WHAT IS A BLACKJACK GAME?
The game of blackjack has been a global sensation for centuries. Its inclusion in online casinos only boosted its popularity, and it has since become one of the top most-played Live Casino games in the world. The game’s objective is to form a hand with a value as close to 21 as possible without surpassing it while beating the dealer’s total. Casino players actually do not compete against each other in this card game.
The dealer and the player start with two dealt cards, with the dealer’s first card facing up and the second facing down. Each card number has its own value but face cards each count as 10 and aces count as one or 11. A blackjack hand is a pair consisting of an ace and any 10, jack, queen or king card, adding up to 21 exactly.
In this article, we will take you through some of the most popular blackjack strategy that you can adopt. Bear in mind that these blackjack strategies do not offer the keys to success, as there is no guarantee that you can beat blackjack — they just simply give you slightly better odds.
VALUE OF BLACKJACK CARDS IN ASCENDING ORDER
The value of cards are as follows, from lowest to highest:
- Jack, Queen and King — Picture cards of the deck each have a value of 10.
- Ace — This could have a high value of 11 or a low value of one.
WHY FOLLOW A BETTING STRATEGY WHEN PLAYING BLACKJACK?
A solid betting strategy can increase your chances of scoring a win. However, do keep in mind that, just like other live dealer games, blackjack is a game of chance. The house edge makes this game difficult to beat in the long term. Although, you can make the most out of any round by understanding the importance of proper bankroll management, familiarising yourself with basic strategy and keeping a consistent betting system. The best strategy could be key to capitalising your winning hands or making up for any losing hands in any single-deck or multi-deck game.
DOES BLACKJACK STRATEGY REALLY WORK?
Incorporating a basic strategy does not necessarily mean you automatically win more money, however it is possible. The aim of the most satisfactory blackjack strategies is to help you decrease the house edge while bettering your decision-making process.
Although you are never guaranteed a win in any game of blackjack with or without a strategy, having one can help you avoid standing or hitting when it’s probably not the best idea to do so. Hence, you could be getting more from your hand than you would normally and this will in turn help your bankroll management and potentially decrease the chances of a losing streak. Either way, the best strategy aims to increase the player’s original bet and score an even-money payout in relation to the player’s starting hand.
Of course, practice makes perfect! The more you test out these strategies, the better your odds of winning with your hand.
WHAT IS THE BASIC BLACKJACK STRATEGY?
The basic blackjack strategy is arguably the easiest strategy to pick up as you play. It is often recommended for beginners as it is a mathematically calculated set of decisions that may help you make the best possible decision in any situation and possibly win at blackjack. With the blackjack basic strategy, blackjack players can potentially slice the house edge in half and bring it down to as low as 0.20%. For this reason, this system is considered to be the best blackjack strategy to adopt.
With the help of blackjack charts, you can memorise to best strategy and when to split, double down, hit or stand. This basic strategy is influenced by a number of factors, including the dealer’s drawing and standing rules, the number of decks used, whether surrendering is available, and whether you can double down after splitting pairs, so the exact basic strategy may vary.
Hit? Stand? What do these terms mean? Let’s take it from the top and get in tune with the basis of all blackjack games:
- To remain with your current hand.
- The decision on whether to hit or stand will always depend on the dealer’s blackjack hand. You may keep hitting until you bust, meaning your hand value is over 21.
- To draw an additional card.
- Deciding on whether to hit or stand depends on the score of your hand — it is always safe to hit when your hand’s value is 10 short of 21 or if you were dealt a pair or an ace.
- The option to double your bet and receive an additional card will be given at the start of each round.
- You can only hit once when choosing to double down, after which your only option is to stand. Hence, you should double down when you have the least chance of busting.
- To split cards and form two separate hands.
- According to a basic strategy chart, the most suitable time to split a blackjack hand is when you have a pair of aces or eights. On the contrary, the least ideal time to split your hand is when you have a pair of 10s, nines, fours or fives
- To opt out of the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack.
- Early surrender is not very common among casinos as it proves to be very advantageous for the player.
- There are a few exceptions to this strategy as your playing decisions depend on the number of decks being used as well as the rules of the blackjack table; however, when playing against a dealer’s 10 or ace, surrendering can significantly reduce the house edge.
- A Late Surrender reduces the house edge, but not nearly as much as an Early Surrender; thus, you are more likely to see Late Surrender when playing at casinos.
