Even though the basic rules of blackjack aren’t particularly complicated, there’s a lot of nuance to the game. As an effect, a ton of strategies have been developed over the years. While some players prefer to stick with their own approaches, it definitely won’t hurt to learn how to find the best blackjack strategy. Find out how to maximise your chances of winning, employing both advanced and basic strategy. Blackjack boasts one of the lowest values of house edge, so with some help, you can easily beat the casino!
Why should you follow any blackjack strategy?
Even though casino games ultimately always come down to chance, knowing the perfect blackjack strategy or the right approach for any other game will definitely help to increase your odds. It’s vital to keep in mind the role that luck plays in your gambling journey. Especially when you score a big win when just starting out, you are bound to start relying on your luck a lot, but over the long term, efficiency and consistency are what keeps you in the positive. Blackjack strategy is where statistics and mathematics heavily come into play: the chances of winning in pretty much any situation can be calculated very precisely, giving you valuable information on which bet will be the right one at that moment.
Remember that neither a basic blackjack strategy nor a perfect blackjack strategy will make you win every game – or even most games – but the value of following well-prepared, mathematically-proven rules will be very evident if you play more. When trying your luck at blackjack, strategy helps you avoid losses, extend the fun you’re having at a casino or online, and increases the chances of beating the house.
A conservative blackjack strategy
Your blackjack strategy can focus on both parts of the game: the actual choice of hands and bets, as well as figuring out your stakes. Particularly when you’re just starting out, it’s crucial to stick to a responsible staking plan. Chasing losses or trying to ride a lucky wave after an unexpected win are just two of the many pitfalls that gamblers often fall into, making them lose all their money. If you want to have fun at the casino, you have to think in terms of maximising your playtime – and the only way to do it is by limiting your losses.
A safe method would be preparing a conservative blackjack strategy. Its rules can be really simple – for example, specify your ‘unit’ of betting (e.g. a single pound, euro, or dollar), and start out by placing bets with a single unit. Then, after a win, increase it by one unit. When you lose, go back to your initial stake. This basic blackjack strategy can keep you at the table for a long time, and coupled with the knowledge of all the various bets and odds of specific hands, it will definitely help you score some gains in the long term.
Martingale strategy for blackjack
Once you’re comfortable with basic blackjack strategy, you can explore other staking plans. One of the most popular ones is called ‘martingale’: it’s a system used in many casino games. The rules are very straightforward, and are usually applied to bets with 50/50 odds – each time you lose, double your stake. This way, once you win after a streak of losses, you can recover the lost money.
There are a few things to be wary of when using this approach, though. First off, it operates on the assumption that the odds are entirely fair. In the real world, it’s rarely the case – casinos have to earn money as well, so there’s always some house edge. Even if it’s a small number, like 0.5%, it will greatly decrease the efficiency of the martingale system. The real problem, however, is the possibility of getting to the point where you simply can’t double your bet. After just 10 losses (which can happen to any player!), if you started out with a single unit, you’ll have to place a bet of over 1,000 units – it’s easy to see that this strategy can really backfire under the right circumstances!
1–3–2–6 blackjack betting system
The only sure-fire way to avoid the impossibility of doubling your bet using a martingale strategy is to have infinite funds, but that’s a situation where you don’t really have to think about strategy at all. You can, however, use a number of other betting systems in blackjack – a basic strategy you can employ can for example be the 1–3–2–6 system. The numbers signify what number of units you should bet with: start off with a single one, and after a win move to three, then – after another win – to two, then six, and restart. If you lose, start over from 1. If you hit a streak of four wins, you’ll have earned some nice profit!
Always double down on a hard 11
It’s one of the most well-known rules of basic blackjack strategy. Doubling down means placing an additional bet, equal to your initial one, after getting your cards, while getting only one extra card in return. A hard eleven refers to any hand that has a total value of 11. The maximum number of extra ‘points’ you’ll get is 10 – keeping in mind that the main goal of blackjack is hitting exactly 21, it’s very straightforward to connect the dots and figure out why doubling down on a hard 11 is almost always the right choice. A lot of players also tend to double down on a 10.
