Blackjack tips guide
So, you want to play Blackjack, one of the world’s most popular casino games. But you don’t know where to start. Fear not, because in this guide you’ll find a host of tips to help you get started at the blackjack table and eventually elevate your game. This page explains how to play blackjack, game strategy, quantifying odds and more!
Let’s get started with some blackjack tips and tricks that will help you win games.
Blackjack tips and tricks
Tip #1 - When to stand
Put simply, if you have 17 or over, you should stand. Beyond this, it comes down to what upcard the dealer is showing. As a general rule, if you have 13 or over and the dealer has a 6 or lower you should stand - in most casinos, the dealer has to hit on 16 and has a high chance of going bust.
Tip #2 " Double down
Unless the dealer has an Ace upcard, you should always double down on 11. The same can be said for a total of 10, with the added caveat being that you should refrain from the double down if the dealer has a 10 value upcard. You can also choose to double down if you have nine and the dealer has a total between three and six because you know the dealer is going to have to hit no matter what and risk going bust.
Tip #3 - When you should hit
If you have between five and eight, hit no matter what the dealer has, you can’t go bust. For hand’s between 12 and 16, you should hit if the dealer shows seven or above for their upcard. Outside of these circumstances you’ll be looking to split, stand or double down, depending on the dealer’s upcard.
Tip #4 " Know what and when to split
The conventional wisdom dictates that you split when you have a pair of Aces, or eights, no matter the dealer’s upcard. You should never split a double five, you should double down or hit, and you should stand on a double ten. Aside from that, generally, you should split if the dealer shows lower than seven, and hit for seven and above.
Tip #5 - Why you shouldn't take the insurance bet
If you look at the percentages, taking the “insurance bet” is rarely worth it. When the dealer shows an Ace upcard, they only go on to have blackjack 20% of the time. So, statistically, four times out of five you’d be taking the insurance when you don’t need it. In the long run, it’s better not to take insurance.
Odds and Probability Explained
Odds and probability are both statistical terms used to describe the likelihood of an event occurring. Mathematically, they are not equivalent, as each looks at the likeliness of the event occurring in a different context. Without getting too technical, probability is defined as the fraction of times you’d expect to see the event occur over a number of occasions. Probability ranges from 0 (an impossible event) to 1 (an inevitable event).
The odds of an event are defined as the probability that the event will occur divided by the probability that the event will not occur, i.e. the ratio of favourable to unfavourable outcomes, or vice versa. They can have a value from zero to infinity. So, probability divides the favourable event by the total number of events, while odds are the ratio of favourable to unfavourable events. Let’s look at an example to understand the differences.
You have 12 marbles in a bag. Six are blue, three are red, two are yellow and one is green. The probability of pulling a red marble from the bag is 25%. Because 25% of the marbles are red. The odds - in this case, the ratio of favourable versus unfavourable outcomes - are 1:3.
When it comes to betting, odds are a little different to their mathematical definition. Odds are usually against an event and they are not true odds; technically they could be described as payoff odds. They denote the payoff you will get should the event occur. For example, 3/2, in gambling terms means that you will get €3 in return for every €2 bet if the event occurs.
What are the rules of blackjack?
The purpose of blackjack is for each player to attempt to beat the dealer by getting a combined card value as close to 21 as possible, without going over 21. Before being dealt their cards, each player places a bet in the designated area in front of them. Minimum and maximum betting limits will be in operation for each table. When all bets are placed, the dealer gives one card face up to each player, dealing clockwise from their left, and then one card face up to themselves. Another round of cards is then dealt face-up, except for the dealer who receives the second card face down. Thus, each player except the dealer receives two cards face up, and the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down.
If a player's first two cards are an ace and a "ten-card", whether a picture card or 10, they have a "blackjack" and take no further actions. The player to the left of the dealer goes first and decides whether to "stand" (receive no further cards) or "hit" (receive further cards in an attempt to get closer to 21). Should the player receive further cards and go over 21 they are bust and lose their stake.
When each player has resolved their hand, the dealers face-down card is turned up. If the total is 17 or over, the dealer must stand. If the total is 16 or under, the dealer must take a card, continuing to do so until they reach 17 or more, or go bust.
Blackjack books offer fundamental strategy
Blackjack strategy books and charts are designed to inform players on exactly how to act in any possible situation. For some players, such strategy charts and books are discounted because they feel it removes the element of decision making. Making such a choice could be considered a poor move. The dealer must follow strict rules about how and when to play their hand - rules based upon the probabilities of winning. So players may also try out different strategies to determine how they can boost their winning chances.
The odds always favour the house, so playing with a strategy based on probability will give you a better chance to reduce the house edge and give yourself a better chance to win. Of course, you must bear in mind that odds and probabilities change from version to version of blackjack and often from casino to casino. It’s always best to research the game at hand before committing to a strategy.
Top advanced blackjack tricks
While beginners and intermediate-level blackjack players are encouraged to stick to the basic blackjack strategy, experienced blackjack aficionados often have their own unique strategy to support their bankrolls. There are various strategies that advocate techniques such as raising or lowering your bets depending on whether you won or lost the hand last.
