A Beginner’s Guide to Developing a Winning Blackjack Strategy
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and, despite many people’s assumptions to the contrary, there is a real element of strategy in this game. If you can master a set of basic blackjack rules, then you will be well on your way to becoming a winning player.
In fact, some players have even gone as far as to develop a “perfect” blackjack strategy that can bring the house edge down to sub-0.5% levels, which is a huge improvement on the standard 2% edge. The game’s appeal is largely down to two factors – its simple rules that everyone can understand, and its low house edge which can be brought down to almost zero if you play with a good strategy.
A basic blackjack strategy consists of playing each hand as you see it, taking into account the dealer’s up card. The aim is to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over. Players will ask the dealer for more cards until they are satisfied with their total, or until they have a ‘bust’ (which means they will go over 21 and lose). Some players will choose to take insurance against a dealer’s Ace, which is paid out at 2 to 1 odds. This is not recommended, however, as it increases the house’s edge.
Blackjack is played on a semi-circular table that can accommodate varying numbers of players, and the majority of tables will hold seven players, although some may hold only five. Players sit around the table and chips are placed in their respective betting areas, denoted by’spots’. The dealer will reveal one of his cards and then deal each player two cards face up, leaving himself with one card face down that he cannot see. The first player to ask the dealer for more cards will win the hand.
If a player’s first two cards add up to 21 (an ace and a card valued at 10), this is known as a ‘blackjack’ and the player will immediately win the hand against the dealer. If the dealer also has a blackjack, then the hand is a push and neither the player nor the dealer wins.
In some casinos, the payout for blackjacks will be reduced from 3 to 2 to 6 to 5. This is a big increase in the house edge and can make a winning blackjack player’s strategy less effective.
Some players will try to count the number of high cards and low cards remaining in the decks, using a system called the hi-lo strategy. By keeping a running value of the cards and calculating the true count after each discard, they can increase their chances of beating the dealer’s hand. However, this is a complex technique and requires a decent understanding of mathematics. Moreover, the accuracy of the count will depend on how many decks of cards are being used in the game. Some casinos will even change the rules to prevent this method from working.