As a new blackjack player the odds are high that you’re going to lose too much money. But you can improve your results by learning from a few simple tips.
I’ve put together 11 simple tips for amateur blackjack players. Even if you’ve been playing blackjack for a while, if your results aren’t as good as you’d like you can learn how to improve using these tips.
Start with the basics and build on them. Work your way up to strategy, and then take the final step and learn how to have a realistic chance of beating blackjack.
1 – What the Rules Mean
This might seem simple, but this article is for amateur blackjack gamblers. You have to learn what all of the rules mean and how they work. Do you know the difference between a hard and soft hand? Do you know how to split or double down?
Do you know how insurance works? Do you know what qualifies as a natural blackjack and what is just 21?
Start with the bare basic rules. It won’t take you long to learn them, but you have to understand everything about the game and the rules.
I recommend playing for a while at the free blackjack that casinos offer. This is the best way to learn everything about how blackjack plays in a safe environment where you’re not risking any money.
2 – 3 to 2 over 6 to 5
When you receive an ace and a 10 to king as your first 2 cards you have a natural blackjack. This hand pays more than 1 to 1 like the other times you win. But it doesn’t pay the same at every blackjack table.
The 2 most common payments for a blackjack are 3 to 2 and 6 to 5. 1 of these is good for you and the other is terrible.
3 to 2 has always been the normal blackjack payment. But casinos decided to try to make more money so they started using 6 to 5 on some tables. And they still found players willing to take the lower payment.
Don’t play blackjack anywhere that doesn’t pay at least 3 to 2. Never use a 6 to 5 table.
3 – Dealer Stands or Hits on a Soft 17
Blackjack dealers have a set of rules about how they have to play their hand. You need to understand these rules to help you make smart playing decisions.
Dealer rules are simple. And there are only 2 sets of rules that you need to understand. The only difference between the 2 sets of rules is whether the dealer hits a hand with a soft 17 or stands on a hand with a soft 17.
Other than this difference, dealers always stand on a 17 or above and hit a 16 or below.
4 – Insurance Is Always a Bad Bet
At times the dealer offers you the chance to take insurance on your hand. This is only available when the dealer has an ace.
Insurance costs half your original bet and pays 2 to 1 when the dealer gets a blackjack. The first bet loses and the second bet wins when the dealer has blackjack, so you break even on the hand against a dealer blackjack.
You might be wondering why the title of this section is insurance is always a bad bet? It sounds pretty good to break even when the dealer gets a blackjack.
That part of the equation is good, but you have to consider what happens when the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack. When this happens, which it does happen 9 out of every 13 times, you lose the insurance bet. And then you play the original hand like you always do.
Taking insurance costs you money in the long run. It doesn’t save you money. This is why insurance is always a bad bet.
5 – Know When to Split Pairs
When you play blackjack you need to take advantage of the rules when they’re in your favor. If you get a pair of the same rank of cards you have the option to split them and play with 2 hands.
Sometimes it’s profitable to split pairs and sometimes it’s not profitable. You need to learn when it’s best to split pairs and when it’s best to play it as 1 hand. You can learn the best way to play pairs by following the advice in section 10 in this article.
6 – Know When to Double Down
This is another option when you play real money blackjack that can be profitable if you know when to do it. You can double down, which means you double your bet and receive 1 card.
When you have an advantage it’s smart to get twice as much money in play. But you have to be careful, because if you double your bet when you don’t have an advantage it costs you more money.
The number of decks the casino uses when they deal blackjack influences the return to player percentage. It doesn’t make a huge difference, but you need every little bit of help you can get.
The good news is that you don’t have to know anything complicated. The basic rule about number of decks is the lower the number of decks the casino uses, the higher the return to player percentage.
A single deck game is the best, and an 8 deck shoe is the worst. This doesn’t mean you can’t play a shoe game, but if you have a choice and the other rules are the same you should choose the game with fewer decks.
8 – A Simple Odds Lesson
Everything that you do at the blackjack table involves odds. So it’s helpful if you understand how odds work. How can you use odds when you play blackjack?
Here’s a Quick Example:
If you have a 6 and a 5, you have a total of 11. In this situation you’re either going to double down or hit. You can determine how likely you are to get a good total with your next card using your knowledge of a deck of card.
A 10 to king gives you a total of 21. A 9 gives you 20. An 8 gives you 19, a 7 gives you 18, and a 6 gives you 17. This means that 8 cards give you a good hand. Since there are only 13 possible cards, this means that 8 out of 13 cards are good. Looking at it a different way, the ratio of good to bad cards is 8 to 5.
9 – Side Bet Opportunities
Do you remember learning that insurance is a bad bet in an earlier section? While it doesn’t look like it; the fact is that insurance is a side bet. And all side bets have something in common. All side bets are bad because they make you lose more money in the long run.
The best way to play blackjack, or any other casino game, is to decline all side wager opportunities.
10 – Practice Strategy Until You Memorize It
All of the tips you’ve learned so far are important, but the most important tip in this article is in this section. You can learn how to make decisions while playing blackjack that improve your chance of winning.
When you combine all of the correct decisions it forms something called strategy. Strategy shows you the best way to play any hand at the blackjack table. And when you always play your hands the best way you have the highest return to player percentage you can get.
Pick up a strategy card for blackjack and practice with it until you have all of the correct plays memorized.
11 – Advance to a Simple Count as Soon as Possible
Once you understand all of the tips in this article and have strategy memorized, it’s time to take the next step. Using the tips you just learned and strategy give you a high return to player percentage at the blackjack table, but you’re still going to lose.
You can learn how to use a simple card counting strategy to make the odds even better. In fact, with enough practice you can overcome the odds and win a little more than you lose.
Don’t worry about doing this until you understand the other 10 tips on this page, but as soon as you do understand all of them you need to learn more about card counting.
After you learn about all of the blackjack rules, strategy is the most important thing you need to learn about. Once you get the best strategy memorized it covers almost all of the other important tips in this article.
Once you become a perfect strategy blackjack player you can take another step and learn a simple counting method. If you can master a counting system you have a real chance to be a winning blackjack player.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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