You will also come across terms such as soft totals and hard totals. The former refers to any hand that has an ace as one of the initial cards that the dealer deals, the ace counts as 11 to start. The latter refers to any hand that does not start with an ace or an ace that has been dealt and can only be counted as one instead of 11.
HOW TO USE A BASIC STRATEGY?
Having a little wiggle room with your strategy is important since different blackjack games are played in different ways — which is where knowledge of more betting strategies comes in handy!
With that said, the following is a list of key basic strategy plays that can be used in all multi-deck games:
- Always double down on a hard 11
Doubling down on a hard 11 yields positive results, on average, against a dealer’s upcard of lower values, with one exception. If you are playing a multi-deck blackjack game where the rules specify that the dealer stands on soft 17, you are better off hitting against a dealer’s ace rather than doubling down. That said, doubling down on a hard 11 (or 10) is a relatively safer play, as it is impossible to bust when doubling down on this hand.
- Always split aces and eights
Regardless of the dealer’s upcard, it is always best to split a pair of aces or eights. In the case of two eights, your chances of winning are greater when splitting rather than hitting a hard 16, which is considered to be a weak hand. The ace card has a value of either one or 11, so having two cards in one hand gives you a soft 12 — having two hands at 11 is far more advantageous than a soft 12.
It is so favourable to the player, in fact, that casinos often impose additional restrictions on splitting aces, such as allowing you to hit only once and prohibiting resplitting aces a second time.
- Never split a pair of fives or 10s
A split hand of two fives has too low of a value for it to be successful, so it is always best to play two fives in one hand. The same applies to a pair of fours; splitting fours runs a greater risk of ending up with two weak hands. Choosing to split a pair of 10s can be successful, but much harder to improve than a strong start of 20.
- Always hit a hard 12 against a dealer’s two or three upcard
In the long run, you will always lose money against a dealer’s two or three upcard, but if you choose to hit rather than stand you will lose less money over time — which is why it is the more optimal choice.
- Always hit an A-7 when the dealer’s upcard is nine, 10 or ace
Holding a soft 18 puts you as the underdog whether you hit or stand, but hitting gives you a better chance of winning since the ace can count as 11 or one. In the case of a single-deck game, you are better off standing when the dealer’s upcard is an ace.
- Always double down on 10 when the dealer’s upcard is nine or less.
- If the dealer must hit a soft 17:
Double down on a hard 11 against the dealer’s ace, double down on a soft 19 against a dealer’s six and double down on a soft 18 against the dealer’s two.
- Always double down A-2 through A-7 against the dealer’s five or six.
- Always stand with a pair of nines against a dealer’s seven.
On average, splitting against a dealer’s seven is not favourable to the player, but splitting and doubling down (if allowed) on two through six, eight or nine may be.
- Always surrender hard 16 against a dealer’s nine, 10 or ace, and a hard 15 against a dealer’s 10
A hard 15 and 16 are two of the worst hands, especially when the dealer shows a strong upcard. Minimise your losses by surrendering.
- Always double down on eight against a dealer’s five or six in a single-deck game.
- If the game allows doubling down after a pair split, split a pair of twos or threes against a dealer’s two or three, hit if not.
- Never make an insurance bet
It is not wise to take insurance bets with this strategy, as taking an insurance bet (even-money bet) basically means betting on the dealer hitting 21, which can increase the house edge! Even if you hit 21, you will only win your original bet.
- As a general rule of thumb, forfeit any 15 or 17 against the dealer’s ace unless the dealer must hit soft 17; additionally, give up on any 16 against the dealer’s ace or 10-point card.
You could also keep the following short best strategy tips on soft and hard totals to maximise your odds of winning with each hand dealt:
- Stand on soft 20,
- Soft 19 doubles the dealer six, otherwise stand.
- Soft 18 doubles the dealer two through six, and hits against nine through ace, otherwise stand.
- Soft 17 doubles the dealer three through six, otherwise hit.
- Soft 16 doubles the dealer four through six, otherwise hit.
- Soft 15 doubles the dealer four through six, otherwise hit.
- Soft 14 doubles the dealer five through six, otherwise hit.
- Soft 13 doubles the dealer five through six, otherwise hit.
- Always stand on 17 and up.
