If you’re looking for a player-friendly casino game, then look no further than blackjack. With the lowest house edge, out of all the popular casino games, it can deliver plenty of thrills and wins, and you can improve your game by remembering a few points.
With a house edge that can drop as low as 0.5% to 1%, even for inexperienced players, it is possible, as with poker, to significantly influence the probability outcomes with skill – though it must be stressed that, as in all gambling, there is a large element of chance involved.
Stripping things down to basics, the essential things in blackjack are knowing when to split, double down and take a hit.
Things you can do to statistically improve your odds
Things to avoid, to statistically improve your odds
You should try to split pairs of 8s or Aces, as a pair of 8s total 16, which is the worst hand. On the flip side, a pair of 10-value cards gives you a total of 20, and equates to a good hand to risk.
Dealers must hit on 16 and stand on 17 under ‘dealer rules’, but players don’t have to follow this. When both player and dealer bust, the dealer will win, hence this rule only benefits the dealer.
Facts and Tips
OK, so everyone has heard of card counting, but what exactly is it, and can it help?
Hi-Lo Strategy: consider that high valued cards (10s, faces and aces) count as ‘-1,’ the low valued cards (2-6) count as ‘+1,’ with 7s, 8s, and 9s making ‘0.’ The aim is to get a picture of all of the cards appearing in the game, or a ‘running count.’ For example: K, A, 2, 7, J, 9, 3, 5, K. You count: -1 -1+1+0-1+0+1+1-1= -1. This makes it possible to count the real casino edge at a particular time.
But, you will also count the ‘True Count’ i.e. divide the running count by the number of decks. For example, if your running count is 6, and there are 5 decks left, that’s 6/5 = 1.2. A higher true count signifies a higher advantage over the casino.
But, before you get too excited, because in online software-run blackjack games online the decks are automatically shuffled after each hand, card counting doesn’t work. Even with online live dealer blackjack, in which a traditional shoe is used, card counting sounds like a useful trick, but in reality, has been proven to only increase chances of winning by a slither, and you’ve got to be seriously good to pull it off.
Also, remember, that most land-based casinos these days consider card counting to be against the rules, and you may well get booted out for attempting it!
All About Attitude
Of course, as with any game where chance plays a large part, the critical rules to follow in order to get the most from your game are actually ones of self-control. Always make sure you are betting with money that you can afford to lose – only then will you be able to remain calm and level-headed. Always look at the big pictures, as everyone will have good and bad days. Don’t get disheartened when things aren’t going your way, but likewise, don’t get carried away when you’re on to something good.
Blackjack is, at the end of the day, a game of pure mathematical probabilities. A better understanding of how those probabilities are working will enable you to take advantage of them, but can never guarantee success. First and foremost, learn the rules thoroughly, before you start playing for money. Then, as you go forward, follow your head (remember, maths is a cold, unemotional beast), not your heart.
Being as though blackjack has very clear-cut rules, and statistics that can be studied, solid probabilities can be worked out. For example, if a dealer is standing on a soft 17, he will, statistically speaking, go bust approximately 29% of the time. Knowing these probabilities allows players to make educated decisions to improve their odds, unlike in games like roulette which feature blind odds.
Above all, always remember to keep the following in mind when playing blackjack:
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