Blackjack is unique because a proper strategy can net you substantial winnings. The game gives you the best chance of winning if you have the right blackjack strategy. You won’t have to toss your money away on games of chance if you know the right moves to make.
Beginners can often find it difficult to understand blackjack strategy, but it’s not very difficult once you know what to do. Take a look at our guide for a better understanding of how blackjack works.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
For our purposes, we assume that you already know how to play blackjack. We are going to assume you already understand the basic rules of the game and want to take your chances of winning to the next level.
The first step on the path to learning how to win at blackjack every time is a simple blackjack strategy.
Blackjack basic strategy boils down to knowing the best move to make in every situation.
Playing the Probability
Despite the word “basic” in the title, these blackjack tactics can be a bit complicated for new players to grasp. Your strategy will vary depending on the specific rules of the table, the number of decks the dealer uses, and the number of people playing with you.
The more decks of cards the dealer uses, the higher their advantage becomes. A two-deck game will give the dealer about a 0.42% advantage. If they use eight decks, their advantage will rise to 0.7%.
You should also know the probability of busting with each hand. You can’t bust on anything below 12, but once you get above 12, you run the risk of losing with one more card.
Playing the Dealer
Part of the basic strategy is playing the dealer’s hand. Since your probability of busting rises with the value of your hand, you want to hit selectively to avoid substantial loss.
If you have a 14, for instance, your instinct might be to hit. While this is a good idea in some instances, it isn’t always correct.
As a general rule, you should always assume that the dealer’s facedown card is always a ten. If they show a three or four, then, you’ll want to stay on fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen.
Your chances of busting are high on these hands, and you already know the dealer has a weak hand.
You should play your hand to some degree, but always remember that it’s you against the dealer. Play what the dealer has instead of trying to luck your way into a 20 or 21 every time.
Learning the best way to split pairs is another part of basic blackjack strategy you’ll need to learn. This element is more complicated than knowing when to hit or stay since there are a lot more variables to consider.
The two pairs you should always split are aces and eights. Two aces equal 12, which isn’t a great hand. On their own, though, each ace presents an opportunity to get blackjack.
Two eights will give you 16, which is a weak hand. On their own, though, they allow you to hit to get another card without risking a bust. You can also upgrade to an 18 or 19 in the best-case scenario.
The three pairs you should never split are fours, fives, and tens. A pair of tens gives you 20 – a great hand and one you won’t want to lose by splitting.
Two fives equal one ten, but the fives on their own don’t offer much opportunity. You’d have much better odds of winning by doubling-down on the fives rather than splitting them.
You don’t split fours for the opposite reason you don’t split fives or tens. While the previously-listed hands offer great opportunity, splitting fours only doubles your risk with two terrible hands.
The rest of the pairs you’ll encounter have conditional splits. You won’t always want to split them, but they sometimes offer a better opportunity of winning.
You should split twos, threes, and sevens when the dealer’s show card is a seven or below. Some experts will also suggest splitting twos and threes if the dealer has an eight.
Sixes are another conditional split. You should split sixes when the dealer’s show card is between a two and a six.
Splitting this way gives you a good chance of beating the dealer on at least one of your hands. If the dealer shows any other card, take the hit. You’ll only bust if you get a ten or face card in this situation.
Two nines is a solid hand that you’ll never want to hit on, but you may want to split the nines if the dealer shows a two through six, eight, or nine.
Again, you should always assume the dealer’s hidden card is a ten or face card. If they show an eight, the chances of a push are high. If they show a nine, you should assume you will lose with a score of 18.
Managing Your Bankroll
Blackjack strategy is easy enough to understand after a few games. You’ll start to develop an appreciation for the rules of strategy through playtime, and begin to understand why experts dictate split strategy the way they do.
Bankroll management is a different story, however. There are no hard-and-fast rules to keeping a bankroll other than “be willing to lose it all and walk away.”
If you want to gamble long-term, you have to have a bankroll large enough to dig yourself out of a few holes. No amount of blackjack strategy can protect against a dealer’s run on 21. Bad luck happens, and you have to weather the storm.
Blackjack gives players the best chance of winning, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to walk away from the table in the black. Stick with the strategy, and have enough money in your pocket to bounce back if you start to lose.
Blackjack the Smart Way
Now that you know the basics of blackjack strategy, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. We suggest trying some free online blackjack games to get more comfortable before trying your luck at the casino.
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