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Blackjack Strategy Guide – Learn to Win More Often

  • Written By Kevin Parker
  • Edited
  • Reading 8 minutes

It goes without saying that blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in existence. It is useful knowing a solid blackjack strategy as the game is massively popular across online and land-based casinos worldwide.

Not many other games can match up to the simplicity of this game and the affordability it offers. Whether you are playing for fun or as a professional, blackjack is a great option for you.

Everyone wants to win when gambling and this game offers gamblers one of the best chances of achieving just that. Not only is the game easy to play and has a very low house edge, but players can use strategies to better their odds.

This guide intends to open doors for you by equipping you with the following:

  • Knowledge about the basics of blackjack.
  • The strategies that could help you win more often.

What Is Blackjack?

If you are new to the game, you will have to understand what exactly it is about. Let’s kick off with that.

Blackjack is essentially the American version of Twenty-One or 21, a popular banking game that is played all around the world.

Just like other banking games, blackjack involves the comparison of cards between a dealer and one or more players.

What you need to play blackjack
The items you will commonly see on a Blackjack table

It is played with a conventional deck consisting of 52 cards and suits do not matter. While the game was traditionally played with a single deck of cards, players can now play some multi-deck games in multiple casinos.

The requirements to play the game is a table, chips, a shoe*, a discard tray, and a cut card**.

** The cut card, is used to prove that the dealer could not have rigged the deck of cards being used in the game.

* The shoe is usually used to hold large stacks of cards in multi-deck blackjack games.

Naturally, since you are playing against the dealer at the blackjack tables, the objective is to beat the dealer. This you can do by:

  • Drawing a hand value total that is higher than the total value of the dealer’s hand,
  • Not going over 21 when the dealer draws a hand whose value exceeds 21, and
  • Drawing a hand value of 21 on your first two cards before the dealer does.

It is literally that simple. As long as you keep these rules in mind then your going to have some fun.

The Basics of Blackjack

To begin a round of a blackjack game, the players will need to buy chips to be used at the table.

Once the players has their chips, they are required to kick off the round by placing their bets in the designated position on the table – this can be a circle, a square, or even a casino logo. Once that is done the cards are dealt.

How to Deal Blackjack

The dealer, after shuffling the cards, will deal the players two cards each – this could be face up or face down depending on the casino or the table.

How to Deal Blackjack
Always deal cards in a clockwise direction

In a shoe game table, for instance, the cards are dealt face up and the players cannot touch their cards. In a regular single-card deck, two cards are dealt face up to each player in a clockwise manner.

The dealers then deal themselves one face-up card and one face down card – this face down card is known as the “hole card”.

The Gameplay

In case the dealer has an ace showing, they will offer an “insurance” which is essentially a side bet. These insurance wagers are always optional and they cannot exceed half of the original bet.

The players can then begin to play their hands beginning with the one who is seated to the dealer’s left.

This is as simple as adding up the card values after which they will have to choose their next move.

Available Moves in Blackjack

  • Standing – The player receives no more cards and instead waits to see the dealer’s hand.
  • Hitting – The player requests another card which will hopefully bring them closer to 21 without going over.
  • Insurance – If the dealer’s exposed card turns out to be an ace.
  • Doubling – Here, the player is allowed to double their stake after the first two cards have been dealt. It often depends on the casino and the variant of blackjack that you are playing.
  • Splitting – Players get to split their hand into two hands in case they are dealt two cards of the same value.
  • Surrendering – Some blackjack games allow players to surrender after the first cards have been dealt. They lose half of their bet and wait for the next round to play again.

Once every player has played, the dealer’s cards are revealed and whoever beats the dealer has their winnings paid out.

In case the value of the player’s cards exceeds 21 as per the rules of the game, they will bust and lose the bet.

In case the player is lucky to have cards, whose value adds up to exactly 21, that player will win the round – the dealer’s cards do not matter in such a case.

Finally, in case the outcome is that the value of the player’s and the dealer’s cards are the same, it will be a tie and the player will get their bet back.

There are some basic rules pertaining to payouts that players should keep in mind:

  • The regular wins will pay 1:1
  • The blackjack wins (landing a card value of 21) will pay 3:2.

Dealer Rules

Before I proceed, it is important to note that a different set of rules applies to the dealers in a game of blackjack.

To begin with, the dealer does not have any playing options, unlike the blackjack players. Moreover, the dealer is required by casino rules to draw in case their hand’s total value is less than 17.

In case the total value of their hand is in the range of 17 to 21, they must stand.

Blackjack Strategy: Know Your Card Values

In a game of blackjack, all the number cards (2-10) are ranked according to their face value.

Blackjack Strategy Card Values
Learn the values of each card you hold

Any ace in the deck of cards will be valued at either 1 or 11. Aces are always assumed to have a value of 11 unless ranking it that way will result in the total hand value going over 21 aces – if this is the case, its value reverts to 1.

A hard hand is any hand that either does not have an ace or even if it does, the ace’s value has been reverted to 1. The hand where the ace’s value is counted as 11 is known as a soft hand.

All the picture cards, that is the king, queen, and jack, are valued at 10. The suits, as mentioned earlier, are all meaningless in this game.

To calculate the total value of any given hand, all you need to do is add up the sum of the value of each of the cards in your hand. It is imporant to remember card vaules when playing your blackjack strategy and adjust accordingly.

How to Win at Blackjack – Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack might be a casino game but unlike most other games you would find in a casino, it involves skill. As such, players can employ some strategies to get by when playing this game.

There are plenty of blackjack strategies ranging from the very basic to the more complex ones. While most of these do not guarantee your absolute win, they certainly will make the gaming experience more rewarding.

The most useful basic blackjack strategy that you will need at the tables is pair splitting. This is a great way of turning a losing hand into a winning hand and reduces the potential losses where winning is impossible.

For instance, while you should never split a pair of low-value cards as they will double your chances of hitting a loss, it is always advisable to split a pair of aces.

Another useful tip is hitting any hand whose value totals no more than 11 and stand on any hand whose value is over 17.

Blackjack Strategy Chart
Learn when you should hit, stand or double

A blackjack strategy chart will be very useful in helping you figure out the value of your hand and how to deal with any particular strategy.

Card Counting – The Taboo Blackjack Strategy

This is a very controversial concept and many casinos do not allow it. However, it is not explicitly considered to be illegal and some casinos will not be on your neck for employing these tactics.

Card counting refers to the situation where the players memorise cards that have been dealt already. This allows them to determine the ones that are remaining in the deck.

My Final Thoughts on Blacjack Strategy

If you have come this far then you have all that it takes to kick off your blackjack adventure. You might come across several different variants of the game in your searches but the basics will be the same across the board.

Regardless of the variation you play, rest assured your in for a action-packed gaming experience that will test your skills.

Kevin was raised on sports since a young teen and following a (fortunate) injury pursued new hobbies in table games such as Blackjack and Poker. Since 2009 Kevin has been writing for casino sites for various big names in the industry and CasinoSites.us is but one of his latest passion projects.