Blackjack Hand signals
A range of hand signals used in blackjack. Casinos are often noisy places, and so the use of clearly defined hand signals removes the chance of misunderstanding or mishearing a vocal request. The hand signals differ depending on whether the game is a face-up or face-down variant. Familiarising yourself with the hand signals before heading to the table is vital, as money can be lost due to poorly-executed hand signals. You can be sure that the security cameras will record your movements to be used as evidence in any dispute.
For a face-up game the hand signals are as follows:
Hit - Point at your cards or tap the table.
Stand - Wave a hand across the top of your cards.
Double-down/Split - Add your second bet next to the original by placing further chips. Raise one finger to double, or two fingers to split. Don’t touch the cards.
For 'face-down' games, the signals are a little different:
Hit - Lightly scrape the table with your index finger.
Stand - Gently slide your cards under your chips, but try not to disturb them.
Double-down/Split - Turn your cards face-up while placing your extra bet, then raise one finger to double-down or two fingers to split.
Bet with an advantage
There are certain things you can do to give yourself an advantage when playing blackjack. We’ve mentioned that there are a variety of strategies you can adopt, but there are a few other techniques too. For example, when playing blackjack with a single deck, or in a game with a low number of decks in use, you could sit in the anchor seat - to the dealer’s right, where cards are dealt last - so that you can monitor which cards have come out during the round and give yourself a better chance of calculating the probability of the next cards to be dealt.
Blackjack tips used by professional players
Many of today's blackjack tips can be traced back to the period from 1960 to the 1990s when blackjack was the most well-known casino card game in the world. Thanks to televised tournaments, beginning in the 1990s, Texas Hold’em Poker would overtake blackjack as the most visible card game in the public eye.
The primary forms of blackjack originated in France in the 1700s. The game was imported into the United States after the French Revolution, and it spread rapidly through the country. With gambling illegal in the mid-1900s, blackjack became an underground marvel. By the time Las Vegas sanctioned gambling in 1931, the game had become well known all throughout the country.
The ultimate of all books on blackjack tips was published in 1962 when Professor Edward Thorp used his expertise in mathematics to create a card counting strategy that was outlined in his best selling book Beat the Dealer. Scared of suffering misfortunes thanks to the book's revelations, casinos the nation over changed many of the blackjack rules to counteract the strategy. Eventually, with blackjack activity dwindling, casinos gradually restored the more favourable rules for blackjack players, and blackjack remains a casino favourite today.
The key to success at blackjack is knowing the correct time to hit, stand, double down or split. Splitting sets and doubling down are the two keystones to placing bigger bets on favourable hands. For instance, when the dealer is showing a 4, 5, or 6, the player has a distinctly favourable position. Depending on the dealer's card, when a player has cards totalling 10 or 11, the dealer might again be at a disadvantage.
The casino will always have the advantage...
You should be aware of, and understand, that the casino always has the long term advantage over the blackjack players, while offering the players the probability of a hearty short-term payout. Even though a blackjack player may play proficiently, which would assist with minimizing the casino's overall preferred position, it is exceedingly rare that the ordinary blackjack player will have adequate aptitudes to eradicate their long term disadvantage.
Players must be prepared before playing blackjack...
Preparation is the way to overcome the house edge and afford yourself the best opportunity of becoming a winner. To have any hope of winning at the blackjack tables, you will need to know the essential rules of the game, the odds that are associated with blackjack, and fundamental blackjack strategies.
When you shouldn’t play Blackjack...
Only play the game when you’re in the right frame of mind. Your attitude is fundamental to making sound decisions and having fun when you play!
What to look for when selecting a blackjack table...
The criteria for selecting a table are pretty simple. Find a table where you understand the rules and the bets are within your predetermined financial limits. Don’t play at a table where the minimum bet is at the maximum of what you’re prepared to bet.
Always practice sensible money management...
Before playing, set yourself upper and lower limits. If you’re winning and you reach the upper limit you set yourself, walk away and enjoy the win! And, it should go without saying, if you lose the money set aside for the game, walk away. Don’t plough more money into the game, hoping to make back your losses.
All of the above blackjack tips are intended to assist you from making the most of your game of blackjack. Hopefully, these blackjack tips have helped you to understand the different facets of the game, will allow you to take the most enjoyment possible from your time at the table!
What kind of blackjack strategy should you use?
There are a variety of choices when it comes to blackjack strategy, and ultimately it comes down to a matter of personal choice. No matter which particular strategy you choose, you should always make sure it is suitable for the type of game and game rules to which it is being applied. Any kind of strategy, whether basic or advanced, is preferable to playing the game without thought or reason.
How do I read a blackjack strategy chart?
A blackjack strategy outline shows you the ideal play dependent on your hand and the dealer's upcard. But before you can begin to use this handy tool, you should be prepared to understand it properly. Fortunately, strategy charts are very straightforward once you understand the actions you can take and the abbreviations for those actions on the chart.
You can use a strategy chart when sitting at the table, and although you may feel uncomfortable doing so, it’s worth it until you have the strategy memorised. Ultimately it’s going to help your play, so the potential embarrassment of looking like a newbie is worth it! When playing Live Blackjack at an online casino, it’s always worth having a strategy guide to hand. And we cannot stress enough, make sure that the strategy is appropriate for the particular game you are playing.
What precisely is the distinction between basic strategy and advanced strategy?
Basic blackjack strategy is as simple as knowing how to calculate hand values and having a strategy card or chart. Advance strategy brings various other factors and actions into play, and normally amalgamates a number of betting systems.