How To Become A Better Blackjack Player
Written by Phoebe
Published date · Oct. 2, 2020 | Last Updated · June 15, 2023 | Read Time: 8 mins
Popularised in the 1960s, blackjack is a well-known card game within the Twenty-One family.
In fact, blackjack is one of the most popular games in the world. In order to play it well, you will need some memorisation capacities as well as a strategic hunch. First, you will need to understand the basics of the game such as card values and specific terms like “hitting” and “standing”, “soft hands” and “hard hands”, and bets like “splitting pairs”, “doubling down” and “insurance”… Once you’ve understood the basics of the game, you can move on to creating a real strategy in order to maximize your skills, and therefore your gains on the blackjack table.
Blackjack can be an exciting game that can reap great rewards but there is always room for improvement for novice and experienced players alike. Therefore, we have investigated just how you can become better at blackjack and make sure, whatever cards are dealt, you can be in with a chance winning.
Basics of the Game Worth Remembering
Whilst rules can differ between casinos and online blackjack sites, the goal of the game is to have a hand that is closer to 21 than the dealer’s. Importantly, the game is played against the dealer, not against the other players.
The first step is understanding the card values. The number of cards keeps their face values. The Ace is worth 11 or 1, depending on your preference. The Kings, Queens, and Jacks are all worth 10.
The dealer starts by giving each player two cards, face up. He then deals himself one card face up (called the upcard), and another face down. Starting from the dealer’s left, players take turns. They have two choices: hitting or standing. Standing means to refuse additional cards, implying that you consider your hand’s value to be closer to 21 than the dealer’s. Hitting means to receive an additional card in order to approach 21. However, you have to be careful with hitting. If you reach a number above 21, you bust! You lost.
There are different bets you can place. Doubling down means that you can choose to double the original bet made with the first two cards. If you double down, you will get one more card. You can also split pairs, which means you split your hand into two and receive an additional card for each. In this scenario you play each as an independent hand.
If the dealer’s first card is an Ace, you can place an insurance bet. It enables you to wager half of your original bet, in case the dealer ends up winning.
Hard Hands vs. Soft Hands
Before you start to play blackjack, it can be challenging to decipher the specific terminology. You may come across ‘soft hands’ and ‘hard hands’. Essentially, the difference between these two hands is whether or not the blackjack cards you have been dealt in the original bet include an ace or not.
This is because aces can either have the value of 1 or 11. This means that, if out of the cards dealt, you have been awarded an ace you have control over your hand in the game. Thus, it is known as a ‘soft hand’. You may also come across the term ‘soft 17’, which refers to a hand that includes an ace and a 6.
Alternatively, if your cards don’t include an ace it may mean that you are stuck with a hand that may prove a little harder to shift. For instance, if you are dealt a King and an 8, per blackjack rules, you would only have a total of 18 which is close to 21 but still fails to reach or exceed 21.
Best and Worst Blackjack Hands
It is important to be able to identify what the best and words hands to be dealt in a game can be. Blackjack players and card dealers often argue that a pair of 8s can be the worst card as a total of 16 can be a hard hand that is, at times, impossible to shift or manoeuvre with.
Of course, the best blackjack hand is one that would include an ace and a 10 because that would automatically place you as having a winning hand. Although, there is only a 5% chance of this hand showing up in a game. For example, having a hard 20 up against a seven or an eight from the dealer will give you enough room to bet on the dealers hand and potentially make some return.
Essentially, any hand that is able to provide you with room to manoeuvre and strategise is a good one.
In the end, you need to make sure that irrespective of whatever you receive out of any decks of cards, you are able to successfully work with in order to make those cards count and to make sure the dealer busts. If played regularly, you will be able to find techniques that work for you and successfully employ these tactics in order to beat the dealer and win the game.
Now that you’re all set on the basics, let us look at how you can become a better Blackjack player.
How do you Become Better at Blackjack?
First of all, the only way to become better at anything is to practice. Same goes for blackjack! By playing, either in real life or online, you will be able to observe the strategies and the moves that work for you.
Blackjack strategy includes some basics, which may seem obvious to any well-seasoned players out there, including understanding the table limits and having a thorough grasp of the table rules. Many blackjack players also swear by working with a friendly dealer who can manage the table and facilitate a good game. As well as this, it is important to watch out for anyone that may be hole carding throughout a game, whilst this isn’t technically illegal it is likely that they could be disqualified.
