Blackjack is the most popular banking game played in casinos across the world. That however, does not mean that every gambler knows how to go about it. Neither is it a guarantee that you are playing it optimally. This guide looks to rope in those who are new to the game. It also gives tips to existing players to help them make the most out of the Blackjack Online Gamble.
What is blackjack?
Blackjack is a simple card-comparing game in which players compete against the casino dealer rather than against each other. Because of the mode of play, it is referred to as a “banking game” the dealer being the “banker”.
The aim of the game is to have a better hand than the dealer without going over a total of 21. This can be achieved in any one of three scenarios:
- Getting a total of 21 (a blackjack/natural) in the first deal of two cards. This scenario relies on the dealer not getting a similar hand to win. In the event both hands end in a 21 total, the rounds is considered a draw.
- Have a final total greater than the dealer without going over 21
- Get the dealer to exceed 21 by drawing more cards.
Blackjack owes its origin to another game known as Twenty-One which was first played in Spain. The American version is what is now referred to as Blackjack. The simplicity of this game make it ideal for all types of players. It does not require a complex understanding of card games to play. Moreover, it is a fast-moving game, hence ideal for the casino market.
How it all started – and how it works today
Initially, Blackjack was usually played in casinos. A betting session begun with the player buying chips before seating at the playing table. The table itself was usually circular with between seven (standard) and 12 players. The dealer stood on the inside of this table from where he dealt cards to each player in a clockwise direction.
However, the advent of online casinos has brought with it a few adjustments to this playing model. Since gamblers play remotely, they no longer have to buy chips to play. Moreover, there is no longer a limit to the number of people who can ‘sit’ at the betting table. Players just need to have money in their betting accounts and be on time for each round of play.
To form a strategy, you have to know what you are aiming at. The aim of a Blackjack round is to have a better card than the dealer without busting (going over) 21. Both the player and the dealer are dealt two cards which then determine the subsequent flow of the game.
Within that flow is where the strategy lies. Always remember that a strategy is a plan designed to win in the long run. This means that there’s always going to be some small losses along the way.
The player’s strategy will revolve majorly around the dealer’s face-up card. To better understand the playing strategy, players are advised to first verse themselves with [this: link to Blackjack playing guide] playing guide.
How to play blackjack online – playing steps
Initially, Blackjack was usually played in casinos. A betting session begun with the player buying chips before seating at the playing table. The table itself was usually circular with between seven (standard) and 12 players. The dealer stood on the inside of this table from where he dealt cards to each player in a clockwise direction. However, the advent of online casinos has brought with it a few adjustments to this playing model. Since gamblers play remotely, they no longer have to buy chips to play. Moreover, there is no longer a limit to the number of people who can ‘sit’ at the betting table. Players just need to have money in their betting accounts and be on time for each round of play. Blackjack playing steps: Each playing rounds progresses through the following stages:
1. Player places his/her wager
Players show their intent to participate in a round of play by placing a bet. This can be done by laying out chips of a certain value in land-based casino. On the other hand, when playing in an online casino you choose the amount to bet with from your account. The minimum amount to bet on depends on the particular casino you are playing in. However, most casinos place their blackjack minimum bet at $5.
2. Dealer deals cards to players
The dealer responds to the intent to play by dealing one card (face-up) to every player and another one face down for himself. In a brick-and-mortar casino, players can be able to see other players’ cards. This has no effect however, given that other players’ cards do not affect your winning chances. The dealer then deals a second card for everyone face-up, including himself. Once this is done, the game is then said to be in play; it is time to make decisions.
3. Player decides how to play hand
Once the game is in play, the player decides what action to take depending on the sum of his two cards. If the hand is a natural (21) and the dealer does not have a similar hand, the player wins. The pay-out is made and the game ends at that point. Tip: Always use hand signals when playing in a physical casino. Dealers do not respond to words alone. In the event both the player and the dealer have a blackjack, the game is a tie and a ‘push’ occurs. This means neither the player nor the house loses money. If the hand is not a natural, the player may take any of the following actions: Stand: Indicate you are okay so the dealer moves to the next player. Hit: Ask the dealer to play you more cards to improve your hand Double Down: Place another wager of equal amount and ask for an extra card. Some casinos do however allow you to ‘double for less.’ This basically means increasing your wager by less than the original amount to get an extra card. Split: Ask for each card to be dealt its own hand when you get two cards of equal value. This includes two face cards (value 10). Surrender: Give up on the round and get half your stake back. This is done when you feel the hand you got is unfavourable and unlikely to yield anything.
