Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in casinos around the world. And the chances of winning at this game depend on different factors. However, there is something that can increase your chances of winning at blackjack online — it is recommended to apply a “basic strategy” to increase your chances of winning.
What is blackjack?
It is a gambling card game popular in casinos around the world. The rules of blackjack are simple and the possible winnings are large. The guest is always against the dealer, that is, against the casino, not against other players. This greatly reduces the chance of gaining an advantage, as the organiser will never remain at a disadvantage in the distance.
However, skilful blackjack players know a way to win against the casino or at least lose minimally.
This game has a long history. Ever since it became popular, players have been pondering the best strategy. Edward O. Thorpe, a professor of mathematics from the USA, was the first to present its optimal variant in 1962. Since then, it has not changed much. The strategy is summarised in an easy-to-understand table containing a column with the player’s hand, the dealer’s card, and the options.
Basic table of draw options
To read the table of optimal solutions for blackjack, you need to understand the decoding of the letters. They are located at the intersections of rows and columns and give recommendations on how to act during the release of this or that card:
- H (Hit) – take a new card;
- S (Stay) – don’t take any more;
- D (Double) – the bet should be doubled;
- Ds (Double or Stay) – if the rules allow, double, if not, then stop;
- P (Split) – Split the pair and continue the buy-in;
- H/P (Hit or Split) – split the cards, if the rules allow doubling after a split, if not, you should take more;
- S/P (Stay or Split) – if the rules allow doubling the bet after a split, it is recommended to split. Otherwise you should stop;
- D/P (Split or Double) – if the rules allow doubling the bet after splitting, you should split, otherwise you should double the bet.
- H/R (Hit or Surrender) – it is recommended to surrender for half the bet, if it is allowed by the rules. Otherwise it is better to take another card;
- S/R (Stay or Surrender) – it is recommended to surrender for half a bet, if it is allowed by the rules, otherwise it is necessary to stop.
The user makes a bet of the desired size and receives a pair of cards. The dealer also has two cards at his disposal, but one of them is closed. The player’s task is to get a blackjack (a combination of an ace and any other card worth 10 points) or to score more points than the dealer. It is important not to exceed the amount of 21 points, as this is considered an overcall and results in the loss of the bet.
After the cards are dealt, it is time to use one of the game strategies. This will help you to correctly assess your chances and understand what to do next to win.
Basic Strategy Rules: Examples
Below are some examples of how to correctly apply basic blackjack strategy:
- Situation 1: The dealer shows his first card of two, three, four, five or six. He is likely to lose: according to the rules of blackjack, the dealer must take cards until he has 17 points or more. And the probability of the dealer buying a picture or a ten (a card with ten points) is quite high, they are the most in the deck.
- Player’s actions: In adherence to the fundamental principles of the basic strategy, if the dealer reveals a card ranging from two to four, players holding eleven points or less are advised to acquire additional cards without surpassing a total of twelve or more. On the other hand, when the dealer presents a card between five and six, it is recommended for players with ten or eleven points to consider the option of doubling their initial wager.
- Situation 2: The dealer shows his first card with a seven, eight, nine or ten. In the end he is likely to score seventeen, eighteen, nineteen or twenty points.
- Player Actions: In this situation, the player should score more points than the dealer when the dealer shows a ten. For example, if the dealer showed a seven, the player needs to score seventeen points even or more.
- Situation 3: Sometimes, regardless of the dealer’s open card, players do not buy in on 12-15 points for fear of overcalling. They prefer to stop at 12 against 7 or 13 against 8.
- Player Actions: According to fundamental blackjack tactics, it is advisable to draw an additional card, regardless of any potential errors in doing so. This rule, however, does not apply if we employ the plus-minus strategy to count cards and our actual score is in the positive range. In such a scenario, the likelihood of receiving a ten becomes considerably high, allowing us to decline any further card draws.
- Situation 4: At some point the player decides that the casino creators are not fools and that the dealer’s strategy is perfect. He starts following the same rules: he takes cards up to 17 and does not stop even at 16 points.
- Player’s actions: When the dealer shows cards from 2 to 6, the chances of winning are reduced. In other cases (7, 8, 9, 10 and Ace) the strategy of taking as many (dealer’s card + 10) or more points is statistically justified. It also makes sense to take a card at 16 points.
Counting the cards that have come out
The principle of counting is simple – you should assign a value of -1 to low cards and +1 to high cards. High cards increase the player’s chance of winning. If, after counting, a person concludes that there are still a lot of high cards in the deck, then you can continue to increase the stakes to win as much as possible in case of victory.
Combining a card counting strategy and a decision table helps one win more often. It is also important to eradicate the major mistakes that almost all beginners make.
Usually people do not rely on serious mathematical calculations, but are guided by intuition. Let’s list the main mistakes of blackjack players:
- Failure to top up. Numerous individuals exhibit an excessive level of prudence when it comes to their gameplay. Upon acquiring a hand consisting of 12-16 points, they promptly cease any further efforts to fortify their position due to a prevailing apprehension of making excessive calls. However, it is crucial to recognize that this approach is inherently disadvantageous. Notably, it grants the casino a distinct advantage, bolstering their edge by 4%.
- Trying to copy the dealer’s style of play. You should not do this, because he works for the casino and gets paid. The dealer does not lose or win in blackjack. A player who tries to copy the croupier’s behaviour deprives himself of the possibility of doubling and splitting cards. Because of this, the casino’s advantage increases to 5.5 per cent;
- Constant acceptance of insurance. Whenever the dealer is dealt an ace as their first card, players are consistently presented with an option for blackjack insurance. This particular offering serves to benefit the casino, escalating their advantage to a heightened 7.5%.
- Fear of a hidden ten at the dealer. There is a common apprehension among individuals that the dealer’s concealed cards in blackjack are inevitably going to be a ten (represented by T, J, Q, or K). As a result, players frequently engage in daring purchases by aiming for scores of 17-18 points and beyond. This baseless fear significantly boosts the casino’s advantage to an unprecedented 10 percent.