Best Blackjack Strategy
Blackjack, also known as Blackjack21 or just 21, is a fast-paced casino card game that is played by several players and a dealer. The aim is for the players to defeat the dealer by getting a score as close to 21 as possible or to reach a higher score than the dealer without exceeding 21. Regardless of how many players are at the table, the only Blackjack hand players need to beat is the dealers. Each player acts individually and versus the dealer during their turn. Blackjack is still one of the most popular games in both online and traditional casinos. It is a game of skill, where research and a good strategy can work wonders for players.
How to Play
Online Blackjack is excellent for new players. It allows beginners to learn the game in an environment of their choosing and avoid the pressures of a traditional casino. Online Blackjack can be played anywhere, all that is required is a device capable of running the software and a decent internet connection.
Rules and Gameplay
To start the game each player puts forward how much they wish to wager. Common pre-set amounts are $1, $2 $5 $10 $25 and $100. Players can also manually input custom betting amounts. Once the betting stage is over, click deal to receive your cards. Sometimes a timer may be involved to speed up the game. The minimum and maximum bet vary from game to game, but a general rule of thumb is a ratio of 40 to a 100. So if the min bet is $5, then the maximum will fall somewhere between $200 and $500.
Each player receives two cards, usually one at a time as the dealer goes around the circle. The player to the left gets the first card and is also the first to act against the dealer. The dealer also gets two cards, except one is left face up for all to see.
After the deal, players will be presented with several options, hit, stand or double down. If players have been dealt a pair, which is two of the same card, then there is also the option to split. When play starts, the person on the left goes first and then chooses to hit, which provides a chance to keep receiving an indefinite amount of cards until they either reach 21 or exceed it. Stand which means the player is happy with their current total and doesn’t want to receive any more cards. You can also double down if your two cards total an amount between 9 and 11. This means that you put in an additional bet equal to the amount of your first bet and receive just one more card.
If the total value of their hand is less than 21, players can hit as many times as they like until they bust or they wish to stand. When a Blackjack hands value exceeds 21, it automatically busts, and the bet is lost. Then the game passes to the next player in sequence. If a player is dealt an Ace and a card valued at 10, which is Jack, Queen, King or a 10 it is called Blackjack. Blackjack is the best hand in the game and can’t be beaten.
If the dealer has Blackjack, then their second card is exposed immediately and all players who don’t have Blackjack lose their bet. If both a player and the dealer have Blackjack, it’s called a push, and it results in a tie with neither the player or the dealer winning, the players bet is returned. A push can also occur in other hands; if the dealer has cards of equal value with any number of players at the end of play it is called a Push, and the player’s initial bet is refunded.
Once each player has had a turn and chosen to stand, or their hand has involuntarily busted, the dealer plays their hand in the same way as the players. This gives the dealer and the Casino a slight edge, known as the house edge because players can bust and lose before the dealer has to play. If the dealers revealed card is an Ace, players can purchase insurance. Which is a side bet, wagering on the dealer to have Blackjack. This bet pays 2:1.
Some casinos will make the dealer stand when they reach a total of 17. If the Dealer busts any remaining players automatically win. If the dealer doesn’t bust, any players who end the game with a higher hand value than the dealer win.
After a player has gotten comfortable enough with the game, they may decide to try the advanced features. They can double down which means after receiving their two cards they can place a second wager equal to the first potentially doubling the total winnings. However, after doubling down, players can only be dealt one card and then they are forced to stand. Players can only double down when their hand has a total between 9 and 11.
Another option is to split pairs, where if a player has two cards of the same value then they can place an additional bet of the same amount as the first and split the cards into two separate hands. If the player has an Ace and a card valued at 10 in any of the new hands, it does not count as a Blackjack. Instead, it’s only a regular 21 which means the dealer can still achieve 21 through hitting and force a push.
If players receive another set of pairs when they split, then they can split again to a total of four times.
Five Rules To Remember
1. Blackjack is player Vs dealer; each player goes up against the dealer individually.
2. The closest to 21 wins.
3. If you go over 21, you lose.
4. Play goes clockwise around the virtual table.
5. 2 card 21, or Blackjack is the best hand available
Choose an amount. Bet. Click Deal. Then every player receives two cards. The dealer gets two cards, one face up, the other face down. Players hit, stand, double down or split. Players will remain in the game as long as their hand is 21 or less. Once everyone has acted, the dealer reveals the facedown card and hits or stands. If the dealer has the highest score, all bets are lost. Any players who have a higher score then the dealer wins.