4. Dealer plays hand
Depending on the players’ choice, the dealer turns his face-down card upwards to reveal his total and allow for comparison. At this point, the final outcome of the game (player or dealer win0 is revealed and the round concluded.
Blackjack Rules And Best Strategy
As mentioned earlier, the objective of the game is to beat the dealer in the card-comparing round. Each player is dealt two cards for the game to start. The value of the cards are as follows:
- Ace = 1 or 11
- 2-9 = Face/actual card value
- 10 and face cards: 10
In some countries and casinos, these rules may vary a little. For instance, there are places where a dealer I dealt just one card, face-up. In other areas, however, the dealer is dealt two cards. In some countries, the ace may carry a value of 11.
Blackjack strategy is both proactive and reactive. You react to what the dealer has on display and try to act in advance to what they are likely to draw. The strategy helps you know when to:
- Hit – Ask for another card
- Stay – Decide to let the round continue without drawing another card
- Split – Make two bets out of one
- Surrender – Cut your losses and opt out of a round
- Insure – Take a side bet in an ongoing round
The strategy is the same whether you are playing online or in a physical casino. Besides the wagering methods, most aspects of online gambling mirror those of a land-based casino. You will find many Blackjack strategy charts online. While these charts are correct, they are formulated by complex mathematics and may be hard to grasp, or memorize. These charts are a necessity if you are to hack the blackjack code, and here we make them easy to understand. First up, we look at two terms that will be common when taking Blackjack action.
This is a hand that has an ace as one of the card. It is called ‘soft’ because the value of the ace can change, helping you to attain a natural/blackjack (21 total) or prevent you from busting. The ace receives a value of 11 or one, whichever is more favourable to the player.
This is any hand that does not have an ace, hence totals proceed as they are.
Here is the basic strategy:
Dealer nine through ace: Surrender 16, stand any other
Dealer ten: Surrender 15, continue playing with hard total for anything else
Split Aces at all times
Tens never split
Pair of nines: Split dealer 2-9, except 7. Stand for any other dealer card.
Eights always split
Sevens split dealer 2-7, anything else hits
Sixes split dealer 2-6, otherwise go for the hit
Fives split dealer 2-9, anything else hit
Threes split dealer 2-7, if not, hit
Twos always split for dealer 2-7, otherwise it’s the hit!
- Playing with Soft totals
(A hand with an Ace) – The Ace begins with a value of 11
A Soft 20 (A&9) stands at all times
A Soft 19 doubles down against dealer 6; if not, stand.
A Soft 18 doubles against dealer 2-6, hits 9 through Ace, stands otherwise.
A Soft 17 goes for double against dealer 3-6, otherwise hits.
A Soft 16 doubles for dealer 4-6, otherwise hits.
A Soft 15 doubles for dealer 4-6, anything else hits.
A Soft 14 doubles against dealer 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
A Soft 13 (A&2) doubles playing against dealer 5-6, any other dealer card calls to hit.
- Playing with Hard totals
(A hand without an Ace, or where the value of the Ace can only be 1)
17 or more always stands.
16 stands for dealer card two through six, hit for any other dealer card.
15 stands for dealer 2- 6, otherwise hit.
14 stands for dealer 2- 6, otherwise hit.
13 stands when dealer has 2 through 6, always hit otherwise.
12 stands when dealer card is 4 through 6, any other card, hit.
11 doubles at any time.
10 doubles for dealer 2- 9; otherwise hit.
9 doubles against dealer 3-6; anything else hit.
8 calls for an automatic hit.
