One of the most popular classic casino games in the world is blackjack. You probably know how to play blackjack, but do you know how to play well? Do you want to increase your chances of winning money at the casino by learning strategy? If you play your cards right, you may be able to make enough money to see Cirque Du Soleil.
Strategy lets you know what play to make based on your hand and what card the dealer is showing. Following the strategies perfectly can reduce the casino's advantage to less than 1%, making blackjack one of the most advantageous games for players in a casino.
The perfect strategy has been determined using probability theory and computer simulations which have figured out the best play in each situation. However, while there are different strategies that might help, it's good to remember that there's also some luck & skills involved when playing Blackjack
In this article, we'll look at blackjack rules and terms. We'll focus on a casino game, but the same strategies apply if you're playing online or at a home game.
The Basic Rules of Blackjack
In blackjack, players compete against a dealer to see who can get closer to 21 without going over. Players place their bets before each round and are dealt two cards face-up. Face cards are worth 10, and aces count as either 1 or 11. One of the dealer’s two cards is face down until the end of the round.
Players can ask for more cards (hit) and stop after they are satisfied with their hand or go bust, which means that they have gone over 21 points. The dealer must hit until his or her total is 17 or higher.
Here are the blackjack terms you need to know in order to determine the right play in each situation. I've listed them alphabetically.
Blackjack: The best possible hand in blackjack, consisting of an ace and a card with a value of 10. At most casinos, blackjack plays 3:2. For instance, if you bet $10 and get blackjack, you win $15. Bust: Busting is going over 21 and losing automatically.
Double Down/Doubling: Doubling down or doubling is when you place an additional bet equal to your original bet and then receive just one additional card. You can only double down on your first two cards, so if you have 11 points after two cards (and no ace), you should not double down.
Hard/Hard Hand: Any hand that doesn't contain an ace that can count as an 11 (for example, a 10 and a 7). When you're holding a hard 17 and the dealer's showing a 2, it's best not to hit because hitting won't help your hand.
Hit: Hitting is asking for another card.
Insurance: The dealer shows an Ace? When the dealer shows an ace, you can place a side bet of up to half of your original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, you pay 2 to 1. If not, you lose. The game's house edge is 3.41 percent, so you should never take insurance.
Push: When you push, your hand ties with the dealer and you keep your bet. For instance, if you have 19 and the dealer has 19 as well, then neither one wins because both hands total to an even number that's higher than 17 (the highest possible number in blackjack). You tie and keep your bet.
Soft/Soft Hand: A soft hand is a hand that includes an ace valued at 11 instead of 1. For example, an ace and a 6 is a soft 17. This can be more aggressive because there’s no risk of busting (going over 21). If you hit on a soft 17 and get another card of 5 or lower, then the ace will be valued at 1 and you'll have 12 (instead of 11) total points.
Split: If you are dealt two cards of equal rank, you can split your hand into two separate hands by placing an additional bet equal to your original bet. For example, if you bet $10 and are dealt two 8’s, for another $10, you can split your hand into two separate hands, each with one 8.
Stand/Stay:In general, it’s best to stay (stick with) your hand if the dealer is showing an ace or face card because those cards increase your chances of winning the round.
Surrender: However, if the dealer shows a 10 or higher (excluding an Ace), it is usually best to surrender since those cards decrease your chances of winning dramatically. Unfortunately, many casinos don’t offer the surrender option.
Best Blackjack version
To get the most out of your blackjack experience, remember that you want to play the games that offer you the best odds. Most casinos offer several variations of blackjack, but only a few of them provide games with the highest payout percentage.
Look for versions that allow doubling, doubling after splitting, splitting, and surrendering. If any of these aren’t allowed, your odds of winning will be lowered. Most casinos allow surrendering, but I haven’t found many where this is an option.
Additionally, your odds will improve if the dealer has to stand on a soft 17 instead of hitting on a soft 17. Finally, you want a table that will pay blackjack 3:2 as opposed to 6:5 or even money.