Blackjack offers some of the best odds seen in the casino. You can bring the house edge to 0.5%, or less, with ideal conditions. However, can is the key word.
Blackjack is a strategic game that doesn’t offer any guarantees. You must be well-versed in strategy to win more money.
Luckily, you don’t need to become an amazing gambler to improve your blackjack play. You simply need to master the following 5 habits.
1 – Study Basic Blackjack Strategy
Many novice gamblers avoid studying blackjack strategy, because they think that it’s a complicated subject. But basic strategy isn’t difficult to master at all.
You can use two tools to quickly learn how to play like an expert:
- Strategy chart
I wholeheartedly recommend the first option. A blackjack strategy chart lays out every proper move based on your current score and the dealer’s up card.
If you have 12 and the dealer shows 5, for example, then you’re supposed to stand. A chart will clearly indicate this proper decision.
Charts offer the easiest path towards learning basic strategy as a novice. Furthermore, you can refer to strategy charts at any time during an online or land-based blackjack game.
Of course, land-based casinos frown upon you slowing down the action. Therefore, you might want to use a more-active study method before entering brick-and-mortar casinos.
Here’s where a blackjack trainer becomes valuable. A trainer is a program that offers tips on which decisions to make while you play free online blackjack.
Did you hit a soft 17 when you should’ve doubled down? The program will point out your mistake and offer the correct solution.
In any case, you can’t fail when spending enough time with either charts or trainers. The key is that you use at least one of these methods to get better.
2 – Look for the Best Rules
Not all blackjack games are created equally. Some feature better rules, and subsequently a lower house advantage, than others.
You obviously want to seek out the best rules possible. Of course, you need to know the various rules and how they affect the house edge before doing so.
Here are some prominent rules and what impact they carry on the house advantage (+ means in your favor):
- 3:2 natural blackjack payout (versus 6:5) = +1.39%
- Single deck versus eight decks = +0.03 to -0.58% (0.61% difference)
- Double down on any two cards = +0.21%
- Late surrender on any two cards = +0.20%
- Double down after splitting (DAS) = +0.13%
- Double down on 9 through 11 only = +0.09%
- DAS except on aces = +0.08%
- Re-splitting aces = +0.08%
- Late surrender (dealer up card 10) = +0.07%
- Dealer doesn’t check for natural blackjack (i.e. “no peek”) = -0.10%
- No re-splitting = -0.10%
- No DAS = -0.14%
- No splitting aces = -0.18%
- Double down on 10 through 11 only = -0.18%
- Dealer hits on a soft 17 = -0.22%
- No splitting = -0.58%
- Double down on 11 only = -0.69%
- 6:5 natural blackjack payout -1.39%
- No doubling down = -1.47%
- 1:1 natural blackjack payout = -2.26%
You won’t find a game that features all of the best rules. However, you can find tables that offer 3:2 natural payouts along with other favorable rules, like late surrender and DAS.
Two of the most-important features of any game include what they pay for a natural and if the dealer hits/stands on a soft 17. The table felt indicates the rules on these specific areas.
As seen above, 3:2 natural payoffs affect the house edge the most. Meanwhile, the dealer standing on a soft 17 lowers the house advantage by 0.2%.
The number of decks also carry a large impact on the odds. Unfortunately, most games with 3:2 natural payouts come with six or eight decks.
If you’re lucky enough to find a single- or double-deck game with 3:2 payoffs, though, then you should definitely sit down.
3 – Play Online Blackjack
Brick-and-mortar casinos have greatly changed regarding how they present blackjack games. They used to feature stellar single-deck tables with 3:2 natural payouts and other favorable rules.
This scenario began slowly changing in the 1970s, though, when card counters became skilled. Now, you can generally only find quality games in the downtown and Boulder Strip sections of Las Vegas.
Online real money blackjack, on the other hand, gives you a strong chance to win no matter where you are. Not every gaming site features great games. Some have over a 1% house edge, which is more in line with land-based casinos.
By and large, though, you can expect the best odds at online casinos. Many game sites offer single-deck games with under a 1% house advantage.
Microgaming features the top online blackjack game we’ve seen. Their single-deck variation carries a 0.34% house edge.
Unfortunately, not everybody can enjoy Microgaming casinos—notably Americans. Microgaming tends to only serve regulated gaming markets.
If you can’t play at their casinos, then you should look for Betsoft sites. This provider offers a single-deck variation with a 0.38% house advantage.
You should always check the help/information screen when trying a new online blackjack game. These screens show the available rules, possibly, and return to player (RTP).
4 – Pick up Blackjack Bonuses & VIP Rewards
Contrary to popular belief, casinos don’t shower you with rewards just because you play $5 blackjack. But most gambling establishments give you loyalty benefits, nonetheless.
Internet casinos are particularly notable in this regard, because they offer deposit bonuses. You become eligible for a bonus that’s worth a match percentage of your deposit under these deals:
- A casino offers a 100% match blackjack bonus worth up to $400.
- You deposit $200.
- You now qualify for a $200 bonus.
Of course, you must satisfy terms and conditions before cashing out the $200 offer. But you may find meeting T&Cs more than worth the effort when considering how much money you’ll receive.
Both land-based and online casinos offer VIP rewards. You begin accumulating loyalty rewards at gaming sites immediately after placing your first real-money bet.
Brick-and-mortar casinos require you to sign up for their player’s club first. You can normally register quickly through their website or visit the player’s desk in person.
Land-based casinos are more flexible than gaming sites in the comps that they offer. Free drinks, hotel stays, meals, shopping credits, limo rides, and more are all possibilities.
5 – Try Counting Cards – Even If It’s Only Recreationally
You may not envision yourself as a card counter. After all, counters usually carry the image of being elite professionals.
However, card counting is the next step up in the evolution of becoming a great blackjack player. And the best part: you don’t really need to put that much work into the equation.
You can quickly learn a basic counting system like Ace-5 and get started in a matter of minutes. Here’s a quick primer on using Ace-5:
- Bet the table minimum at the start of a new shoe.
- Add one (+1) to your count every time a 5 comes out of the deck.
- Subtract one (-1) every time that an ace comes out of the deck.
- Continue placing minimum bets when the running count is +1 or lower.
- Increase your bet by three units (unit = minimum bet) for every +1 increase over a +1 running count.
- Ex: your minimum bet is $10, and the count is +3 (+2 over = 6 units). (10 + [10 x 6]) = $50 bets
- Start everything over at the beginning of a new shoe.
You can actually gain a small advantage by mastering this system. Using the variables above, you’d be looking at between a 0.3% and 0.4% over the house.
Of course, you could opt for a slightly more complex strategy like the Hi-Lo. This system can provide between a 0.5% and 1.5% advantage.
Regardless of what system is used, you must practice diligently. After all, you’ll be dealing with plenty of distractions in the casino.
You also need to have a large enough bankroll to survive downswings. You’ll be spreading bets from the minimum to a higher amount and thus risking more.
With only a small advantage, you can easily go through cold streaks. That said, you should have around 500x the minimum bet before embarking on card counting.
Blackjack isn’t an easy game on the surface. You need to choose the correct decision in every situation to achieve the best odds.
However, it’s actually not that difficult with the right approach. Everything begins with learning basic strategy and finding tables with good rules.
After this, you want to concentrate on earning bonuses (online) and VIP rewards. If you’re really into blackjack, then you might try recreational card counting.
Whatever your approach, you’ll no doubt have fun using strategy to lower the house edge and make more money.