Blackjack strategies are designed to turn the odds in your favor, increase your chances of winning while decreasing your losses. Every decision you make costs you money – hit, stand, split, double down, surrender. To win back your bet as well as some profits, you need an effective playing method. There is no foolproof blackjack winning strategy, but there are ways to play smart and rake in those chips.
Out of all casino games, blackjack has one of the lowest house edges, about 0.46%. A large part of the outcome on a hand depends on your playing skills. That is why blackjack has a list of basic strategies that every avid player should learn. Knowing when to hit or stand could save you from losing against the dealer's hand or going bust.
For example, a basic blackjack strategy is to always stand with a pair of 9s when the dealer's upcard is a 7.
There are four times as many 10 value cards in a deck, so when the dealer's upcard is a 7, you should stand on a pair of 9s. The dealer will likely end up with a total hand of 17, in which case your 18 will win.
Another basic strategy is to split aces and eights always.
The dealer will usually stand on 17, so having a pair of 8s totaling 16 makes you the clear underdog. By splitting the hand, you have greater chances of winning at least one of them. With Aces, it is crystal clear. In blackjack, you bust by going over 21, and a pair of aces equals 22, so you definitely have to split aces.
When playing at a table that allows the surrender feature, the first question that should pop into your head after being dealt a hand is, "Should I surrender or not?"
The basic strategies here are 16 surrenders against a dealer's 9, 10 or Ace and 15 surrenders against a dealer's 10.
The purpose of keeping these in mind is to help you make fewer mistakes that lead to a loss. When you surrender, you will be giving up only half your bet and keeping the other half, which is much more profitable than losing the hand completely.
Other Basic Blackjack Strategies include:
- Always double down on a hard 11 (hand without an ace)
- Always hit soft 18 (hand with an ace) when the dealer's upcard is 9, 10 or Ace
- Never split a pair of 5s or 10s
- If the dealer's upcard is 9 or less, always double down on 10
- Against a dealer's 2 or 3 upcard, always hit a hard 12
A good option would be to get a blackjack strategy card. These cards contain a chart of all the basic blackjack strategies at a glance and are legal on the casino floor. Bring them along on every gaming session to know the best moves to play for every hand you are dealt.
With the basic strategy down, it's time to learn how to bet at the blackjack table. Depending on your bankroll and your style of gaming, there are a couple of ways this could go.
The Conservative Blackjack Strategy
This is very much in line with common sense reasoning. You are trying to be prudent, so you raise your stake every time you win and lower it whenever you lose.
There is this gambling concept that winning and losing happen in streaks. And that is what the conservative approach believes. You could lose five times consecutively, but then win three times in a row. By raising your stakes little by little, you minimize losses when they come.
We recommend this strategy for newcomers to the blackjack gaming scene. High stakes can seem daunting at first, so this is a much easier way to survey the terrain.
The Progressive Blackjack Strategy
You will want to have a sizeable bankroll available before using this strategy. The Martingale strategy is the standard progressive betting approach, and it states that players should double their stakes each time they lose.
This is an aggressive betting style because you are basically pushing for a win without looking back. It doesn't sound like the smartest move at first, but the idea is that you will most probably win a hand of blackjack during a gaming session. You would win by either beating the dealer's hand or the latter going bust, so chances are high for this to happen at least once.
Now, it's starting to make sense. Because you double your bet each time, when you finally land a win, you cover up all your losses, and depending on your bet type, you could be making some decent profits too.
With this strategy, however, it's best not to get too greedy. Martingale’s doesn't work for very long gaming sessions, so after winning a few times, you should consider leaving the table.
1-3-2-6 Blackjack Strategy
This is another strategy that doesn't weigh down your bankroll. It is not as daring as Martingale's strategy, so if you prefer low stake betting, you should definitely give this a shot
This strategy follows the belief that winning occurs in streaks. The number sequence represents the betting pattern after winning a blackjack hand, for instance, $10, $30, $20, $60.
If your first bet was $20, then your subsequent bets should be $20, $60, $40, $120.
You would immediately cut the sequence if you lost and continue betting the original amount until you win again.
This strategy is a long-term strategy. The figures at the start of the game may not be impressive, but you'll have an advantage over time. You don't make random bets, but calculated ones, so your bankroll doesn't deplete quickly, and you can play on for longer.
Manage Your Bankroll
Don't make the mistake of exceeding your bankroll in the hopes of winning a big one later on. Remember that blackjack also has an element of luck that is out of your control. If you've mastered the best strategies and are sure in your game, there is still a slight possibility that the next card dealt from the deck may turn the table around. So we generally do not recommend going over your pocket limits.
A tip to help with this would be to choose your table wisely. There are different kinds of blackjack tables with numerous betting levels. Playing at a high stakes table with a limited bankroll will max out your credits before you even get the chance to make any returns. If you are a low-roller, you will want to pick a table with low minimum limits while high rollers can go big on their stakes.
Another bankroll management habit is learning when to walk away. Once you start rolling cards and chips, it can get very exciting, especially when you are on a hot streak. Most players at this point think they are going to hit the jackpot if they play on, but the experts will tell you that you are most likely to make a huge loss.
If you are lucky enough to make considerable returns early on in the game, you should take a walk straight to the bank. This way, your bankroll lives to bet another day.
Avoid The Insurance Bet
This is the most common "don't" of blackjack. The insurance bet is a wager on the dealer getting a perfect blackjack when the dealer's upcard is an Ace. Even if you have a good hand total, say 19 or 20, don't make the insurance bet because the payoff is less than the odds that the dealer will have a Blackjack. It is a side bet that significantly favors the house, so you should avoid it altogether.
Choose Your Casino Wisely
Just as important as how you play is where you play at. No matter how good you are, if you play at a dishonest casino, you can't beat them. They could manipulate the outcome, so they are always one step ahead of you. Some casinos set the payout at 6:5 instead of 3:2. A 6:5 payout practically cheats you out of your money because you won't be winning as much as you should.
We advocate only the best licensed and regulated casino sites. A licensed casino will have their RNGs tested by third-party auditors and will prioritize fair play.
Also, if you are always losing at a casino, you should probably find another gaming haven. This shouldn't be a problem as it is possible to sign up on more than one casino, and there are a plethora of options available over the internet.
Becoming an expert blackjack strategist is a process. It takes time and practice. However, don't expect to gain total control over the game by using strategy. It would help if you always played in moderation. You are betting against luck and the house edge of the casino, so you need to tread carefully. Blackjack is a fun game, and besides winning, you should be looking to have a great time at the casino.
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