything is left to chance, you have the power to make winning decisions. This leads us back to our first point, where playing with a strategy really pays off. You won’t find a strategy out there for roulette, craps or baccarat because there isn’t a strategy for these games. The power to win is in your hands, you just have to concentrate and work hard at it.
Have a pre-set target for winnings and stick to it
This is so, so important. Think of how much you’d like to win and once you’ve hit it, leave the casino.
Why, you ask? Because the longer you spend in the casino, the more likely you are to be stung by the house advantage. The casino knows this and attempts to keep in-house players in as long as possible, with slot machines at the exits and confusing layouts, but if you have a steady figure in your head you can bypass all these traps comfortably. Don’t be privy to giving one of the slots a whirl just to see what happens, because nine times out of 10 you’re going to walk out with less winnings than you started off with. Stay strong and you will benefit in the long-run.
Don’t take insurance
Trust us. Just don’t bother. It’s really not worth it.
Let look at this logically. There are only 16 10s (four of each 10, jack, queen & king) in a regular deck of cards, which means the odds of landing an 10 are 16 out of 52 (not including any that you might be holding), while the odds of the cards being anything else are 36 out of 52. It doesn’t matter how many decks this particular game of blackjack is using, there are always going to be more cards that will result in you losing your insurance, rather than win at 2:1. The odds aren’t worth it, so don’t bother.
Always split 8s and aces
Always, always split 8s and aces. The better odds of you landing two more valuable hands than the hand you currently hold make it worth it.
So you’ve landed two aces, which has a grand total of 2 points. The dealer is showing a 5. Should you hit? Nope. Should you stand? Definitely not. Should you split. Yes. 2 is a poor score, but with aces you have the potential to land blackjack with a ten, or two hands with much more value without the potential of busting. The same goes for 8s, with 16 being a decent hand, but not competitive enough. By splitting 8s you have the potential to land 18 without the risk of busting.
Trust us, always split 8s and aces.
And these are pretty much the only facts you’ll need to have a head start over your competitors. Learn them, keep them in mind and you’ll soon be winning big at the blackjack tables (hopefully)!