How to Play Blackjack Basic Strategy

Posted in: Blackjack Tips

Blackjack Tournaments at Casino Tours Abroad

We have already looked at some of the most misplayed hands in blackjack in a previous post, now we are going to offer some further tips on how to play blackjack basic strategy.

How do you play blackjack?

The object of the game of blackjack is to either get 21 points on the first two cards dealt (known as a blackjack), score higher than the dealer without going over 21, or to stand on a number lower than 21, but greater than 12, leaving the dealer to draw cards exceeding 21.

What is the basic blackjack player strategy?

The basic blackjack player strategy tells you the mathematically correct way to play any player hand versus any dealer up-card. It looks something like this:


Click to enlarge

Any good blackjack player will memorise this basic strategy, because once you’ve memorised this you can cut the house advantage down to about 0.28%.

How is the casino’s advantage determined?

The casino gets it advantage because the player has to act first and if both the player and the dealer bust, the player still loses.

How do rule variations affect the casinos advantage?

Rules have a lot to do with the house advantage in blackjack. They can vary significantly from casino to casino and even table to table. The most important thing a player should look for, is that they pay 3/2 on a blackjack. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter what the other rules are, find another table.

How does the number of decks affects the player odds?

The number of decks is important because the fewer number of decks, the better the odds for the player. However casinos know that players know this, so they will try offering the players single deck games that only pay 6/5 on hitting blackjack. In that instance it would be better to play a game with more decks that pays 3/2 on a blackjack. So pay more attention to what the casino is paying on a blackjack, rather than how many decks they are using.

Does it matter where I sit at the blackjack table?

It makes absolutely no mathematical difference to the odds where you sit at the blackjack table. What the other players are doing makes no difference at all to the odds of you winning. Neither does it make any difference to the odds if you are playing at a full table compared to an empty table. However if you want to minimise your expected loss, then it’s better to play at a full table because there will be less hands played per hour.

Should I use a progressive betting system?

The most popular progressive betting system is called the ‘Martingale’. Which is the process of doubling your bet every time you lose. So if you start with a £1 bet and lose, you’ll then bet £2. If you lose again you’ll then bet £4, if you lose that you’ll bet £8 and so on, until you win. If you eventually win on a £16 bet but previously lost your £8, £4, £2 and £1 bet which equal £15 then the maths says that you will always win £1 for every win. The problem arises when, by the law of averages, you don’t hit a win and keep doubling your bets again and again until you go bust. That is the day that you pay back the casino everything that you’ve won.

Should I take insurance?

Never take insurance, the house advantage on this is 7.7%! Even if the dealer has an ace showing, its still a lousy bet to make.

Can I be a long term winner at blackjack using basic strategy?

You cannot overcome the house advantage using basic strategy alone. However, once you factor in complementaries, invitations and other pleasantries that the casino have provided to you for playing then can still come out ahead.

Source: Michael “Wizard of Odds” Shackleford & American Casino Guide

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Hayley Reeve

Hayley Reeve is a digital content marketer for Casino Tours Abroad. In her spare time she can usually be found at the "Texas Hold 'em" poker tables.

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