Blackjack Top Terms
While these are not rules in the strictest sense, players will come across the following terms frequently during their playing time. Depending on where the game is based they may change to local slang or be in a different language entirely. Regardless of what it’s called somewhere else, these are the most common terms used in Blackjack.
- Blackjack: The name of the game and the best hand. When a player has two cards that add up to 21.
- Bet: An amount that a player wishes to risk on the result of their cards.
- Bust: When a player exceeds 21, and they automatically lose.
- Double down: Doubling your bet but sacrificing the chance to receive more than one card.
- Face cards: Are the cards with pictures on them, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
- Face up: The dealer’s first card, which is dealt face up.
- Hard hand: A Blackjack hand that has a definite value without any aces to modify the score. It also has a higher chance of busting if the player chooses to hit.
- Hit: An option that allows players to receive extra cards, dealt one at a time.
- House edge: The casino’s statistical advantage. The players go first, giving them a chance to bust before the dealer has played their cards.
- Insurance: If the dealer shows an ace the player can place a side bet that the dealer has Blackjack.
- Natural: Another name for a two card 21.
- Perfect pairs: A hand that has a pair of the same value of the same suit. Two Ace of Spades, Two King of Clubs, Two Four of Diamonds etc.
- Push: When the dealer and a player have the same total, a draw.
- Soft Hand: A Blackjack hand that has an ace valued at 1 or 11 as one of the cards.
- Split: When a player is dealt a pair they can double the bet and split the hand, sometimes multiple splits can occur.
- Stand: When a player doesn’t want any more cards and is happy with their current total.
- Surrender: When a player has a bad Blackjack hand and abandons it, they can recover half their bet.
In Blackjack the value of the cards is derived from its value or rank, the suits don’t matter.
The card ranks are the following
Cards 2 to 10 carry their face value and cannot be changed or modified in any way.
The Jack, Queen and King are worth 10.
Aces can be either 1 or 11. It’s usually the player’s choice to decide which one, however for all intents and purposes it stays at 11 unless it results in the hand’s value exceeding 21, then it reverts to 1.
The casino has a slight statistical advantage because the player has to go first.
This allows the player to bust before the dealer even plays. Blackjack still has the best odds of success out of any casino game, online or otherwise which is one of the reasons for its popularity.
The chances of being dealt a Blackjack are 4.8%
For a win, the pay ratio is 1:1 so if the bet is $5, then the player can win $10. $5 for the bet and $5 in winnings.
Being dealt Blackjack, so an Ace and a card valued at 10 can have an extra bonus where it pays 3 to 2 meaning the player receives an additional three dollars for every two dollars bet.
Insurance pays 2 to 1; the player receives two dollars for each dollar they wager.
Blackjack is a game with as many strategies as there are players. What works for one, may not work for all. So it’s a good idea to try different strategies and figure out what kind of play works for you. Most of all though, just remember to have fun.
Bankroll Management Tips
Bankroll management is an essential strategy that players will often neglect. But just like knowing the rules and how to play, bankroll management is a crucial concept all players should think about before playing. First and foremost, it’s highly recommended that you only gamble with money you can afford to lose. That’s why players need to have a set amount they are willing to lose and then stick to it. No matter how tempting it is to exceed that level.
A general rule for newer players could be to quit after losing 50% of their chip stack and cash out hard-won winnings after gaining 40%. Luck can change quickly in Blackjack, which is why it pays to have a plan before starting play. As an example, if a player entered with a bankroll of $200 they’d call it a day after losing $100 and leave after winning $80.
For long-term players, whose only goal is to play Blackjack for as long as possible. Once you have your pre-set amount you are willing to risk. Divide it up and figure out how much each hand can cost before the stack is gone. If a player has a starting stack of $300, wants to play for 3 hours, and averages ten hands an hour, then it would cost $10 a round. Knowing this information before playing will help limit losses and keep the games fun because you won’t be worrying about money.
Blackjack is an incredibly versatile game that has many different strategies. Some take years of work to perfect; others take only a few minutes of reading. After a few weeks of playing, most players will work out their play style and know how they want to approach the game.
The basic idea for winning Blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand. Most new players think that the goal is to get to 21 every time, it’s not and is the quickest way to bust. The easiest way to win is to get the dealer to bust by achieving a high valued hand and putting the pressure on the dealer. Instead of trying to hit 21 players can make their sole goal beating the dealer by getting a higher score. It sounds obvious, but a lot of players don’t realise that you can, and will win with lower ranked hands.
