Many volumes have been written on blackjack strategy. Some are effective and many are not. It is very important for the player to do serious research into any blackjack strategy before using it in a casino. It is also important to make sure the strategy the player intends to use is legal in the casino and the state or country in which they are playing.
Basic blackjack strategy follows carefully researched mathematical models and many books and online sites will have a simple chart that lists when to hit and when to stand or make other types of bets based on your first two cards. These charts will improve your odds of winning but are not a guarantee that you will win.
Card counting is the most successful of all legal blackjack strategies. While usually legal, many casinos will simply ask the player to leave if they feel the player is card counting. The casinos have the right to ban any player without explanation. Card counting involves the player keeping track of which cards are dealt and has different guidelines depending on the system and how many decks are in the shoe. Card counting requires strong mental faculties and takes study and effort to learn but can reduce the house edge closer to 0%. To simplfy card counting, most systems assign point values to the different cards and the player keeps track of the point values rather than each single card dealt. The card counter will usually observe quite a few hands being dealt and actually enter the game when they feel the cards are to their advantage.
House Odds, Bets and Payouts
How much the odds favor the house depends on the number of decks in the shoe.
Number of Decks House Advantage
1 Deck : 0.04%
2 Decks: 0.42%
4 Decks: 0.61%
6 Decks: 0.67%
8 Decks: 0.70%
In addition to the 1:1 standard payout and the 3:2 payout for a “blackjack”, casinos offer several other bets and payouts.
1. THE SURRENDER BET
Some casinos offer player a chance not play out their hand and surrender half their bet. This bet will take place after the dealer has checked his hand for blackjack and is also called “late surrender” because of this.
2. THE INSURANCE BET
When the dealers face-up card is an ace, many casinos offer the player the option of the “Insurance bet”. The player will be paid at 2:1, if the dealer has a blackjack.
3. THE SPLIT BET
When a player’s first 2 cards are a pair, the player may place a second bet, equal to the first bet. The dealer then splits the players cards and the player plays the pair as two separate hands.
4.THE DOUBLE DOWN BET
After being dealt two cards, the player may double their bet and then the player receives only one more card, dealt face down.
5. 5 OR 6 CARD CHARLIE
If a player makes a winning hand with 5 or 6 cards, many casinos offer a bonus payout. Some casinos even offer a payout for a 7 card charlie. However this is a bonus payout and should not be a strong part of a players strategy as winning with these types of hands is very rare.
Things to Avoid When Playing Blackjack
Some casinos add variations to the rules that put the odds more in the favor of the house. These types of rules should be avoided. Among these rules are:
1. Blackjack that pays even money or 6:5.
2. The dealer must hit on soft 17
3. Doubling down only on 10 or 11
4. Blackjack games that use 8 decks of cards.
5. Casinos that don’t offer insurance or surrender bets.
Find a casino that uses 4 or less decks (if possible), has a good variety of bets and payouts and pays fair odds. Do everything you can to increase the odds in your favor.
With the growth of online casinos, blackjack is well on its way to equaling the success it has found in land-based casinos. The game is played following the standard rules of blackjack although many online casinos offer unique special bets to entice players. The graphical display is usually a representation of the traditional blackjack table and hands are dealt to the players first and then the dealer. Many online casinos offer the players the ability to play two hands at once against the dealer. When playing blackjack online players will receive some major benefits, including casino bonus money, the comfort of playing from home and the option to learn to play online by starting out with play money instead of real cash.
Whether you play online or in a land-based casinos, blackjack is a enjoyable and easy game to play. Have fun and always bet within your limits.