How to win at Blackjack
Ever since casino games were invented, players started to look for various methods to improve their gameplay and bring luck on their side. Blackjack is no different. Considered by most casino players the game that gives you the most control when it comes to deciding the outcome of a hand, Blackjack became the target for most strategies on how to increase winning chances. So, while there’s no promise of a sure recipe for how to always win at Blackjack, we invite you to read some of the best methods to boost your winning chances.
Counting Cards at Blackjack
We couldn’t seriously write an article on “how to win at Blackjack” without addressing card counting. While there are various ways to count cards when playing Blackjack, we’re focusing first on the Ace/Five count, and here’s how it works:
- First of all, decide on your minimum and maximum bet
- Before the round starts, place your minimum bet and begin a count of zero
- As the game continues, add one to the count whenever you see a five and subtract one whenever you observe an ace
- If you count is ≥ 2 double your last bet
- In case the count is ≤ 1 play your minimum bet again
Having mastered the Ace/Five count, you can advance to the High-Low card counting strategy if winning at Blackjack is your ultimate goal. It’s a bit more complex but practice makes perfect:
- Start by assigning a point value for each card ( 2 to 6= +1; 6 to 9=0; and 10 to Ace= -1)
- At the start of the deck, you should initiate a running count of 0 and keep adding/subtracting according to the value specified above
- Divide the count by the number of remaining decks and you will get the “True Count”
- As the “True Count” value increases, you should also raise your bet accordingly. To keep things natural and not bring heat from the casino on yourself, you should also consider increasing bets after you win, decreasing after a lost hand, and keeping the same bet value after a push.
- Certain hands will be played according to a table of “Index Numbers” and the True Count as opposed to the basic strategy. So, when the count gets high, you should feel more comfortable to stand, split, double, or take insurance.
Is Counting Cards Legal?
Card counting is not against any laws. However, most casinos will not allow it on their premises. You may be asked to leave the casino if you get spotted. Also, while counting cards at online casinos is harder, there’s no way they can tell you are doing it. However, online casinos usually guard themselves against card counting by shuffling the decks more often or just using more decks. But don’t worry, there are ways of winning at Blackjack without counting!
Take Advantage of Your Seat at the Table
Continuing our list of Blackjack tips to win, we present you a way to use your seat at the table to your advantage. Every position at the Blackjack table has a term to describe it so we’ll start with this introductory terms:
- First base – this is the first seat on the far right while you’re facing the dealer. It’s called first base because this is the seat that gets the first cards and also the first to take any decisions.
- Third base – Also referred to as the “anchor” in blackjack slang, this is the last seat from the right. As opposed to the first base, this player will be the last to get cards or take any calls.
- Shortstop – a seat located in the middle of the table that doesn’t directly influence the possible outcome. However, it can play a role in other players joining the table.
So, can you win at Blackjack in a casino solely by choosing the right spot at the table? The short answer is “no” but it can influence your winning chances. As a general rule, players with less experience that are still mastering the basic strategy should always pick the first base. Not only that you get a view of the entire table, but you also have the pile of discarded cards next to you so you can keep track of things.
When to Split Your Cards
If you often ask yourself “can you win at Blackjack without counting cards?”, the answer is “yes”. By applying the basic strategy and practicing key decisions in a hand such as splitting your cards, you can also reduce the house edge and get luck on your side. There are a few strategies regarding splitting cards that have been proven to work:
- Always split your aces – this is Blackjack 101 as playing a hand with two aces means you start with a value of 12 and a third card that’s not a 9 will force you to play both aces at a value of one, making it a lot harder to get a solid hand and beat the dealer
- Always split a pair of eights – Aces are not the only pair that gets split at all times. The same applies for eights as starting with a total of 16, the chances are low that you’ll get a five or lower (considering you already have two low-value cards in your hand). If you decide to split, you won’t bust no matter what comes afterward, and a hand of 18 is a pretty solid one.
- Always split aces and eights again if you get a second pair – this one needs no further explanation as you’re repeating the strategy above strategy. But make sure to check the house rules as some Blackjack tables won’t allow you to split more than three times
When to Double Down
Doubling down is, perhaps, the most exciting moves a player can make in blackjack. Knowing when to double down can be the answer to “how to consistently win at Blackjack?”. However, this strategy requires lots of discipline and following the hand closely.
- Double down when you have a hard 9 against a dealer’s low card – a hard 9 means you got either of 2-7, 3-6, or 4-5 combination of cards. This is a great situation to double down, especially if the dealers a card below 7 without including the Ace. The probability of you getting a high card is very high as you already have two low-value cards so doubling down can dramatically boost your winnings.
- Double down with a soft 16 to 18 against a dealer’s low card – with an Ace and anything between 5 to 7, you should feel comfortable doubling down, especially if you see a card below 7 in the dealer’s hand. Even if you get a high-value card, the Ace will count as one, and you have great chances of beating the dealer.
- Hard 10 or 100 against a dealer’s low card – you’re probably starting to see the pattern here. Since you’re enjoying a powerful position thanks to the hard 10 or 11, you should double down and go for the big win!
Should You Surrender or Not?
We can’t conclude this guide for winning blackjack for the serious player without talking about Surrender as well. While using surrender, you’ll only get the house edge down by 0.07%, if you want to win, you need to use all the tools available. There are two main situations when surrendering is a better idea than playing the hand:
- Surrender when you have a hard 16 against the dealer’s Ace, 10 or 9
- Surrender if you have a hard 15 against the dealer’s Ace or 10
Don’t Play RNG Blackjack
The last piece of advice we can give you on how to improve your blackjack winning chances is to avoid RNG blackjack games. First of all, you won’t be able to count cards, and you lose the advantage of the seat at the table. Furthermore, with RNG Blackjack the vig is higher, so you’re just playing on luck.