Winning at Blackjack: 5 Basic Steps that Will Guarantee Your Success
Jun 3, 2014
The key to winning at blackjack is learning the correct moves for every combination of cards dealt to you and the dealer.
Back in the 1960s, Dr. Edward Oakley Thorp wrote a book on how to bring the house advantage down and increase your chances of winning at blackjack. Things have changed a lot since then and today we have access to computer-designed strategy charts, tested and proven to be the most efficient.
But before you start studying complicated 4 or 6 deck blackjack strategy charts, there are a few basic rules you should know about and this is what we’re going to talk about in this article. Learning about the dos and don’ts of blackjack is absolutely essential, because your success will largely depend on your acquired knowledge and skills.
If you want to win at blackjack, you have to start with the groundwork and then move on to more complicated tricks, such as card counting systems. So let’s get down to the basics of blackjack:
1. Hard Hands
It takes a lot of time to learn every move written in a strategy charts by heart, but here is a simpler way to put it: when your hard hand totals 5 to 8, you hit regardless of what the dealer’s up card is; for a total of 9, you should always double if the dealer has 2 through 6 and hit if he has 7 through Ace; if your hard hand totals 10, double against a dealer’s 2 through 9 and if your total is 11, double against 2 through 10.
For all hands totaling 12 to 16, hit if the dealer has 7 through Ace, otherwise stand. If you have a hard 17 or more, your best option is to stand.
2. Soft Hands
A soft hand is when you have an Ace. What’s great about this card is that it can count as either 1 or 11 points, so you can use it to your advantage. So if your card total 13 to 15 and you have an Ace, you should always hit. For a hand totaling 16 or 17, the correct move is to double against a dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
If you have18 points, you should make the following moves: double if the dealer has 2 to 6, stand if he has 7 or 8 and hit if he has 9, 10 or an Ace. Always stand if your hand is worth 19 or higher.
3. When to split
In blackjack, splitting can be a great way to turn a bad hand into a winning situation. When you’re dealt a matching pair of cards, you’ll be allowed to split them and play two separate hands. This doesn’t mean you should always do it, though.
Here’s what you should know about splitting: always split Aces and 8s; never do it when you have 4s, 5s or 10s. You should also split 9s in most cases, except when the dealer has a 7, 10 or an Ace. For pairs or 2s, 3s, 6s and 7s, the correct move depends on the dealer’s up card. If he has 2 through 7, you should split; hit 6s and 7s if he has 7 through Ace.
Here is a video explaining basic blackjack strategy:
While most gambling venues allow you to bring your strategy chart and use it at the table, it’s best to memorize the correct moves for each situation. You can do this by practicing at home until you’ve learned them properly.
The difference between a professional blackjack player and an amateur is that pros know how to manage their bankroll. If you have a good hand and you’re winning, you can increase your bets; lower your wagers when you have a bad hand to minimize your losses. Don’t forget that you’re in control and you decide when it’s time to quit. Also remember to tip the dealer to show him you appreciate his hard work.
5. …and don’ts
Taking insurance is almost never a good idea. You should only do it when you’re at a table with several players and none of them has a 10. Most casinos allow you to surrender when you have a bad hand. This means you’ll only lose half of your initial bet. Use this options except when your hand totals 15 points and the dealer has a 10, or when you have 16 points and he has a 9, 10 or Ace.
Keep in mind that the most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and stay positive. Of course, blackjack is much more fun when you’re winning, but a healthy attitude is essential. If you enjoy heading down to the casino on a regular basis to play this exciting card game, ask the casino staff about their Player’s Club and loyalty programs. It will pay off in the long run.
But before you actually head to the casino, we recommend that you practice at home, preferably on free online blackjack sites or using free blackjack training software. You will feel much more confident if you sit down at the table knowing all the correct moves and this is the only way you can be successful at this game.
Tags: 6 deck blackjack strategy charts, basic blackjack strategy, Card-counting systems, Edward Oakley Thorp, hard hands, how to play blackjack, soft hands, when to split in blackjack, winning at blackjack