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Blackjack Strategy: Actionable Tips to Help You Win More Hands

Mike Noblin
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Last Updated: May 1st, 2024

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world. No matter what casino you walk into or what casino app you play on, blackjack is certainly going to be one of the games available.

Since there is a drastically lower chance of winning when not employing a strategy, it behooves players of all types to at least learn the basic betting strategy and get familiar with blackjack charts. The basic strategy charts tell you the best mathematical way in which to play any hand that is dealt. For more introductory Blackjack info, check out our Guide to Blackjack Odds.

Ultimately, it takes the guesswork out of standing, hitting, doubling, splitting, or surrendering. A basic strategy can lower the house edge by just 0.5%, depending on the number of decks and the specific rules of the table. While it may not cut the house edge by much, it can stop players from losing more than those not using a strategy.

Different Blackjack Games

There are various blackjack variations available, so it’s important to understand the game you’re playing. Each game has its own strategies and specific strategies for each variation.

Classic Blackjack

This is the most common type of blackjack game, also known as "traditional" or "standard" blackjack. The goal is to beat the dealer by getting a hand value closer to 21 without going over. Some casinos will deal with either a single-deck game or a multi-deck game. This is critical to know if you will be using a basic strategy chart or even counting cards.

European Blackjack

Similar to classic blackjack, but with some differences in rules and gameplay. In European blackjack, the dealer doesn't peek for blackjack until after all players have completed their hands. Just like classic blackjack, the goal is to beat the dealer without going over 21.

Vegas Downtown Blackjack

This version of the game is played with two decks and allows players to double down on any initial bet. It's often found in downtown Las Vegas casinos. You may find this in some online casinos as well.

Atlantic City Blackjack

A popular version of the game is played in Atlantic City casinos. It uses eight decks and allows late surrender, which means players can forfeit half their original bet before seeing the dealer's hole card. There are more to the basic rules of this game, but that's the idea of it.

Pontoon

A variation of blackjack that's popular in Australia and Southeast Asia. In pontoon, both dealer cards are dealt face down and players must hit until they reach a total of at least 15. It's a slight spin-off from classic blackjack and has a few other differences.

Blackjack Charts
 

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Before starting, it is crucial to understand that blackjack is based entirely on player decisions. This is different from just about any other casino game. The decisions that the player makes can have an impact on the outcome of how the hand plays out and can ultimately contribute to the wins or losses of the entire table.

Due to this fact, there are proven strategies out there that give players the best percentages while playing. The goal is to give the player the best odds, helping to not only limit potential losses but also maximize wins.

The basic strategy is based on what the player is dealt in relation to the hand the dealer is showing. Most new blackjack players will operate on gut feeling, which naturally makes them afraid of busting. But a basic strategy can result in the most favorable odds.

In any game, the house has a clear advantage. This is how they turn a profit. Blackjack, though, has one of the lowest house edges among casino games, which is why so many players try to master it. If you're needing a good site for Blackjack, check out our favorite live dealer apps.

The average house edge is roughly 0.5% when a player uses the perfect basic strategy. This means that for every $100 you bet, the casino is expecting to win roughly $0.50 over an infinite number of hands. The basic strategy is a sound one for any new player, but it does require you to have a understanding of blackjack strategy charts. Preferably, if you can memorize the blackjack strategy chart you can definitely take your blackjack game to the next level.

While this isn't the perfect blackjack strategy, there are more advanced strategies as well such as the card counting strategy and various betting strategies.

Advanced Blackjack Strategies

For anyone who has casino experience, there is no doubt that you have heard of card counting. This is a system in which a positive expectation can be gained while also putting the house edge in favor of the player. It is not illegal, per se, but most casinos will show you the door as it can result in serious winnings.

What is Card Counting?

Basically, card counting is a form of tracking system where players with strong memories can keep track of the cards that have already been dealt. In most casinos, the game is dealt from a shoe, meaning there are only a certain number of cards that can be in play each round. Over time, it is possible to get an idea of what cards are remaining and then adjust the betting strategy accordingly.

The majority of counting systems use -1, 0, and +1 to assign a value to each card in the deck. Face cards and aces are -1, cards 7, 8, and 9 are neutral, or 0, and 2-6 are given a value of +1. As the cards are dealt, the player tracks the count using this system to try to get an overall picture of what is left in the shoe.

Since there are multiple decks in play at a time, the player divides the running count by the number of decks that they believe may be left; this is what forms the true count. The system takes a lot of practice to get down, but it has proven to be an advantage.

Misconceptions About Card Counting

There is a major misconception when it comes to card counting, and that is that only extremely skilled math wizards are smart enough to pull it off. Both poker and blackjack players are often asked a plethora of questions about counting cards, as well as whether it really is workable or even legal.

In reality, card counting is a variation of the basic strategies. There is no necessary photographic memory or math prowess. It is a skill that players can master, but the difficult part is not getting kicked out when using them in person.

That said, card counting can be used online because the consequences aren’t the same.

This means that players can be at an advantage over the house, experiencing more wins than losses. This means knowing when/ the odds are in the player’s favor, which can lead to bigger bets, which is ultimately how big wins happen.

Martingale Betting System

This could be considered a blackjack basic strategy. However, you have to be an advanced player to pull it off. Here's why.

Martingale betting system isn't used solely in blackjack but also in other casino games as well. This system is based on the idea that you double your wager after each loss and then continue doubling until you eventually win. The aim of this strategy is to recoup all previous losses plus end up with a profit.

For example, let's say you're at the blackjack table. You bet $10 and lost. For the next wager, you would double it to $20. If you win, you'll get your initial $10 back plus an additional $10 in profits.

It's important to note that this betting strategy is based on probability, not absolute certainty. It doesn't guarantee a win and can actually be risky if you don't have enough money to continuously double your bets or the foundation of one of the other blackjack strategies.

Essentially, you have to know you're going to win at some point, and if you play blackjack enough, you will have a good idea of when you should use the Martingale system.

Paroli Betting System

There are really two parts to playing blackjack - betting and playing the hand. That's why we consider some of these betting systems blackjack strategies. The Paroli betting system, however, is a lot like the Martingale, but instead of increasing your bets after a loss, you increase them after a win.

This strategy is based on taking advantage of streaks and removes the betting decision-making process from the equation. You just focus on playing the hand.

For example, if you start with a $5 bet and win, you will increase your wager to $10. If the next hand is won, increase it to $20. You keep doing this until you reach a predetermined amount or lose. Let's say your predetermined number of hands is three, then you restart the progression. So you make it to $40, win or lose, and then go back to your original $5 bet.

The advantage of the Paroli system is that it lessens the risk of losing your bankroll quickly since you don't have to continually increase your bets after each loss.

It doesn't really change the odds of you beating the house, but it's one of the best blackjack strategies for beginners because it takes the guesswork out of betting decisions.

Blackjack Chart

Now that you have an understanding of some of the basic blackjack strategies, you are ready to take on the house. Be sure to download your basic blackjack strategy chart, know the rules (i.e., dealer stands on soft/hard 17, surrender options, insurance bet, etc.), and pick an online casino with great bonuses and fun games.

Blackjack is an exciting game and with the right strategy, you can make it even more thrilling. Without further ado, here is our handy Blackjack strategy chart that can give you a basic strategy to build off of:

Blackjack Strategy Chart

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