- 16 stands the dealer two through six, otherwise hit.
- 15 stands the dealer two through six, otherwise hit.
- 14 stands the dealer two through six, otherwise hit.
- 13 stands the dealer two through six, otherwise hit.
- 12 stands the dealer four through six, otherwise hit.
- 11 always doubles.
- 10 doubles the dealer two through nine otherwise hit.
- Nine doubles the dealer’s hand three through six otherwise hit.
- Eight always hits.
These basic strategy actions are not universal and will have to be adjusted based on how many decks are in play, whether it is a single-deck game or not. However, basic strategy is proven to be the most effective since it is mathematically calculated and based on probability.
WHAT IS THE ADVANCED BLACKJACK STRATEGY?
Occasionally, relying on basic strategy may not be the best choice when aiming for the prize. An advanced strategy can help you get that extra boost over the casino and overall better your chances of winning.
In comparison to basic strategy, advanced strategy adapts to any multi-deck game and complex hand situations that may arise. It also considers situations where taking insurance, an insurance bet, is advantageous. But then, you might ask, why go for advanced strategy over basic?
Of course, with advanced versions of anything comes more experience and practice, meaning that it is more difficult to memorise and use in the correct manner. That doesn’t mean you can’t give advanced strategies a whirl at your favourite casino — just keep reading to learn more and perfect your craft!
WHAT IS A BLACKJACK STRATEGY CHART AND HOW DO YOU READ IT?
To ensure you’re pulling off the best moves and playing with the best odds, making use of strategy charts is essential. Not only would you rid of the need to memorise each decision you should make in specific situations, but you could be safeguarding your bankroll, regardless of whether you choose to play online or not.
Although many blackjack strategies exist, the best strategy you could use is the one based on basic strategy, especially if you’re a novice player. More advanced strategies could be more rewarding and entertaining, but are overall riskier and not the most ideal.
In basic strategy charts, most often you can see multiple letters scattered around, with a few numbers here and there. It all may seem complicated — but don’t worry, it’s far simpler than it seems!
At the top of the chart, you should be able to find a legend that shows what each letter stands for. For example, the letter ‘H’ refers to ‘hit’, the letter ‘S’ refers to ‘stand’ and the letter ‘D’ stands for double down. The title of the strategy chart will indicate the specific rules regarding whether the dealer stands or hits on a soft 17.
You could be playing a multi-deck game where the dealer hits a soft 17, or another where he stands. It is recommended to memorise the basic strategy chart where the dealer stands on soft 17 as the cost in errors when playing the wrong strategy is 2.3x higher playing a stand on soft 17 games.
Strategy charts often have different colours to refer to each action. For example, ‘hit’ may be coloured in green, whereas ‘stand’ may be blue and ‘doubledown’ is red. This is helpful for players to swiftly identify the action needed without having to continuously look back and forth between the legend and the chart.
BETTING STRATEGIES IN BLACKJACK
THE MARTINGALE SYSTEM
The Martingale strategy is a negative progression strategy that requires players to double their wager on a loss and decrease the bet the every time they win. A method like this is quite risky as you can exhaust your bankroll pretty quickly if you hit an unlucky streak, so the Martingale is rarely the first choice for most players. Both negative and positive progression systems work best on even-money bets in games.
THE D’ALEMBERT SYSTEM
The D’Alembert system is similar to the Martingale system in terms of the ultimate goal, being to either break even or profit. The D’Alembert System is also classified as a negative progression system, meaning that the player makes up for losses by increasing the bet after each one. To be executed successfully, one requires a large bankroll and it is therefore most often avoided.
When using the D’Alembert System, you must first decide on your initial bet. Each time your bet loses, you should increase it by a single unit. Once you win you should revert back to your initial bet. For example, if you lose a hand to your bet of €5, you would bump up your bet to €6. This will continue to increase until you win a hand, in which case you revert to your initial bet.
THE FIBONACCI SYSTEM
As the name implies, this strategy is centred on the Fibonacci sequence, which starts with a zero, then a one, and moves on to each succeeding number being equivalent to the sum of the two previous numbers. The initial zero is ignored in blackjack and it is up to the players to memorise the sequence.
To execute this strategy, the initial bet must be worth a single unit, which is the first number in the sequence. If a loss is endured, then the second bet should remain the same until the next loss. When this happens, the third bet must be worth two units (the initial bet added with the second bet).
