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Winning at blackjack is the easiest thing to do at the casino. At the same time, it is also the most challenging. This paradox stems from the fact that blackjack strategies are numerous, but gaining mastery of them takes practice. Nonetheless, one thing is certain – strategy is the way to win at blackjack.
With one of the smallest house edges and the highest number of player wins on the casino floor, blackjack is considered one of the most popular casino games. What makes the game even more interesting is that there are a set of rules or standards to follow for every hand combination. This ruleset is known as Blackjack Basic Strategy. Consider it a cheat sheet when betting at the gaming table. Combine basic strategy with the top strategies for winning blackjack, and you have a nearly foolproof recipe for success.
Basic strategy is the first step to successful blackjack betting, so we’ll begin with that.
Blackjack Basic Strategy
The word “basic” literally spells out the point of this strategy – it is on a must-know basis. Following these rules, players cut down the house edge from about 1% to around 0.5%. It tells you the best action to take, depending on the cards you’re dealt. Generally, in blackjack, you can choose to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender.
- Surrender on 16 against dealer’s hand of 9-Ace but, don’t surrender otherwise.
- Surrender on 15 against dealer’s hand of 10; otherwise, don’t.
- Split Aces always.
- Never split tens.
- Split a pair of 9’s against dealer’s hand of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, but stand otherwise.
- Split 8’s always.
- Split 7’s against dealer’s hand of 2-7 but hit otherwise.
- Split 6’s against dealer’s hand of 2-9 but hit otherwise.
- Split 4’s against dealer’s hand of 5 & 6 but hit otherwise.
- Split 3’s against dealer’s hand of 2-7 but hit otherwise.
- Split 2’s against dealer’s hand of 2-7 but hit otherwise.
Hit, Stand, or Double
- Stand on a soft 20.
- Stand on a soft 19 but double against a dealer’s hand of 6.
- Stand on a soft 18, but hit against a dealer’s hand of 9 – Ace, and double down against 2-6.
- Hit soft 17, but double against dealer’s hand of 3-6.
- Hit soft 16, but double against dealer’s hand of 4-6.
- Hit soft 15, but double against dealer’s hand of 4-6.
- Hit soft 14, but double against dealer’s hand of 5-6.
- Hit soft 13, but double against dealer’s hand of 5-6.
- Stand on hard 17 and higher.
- Hit hard 16, but stand against dealer’s hand of 2-6.
- Hit hard 15, but stand against dealer’s hand of 2-6.
- Hit hard 14, but stand against dealer’s hand of 2-6.
- Hit hard 13, but stand against dealer’s hand of 2-6.
- Hit hard 12, but stand against dealer’s hand of 4-6.
- Always double on hard 11.
- Hit hard 10, but double against dealer’s hand of 2-9.
- Hit hard 9, but double against dealer’s hand of 3-6.
- Always hit hard 8.
- Double on a pair of 5’s against dealer’s hand of 2-9, but hit otherwise.
Note: Soft hand total has an ace as one of the starting cards, where the ace counts as 11. For example, Soft 17 (A + 6). A hard hand total does not have an ace as one of the starting cards.
Expert players have committed these to memory, but amateurs may not recall every single one by heart from the get-go. Luckily, you can buy a basic strategy card for easy reference, and you can use them at any of the top USA casino sites.
With the basic strategy for blackjack out of the way, players can begin learning and implementing the top blackjack strategies. These are a collection of tried, tested, and proven tips from the experts. You’ve cut down the house edge with basic strategy. Now, it’s time to outsmart the game and beat the casino.
Don’t Bet Insurance
The insurance bet is one of the side bets available in blackjack where you place a new wager (half of your original stake) on the dealer’s chances of getting a perfect blackjack (hand total of 21).
This is an all-round unfavorable bet considering the spike in the house edge to nearly 6%. In the best-case scenario, you break even if the dealer does get a blackjack. Also, if you were to get a perfect blackjack, it would neither be a loss nor a win, but a push. So you are much better off avoiding it altogether.
Wait For The Dealer to Bust
Blackjack tables often require the dealer to stand on a soft or hard 17 or higher. So if the dealer has a lower hand value, they would have to hit. If the dealer’s upcard shows a 4, 5, or 6, then there is a high probability the next card will result in a bust. As long as the dealer busts, you win your bet. But make sure that you have a hand value that won’t bust when dealt an additional card.
Since the chances of the dealer going bust are very likely, it would be a good idea to split your hand or double down to get more value.
Avoid First Base Seats
First base seats are those closest to the dealer, whose cards are dealt out first. The reason to avoid these positions is that you will have less time to analyze your hands and the dealer’s upcard. It’s significantly worse at a fast table where the dealer is rushing. When joining a blackjack game, endeavor to sit further down the table.
Pay No Attention to Gambler’s Myth
Even though there may be many players at a blackjack table, your only opponent is the dealer. Unlike poker, where every participant is an opponent, or craps where players usually bet in unison, other players’ actions in blackjack should not affect your game outcome. Remember that your best bet is to stick to basic strategy.
Learn Bankroll Management
Players at the casino usually win at some point, but very few eventually leave with profits. The major problem is wrong bankroll management. Being an expert blackjack strategist will be of no use if you don’t have the funds to bet.
Bankroll management tells you how to optimize your cash to play as long as possible at the casino. To avoid getting burned, start by setting a max limit for your losses, after which you should walk away from the table. A win limit could also be useful to help manage compulsive spending. If you want to go on playing, then set a new limit and play based on that.
Blackjack Betting Strategies
The way you place your bets counts a great deal to how much you can win at the casino. Hence, blackjack betting strategies were invented.
Conservative Blackjack Strategy
The casino gambling spirit is generally radical and keen on risk-taking, but it wouldn’t hurt to take the conservative route once in a while. This betting strategy is best suited for beginners who are still learning the ropes of how to play blackjack. The main deterrents at this stage are going broke on the casino and getting frustrated with consecutive losses. The conservative approach tells you to start small and only increase your bet when you win.
A simple betting plan would be to start with the lowest bet possible and increase by 1 unit on every win. When you lose, return to the original bet.
You can only win little by little, but you never risk too much at a time.
Progressive Blackjack Strategy
The progressive approach is the opposite of conservative betting and focuses on getting big wins for high risks. The most common kind is the Martingale betting strategy, where you double your bet whenever you lose. But on landing a win, you get to cover up for all losses up until that moment.
If you’ve ever played blackjack before or any casino game at all, you will know that consecutive losses do happen frequently. That means you will be losing a lot before you get that lucky win.
Why use this strategy, you ask?
Well, there is a myth which suggests that just as losing occurs in streaks, so does winning. Of course, statistically, this is an invalid assumption because blackjack is ultimately a game of chance, and no one knows the hand you will be dealt. However, it is not entirely untrue as hot and cold streaks are common notions on the casino floor.
Hitting a hot run after a cold one will not only see you recovering all your losses, but you will be making some very hefty profits as well. You would have enough funds to play more or walk away, smiling.
To play aggressively as this strategy suggests, you have to be a big spender with a sizeable bankroll to carry you through the storm before the calm.
Play at the top online casino sites to get the best gaming experience at the blackjack table. Don’t forget to avail yourself of bonuses and other promos to boost the action and increase your chances of winning.