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Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Blackjack

Round Head IconJuly 25, 2019 - CasinoBloke

Blackjack is a fun game to play. At the same time, it is a skill-based casino game where the level of your skills can influence your performance. In your attempts to get as close to 21 as possible, there are certain moves that can help you beat the dealer. To make the right decisions and moves, it is of the utmost importance to learn and apply the proper strategy. Knowing that mastering Blackjack can take a lot of time, we have compiled a list of useful tips and created a comprehensive guide you can always turn to.

Learn the Basics and Terminology

Learning the basics and terminology should be the first step of your Blackjack adventure. Start with card values you need to know to calculate the total of your hand. The pip cards carry from 2 to 10 points while all face cards are worth 10 points. Aces are worth 1 or 11 points. Depending on the game variant, from 1 to 8 card decks can be in play. Online Blackjack variants are mainly played with 6 or 8 decks. Keep in mind that the more the decks in play the lower the odds of winning.

After you place an Ante bet, you receive 2 cards. The dealer also gets 2 cards out of which one is dealt face up. A natural Blackjack is a hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-point card. If the player or the dealer has a natural 21, they win and the round is over. Otherwise, things get more interesting with more terminology to learn. With no natural Blackjack in view, the player is offered several options. They include:

  • Hit: Ask for the next card.
  • Stand: Don’t take an extra card, but keep playing.
  • Double Down: Double your bet and receive an additional card that ends your turn automatically.
  • Split: Split cards of the same rank and separate them into two hands with all the options available.
  • Surrender: Give up half of your bet and quit the game.
  • Insurance: Insure your bet with half of it when the dealer’s face-up is an Ace.

As for the dealer, they have to hit when having 16 or less. On 17 and more, the dealer has to stand. When the dealer exceeds 21, it is called a bust. The player loses the same way. When it comes to winning, if the player is dealt a natural Blackjack, they win automatically unless the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. In this case, the dealer checks if their second card creates a natural 21. If both the dealer and the player have a natural 21, it is called a tie or push and the player gets their original stake back.

Other Blackjack terms you should learn include:

  • Soft and hard hands: hands with an Ace or no Aces respectively.
  • Hole card: The dealer’s face-down card.
  • Shoe: A device that holds card decks.

Blackjack table

Explore Blackjack Variants and Study the Rules

Due to its popularity, the game of Blackjack has seen many variants that come with different features. Each variant has its own rules and a strategy you should use. For instance, Blackjack Switch is played in two hands where you can exchange the top 2 cards between hands, but a natural 21 pays 1:1 instead of 3:2. In Double Exposure Blackjack, the dealer’s first 2 cards are dealt face up and, again, you win even money on a natural Blackjack. Pontoon is played with a single deck and uses different terminology for the moves you can make.

Since each Blackjack variant has its own set of rules, you should get to know the one you choose to play. Pay attention to each and every detail as some games have certain rules that may seem more favourable to the player while at the same time include rules that lower the odds thus balancing the house edge. Before you join a Blackjack table, always check out if the dealer stands or hits on a soft 17. If the latter applies, you should skip this table as this rule increases the house edge.

Learn Basic Strategy

Once you have explored the Blackjack variant you want to play, make sure to learn the basic strategy for the same. The strategy includes the best possible moves you should make in different situations. However, some moves can be applied in general. They include:

  • Standing on a soft 19 or higher
  • Standing on a soft 18 when the dealer is showing 7-10 or a face card and hitting when they show a 2-4
  • Hitting on a soft 17 or less. With a soft hand of 13-18, double down when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6
  • Standing on a hard 17 or higher
  • Hitting on a soft 12-16 when the dealer’s face-up card is 7 or higher and standing when the dealer has a 2-6
  • Doubling down on a hard 10 or 11 when the dealer’s face-up card is a 2-9
  • Hitting on a hard 9 or lower.

When you have a pair of cards, you should never split 4s, 5s, 10s and face cards. Always split Aces and 8s.  You should also split 2s, 3s, 6s, 7s or 9s when the dealer’s face-up card is a 4-6.

A Few More Things to Remember

Whenever you play Blackjack, just like any other casino game, you should manage your bankroll. Only gamble the money you can afford to lose. Reduce the level of risk to a minimum by applying proper strategies and avoid playing an Insurance bet as it can be detrimental to your bankroll in the long run. Certain Blackjack variants also offer other side bets that can be very tempting due to high prizes they can pay. While you can play side bets from time to time for added excitement, they come with a high house edge. Avoid playing them on a regular basis.

One of the most popular Blackjack techniques is card counting. Although it is not illegal, it is a skill casinos frown upon. When playing online, it is not the casino you should worry about. It is the fact that you cannot count cards at RNG-operated Blackjack tables while at those hosted by real-life dealers the deck penetration is not that high to enable you to do it properly. That’s why it is more important to stick to the proper strategy than to try to count cards when playing the game of Blackjack on the web. If you still want to learn how to count cards, read our article Best Blackjack Betting Strategy and Tips.

Finally, you should practice Blackjack whenever you can. Start with free play mode at virtual tables and then move to live tables to play at lower stakes. Live casinos offer Blackjack tables designed for all kinds of players thus allowing both beginners and experienced ones to join them. Visit our dedicated Blackjack page to learn more about the most popular game variants and find some of the best Blackjack casinos you can find on the internet.

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