The dealer shows one card at the start, if it’s low, the odds are that they will have to hit and increase their chances of busting. If the dealer has one card shown that is 9 or better, hit until at least 17.
The dealer is considered weak when they show a card of 6 or less; this means they will have to hit several times and increase their chances of busting while trying to achieve 17 or more.
A good strategy for beginners and veterans alike is to Aim for 18; it’s a strong hand to stand on, and most dealers won’t be allowed to hit past 17. If your hand is 12 or below hit. When its 17 or more stand and always ignore the law of averages. Just because aces haven’t come out for a while, doesn’t mean they are due to, the game doesn’t work like that.
After playing a few rounds and getting a grasp of the Blackjack hands and rules players can move onto more advanced strategies like splitting and doubling down.
Perfect pair aces are the best hand to split on. Aces are a strong starting point and can quickly create strong hands. All that is needed is a card valued at 10, and the player will have 21. They can also change their value depending on what is dealt.
There are also dozens of Blackjack strategy calculators online where you can generate a strategy chart to follow while playing. They are great for beginners because they use the basic math and provide a guide to playing the dozens of different combinations.
Strategy cards use letters instead of full words, and the following is a general rule of thumb when deciphering them:
H – Hit
S – Stand
D – Double down
D/S – Double down or stand
When betting it pays to stick to the same amount through the whole game, especially if you’ve planned out your bankroll in advance. Avoid the side bets; it will spread your stack and waste precious chips on long shots. It’s a good idea to never bet more than half your stack on a single hand; nobody wants to see half their bankroll disappear in one round.
One final thing to remember is to check the rules of the game first, while the primary rules are always the same, some casinos have small variations on the traditional rules, such as the dealer being forced to stand at 17.
Lastly, it’s essential to research the Casino, check it has the proper licenses and look at reviews for disgruntled players. A few are normal, but when a few thousand people are complaining that they haven’t gotten paid or their credit cards have been hacked, it’s a definite sign that the casino is not safe to use.
Blackjack Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do I need to play Online Blackjack?
Either a computer, tablet, iPhone or any device that the casino software can play on. A reliable internet connection is also needed.
2. Is Online Blackjack the same game that is played in traditional real-life casinos?
Online uses the same basic rule set except its all-digital. There are a few fundamental differences though. Online Blackjack has a greater variety of money games, allowing players to find games suited to their experience level and budget. They also offer bonuses and other promotions that are absent from traditional in-person casinos. Online also allows players to be anywhere when they play.
3. Can Online Blackjack be rigged to give the Casino an unfair advantage?
If the casino is legit, then the short answer is no. Legitimate online Casinos are regulated and kept in line by strict rules that prevent any deceptive play. Independent regulators audit legal online casinos regularly to make sure they are not breaking the rules. That’s why it’s important to check that a casino is correctly licensed before playing with them, to ensure that they will play fair and by the rules.
4. What is card counting?
Card counting is when a player keeps track of the cards that have come out and attempts to make large bets when they believe favourable cards will come out. It’s a strategy that many players try to implement all over the world and is mostly used in traditional in-person Casinos.
5. Is card counting illegal?
No. Card counting is not strictly illegal, but casinos will eject any players caught counting cards. It doesn’t matter in online Blackjack though because the decks are virtual and shuffled using a random number generator. Counting cards online with any certainty isn’t really possible.
6. Is Online Blackjack easier than live Blackjack in a traditional casino?
It really depends on each individual. Online Blackjack allows players to play in an environment of their choosing. It also has more options for learning and a more extensive variety of games. Some players may find it easier to play in the privacy of their own homes without the pressures of being in a Casino. Blackjack is a fast-paced game, and beginners can learn online without risking their hard earned money. Online Blackjack and live Blackjack are the same game, except one is digital and offers more choices. It really depends on each individual’s opinion to decide for themselves.
7. Why does the house get an edge while the player doesn’t?
The house edge is how casinos make money. The house edge is minimal, and while it is inconvenient, the dealer is stuck to a strict set of rules, they have to either hit or stand and most aren’t allowed to play after they reach a total of 17. Players have more gameplay choices than the dealer, giving them more choice in how they play. Talented players can use this to their advantage to limit the impact of the house edge.