Although blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games in the world, many players still do not have an adequate understanding of this game. This blackjack guide will help all the new players, as well as the experienced ones, to understand the basics of this game.
It is important to understand here that there is no perfect strategy for winning this game. However, with a solid understanding of the basic rules and strategies that you can use in online blackjack in Canada, you can avoid making many common errors and improve your enjoyment when playing.
What is a strategy in blackjack?
A good blackjack strategy helps you achieve one of the two main objectives of the game: having a total score not exceeding 21, but at the same time exceeding that of the dealer.
To achieve these objectives, players need to know certain basic rules: (1) all numbered cards are worth their face value. (2) Picture cards are valued at 10. (3) The exception is the Ace, which can be either 1 or 11. Always assume Ace is 11 unless by so counting your total score exceeds 21, in which case the Ace counts as 1.
Why use a strategy?
Using the correct strategy can help you get the best advantage over the dealer in order to win. To do this, you must first know how to play blackjack correctly. The usual sequence is as follows.
You place a wager and are dealt two cards. You then decide how to play your hand – more on that below. The dealer also plays their hand according to set rules. Finally, the dealer distributes the payouts depending upon the outcome. It’s important to remember that in blackjack you only play against the dealer and not the other players.
How many strategies exist? Which one to use?
Apart from the basic strategy outlined above, there are a few others you can use to help improve your chances and minimize potential losses. These include surrender, pair splitting, hit and stand and doubling down.
The last strategy is used when the dealer is vulnerable and you hold several advantages. At Betiton, we believe that every strategy has its own set of advantages. When you play, your game will pass through several stages, and you’ll realize that each stage calls for a unique strategy. You can master these strategies by playing a few demo games.
Blackjack – does card counting work?
Since blackjack is based on some mathematical rules, following some sound mathematical steps might maximize your wins and lessen your losses. Many players believe that counting cards may help. Here, players will reach a point when they get an advantage. When this happens, card counters will raise their wagers.
However, when the house has the advantage, the counter will either make a lesser wager or nothing at all by not playing. While anyone can learn to count cards, it becomes harder when more than one deck is used. Other strategies may be more useful.
Blackjack strategy charts
A blackjack strategy chart helps you play your game by making more informed decisions. It usually contains several abbreviations such as H (Hit), S (Stand), D (Double Down), P (Pair Split), Su (Surrender), etc.
Blackjack strategy charts are colored in various shades and help players to master the basic strategy and improve their odds. On a chart, you’ll find the dealer’s up-card along the top, while the player’s hand can be located down the first column. At the intersection of these two numbers, you’ll find the right strategy.
Card counting, when done correctly, can improve your blackjack game. There are many card counting tips for beginners, one of them being Hi-Lo. To master this strategy, remember that Low cards are 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and are valued at +1. High cards are 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace and they have a value of -1.
The former category is advantageous to the dealer while High cards can bust him. There are three Neutral cards – 7, 8 and these balance the system. Master this strategy by watching online demos.
The surrender strategy
You can use a blackjack trainer website or video to understand and master the surrender strategy. Some training guides are free, while others do charge a fee. You will learn how and when to surrender your bet amount, how much you will have to forfeit and the best way to minimize your losses.
There are two kinds of surrender strategies – Early and Late Surrender. We will discuss each in more detail below. Using the right option can reduce the house edge by varying amounts depending on the house rules.
Early surrender strategy
You make an Early Surrender when you give up your hand as soon as the cards are dealt, but before the dealer checks their hand for a natural blackjack. A natural blackjack happens when either player or dealer receives an Ace and a 10-value card, making a perfect score of 21.
In Early Surrender, players forfeit half their wager. This is the most desirable type of surrender and you can master it by watching a blackjack simulator. This program gives you all the possible scenarios leading to Early Surrender in your blackjack game.
Late blackjack surrender
The Late Surrender in blackjack also sees you lose half your wager, just as in the Early Surrender strategy. The critical difference is that in the former, players have to wait to see whether the dealer has been dealt a natural blackjack or not. Since the Late Surrender option eats into the house edge, many casinos don’t advertise it.
Check whether this option is available in your chosen game variant. You can master your Late Surrender strategy by watching some paid or free blackjack tutorials. Learning this strategy can help you manage your bankroll better.
Pair splitting strategy
When you receive two identically ranked cards, you can split them into separate hands. You request a second card for each hand by laying another bet of the same value as the original wager. You then continue to play normally, but you now have two chances to beat the dealer.
The trick lies in knowing when to split your cards. Basically, always split a hand if you have aces or eights. Never split if you have pairs of 4, 5 or 10. If the dealer’s up-card is 2 through 6, then split any other pair.
Defensive blackjack strategy
In this strategy, you are betting more on the table to cut your losses. A defensive blackjack strategy sounds very much like the pair plotting approach, but is very complex to understand. This approach makes sense in the long run.
Initially, you might post losses, but over a period, you will realize that you have actually cut down on those potential losses. To learn more about how this strategy works, you can log in to free or paid web-based blackjack tutorial sites. There are some live simulators, too, that will teach you defensive blackjack strategy.
The offensive strategy works best when you see an opportunity to convert your losses into wins. When splitting, you may win a good amount of money, but be aware that you might win higher amounts of money in other splitting scenarios.
By playing offensively, players are actually creating an extra edge over the house by splitting their cards. However, we’d advise you to study this approach well first, practice it several times and then use it in an online casino. You can learn an offensive strategy by watching online gambling tutorials.
Doubling down strategy
Novices and pros can lose large amounts of money over a period if they don’t use the right strategy. However, with the Doubling Down strategy, you can reverse the trend. Here, you double your wager after receiving one more card, but then stand.
You need to put the additional bet next to the original one. In most casinos, you can double-down on any card combinations, but in some casinos or game variants, there may be restrictions. When doubling down, keep in mind the total value of your hand and that of the dealer’s up-card.
Single deck games
The objective of single deck blackjack is the same as multiple deck games. You are always looking for a hand whose value is closer to 21 than that of the dealer, but without exceeding this and going bust.
Single deck blackjack is played with a full deck of 52 cards, and here players have multiple choices. They can hit, stand, double down, split pairs and, in some game variants, accept insurance bets when the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. All insured winning wagers return payouts in the ratio 2:1.
Double deck games
Double deck blackjack is available in many online and land-based casinos (there are multiplayer and single-player variants too). Here, two 52-card decks are shuffled together and dealt to the players. In this variant, instead of the dealer receiving an up-card and a hole (hidden) card, both cards are visible. The dealer also has to stand on a soft 17.
This is where the dealer’s hand includes an Ace, counted as 11 points. As the game progresses, you’ll get more betting options. Master this blackjack variant by playing some demo games at Betiton.
Hit & stand
Hit means asking for another card, while Stand is hiding your total and finishing your turn. You use Hit when you believe that getting another card will take you closer to 21.
For example, you would Hit if you have two cards whose total value comes to 10 or less. That way if your next card is a 10 value you’d reach 21. If an Ace, you’d count it as 1 and maybe hit again. You should Stand when you believe your score is better than the dealer’s.
It is important because it will give you an edge in the game.
There are many strategies to use, choosing the best comes from practice and experience.
To hit is to request another card. To stand is to finish requesting cards for this hand.
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