Blackjack Strategy

With the exception of Poker, Blackjack is the most popular gambling card game. Equally well known as “21”, the rules are simple, the play is thrilling, and there is opportunity for high strategy. Blackjack is fun and easily to learn, which is one of the many reasons it is so popular. Blackjack has one great advantage over other casino games; experienced players actually have a good chance of obtaining an edge over the house and ‘beating’ the casino. The game is among the few where systems can be employed with some form of accuracy and to which actual strategy can be applied, effectively.

Within the last few years blackjack has found a new home. Previously it was only available in places where gambling was legal or casinos were allowed. With the rise of internet gaming online blackjack is now a possibility and a very popular one at that. Online blackjack is one of the most popular online casino games at sites like EmuCasino. There are several advantages for players who play online versus ones who play in a traditional casino. These advantages include playing from the comfort of their own home, less distractions, and the sheer number of sites which offer exciting online gaming.

General specifications of the game

Most Blackjacks are commonly played with 4-6 deck of cards, but there are few variations which are played with 1 deck of standard 52 cards. No matter how many types of blackjack games players may find online, the basic winning method remains the same, get a card total of 21 or close as possible and try to beat the dealer’s card total or get a total of below 21 and wait for the dealer to go bust (over 21).

Both the player and the dealer are dealt 2 cards each. The dealer only reveals his first card to the player and on the first 2 cards, the player has to either ‘hit’ (add one card) or ‘stand’. Players have the option to double on hard number (first 2 cards total 9, 10 or 11) and a Blackjack (an Ace and a value 10 card) is an automatic win with higher pays, normally 3:2 (we do not consider the game that pays 1:1 on a blackjack, a Blackjack game, instead they are better named just 21). All face cards have a 10 value and an Ace can be counted as one or 11.

The above specification changes according to the type of blackjack players choose to play.

Blackjack Variations

Blackjack arguably has the highest variation among table games in terms of different rules, different odds and accordingly different applicable strategies. Blackjacks can differ according to their table rules, availability of bonus bets, number of hands simultaneously playable or even in a few cases, number of cards played with. Below listed are a few among the many popular varieties of Blackjack widely found in online casinos:

  • Classic Blackjack
  • European Blackjack
  • American Blackjack
  • Super 7 Blackjack
  • Pirate 21
  • Double Exposure Blackjack
  • Hi-Lo European Blackjack
  • Super Fun 21
  • Vegas Strip Blackjack
  • Atlantic City Blackjack
  • Spanish 21 Blackjack
  • Pontoon

 

Many of the variations mentioned above are also available in Multi-hands and Gold Series.

In this article, we will be focusing on various strategies that can be applied for maximising payouts on different variations of the table game. Minor adjustments are made to basic strategy depending on certain rule variations that different casinos can choose to use. There are also some changes made to basic strategy for single and multiple deck games.

 

Basic Strategy

It is imperative as a blackjack player to learn basic strategies than randomly clicking ‘hit’ or ‘stand’, because by using it, you will eliminate the normal 5 or so percent advantage the casino has over the unskilled player. Just with basic strategy, the house advantage is roughly less than 2 percent. This is why blackjack can be one of the most profitable games to play in a casino.

So let’s get started with the basics:

Players may be able to improve their decision by considering the precise composition of their hands, not just the point total. For example, players should ordinarily stand when holding a 12 against a dealer 4. However, in a single deck game, players should hit if their 12 consists of a 10 and a 2. The presence of a 10 in the player’s hand can have two future possibilities: it makes the player’s 12 a worse hand to stand on (since the only way to loose is if the dealer goes bust) and it makes hitting safer, since the only way of going bust is if a 10 appears, and this is less likely with a 10 already in hand.

The best way to start with basic strategy is through a chart. Some players find it easier if the chart is translated into plain English so we will also be recommending next moves on hard hands.

The strategy used on the chart above does not guarantee a win,; its just an instruction that has a good change of minimizing house advantage and a proven way to improve your performance.

Please note that the strategy chart on the right is meant for a Blackjack game played with 4 – 8 decks, dealer stands soft 17 and allowed to double after split.

 

How to play Hard Hands:

A Hard Hand is the initial two cards that do not contain an Ace.