So to sum the strategy up
The above 29 basic strategy rules are tips you will need to master carefully if you want to be an adept Blackjack player. You can master them as text or you can use them to understand the available online Blackjack charts. The aim of mastering these tips is to help you quickly form a decision on what to do even before you see what the dealer card is.
They come in handy since they help you hack the single largest hurdle of casino gambling: speed. The hurdle is especially impeding in online gambling since most of the actions are carried out by a machine and there is no window for appeal.
The Blackjack strategy is consistent with many strategies used for card games. It relies on the reduction of cards in a deck to make prediction easier for players as cards reduce with increasing rounds of play.
There are other blackjack strategies that are not necessarily related to player actions. They, however, have a direct impact on your chances of winning
Shuffling in Card Games
Cards are usually shuffled and stacked together in a shoe. One shoe may contain between six and eight decks of fifty two cards each. The purpose of a shoe is to reduce delays that would occur because of regular shuffling if just one or a few decks were to be used. It also reduces the chances of the house cheating gamblers. For this reason, player are better off playing in a house that uses several deck in one shoe. However, it should be remembered that the more the number of decks, the harder it becomes to predict the cards left in a shoe. Therefore, you should not keep on looking for houses with more decks in a shoe. The best strategy is to play in casinos that have six decks. These are better than those which shuffle eight decks at a go.
Insurance is a side bet that ideally protects the gambler’s bet from going wrong when the dealer’s hole card is revealed. Insurance is taken in two instances:
When the dealer has an ace
The player then places a wager that the dealer has a blackjack. If this turns out to be true, the bettor loses the original bet but receives a 2/1 pay-out for the insurance bet.
When the player has a blackjack
If a player has a blackjack, he may decide to take an insurance against the dealer having the same hand. This insurance pays out even money (1/1) and is paid out even before the dealer’s hole card is revealed.
As a strategy, insurance is regarded as a safe way of betting. It protects the player from loss since the dealer has almost a 1/3 chance of getting a blackjack when they have an ace. However, this leaves a 2/3 chance of losing. The safe bet also reduces the possible winnings for a player who already has a blackjack. For these reasons, taking out insurance bets is not a recommended strategy.
This is a strategy whereby a player takes advantage of their sharp brain to master particular happenings. This helps them to predict what is likely to happen in subsequent rounds, hence giving them an advantage. Advantage play is in many ways legal as it cannot be proven to be a method of cheating. As such, players can take advantage of their brains when playing blackjack and use techniques like card counting and shuffle tracking. This is more common in physical casinos than in online gambling. Players playing in physical casinos should be wary of how they use advantage play. If it becomes clear that a player uses these advantages, the casino is likely to develop cold feet towards them and look for ways of blacklisting them.
Play Blackjack Online Smart!
Although Blackjack is not a strategy game, there are several tips that players can use to increase their winning chances. Usually, players are advised to base their decision on the dealer’s face-up card. This can however be misleading as it does not in any way affect the value of the face-down card.
Find houses with fewer decks
A higher number of decks in the shoe speeds up the gaming session and reduces cheating incidences. However, it also increases the house edge. That is definitely no good news for the player. Choose houses with fewer decks, especially when playing online where no time is lost in shuffling.
Avoid doubling for less
Doubling for less is mathematically not a wise decision; avoid it even when the temptation comes.
Pick an online over land-based casino
Online casinos offer several advantages over land-based houses when playing Blackjack. For starters, you often get a welcome or sign up bonus which is not there in a physical house. This literally increases your bankroll. Moreover, it allows you to concentrate when playing from your favourite spot, away from the distraction of casino lights and noise.
Online casinos are the real deal. However, if you are ever on a trip and decide to enjoy the physical casino feel, here are some hand signals to aid your Blackjack session:
Stand: Either wave your hand or just place your open palm over the felt
Double Down: Place another wager to the left of your original bet
Hit: Use your finger to tap the felt
Split: Hold out the peace sign
Surrender: Draw a ‘cut’ behind your chips and mouth ‘surrender.’
There you have it! Go out and enjoy your Blackjack betting session; or do just that from your favourite spot on the couch- online!