It’s probably safe to say that you have heard of blackjack before, but whether you are great at playing blackjack or not is another story. Playing blackjack has always maintained its place as the popular game of choice in casino’s worldwide and online. Over time, games like poker and the pokies have gained quite the following. Blackjack, however, does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Blackjack is unique and offers many tips and tricks that help players like you to overcome the house edge; at least as much as possible anyway. While the idea of counting cards and being able to beat the house may seem lucrative, the popularity behind blackjack is plain and simple. Playing blackjack is fun.
Now you might think that to be a good blackjack player you need to invest in learning a strategy heavily, but this is not true. With our quick tips and tricks, you can increase your chances of landing a great hand and a nice nest egg without spending hours reading through card counting books.
How to play blackjack
Blackjack is usually played with a four, six, or eight standard 52-card decks. These decks are combined to create the dealer’s shoe, which is also the source of where the cards are drawn from to give players’ their hand in each round. Now, each card in the game of blackjack carries a point value, cards two to ten are worth their face value; kings, queens, and jacks are valued at ten points; and aces can be used as a one or as an eleven.
The way that you win a game of blackjack is by drawing cards from the dealer which add up to a value of 21, without going over, or at the very least to beat the dealer’s hand.
How to win playing blackjack
Now that you are all caught up on the basics of how to play blackjack – read on and make sure to take note of our quick blackjack tips and tricks.
Lookout for fives
In blackjack, each card has a value. This value is the underlying factor in determining what actions you take and their effect on the entire game played from the dealer’s deck.
Card counters are always on the lookout for decks that are stacked with high-value cards. This is because a deck that is loaded with cards on the higher value benefits the player’s chances of drawing winning hands.
Now, if higher value cards are beneficial, then lower value cards are bad news. These lower value cards are great for the dealer. What is useful to know is that the lowest value card with the most significant disadvantage to the player is the five. For every five that is removed from the dealer’s deck, the player will receive an extra 0.67% to their expected return. This might seem small at first but consider multiplying that by the number of fives that are in a dealer’s six-deck shoe, and you’re looking at a significant advantage.
So be sure to keep a lookout for all the fives that are being drawn, the more being removed from the shoe, the better!
When to hit
A hit is your way of asking the dealer for another card. How you notify a ‘hit’ is different, depending on the style of game that you are playing. In hand-held games, players scrape their cards against the table. In face-up games, players can use either a wave of a hand towards their body or tap the table with a finger.
Use the following guidelines as a quick trick for when to hit, depending on what your hand looks like and the dealer’s face-up card:
- If your hand totals eight or 12 through to 16, and the dealer’s face up card is a seven, eight, nine, ten, or ace – hit
- If your hand totals 11, and the dealer’s face up card is an ace – hit and do not double down
- If your hand equals ten, and the dealer’s face up card is a ten – hit and do not double down and
- If your hand equals nine, and the dealer’s face up card is a seven, eight or nine – hit and do not double down.
When to stand
To notify the dealer that you want to stand, you can place your cards under chips in hand-held games; whereas, in face-up games, you must wave your hand horizontally across your cards.
Use the following guidelines as tips for when to stand, depending on what your hand looks like and the dealer’s face-up card:
- If your hand totals 17 or above, no matter what card the dealer has – you always stand
- If your hand equals 13 or above, and the dealer’s face up card is a six or below – stand
- If your hand consists of a splittable pair of 10s or face cards – do not split them, stand.
When to split
A split is a little more complicated. When splitting a pair of cards, you must place a second bet of equal value outside of the betting box while pointing with two fingers in a spread ‘V’ shape.
The dealer will then split the cards and deals an additional card to each new hand, which results in the player using each hand separately.
Our quick “tricks” to split your hand depends on the value of your pair of cards, and the value of the dealer’s face-up card. Consider the following rules to decide when it is best to split your hand:
- Only split a pair of twos or threes if the dealer’s face up card is a four, five, six, or seven
- Never split a pair of fives; either opt to double down, or hit if the dealer’s face up card is a ten or an ace
- Always split sixes and sevens if the dealer’s face up card is a six or below
- Always split a pair of eights – no matter what the dealer’s face up card is showing
- Always split aces if you are allowed.
When to double
Doubling down ‘looks’ as cool as it sounds. To double down, place your added chips next to your original bet and point with one finger, with confidence.
Doubling is a strategy which is generally used when your hand equals nine, ten, or 11, which gives players a good chance of hitting 19 to 20 with either a 10 or a face card. Use these guidelines to determine when to double down on your hand, according to the total value of your cards and the dealer’s face-up card:
- Be sure to double down when your hand has a total of ten – unless the dealer’s face up card is a ten or an ace
- Always double down on an eleven, unless the dealer has an ace
- Always double down on a nine when the dealer’s face up card is a three, four, five, or six.
Consider using a strategy chart to begin
If you are having trouble remembering our quick tips and tricks – you may want to invest in a handy blackjack strategy chart.