If you have eight or less, always hit.
If you have Nine: Double if the dealer has 3 thru 6 – otherwise hit.
If you have Ten : Double if the dealer has 2 thru 9 – otherwise hit.
If you have Eleven: Double if the dealer has 2 thru 10, Hit if dealer has Ace.
If you have Twelve: Hit if the dealer has 2 or 3, Stand if the dealer has 4 thru 6, otherwise hit.
If you have 13- 16: Stand if the dealer has2 thru 6, otherwise hit.
If you have 17 – 21: Always Stand.

 

Additional Strategy:

  • Never take Insurance
  • Always play 5 – 5 as a 10
  • Always split Aces

 

Bonus Strategy

If compared to the other casino games blackjack is probably the best choice for a bonus hunter as it offers a very low house advantage. If the player uses the optimal blackjack strategy the casino edge is reduced to less than 1% allowing you to withdraw the bigger part of the bonus. However, some online casinos may exclude blackjack from the list of games eligible for clearing the bonus so you must read the bonus terms very carefully before you start playing. If not excluded, most online casinos will have a higher wagering requirement for Blackjack games.

 

When you start playing blackjack to clear your bonus, you should always choose to play low stakes in order to reduce your losses to the minimum. This means that you will have to play more hands to wager the required amount, but that’s just the way the blackjack bonus hunting works. And don’t try to employ any betting systems such as the Martingale system, they don’t work. If you do use them, you will most likely end up losing your bonus as well as your deposit. What you need to do is relax, enjoy the game and always stick to the basic blackjack strategy.

Another way of beating bonuses is not by playing Blackjack but using it as a stepping stone. Since most online casinos have a higher wagering requirement for Blackjacks, if you are familiar with Blackjack, we suggest you to wager for a certain amount of bonus credits on Blackjacks until you collect an amount that you can bet on games with lower wagering requirements like Pokies.

For example: If you have bonus credits worth $100 and to fulfill the requirement, you need a 30x turnover on pokies and 300x turnover on a Blackjack game. Many players find it a challenge to fulfill that requirement through pokies alone so we suggest you wager 50% of the amount on blackjack (if you are confident on your Black Jack skills) and place the money you win on Pokies (because normally Blackjack turnovers are quite high so it would be another challenge to fulfill the wagering requirement only through BJ). By the end of the blackjack game if you have a bonus balance of around $200, you can comfortably lose $100 on pokies and you fulfill more of the requirement than you would by just playing pokies.

 

Bad Strategies

Three popular bad strategies encountered at the blackjack table are: never bust, mimic the dealer, and always assume the dealer has a ten in the hole. All three are very bad strategies.

  • Never bust: This strategy is pretty self-explanatory really, you play the safest game possible and never go bust. For example, on any card value of 11 or under you will hit, anything 12 and over and you will stand. If your first two cards give you a blackjack or 20 then this isn’t a problem.

However if you only have 12 or 13 then your hope is that the dealer will go bust.

The problem with this strategy is that you can go very long runs with the dealer not going bust so it will normally end in disaster long term.

  • Mimic the dealer: Mimic the dealer is a strategy where you apply the same rules to yourself as what the dealer has. Some people have the misconception that if you play in the same way that the dealer does, it will remove the house edge. The player never doubled or split, since the dealer is not allowed to do so. This “mimic the dealer” strategy results in a house edge of 5.48%.
  • Assume a ten in the hole: As already mentioned above, don’t fall for Insurance. Sure, sometimes the dealer will get a blackjack after you were offered the insurance bet but over the long term of play, the insurance bet will cost you more than it will save you because the odds of a dealer getting a blackjack when they’re showing an ace is less than 50%.
  • Using a Progressive betting system: Nowadays, casinos have implemented side bets on blackjack tables as a way to increase their revenue because their edge on the game itself is razor thin. These side bets are cheap; usually, it only costs a buck to make them and they come in all different flavors: Pair Square (bet that you will be dealt a pair); Lucky Ladies (bet that you’re initial hand totals 20); Bonus Blackjack (bet that the dealer or player gets a blackjack), and so on. The problem with these side bets is that the house edge is high and although you might get lucky and win a few side bets, in the long run you’ll be donating a lot of money to the casino coffers by making these bets.