Blackjack is the world’s favorite casino game for a reason. With its low house edge and the fact that you can get very good at the game relatively quickly, your chances of winning a game of blackjack are higher than most other casino games. On top of this, because the game is fundamentally different to games like poker where you play against other players, blackjack also has a much higher appeal to the casual gambler. All of this comes together to make blackjack, a deceptively simple game of counting to 21, extremely popular across the world.
The question is, therefore, if you’re able to get very good at blackjack relatively quickly, how do you maximise your chances of winning? First things first, you obviously need to know the rules, but the basics can be learned in an afternoon. Once you have the basics nailed down, you need to pick up something called the basic blackjack strategy. The basic strategy you use will vary depending on a number of things, such as the number of decks the dealer is using and what number the dealer stands on, which is usually a soft 17, but start at a simple 1 deck game and work your way up from there. The basic strategy is simply a chart which tells you what play you should make based on your hand and the dealer’s face-up card, and is utterly indispensable to people looking to get better at blackjack.
With enough practice you will know the basic strategy inside out – you’ll know that you never split a pair of 10’s and that whether you hit or stand on a hard 16 depends on whether the dealer has a 7 or a 6. Once you have this down, it’s time to move onto reading some more advanced blackjack guides. Blackjack can be as complicated as you want it to be, with a world of side bets involved in the game to make things more interesting for the seasoned players. These side bets cover everything from insurance to back betting, and the sooner you get your head around when to make these bets the more you’re going to walk away with at the end of the day. Insurance, for example, isn’t one of those things you should always take – that is a rookie error to be sure. There is a rule of thirds here in that on average every 3rd card you see in a 52 card deck is going to be a 10 value card. If you see a load of 01 value cards and the dealer asks if you want insurance, you probably don’t. If you haven’t seen any 10-value cards in a while then the chances are that you do want to buy insurance. Keep things flexible and learn the best times to take the best side bets.
At this point it’s time to address the elephant in the room – card counting. While card counting isn’t technically illegal, if you get caught doing it you will be asked to leave the casino because it isn’t, as the casinos are want to tell you, in the spirit of the game. Card counting isn’t easy, but nor is it one of those things which you can only ever do if you have an MIT-level of intelligence. Card counting is simply keeping track of the cards that you have seen, and using that to work out the statistical probability of the next card being the card you want. While it will help you get a higher edge over the casino, it’s not for the faint-hearted, and it’s worth bearing in mind that you can still lose money when counting cards – for all your skill, blackjack always has, and always will come down to the luck of the draw.