Blackjack is, on the face of it, one of the simplest games you can play at a casino. The basic gameplay is incredibly easy to understand: you want to score as close to 21 as possible. Your opponent, the dealer, must show you one of their initial cards, and from this information, you need to judge what your next move should be. You don’t have to do as much tactical thinking as you would if playing poker, though you retain more control than you would if playing Baccarat; Blackjack forms a nice halfway house, helping to secure its eternal popularity. However, while the basics of Blackjack are easy to establish, many have wondered if there might be more to this classic game than meets the eye.
The truth of the matter is that Blackjack can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. If you’re a beginner, you’d be well advised to keep it straightforward in your initial endeavours. However, there is no doubt that to make your time at the card table as profitable as possible, you should seek add extra layers of knowledge as your confidence grows – knowing how to play Blackjack is easily achieved, but knowing how to play Blackjack well requires a little extra effort.
Once you’re comfortable with the basic strategy of standing when the cards look good and hitting when they’re not, it’s time to expand your tactics. The following advanced Blackjack strategy tips will help you understand the more complicated aspects of the game, and could even potentially give you the chance to maximise your wins in online Blackjack.
The Martingale system may immediately sound familiar; in fact, it’s one of the most well-known betting systems used by casino players. While the Martingale is most commonly associated with Roulette, it can actually be applied in any table game. This is due to the fact that the Martingale isn’t so much a game-specific tactic; it’s more of a sequential betting system and one that works well with Blackjack.
So, how does it work? Well, you’ll need a decent bankroll, as the system requires you to double your bet after a losing hand. In other words, if you bet £10 on your first hand, and lose, you would bet £20 on the next hand. If you then won, you would be up £10; if you’d just bet £10 again, you’d only have broken even – so the Martingale would have worked well. However, if you lose second hand, the system would then require you to bet £40 on the third. Winning at that point would see you win back the £30 you had lost, plus £10 of profit.
The Martingale is popular thanks to its ability to ensure any win, at any point in the game, delivers a profit. The downside is that you’ll need a significant bankroll to make the system work; you may need to play many, many Blackjack hands before you finally see a win.
For the purposes of this strategy, it is important to ensure that you are playing Blackjack with cards pulled from a single deck. These games are widely available, but in order to be sure that you are in with the best chance of winning, always ask the dealer (or a customer services representative if you are playing online) for confirmation that you are choosing a single-deck game.
Being aware of the composition of hands is essential due to the fact that, in any game of Blackjack, you will be left with a judgement call on whether to Stand or Hit. If you have a hand of 16, for example, you may be minded to Hit and hope a 4 or a 5 will be dealt.
In this scenario, it’s usually best to turn to the “Rule of 45”. Look at the cards you can see on the table; your hand, and the one card the dealer is showing. If any of the cards are a 4 or a 5, you should Stand, as the probability of receiving these cards should you choose to hit has been diminished. However, if no 4 or 5 has already been played, you should Hit, as there’s a greater chance you’ll receive these beneficial cards when you do so.
You can study hand composition when playing alone, as described above, but you can also apply the same strategy when playing in a multiplayer game – and your choice of seat is particularly important when choosing to do this.
The best place to be sat when playing a multiplayer game of Blackjack is the one furthest from the dealer, otherwise known as the “anchor” seat. By sitting here, you will be able to see what each player has revealed before the time comes for you to make the choice between Stand or Hit.
From a look at your cards, you should be able to judge which cards would be best for you. You can then apply the same decision-making process as you would when playing solo; if you can already see the cards you need on the table, then you Stand. If you can’t, you Hit. A further benefit of the anchor seat is that you’ll have plenty of time to assess other players’ hands and make a decision accordingly, which should stand you in good stead.
If you are dealt a pair in any game of Blackjack, you have the option to split your two cards into separate hands, and by doubling your initial stake, play two hands against the dealer. This is something you’ll become more confident about doing the more you play, but the main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t ever split just because you have the option.
There are two specific circumstances when it is a particularly good idea to split. The first is if you have been dealt a pair of 8s. If you play this as a single hand, you have a score of 16, which isn’t great either way. If you Hit, any card above five will bust you. However, if you stand, 16 is a very beatable score. Playing two hands, each with an 8 in them, offers a real chance of winning at least one – especially as you can’t bust on the first hit.
You should also split immediately if you draw a pair of Aces. The highest score you can make with them as a hand would be 12, so you’ll need a 9 to make 21. If you draw a card worth ten (10, J, Q or K), you’re still on 12. However, if you split the Aces, you now have two chances to make Blackjack, and a real shot at winning both hands.
Conversely, you should never split a pair of 10s (or any card worth ten). When you have a score of 20, only a Blackjack from the dealer can beat you. The idea of starting two new hands each with a 10 in them may seem attractive, but by splitting, you may well end up with two hands with scores of – for example – 15 and 16, both of which can be beaten and also risk busting.
For a pair of any other card, the choice is really up to you, and can be governed by what the dealer is showing. Just remember that while splitting gives you a chance to win twice, it also costs you a higher stake and still means you can lose twice.
The above are just a few tips for playing Blackjack at a more advanced level – there are others out there, and after playing for a while you may begin to develop your own strategies that you can incorporate into your gameplay. However, the four above are a great place to begin, and could help to ensure that your time at the table is as enjoyable – and hopefully profitable – as it can possibly be.
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