Blackjack is, and has always been, one of the most popular games on the casino floor. It makes sense – the low house edge and easy barrier to entry make it very accessible to play and win.
Most beginners pick up on the basic strategies pretty quickly, and memorizing the fundamentals can be done with just a few hours of practice. For some, however, looking to take their skills to the next level means learning more advanced tactics.
In this article, I’ll lay out a few of the strategies that longtime blackjack players can implement in order to further capitalize on this casino classic.
1 – Bet on Other Players’ Hands
Blackjack differs from poker in that you aren’t playing against the others at the table. The goal is to beat the dealer and collect your winnings, regardless of what the other players do with their hands.
With that being said, you shouldn’t be ignoring other cards on the table. If the opportunity becomes available, you can bet on another player’s hand. Here’s an example:
Let’s assume that you’re sitting next to someone who has a Blackjack, meaning a hand with 3 cards or more that add up to 21. In this scenario, the dealer’s card which is showing is an ace. The dealer may offer the player an even money payout, but you shouldn’t let the other player accept that proposition.
If you can, offer the player the payout plus a dollar, and then you can take over their hand. The reason? Now you can take home more money as long as the dealer doesn’t hit blackjack.
2 – Splitting 10’s When Faced with 5 or 6 from the Dealer
This one can be tough to wrap your head around since it goes against conventional blackjack ways of thinking.
When a player gets dealt two 10s, you would ordinarily not think of splitting. You already have 20, and there are very few ways you can lose the hand. With that being said, there may actually be a time when you should split.
When a dealer is showing a 5 or a 6, your chance of winning if you stand with your 20 is about 85%. This means that you are still very likely to win if you stay with your 20. Keep in mind that you should probably just stick to staying on 20 if you’re a blackjack beginner, but if you want to really take it up a notch, you can make the split.
If you have gained the skill of card counting, you might recognize that the deck still holds many 10s in this scenario, meaning the likelihood of the dealer busting is somewhat high. I will reiterate that this play should only be utilized when you’re sure that the deck is still holding a good amount of 10s.
3 – Use a Variety of Positive and Negative Progression Betting Systems
Even if you’d consider yourself a relatively novice gambler, chances are you’re familiar with, or have at least heard about, various types of betting systems. These systems are designed to help you maximize your efficiency by betting bigger at the right times, and scaling back at the appropriate time as well.
So, what’s the answer to the million dollar question of, “Which system is the best?” Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to answer.
The Martingale system, which involves doubling your bet after every loss, was designed to recover the money you lost in previous trials, while still getting new money on top of it. The reality of the Martingale system, however, is that it assumes you have an endless bankroll and can always stick around until things turn in your favor.
On the flip side, there are other types of betting systems in which you adjust your bet only after a win. These are known as positive progressive betting systems, and they’ve gained much popularity over the past century.
Keep in mind that although these betting systems may feel like they’re adding some additional structure to your strategy, they don’t actually tip the odds in your favor.
4 – On the Question of Insurance
Even novice blackjack players have probably heard plenty of times that taking insurance is always a bad move. Well, I’m here to tell you that isn’t always the case, even though most of the times it’s a reliable way to handle the situation.
One example of a time when it could be beneficial to utilize insurance is when you’re playing a game where only a single deck of cards is being used. Again, having confidence in this play would mean you have to be able to card count and know that you have better options still available in the deck.
Just to give a few examples of when taking insurance with one deck of cards is a good play, when there are 2 hands seen and no 10s, 3 hands seen and no 10s, and 4 hands seen with one 1.
5 – Choose Your Seat Wisely
In order to truly take your game to the next level, you have to consider the probabilities of certain cards showing based on the cards that you are able to see. I wouldn’t necessarily call it card counting, but more common sense. For example, if there are four 10s on the table, obviously the likelihood of seeing another is less than if there were no 10s on the table.
For this reason, I would recommend choosing the anchor seat, or the last seat at the table, in order to see which cards have been given out. It might not be the difference in a successful night or a losing night overall, but it can help you out in being able to predict which cards are still available.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your seat at a casino is that it’s advantageous to sit at a table with more players for the sake of comps. Casinos give out perks to their most loyal players, and one of the ways this is calculated is by looking at the time spent playing at the table.
Because the house does have an edge, statistically you want to play fewer hands and hope you can overcome the house edge. By playing at a table that has more players, you can participate in fewer hands, while still recording a longer playing time. It’s a win-win situation, which is very rare to find at a casino.
6 – Learn How to Count Cards
As you’ve probably noticed while reading this article, the ability to count cards can help you out tremendously. Based on the movies you’ve seen, you might expect card counting is extremely difficult or extremely risky, and probably a combination of both.
While it does take some practice and some brain power, learning how to count cards isn’t as tough as you’re probably thinking. You don’t need to be rain man or an MIT student to learn how to do it effectively.
Card counting is based on a relatively simple hi-low system that can be learned by just about anyone who is willing to put in the time to get good at it. Once you get the basic concept down, you can practice on your own until you feel comfortable.
Now for the issue of legality. Casinos obviously don’t want you to be counting cards, but they also can’t do much to stop you. They can’t police what’s going on inside your head, and unless you’re making it obvious, you should be able to stay under the radar.
Finally, even if you do get caught, which is unlikely, you aren’t breaking any rules. You may be asked to leave the game or the casino, but you won’t face any additional ramifications.
One thing is undeniable – regardless of your skill level, blackjack gives you a great opportunity to grow your bankroll and have a blast doing it. Like anything else, the more you practice, the better you’ll be. If you truly want to hone your skills before stepping into a casino, check out online gaming sites to practice your strategy.
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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