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Learn the basic Blackjack strategy in Canada

James
julio 13, 2020
Modified: January 21, 2022

Blackjack is generally regarded as a card game, similar to poker. Blackjack professionals will have you believe that there is typically a mathematical flawless way to play every blackjack hand.

This is known as ‘basic strategy’. In this blackjack guide, we will show you this basic strategy in the minimum time because we know that players want to spend less time studying and more time playing. You should be able to learn our simplified basic blackjack strategy in under 60 minutes.

What is the basic strategy in blackjack?

Experts will lead you to believe that there are almost 200 separate situations in the game of blackjack where the exact move for a certain hand is required.

The truth is that most different hands would require exactly the same play rules. If you are willing to forego the need to win big right away and rather take small steps forward with the odd step back then you can start by employing a simple version of the basic blackjack strategy.

When was the basic Blackjack strategy invented?

The basic blackjack strategy was conceived in the early 1960s by a computer and innovation guru Julian Braun. He based his premise on the foundation that blackjack is a game played with cards, hence its outcomes could be worked out.

So, if patterns are revealed during a game, then the player can use a strategy to help them conclude the game. Braun identified around 9 billion combinations of how to play blackjack hands and changed how the game was perceived and played.

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Why it is important to understand the basic strategy?

Although using a basic strategy will not guarantee blackjack players winning each hand, it can help many gamblers to make informed decisions which could minimize their losses. As tricky situations arise with each hand, a basic strategy can guide players.

If the basic blackjack strategy is understood and the rules are adhered to, the player will gain on the long term due to the game’s inherent probabilities. Using a basic strategy will give these players enough knowledge to gain the maximum advantage over the house.

Blackjack basic strategy chart

The blackjack basic strategy chart can show the player the optimum move to adopt after receiving his initial deal unless the blackjack player is adept at counting cards. While the player’s initial cards are important, the dealer’s up-card must be factored into every situation.

The chart will suggest the basic options that the player can employ in their strategy – hit, stand, split and double down. Today, there are many offshoots of the basic strategy which allows the player more options to be tried and tested.

How does it work?

Although the available literature on the subject of the basic blackjack strategy is plentiful, most strategies are really focused on the basis that there are cards carrying more value than others.

Armed with this knowledge, the player employing a basic strategy could always assume that the dealer’s second card will carry more value. Looking at the dealer’s up-card, the dealer’s potential hand can be categorized as either having odds likely to bust or hands likely to win.

Basic blackjack glossary before starting

One of the first tips that a blackjack player receives is learning the language of the game. Some of the terms are briefly explained.

To ‘hit’ means that you want another card to be dealt whereas ‘stand’ means that you do not want another card. ‘Blackjack’ occurs when you are dealt an ace and a face card totalling 21. ‘Bust’ is when your cards total more than 21. ‘Push’ is when you and the dealer’s card values tie.

Any blackjack trainer will tell you that the house edge is used to statistically measure the advantage the casino has over the player. When a casino has a house edge of 5%, this is generally accepted that a player could stand to lose an average of 5% every time he bets.

To put it practically, if you are betting $1000 at a time, you stand to lose $50. In reality, the house edge only applies over a statistically large number of bets.

As is evident from any blackjack simulator, the bottom line for any blackjack player is to reduce the mathematics advantage. As we have already suggested, there are a few ways to achieve this.

The easiest way is for you to familiarize yourself with a basic blackjack strategy and apply this to every blackjack hand you are dealt. The basic strategy charts are a good starting point but there also composition-dependent strategies that consider your actual cards dealt and the actions that you can then deploy.

When to split?

Splitting is allowed in most versions of free blackjack. A pair split can happen when you are dealt cards that are the same, thus forming two new hands that you can continue to bet on and play.

Even though you are dealt a pair, you don’t always have to split. However, if you are dealt two aces you should certainly split. Also, if you are dealt eights, it is better to play them separately and aim to get two hands that are valued at 18.

When to take Insurance?

In blackjack, the term ‘to take insurance’ means that you foresee the dealer getting a blackjack on this initial deal. At an online casino such as Betiton, the ‘insurance’ option will become available to you when the dealer’s upcard is presenting an ace.

Taking this option will affect a side-bet which is dealt with separately from the main bet and pays out to the odds of 2:1. Should the dealer not have a blackjack then the insurance bet is forfeited and normal play continues.

Double down

When the blackjack player opts to double down, he technically decides to double his first bet and only receives one additional card in return. As with all blackjack options, it makes more sense to double down 9-1-5-6. With double down, one increases the chances of a loss by playing blackjack without splitting.

However, double down provides a higher chance of gaining more especially to first time player. All that is needed is to be bold and be friendly with the double down option.

Surrender rules

When playing surrender in blackjack, it is important to consider when and where to play it. When the chances of beating the dealer are null, it’s wise to surrender and take next play other than losing each time it is your turn to play.

This may seem frustrating not to play when your turn comes, but blackjack is about achieving more during gambling period and excluding the decisions about taking big risks and getting huge returns every time you play.

Side bets

Sometimes, during a game of blackjack additional bets are placed, hence the name blackjack side-bet. It involves forecasting the cards received by the player and other times the dealer. The side bets are an interesting addition to the regular game play.

In most casinos, side bets are marked with printed odds at the blackjack tables or an available handout. The three main blackjack sides bet include the side bet insurance, perfect pairs side bet and the twenty-one plus three side bet.

How to adapt the basic strategy with the variations of blackjack?

The basic strategy varies. It changes along with the number of tables, hitting or standing on soft 17 by the dealer, loss of initial bet by the player when the dealer has a blackjack, and yielding doubling down after splitting.

To adopt a basic strategy one needs to consider the rules of the casino and game. The basic strategy will change based on the game rules such that if one game rule changes, the odds and probability of the game also changes thus a direct effect.

Single deck

There are various variants suitable for different players of blackjack. One of the variants is the single deck blackjack. As the name suggests, single deck blackjack is played using one deck which has the cards for playing.

Single deck offers the best mathematical advantage for the player. Single deck has an objective of getting a advantage before the dealer without going over. Single deck is more preferable as it offers more chances to players to increase their bankrolls.

Double deck

Double deck blackjack is where there are two decks for players. The mathematical advantage for double deck is slightly higher than for single deck as the in house edge increases with the number of decks.

Thus double deck is more profitable to the casino than to the player as it offers higher house edge. This makes it less preferable to players. However, it has some advantages which include being widely available online and easier to double down with a higher number of picture cards.

Three deck and more

Three deck and more, as the name suggests, is a blackjack game where there are more than two decks for play – mostly four to eight decks. With an increase in the number of decks beyond two, the house edge, in this case, changes.

This makes the game more profitable to the casino and less profitable to the player. Three decks make it much harder for the player to count cards, therefore lowering their chances to win using mathematical skills.

Conclusion

In conclusion, blackjack is a game of decision and requires accurate decision making to win. The basic strategy has been revised severally, making it correct and secure for player to use it. The strategy gives suggestions to players on the best moves according to their cards at hand.

This makes it the best-prescribed strategy any player can decide to play, as it is based on important principles and patterns of the game. Think blackjack basic strategy if you want to win big.

FAQ

The objective is to get a hand total of closer to 21 than the dealer without going over 21 (busting).

Every players can play as they like, moreover, this doesn’t affect other players

The basic strategy was developed in the first half of 1960s by Julian Braun

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James

Gambling Consultant at Betiton