Blackjack is ultimately a high-strategy game, and every decision you make counts. Once you’ve received your two cards, you need to decide which play option will be most successful. You’re aiming to optimize your chances of winning while minimizing any losses.
In order to do this, you’ll have to choose when to double, and when you should surrender. Many times though, game play is determined by instinct – you’ll simply follow your gut feeling. But there are a few strategies that might increase your odds of winning, so let’s go through a few possibilities.
How to Play Blackjack Strategically
There are never any guarantees of winning, but once the cards have been dealt, many players apply some basic rules of strategy to their hand. The reason for this is simple. When the right strategy is used, the house edge becomes lower, so the player has better odds of winning. Here are some basic strategies that some players like to follow:
- Always split aces or 8s.
- Never take insurance bets.
- Stand on a Soft 18, if the dealer has a 3, 4, 5, or 6.
- Surrender on a Hard 15, if the dealer has a 10
- Surrender on a Hard 16, if the dealer has a 9, 10, or an ace.
- Don’t take any side bets, as the house edge is higher than normal.
For Double Down, the strategy is a little more involved. You should Double Down:
- On an 11, except when the dealer has an ace.
- On a 10 or on a 5-5, except when the dealer has a 10 or an ace.
- On a 9, if the dealer has a 3, 4, 5, or 6.
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Betting Systems for Blackjack
Whereas betting strategy is for play, betting systems are for the bets themselves. This is money management – a way of determining the amount that should be bet on each hand. The betting systems can be divided into three types. There are positive progressive systems, in which the player increases the bet amount after a win, and decreases it after a loss. There are also negative progressive systems, where you increase your bets after a loss. And then there’s hedge betting. This is when side bets come into play, as you are wagering on different outcomes.
Some Example Betting Systems
There are many how to win schemes, but the Martingale betting system is probably the most famous. It’s a negative progressive system, and instructs the player to double their bet after each loss. The idea behind it is that any losses will be covered by a win, but the system can be costly if you experience a losing streak in blackjack.
In contrast, the Paroli betting system is positive progressive. You start with a low bet, and if you win, you increase your next bet. The Parley betting system is also positive progressive, but it’s basically a pyramid scheme, in which any winnings are used for future bets.
Using Strategy Charts
One of the main advantages to playing blackjack online is that you can use a strategy chart. These charts are mathematically calculated, and show every decision you should make for the cards in your hand. There are charts for single-deck games, as well as for multiple deck ones. While there are never any absolutes, the charts can provide you with some guidance on how best to win with the cards you’ve been dealt.
Card Counting in Blackjack
Card counting involves tracking the number of high and low cards in play. By doing this, you can use probability to assess the best way to play your hand. This negates the house edge, and shifts the advantage to the player. For this reason, although it isn’t illegal, casinos disapprove of anyone card counting.
There are techniques to card counting, which can show you how to win. They are relatively easy to master, and involve assigning a value to each card so that you can keep a running total of the cards in play. You can adjust your bets as the count changes.
However, all of this becomes irrelevant when you are playing blackjack online. The online casinos use random number generators, and the software reshuffles the cards after every hand has been dealt. Moreover, unlike the land-based games, no cards are ever removed from play. In an online game, all of the cards are used all of the time, so there isn’t any benefit in counting them.
Playing with a Strategy
Blackjack isn’t a game that relies on luck – it’s about making decisions. Every win is a combination of skill and strategy. In order to maximize your chance of winning, you should try to apply a system that works best for you. Strategy charts and betting systems don’t suit everyone, so if you prefer to find your own style of play, you should just go for it!