Although, blackjack strategy doesn’t just stop there. You may hear of terms including taking out a ‘side bet’, ’doubling down’, ‘splitting a hand’ and taking out an ‘insurance’ on the game. Rest assured, we have you covered for all you need to know on these tactics and how to employ them to reap the best rewards.
Tip #1 Know your Blackjack Lexology
Placing a side bet can be a lucrative move early in the game. This is where you bet the dealer just after they have finished drawing the cards. This is a high risk move so it is important you understand how to manage it well.
To double down refers to when you can make the move to double your bet in the middle of the hand, after you choose to use this strategy you can only receive one more card from the dealer. Doubling down is a fairly high risk move but can pay dividends if executed at the right time.
Splitting a hand can also be an excellent move in a game of blackjack and can help split up hard hands in order to beat the dealer. When splitting a hand, you create two separate hands and receive another card for both from the dealer. There aren’t any rules, per se, to when you can split a hand but there are times where it is more favourable to do so. For example, it is always worth it to split aces or a pair of eights because both of these hands won’t give you much wriggle room in the game. However, its wise not to split a pair of tens, fours, or fives as splitting these does nothing to improve the probability of winning.
Lastly, taking out an insurance in the game effectively means you make a dealer with whoever dealt the cards which always pays out 2 to 1 if you are to win. Under usual circumstances, you can only bet on 50% on the bet you made on the hand you started out with. To work out how much one of these insurances will pay, all you need to do is simply double your initial insurance bet.
It can be difficult to remember all these different plays. For that, there are strategy charts, just like memory cards, you can memorise.
Tip #2: Memorise strategy cards
The strategy charts will help determine how to get the best deal out of any situation. Learning these tables by heart is not the easiest thing in the world, and that is why pocket-versions are for sale in every casino gift shop you’ll step in. In order to memorise this, once again, you should practice them! There are no secrets in order to learn things by heart: just do it!!
These strategies come in an order, coming in the following form:
- Can you and should you surrender?
This is the first question you should ask yourself, considering that you cannot do so after the third card is dealt. If you cannot, or shouldn’t, move on to 2.
- Can you and Should you split?
This is only an option if your two cards are worth the same (a pair, or two cards with a 10-point value, e.g a king and a queen). If cannot or should not split, move on to the next step.
- Can you, should you double?
If the chart calls for doubling, you are likely to win. Some casinos will restrict on doubling, so be sure to check that beforehand. If you cannot or should not double, move on to 4
- Should you hit? Should you stand?
In case you find it hard to memorize a chart, there are other steps you can take. For example:
- 16 surrenders to dealer between 9 and Ace
- 15 surrenders to dealer 10
- Always split pairs!
- Always make sure to split aces and 8’s
- Never split 10’s!
- A pair of 9’s split against dealer 2 to 9, except 7. Stand otherwise
- 7’s split against dealer from 2 to 7. Hit otherwise
- 6’s split aginst dealer from 2 to 6. Hit otherwise.
- 4 splits against dealer 5 and 6. Hit otherwise.
- 3’s and 2’s split against 2 to 7. Hit otherwise
- A pair of 5’s doubles from dealer 2 to 9. Hit otherwise.
Tip #3: Counting cards
A famous strategy in order to win at Blackjack is counting cards. Contrary to popular assumptions, it does not necessitate a knack for memorizing a lot of info simultaneously. Counting cards actually revolves more around the ratio between high-value and low-value cards. It is crucial to remember that it is better for the player to have more aces and cards worth 10 remaining in the shoe, rather than out.
You will first need to assign a value to each card. In the most popular card counting system, you should count
From 2 to 6 = +1
7,8,9 = 0
10 to Ace = -1
Then you will need to keep count of the cards being dealt, and for each round. Round after round, until the dealer shuffles the card. If the running count increases, the player is advantaged. If the running count decreases, the casino has an advantage.
Because of the ease of card counting, casinos have begun to use multiple decks. This does not mean that you should worry! In order to keep track anyway, you should get a true count or a count per deck. In order to calculate your true advantage, you should divide the running count by the number of decks remaining. If you have a high running count and a low number of remaining cards, the edge is on your side!
By combining all the advice above, you should be able to truly play Blackjack better! And in order to put your skills into practice, do not forget to head to casinorange.com/us in order to find the best online Blackjack tables possible.