A blackjack strategy chart is designed to tell players exactly what moves to make in every possible situation. If you do purchase a chart, beware of player backlash as some of the community have a strong dislike for blackjack strategy charts. This is because they remove the foundations of the game I.e. the “on the fly” decision making.
Before you decide, think of it this way – casinos have the house edge in blackjack because the dealer cannot make decisions. The dealer always follows strict guidelines based on probabilities when playing their hand.
Now, if you as the player tries to use the same strategy, you would be effectively reducing the house edge.
Understand the rules
There are many variants in the game of blackjack today, each with their slight differences in the rules. Some games even have optional side bets and progressive jackpots.
If you decide to try playing a new variation of blackjack, like Perfect Pairs or Super 21, be sure to know all the rules and payouts before getting started.
No, you do not want fries with that
Insurance is the blackjack version of the cashier at Maccas asking “do you want fries with that?” When the dealer draws a face-up card – that is an ace, and the player has the option of purchasing insurance. Now the insurance is a bet which involves putting down half of your original bet in the case the dealer draws a blackjack (a perfect 21). If the dealer does, you will win 2:1 on your insurance bet, covering your loss.
For example, you initially bet $10. The dealer puts up an ace to which you decide to purchase the insurance and place a $5 bet down. Now the dealer draws a king, which makes a clean 21. You get your $10 from your insurance bet but lose the $10 bet you initially placed.
Now, what if the dealer did not draw a 21 you say? If this is the case, you will lose the $5 insurance bet you placed but still have the chance of winning your initial bet if you beat the dealer’s hand.
It seems like a good idea on paper, hedging your bet and all – but the reality is the opposite.
The odds of a dealer having a blackjack are 9:4. This means that out of 130 hands, you would win your insurance bet 40 times and lose it 90 times. So, save money in the long run and skip the insurance.
The not-so-sweet 16
If you thought fives were terrible, check this out about ‘16’.
Blackjack players over the world hate drawing a hand worth 16. It is a value complete with indecision and uncertainty and is full of confidence-shattering second-guessing; should you hit and risk busting over 21? Or should you stand and risk losing to the dealer’s hand?
The problem with 16 is that it is there, but not quite there enough. Whether you have a hard or soft 16, or whether the casino you are playing at has the surrender option. Any serious blackjack player needs to consider their stance on the not-so-sweet 16.
This is a difficult situation and not one that can be decided so quickly, so we recommend going out and doing some significant research into the 16-point hand.
21, 20, and 11
So, it is a given that the best possible hand to receive in blackjack is a perfect 21, and the second-best hand is 20. Thus, the third best hand in blackjack has to be a 19, right?
It might come as a surprise, but the third best hand in blackjack is an 11. This is because when you are dealt a hand with a value of 11, you need a ten to win which makes this hand very favorable.
The 11 is favourable because there are so many opportunities to get a ten, because kings, queens, and jacks all have a value of ten. This means that there are four times as many ten value cards in blackjack than there are any other cards.
As pointed out earlier, provided the dealer’s face-up card is not an ace – you must always double down on 11.
Blackjack card counting is not for the faint-hearted and will take a lot of practice and brain-power to be able to count effectively. Card counting is an old strategy that was used by many professional blackjack players to make the game virtually beatable.
Although it is not hard to learn, it does take some time to master; however, the results are very lucrative.
We suggest that you do a lot of practising before you practice card counting so that you do master it. Although it is not considered illegal, the strategy is disliked by casinos because it removes the house edge and causes the casino to lose money. You will likely find yourself being thrown out or permanently banned from casino’s if security or gaming attendants recognise that you are counting cards.
Remember, card counting does not work for online games of blackjack. This is because after each hand the software re-shuffles the deck.
Play online, it is much cheaper
Playing online blackjack is excellent, and a really enjoyable game without the social aspect of physical casino blackjack. The only downside? It is mostly only relevant to the hardcore players – which means that you cannot count cards because the virtual dealer is drawing from an infinite source of cards.
Playing online will save you a tonne of money in exchange for giving up the social aspects of casinos and blackjack. When it comes to online blackjack, players can reduce their significant overheads that playing at casinos attract, such as the flights, accommodation, food and drink, the parties – the list could probably go on forever.
It makes sense to stay home and set a limit on your funds that you may use for playing blackjack, so why not consider signing up to a casino with online blackjack games like Planet 7 Oz? It’s one of the most favourited casinos to play online blackjack within Australia, with stable servers which perform much better during Aussie peak traffic times.
The bonuses online are worth it
The comfort of playing in your own home isn’t even the best part of playing blackjack online.
Because of the intense competition in the online casino gaming world, players are always going to score sweet bonuses to entice them to join.
Simple tactics like welcome bonuses or free casino chips for returning to the casino after any short hiatus, can net you with huge starting bankrolls up to $100!
You’ve made it through our quick tips and tricks for playing blackjack, now get out into the world and put that newfound knowledge to the test! If you are still unsure where to start, we suggest playing blackjack online for free before you put your hard-earned cash on the line. You can practice playing using ‘fake’ money online with Planet 7 Oz today!