Blackjack is the most popular casino table game globally, with almost 31% of all table game action being on blackjack. There are dozens of different blackjack variants, which can be considered a more popular variant of Baccarat. Online blackjack is played in 3 main fashions: classic online blackjack, live dealer blackjack, and video blackjack including speedy blackjack.
The number of players is usually between 5 and 7 but can reach up to 9 people.
Blackjack basic rules
In most versions of this game, each player receives 2 cards from the dealer (face-up or face-down depending on the game version), and the dealer itself draws one or two cards (again, depending on the version). Each card has a given value, with cards two to ten being valued as much as the pip value, aces being worth either one or eleven, and all other cards being worth a value of ten.
The value of a whole hand equals the sum of the values of each card in hand.
The goal of the game is to beat the house, trying to get the highest value (or higher than the dealer’s hand anyway) without exceeding 21. 21 is the maximum value a hand can be worth, and a hand worth 21 is called a “blackjack”. Several decks are used in a single game, most commonly five but any amount from 1 to 8 decks can be used.
The possible scenarios are numerous. If a player lands a blackjack, meaning 21 points in hand, and the dealer does not score one too, the player wins, and it is usually rewarded with a bonus. If the player and the dealer get a draw, no one wins.
If the player exceeds 21, the house wins, even when the dealer also exceeds 21. If the dealer’s hand is worth more than 21 and the player’s is not, the player wins. Learn more about how to play online blackjack.
The best basic strategies for blackjack
With some simple strategies, it is possible to increase one’s chances to win sensibly. A good strike of luck can surely help with this game, but luck is not all you can count on, as a player’s skills can often play a huge difference in the outcome of a game.
As many different variants exist, it is not always clear which strategy one should adopt.
As a general rule, especially when it’s up to beginner players, the best thing you can do is focus on a single version of the game, one that you find appealing. It is not suggestible to learn all variants and strategies for this game since it is probably not worth the results.
Probably the best option is to start from the classic variant, learn the basics and the basic strategies, and then eventually move on to a second, possibly more appealing, version. At this point, you can specialize on a more specific set of strategy, for your favorite version specifically.
Here are some basic rules:
- One of the most common strategies is counting the odds. This strategy is based upon little data: the two cards in your hand and the dealer’s up-faced card(s). Depending on the value of said cards and on the odds count, the player can determine the best move to follow. He can ask for one card, stay, secure the wager, split, or double. Online you can easily find several tables that indicate the best option depending on the cards at play.
- When the cards in your hand are worth 10 points, the best strategy is usually to try and double, as long as the dealer’s hand is worth 9 points or less. This is because in this situation, it is quite improbable to get to increase your hand value without exceeding 21, while the 10 points that you had served are likely to make for a good hand value.
- Another interesting strategy can be set off when your hand is made of two eights. In this situation, it is best to try and split. Playing two separate hands increases your chances to get a good final hand value, whilst with a hand worth 16 you are quite likely to exceed 21.
- When you have a couple of nines, the best option is to stay if the dealer’s hand is worth 7 or less. With a hand value of 18, in facts, you have higher chances to win the game than the dealer has. The best option for the dealer is to draw, with a high chance to exceed 21.
- When you cave a pair of aces, you should always decide to split, even when there are specific rules about it, like for example, when they give you the opportunity to draw just one card after you split; splitting still gives you the best chances, also under these conditions.
- A widespread strategy, which requires some skills, though, is counting the cards, which is almost always permitted even though most casinos do not love it when players do it. To do so, the best starting point is slitting all the cards into two groups: high-value and low-value cards. The former group includes aces, nines, tens, and all faced cards. The latter group includes all other cards. Depending on the percentage of high-value cards versus the percentage of low-value cards in the deck, and the player’s and dealer’s hands, you can get a very clear idea of what is likely to happen when a player or the dealer draws a card.
All these strategies will let you increase your chances to win, especially the last one.
A skilled player does not look for a 21-worth hand but simply consider his chances to win depending on the dealer’s hand, the other players’ hands and his own.
Knowing the served cards and, consequently, the ones that are still in the deck, all considerations can be made. And always consider that the house always has winning chances that are higher than the players’, usually by somewhat between 5% and 0,5%, depending on the variant.
Now that you know the basic strategies, let us focus on some specific pieces of advice that might come in handy in various situations:
- Do not ever accept the insurance. There are so few situations in which this might be convenient, that it is actually better never to use this bet-type. If you have a blackjack in hand, for example, and the dealer had a face-up ace, the insurance will give you a 100% chance to win, but if the dealer eventually does not land a blackjack, you will win only half of what you could have won.
If you do count cards, though, the insurance can be a useful party of yours and an option you can exploit under certain conditions.
- Count the fives. This is a very basic and simple-to-use card-counting strategy. Just keep track of the fives that get served and are consequently into play. When all fives are drawn from all decks, for statistical and mathematical reasons, the player has more chances to win than the dealer has (0.6% higher), so the player should keep on playing as he is likely to beat the house.
- Use simulators. This is a very simple and nearly obvious piece of advice. Clearly, the more you practice, the higher chances you have to win, since, as we told you before, a skilled player has greater chances to win. Out there, there is plenty of free software to practice with, and some casinos also let you try their games in free mode, which is a great opportunity since you will be able to practice with the exact variant, and user interface, you are eventually going to play with. Practice a lot, and when you start feeling confident, you can start playing “for real”.
- Set a bankroll limit. The best way to avoid getting caught up in the frenzy of the moment and wasting your money is by setting a bankroll limit and sticking with it. Determine the exact amount of money you are willing to spend and do not buy more fiches if you lose. Always consider that all the money you decide to play with could be entirely lost, so be careful with it and impose a limit over yourself and the money you are willing to risk losing. If you are winning, you can make your own considerations, but if you start losing, do not ever go beyond the line you drew yourself.
- Never split a hand that is worth 20 points. If your hand is made of a pair of faced cards or tens, do not split it. 20 is a perfectly good hand-value with high winning chances: do not split, since you are more likely to lower your chances of a positive outcome when you do so.
The last piece of advice we can give you is to choose your table thoroughly.
When you can get to know what has happened, the best option is to join a table where the other players are winning. Blackjack is a game of strategy and mathematics, but it is just better to start playing in a happy and relaxed environment since it will enhance your chances to get going quickly and focus.