Basic Blackjack tips
Choose Your Games Wisely
You will very quickly notice that there is a great deal of variation within Blackjack. Some of the rules are more player friendly than others, so it is worth seeking out the games that have the most advantageous rules. This means looking for tables where Blackjack pays 3:2, where the dealer will stand on all 17s, including soft 17, where you can double on any two cards, and where doubling is allowed after a split. Ideally you surrender will also be offered, and the fewer decks of cards used, the better.
Find Appropriate Betting Limits
When choosing a table to play at, be sure to consider the minimum and maximum bets. You want to make sure that you can afford to play as many rounds as you wish. This means that if your bankroll is €100 and you know you want to play at least 100 rounds, then you need to find a table that will accept bets of €1 per hand. Similarly, if you use a betting system that requires you to increase your bets, make sure that it will not go over the table maximum.
Don’t Place the Insurance Side Bet
The Insurance side bet can appear very attractive as a backup plan. However, it actually has a huge house edge and you will lose the bet far more often than you win it. You can of course place it from time to time, if you budget appropriately, but ultimately, you will lose money if you place it every time.
Don’t Worry About Other Players
If you are playing a live dealer game, or in a land casino, it is easy to become caught up in what the other players are doing. However, in the long-term, other players’ decisions will have absolutely no effect on your odds of winning. Just stick to your strategy, manage your bankroll sensibly, and pay no attention to what others are doing.
Remember That Each Round is Unique
There is no point in looking for trends in Blackjack; most games use numerous packs of cards and in many games the cards are shuffled between each round. If you hit a winning or losing streak, this is down to luck and some skill; however, you should never assume that a win is coming your way.
Basic Strategy Tips
While you may not want to spend the time learning the entire optimal blackjack strategy (also known as basic playing strategy), there are a few tips you can learn that will certainly go a long way to helping. Here they are:
Split Aces and 8s
If you are dealt a pair of Aces or a pair of 8s, then it is always worth splitting them. Mathematically, this will give you the best chance of winning.
Stand if Your Hand Could Bust against a Dealer’s Card
If the dealer’s face up card is a 4, 5 or 6, then it is normally better to stand, especially if you have a weak hand. For example, if you are holding a 10 and a 2, there is a roughly 70% chance that you can improve your hand. However, this means that there is also a roughly 30% chance of going bust. In this situation, it is best to let the dealer run the risk of busting.
Double Down if You Hold an Ace and the Dealer Shows 6
If one of your initial cards is an Ace and the dealer’s up card is a 6, then it is a good time to Double Down. The only exception to this is if you are holding a soft 20. Furthermore, you should also Double Down against a dealer 5, unless you have a soft 19 or 20.
Use a Strategy Card
It is understandable if you do not have the time or inclination to memorise blackjack strategy, but there is no reason that you can’t use a strategy card. These can easily be found online and they tell you exactly what you need to do in every situation. They don’t even take long to use, and if you are playing at home, then you will have all the time you need. There is no shame in using a strategy card, and it can only help to improve your winnings. If you play with perfect strategy, then the house edge will be less than 1%!
Be Careful with Betting Strategies
Many people advocate using progressive betting strategies, in which you adjust the size of your bet based upon the previous hand. However, this is not necessarily a good idea. Theoretically, the only time a bet should be increased is when there are more high-valued cards than low-valued cards in the shoe. However, in games where the deck is shuffled after every round, this is not relevant.
Common Blackjack Mistake to Avoid
As it is a relatively simple game, people are sometimes lulled into a false sense of security with Blackjack. This inevitably leads to mistakes, which means that people win less money. Here are some surprisingly common mistakes that you should be sure to avoid.
Not Knowing the Exact Variant Rules
There are a huge number of Blackjack variants and while the differences are often subtle, they are hugely important. It may sound obvious, but it is absolutely essential that you know the exact rules of the variant that you are playing. Even the smallest change will make a difference to the basic strategy, and this means that you need to make sure that you are looking at the correct strategy chart. Check things such as if doubling is allowed after a split, if the game offers surrender, and so on. It only takes a few minutes, but it can make all the difference.
Playing Without a Strategy
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the time to learn blackjack strategy, you should still always play with a strategy. It could even be a very basic strategy, such as you decide that you are playing x amount of hands, betting the same amount on each hand, and that is it. However, it would be better to use something a bit more advanced. Use the tips above, print out a strategy card, and give yourself the best chance of winning.
Giving in to Panicked Thinking
You may feel under some pressure when playing in a casino, or even in a live dealer game online, and this can only lead to mistakes. Blackjack is essentially a mathematical game, and this gives players a huge advantage. However, it requires clear thinking at all times and for players not to make rushed decisions. If you are feeling under pressure, then just take a minute to breathe and relax. Take your time and think through your decisions. It is also best to avoid playing when you are particularly tired or if you have been drinking.
Not Stopping at the Right Time
It is vital that you know when to stop playing. There is one situation when it is essential to stop; when you have used your entire bankroll for the gaming session. There is also a situation when it is strongly advisable that you stop, and that is when you have started to make a profit. Many people seem to believe that the more they bet, the better the chances of winning. This is completely false, and you shouldn’t fall for it.
Avoid Bad Assumptions
Assumptions are always a risky business and this is no different when it comes to Blackjack. The house edge hardly ever changes, and this should be remembered at all times. If you are using a progressive betting system that requires you to increase your bet, then you are making yourself vulnerable to a big loss as in the long run, you will not beat the house edge. While betting systems can be fun, unless you are a professional card counter, they can increase the risks.
Using Too Many Side Bets
There are many side bets available in Blackjack, especially if you are playing online. You should treat these with great care. While they can be fun, and many of them offer the chance of huge payouts, they also have very big house edges. You will not win side bets very often, and they will burn through your bankroll. If you are going to place them, then do so sparingly, to ensure that you do not run out of funds.
Letting Bad Luck Distract You
There is no escaping luck when it comes to gambling; no matter how skilled you are, there is always an element of chance. If you hit a losing streak, don’t let it change how you play. Stay calm and focused, stick to your strategy, and accept that it is part of the game.