Blackjack is the undisputed king of casino table games. Slots aside, it is the most widely featured gaming product on the planet, a descendant of the family of banking games known as Twenty-One. In some corners of the globe, you can find it under the name Pontoon, and in others, it is still clinging onto its roots and original French label of Vingt-Un. Whatever people call it, its ruleset remains pretty much identical no matter what venue features it. The goal is always to get a card total of twenty-one, or a number closest to this figure.
The main reasons for its popularity include its simplicity, exciting nature, and super low house edge. Moreover, it is one of few casino products where proper decision-making can lower the house’s advantage, and by counting cards, you can turn the tables, so to speak, on its provider. That is why almost all professional gamblers exclusively play blackjack. Rarely anyone that looks to have an extensive gambling career will favor roulette, craps or, slots. Those are entirely luck-based products where fate generates all their results.
If you are serious about starting to enjoy blackjack on a professional or semi-professional level, read an online blackjack guide to grasp what you need to know to begin playing like a pro.
If you are a total newbie, you will first have to understand card values, that going over twenty-one means busting, and the difference between soft and hard hands. The latter refers to the distinction between a hand with an Ace (a soft), which can count as a one or eleven, and one whose total does not include this card.
Once you have the super basics down, you can move up to learning the most elementary tips out there. These are splitting aces, doubling down on nine, ten, eleven, and staying away from insurance bets. Sadly, we cannot go into detail regarding each one here, as that is outside the scope of this article. But since you are now familiar with these terms, you can research them in-depth on your own.
Blackjack may have simple and established rules, but it offers a lot of variety in other areas. Bet limits differ dramatically from table to table, and over twenty variations of this game exist. For example, 21 Duel mixes elements from Texas Hold’em. The objective remains the same, but community cards are also in play like the river in Hold ‘em. Blackjack Switch allows you to play two hands simultaneously and switching cards between them, further lowering the game’s house edge. Thus, it is wise to explore the table options available to you, their side-wager options, payout structures, and so on before deciding where to ply your trade.
What is an optimal blackjack strategy? Simply put, it is a chart that tells you the best way to play every hand by factoring in the two cards you hold and the dealer’s visible one. Such tables are widely available online, and they break down every possible scenario telling you when you need to stand, hit, split, surrender, or double down. Naturally, implementing a strategy does not make you unbeatable, but it can lower the house edge to about 0.5%, which is excellent. Some general rules to keep in mind include always assuming that the dealer’s face-down card is a ten-value one, hitting on soft seventeen, never splitting tens, but always splitting Aces and eights.
Pretty much everyone has heard of card counting. If you plan on playing blackjack long-term at physical gambling establishments, look into it. It entails keeping a mental tally of what high and low-value cards get dealt, so it becomes easier to predict which will follow next. Despite popular belief, card counting still works. However, casinos hope to thwart counters by decreasing deck penetration, reducing the number of cards dealt before a shuffle. Due to where dealers at online tables place cut cards, counting at gambling sites is pretty much impossible.
Many new gamblers gravitate towards negative progression wagering patterns when starting with blackjack. They require that you raise your bet size following a loss, using different pre-defined designs. The most famous such systems are the Martingale, the Fibonacci, and the D’Alembert. The problem with these is that a losing streak can quickly put you in a hole you cannot easily exit. Therefore, it is best to only use them sparingly on games like roulette when making 50/50 wagers.
The things mentioned above are the blackjack essentials that every pro has mastered. Sticking to them will give you the edge needed to balance out the odds.
Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.