A Blackjack Guide For Improving Your Skills: How To Become Better At Blackjack

Blackjack is easy to learn, but can be difficult to master. Fortunately, there are several key points you should know in order to better understand this legendary casino game.

Blackjack easily belongs in the category of the four most popular casino games along with roulette, baccarat and poker, and as such, it is absolutely quintessential to understand what this game requires in order to be successful. One of the biggest misconceptions about blackjack is that the only viable strategy to succeed is to make sure that the cards don’t surpass 21. Well, seasoned blackjack players would definitely disagree with this claim, considering that they perfectly understand that this game requires much more than just knowing how to count to 21. For this reason, we decided to create a quick guide in order to help the average blackjack player greatly improve his skills, and consequently his chances of winning.

Choosing The Right Table

First of all, you cannot expect to have a successful blackjack session and improve your skills if you play at the wrong table. This means that you should always take extra precautions so that you don’t end up playing one of the dozens of variations of blackjack. Especially since there are quite a few blackjack variations that are not exactly as advantageous as you would think.

For example, you should know not to play at tables that pay 6-5, or even worse than that, 1-1. Consequently, you should always opt for 3-2 payout blackjack, and you can easily notice whether this is the right blackjack variation with just one glance at the canvas. If that information is not visible anywhere on the table, nor it is present in the rules, then do not hesitate to ask the dealer/croupier.

Land-based blackjack tables also come with certain perils, especially when the table works with a continuous shuffle machine. This means that the dealer uses the same deck of cards for each game, whilst putting the same old deck of cards over and over in the continuous shuffle machine. As a result, you should always make sure to play at tables where the croupier uses a classic automatic card shuffler or manually shuffles the card deck himself.

Lastly, but definitely not least, is choosing the type of blackjack game based on the number of decks. A general rule of thumb when it comes to blackjack is that the games with two decks are simply more advantageous than blackjack variations that feature six, or eight decks for example. Yet, when it comes to this particular game, even two deck blackjack tables can be an exception to this case, which is why it is crucial to always read the rules of the table before indulging in play.

For that matter, take a look at some of the most important rules you need to mind when choosing the next blackjack table:

Surrender rule
  • Dealer stands at soft 17
  • 3-2 payout ratio
  • Aces Re-split
  • Double of any two cards (including after split)

Furthermore, when It comes to rules that give an advantage to the house, or rules that drastically increase the House Edge, you should always avoid blackjack tables that have a 6-5 payout ratio or worse, use multiple card decks, allow for limited card doubling, and that allows for the dealer to hit the soft 17. When it comes to blackjack, the house edge is almost exclusively about 0.5%, with this number varying depending on the variation of the game.

If you happen to have trouble finding out the house edge of that particular blackjack table, the best course of action is to use a designated blackjack calculator. This is a very helpful tool that many of the seasoned blackjack players use in order to accurately determine the advantage of the house, and as such, it should be one of the go-to tools in your blackjack skill set.

Strategy

Needless to say, employing the right blackjack strategy is absolutely imperative in order to have a successful gaming session, and eventually improve your overall blackjack skills. For that matter, there are two most frequently used strategies in blackjack, which are also one of the most efficient as well. These are the basic strategy and card counting.

From here, by far the most frequently used blackjack strategy is the basic strategy, being that it uses mathematical win probability in any particular situation. Moreover, this strategy comes with a detailed table that features 550 different game combinations that you can use to make the right decision. However, you still need to have in mind that each combination will vary depending on the number of packages the game uses, or even the general rules of the blackjack game itself.

Have a look at some of the most important basic rules that many blackjack experts successfully employ to work in their favour:

Hard hand rules:

  • Between 5 and 8 – always draw another card
  • 9 – always double if the dealer draws 2-6; anything above 7 goes for draw
  • 10 if the dealer draws 2 to 9 go double
  • 11 if the dealer draws 2 to 10 go double
  • Between 12 and 16 – if the dealer draws 7 to ace go for a draw, if not stand
  • Between 17 and 21 – Stand

Soft hand rules:

  • Between 12 and 15 – always draw another card
  • Between 16 and 17 – always double if the dealer draws 2-6, if not draw
  • 18 – always double if the dealer draws 2-6; on 7-8 stand; 9, 10 or ace go for a draw
  • 19-21 – Stand

Splitting Cards:

  • Avoid splitting 4, 5 or 10s
  • Split 2s, 3s, 6s and 7s  when the house draws 2-6
  • Draw 6s and 7s if the house draws 7 or more
  • Always split 8s and aces
Card Counting

Counting cards is the other popular way to win at this game, albeit this one requires a bit more effort than the basic blackjack strategy. While this method is completely legal (as long as you don’t use gadgets or other conspirators), counting cards is also one of the most difficult techniques to master. As such, it demands nothing but sheer determination and high levels of concentration if you wish to unleash the full potential of this strategy. Yet, once done, this is definitely the best way to permanently improve your blackjack skills.

The art of counting cards is mainly used to determine how many high cards are left in the deck. This is because the croupiers at blackjack are instructed never to draw above 17 and always below 17. This automatically makes the cards between 1 to 5 the ones that are most important for the dealer. 

Another disadvantage for the dealer is that, unlike the player, he is not able to either split or double, and eventually get paid the same as he would have with an equal bet. This is why whenever you and the dealer both hit 20, the player always ends up having the edge.

However, this doesn’t mean that counting cards will give you an advantage in each hand. Speaking from a statistical analysis standpoint, the rate of success for this method to succeed is around 44%. When it comes to you and the dealer both hitting 20s, you will have a 1% edge over the casino house in the long run. In certain instances, like playing individual hands, for example, this advantage can reach up to 5%.

Avoid Insurance

While insurance does sound like a smart idea and a fool-proof way to save some funds, the truth is, in the long run, taking insurance is rather counter-productive. This is because each time you opt-out for insurance, you lose a small, but in the long run, a rather substantial amount from your balance, being that you are paying for the return from the said insurance.

In addition, at certain online casinos that have live blackjack tables, the game may offer you blackjack insurance, in case the dealer draws an ace, i.e. hits a blackjack. On paper, this certainly makes sense. In practice, on the other, the chances of the dealer hitting a blackjack are far smaller than the chances of you spending a big amount from your gaming funds in the long run.

Conclusion

While there is no 100% guarantee whatsoever when it comes to successfully determining the right outcome for each hand, these rules will only serve to help you improve your blackjack skills, and hopefully, tailor your own unique style, and consequently a strategy. Just make sure that you don’t go over your budget, and that you do not let your emotions get the best of you. It is, after all, only a game.

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