1-3-2-6 BLACKJACK BETTING STRATEGY
This betting method doesn’t require a huge bankroll like the Martingale and so, is often a better choice for players looking for a way to boost their odds without having to invest a fortune into the game. The numbers in this strategy’s name indicate what your bet value should be after you win a hand. So, after your first win, you need to increase your wager by one. After your second, increase your wager by three — and so on. If you lose, the sequence starts again. The 1-3-2-6 method is built to get the most value out of winning streaks.
FLAT BETTING METHOD
The concept of this strategy is that you wager the same amount every hand. A system like this is often less risky than others as it gives you more control over your bankroll and helps prevent overspending. The main advantage is that you can limit your losses, but you might miss out on a great payout during a winning streak.
POSITIVE PROGRESSION WAGERING
A positive progression betting system is often used by those looking to maximise their payouts as much as possible. As its name may suggest, the idea behind this strategy is to increase your wager every time you win a hand and do so until you lose. Once this happens, you will go back to your initial bet.
This method may increase your winnings, but good bankroll management is essential here. It is important to note that all betting systems do not yield positive results in the long run — use at your own risk!
WILL COUNTING CARDS IN BLACKJACK HELP ME WIN?
Nope, counting cards won’t help you win! Las Vegas rules once stated that a card counting strategy was not considered cheating, and so many card counters began to arise to counteract the house edge. With that said, card counting was no longer allowed at most casinos, and it is uncommon to find a brick-and-mortar casino that will allow counting cards.
You may ask — is card counting legal? Yes, it is! However, card counting is practically impossible when playing online so there’s no point in counting cards and essentially becoming a card counter. It is more efficient to use the basic strategy rather than opting to count cards because even if you’re a capable mathematician, the likelihood of ever succeeding is extremely slim.
CONCLUSION – WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BLACKJACK STRATEGY
Blackjack offers great odds with simple rules! Regardless of whether you’re playing online blackjack or not, using the best blackjack strategies or having a strategy guide on hand to back you up could earn you more money in the end.
✅ WHERE CAN I PLAY BLACKJACK ONLINE?
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To top it all off, it is not the only Live Casino game you can delve into at LV BET. You can try out a truckload of other games, such as live roulette or live baccarat, whenever and wherever your heart desires. The excitement doesn’t stop there — we’ve also got a sensational selection of slot games waiting to be spun on our Casino game page.
✅ WHY IS BLACKJACK SO POPULAR?
Compared to other live casino games, blackjack is relatively easy to pick up and play. Not only are the rules of the game simple enough for beginners to understand quickly, but it is also very easily accessible. It also has a low house edge in relation to other games, hence, you have a better chance of winning money.
✅ WHY IS STRATEGY IMPORTANT IN BLACKJACK?
Although there is no bulletproof, perfect blackjack strategy, having a strategy could help you make smarter choices and potentially earn you a greater win. Referring to a strategy guide could be useful in learning how to deal with each scenario throughout your gameplay.
Although not illegal, card counting is a strategy that is highly frowned upon. Card counting is seen as a way to get over the house and it is therefore now banned at many casinos. Not only are profit margins quite thin with card counting, but it is also actually quite difficult to master. Plus, why spoil the fun? Card counting could have you trying to focus and work out your advantages for hours at a time, leaving you with less room to enjoy the atmosphere or the game itself!
✅ HOW TO LEARN THE BEST STRATEGIES IN BLACKJACK?
You can learn the best blackjack strategies for single-deck or muti-deck games through memorisation! Keeping in mind the best possible decisions for each play could greatly increase your chances of winning. If memory isn’t very much your thing, then repetition is the best alternative. As you come across the same hands over and over again, you will gradually become accustomed to the best plays in each situation.
✅ CAN I USE A BLACKJACK STRATEGY CHART IN LV BET ONLINE CASINO?
Most definitely! You can opt to play blackjack at LV BET with all the charts your heart desires on hand. As a matter of fact, you are encouraged to use a handy cheat sheet for our online casino as we view them as a great way to learn and familiarise yourself with the game!
Although many casinos allow the use of blackjack charts, it is always the safest bet to clarify with the dealer with regards to what is allowed and what is not, as different casinos call for different rules. Keep in mind that card counting is banned at most casinos, and you’re better off learning the best strategy instead.