As with most rules, there’s an exception to this one – you shouldn’t double down on a hard 10 or 11 when the dealer has an ace. In this situation, the odds are hugely in the dealer’s favour, and there’s a good chance you’ll lose your double bet.
Always split a pair of 8s and aces
Here’s another vital part of blackjack basic strategy. If you get a pair of aces as your hand, you’re in a great spot – splitting the cards allows you to have two chances to hit 21. The situation with a pair of 8s is slightly more complicated: the reason for this rule is that a sixteen is one of the weakest hands you can get. Splitting them is mostly a way to minimise losses by giving you two options to get out of this situation.
Never split a pair of 5s or 10s
If you split tens, you’ll have to get an ace in order to have a winning hand – the odds for that are pretty slim. Therefore, the strategy of blackjack almost always suggests keeping a pair of 10s, which, in itself, is a pretty strong hand. The approach is similar to 5s – you can basically treat them as if they were a single ten. You should also avoid splitting a pair of 4s, as that will just give you two really weak hands.
Always attack a hard 12 against a 2 or 3 up-card
Even the most simple blackjack strategy should consider situations where you just don’t have a good hand at all. One of those is a hard 12 – that is, a total value of your cards equalling twelve. Most of the time, you’d want to stand and just wait for another round, but there are some cases where it’s a good choice to hit. When the dealer’s up-card is 2 or 3, your odds are decent even with a hard 12.
Never do the insurance bet
There is pretty much no strategy for blackjack that recommends using the insurance bet. Usually, it’s best just to learn how it works, and then promptly forget about it. Insurance in blackjack means placing an additional bet of 2–to–1 odds, with half the value of your initial wager, when the dealer has an ace as their up-card. If the dealer hits blackjack, then you get your money back.
While it might sound like a beneficial option for players, probability analysis shows that, over the long term, you’ll be losing money when using the insurance bet. The odds of winning are just below 1 in 2, so with the even odds, the result is an advantage for the dealer. Pretty much the only time to consider the insurance bet as part of your blackjack betting strategy is when you’re able to count the cards perfectly, which will be basically impossible in any casino.
Blackjack strategy charts
How to learn the perfect strategy? Blackjack is a very popular game with tons of resources which you can find online or in various guides. If you’re serious about it, you should definitely get familiar with them. A very valuable tool at your disposal would be a blackjack basic strategy chart – it’s a table with instructions on what to do at any pairing of your hand and the dealer’s hand. Look around for a chart which will be easy to read and understand for you, and use it to learn the best decisions for the game. Despite the fact that it might sound somewhat like cheating, most casinos allow having a basic strategy blackjack chart with you and using it when you’re playing. Some might have rules against placing them directly on the blackjack table – strategy charts can be kept in your pocket in this situation, but you should refer primarily to the terms and conditions of your casino of choice.
There are a lot of places to test out your blackjack strategy – Vegas strip, online casinos, or establishments in wherever you’re located right now. The rules of maximising your odds work the same both in physical locations and in online blackjack strategy. The basic set of recommendations is often referred to as ‘blackjack basic strategy’, and is frequently summarised in a blackjack strategy chart showing you the right plays for any situation. Here’s our breakdown of a few of the most important rules when it comes to playing your blackjack hand.
- Learn the odds of the various hands to know which bet will be the right one at any given moment.
- Always double down on a hard 11 or a hard 10, unless the dealer has an ace.
- Split a pair of aces in order to maximise your profit.
- Split a pair of eights in order to minimise your losses.
- Never split a pair of tens or fives.
- If you get a hard 12, consider hitting only if the dealer has a weak up-card.
Apart from basic blackjack strategy rules, the importance of a responsible staking plan can’t be understated. If you’re just starting, stick to a conservative blackjack betting strategy to ensure minimal losses in the long run. Don’t forget that there are many places, where you can play free blackjack games. While some plans might sound enticing at a first glance, it’s worth learning exactly how they work to avoid troubles with placing bets. The world of strategy in blackjack is vast and exciting – never stop learning how to approach the game more efficiently, get the most bang for your buck, and combine the fun of playing with the satisfaction of winning!