Very few casinos games have proved as enduringly popular as blackjack.
There’s a wonderful reason for this too. Even novice blackjack players able to leverage a relatively favourable house edge of between 1.5% and 2%. This compares well with other casino games such as American and European roulette, whilst the deployment of a basic betting strategy can reduce your house edge to 0.5%.
We’ll explain how you play blackjack. We will also look at the strategies that enable you to make the most of your bankroll.
Understanding the Rules of Blackjack
You play blackjack with one or more standard 52-card decks. Most games using either four, six or eight decks on average. Each card has a predetermined point value, with those marked two through 10 worth their exact face value.
Jacks, queens and kings are all worth 10, whilst Aces are unique in that they can have a value of either one or 11 depending on the composition of the hand.
The object of the game is to draw a hand totalling as close to 21 as possible, without going over as this will cause you to ‘go bust’.
The Start of a Game of Blackjack
The game begins when you place your initial bet, at which point you’ll be dealt two cards.
You must decide how you want to play the hand that they have dealt you. You must decide whether to ‘hit’ (draw another card from the deck to add to the value of your hand). There is also ‘stand’ (elect to take no more cards and back your current total to beat the dealer).
Most blackjack iterations also allow you to ‘double down’. This means multiplying your original bet by two for one more card regardless of its denomination. This is most commonly deployed when your first two cards total 10 or 11. However, the rules may vary slightly depending on your choice of game and online casino.
During the process, the dealer also players according to set rule. Some of which offer a potential advantage to players. The dealer must draw cards up to the total of 16. Most games also require them to stand when their hand had reached a value of 17 or more.
As we’ve already touched on, the goal is to build a hand that’s as close to 21 as possible. This total known as a ‘blackjack’. A two-card 21 featuring an Ace and a 10, Jack, Queen or King is considered being the best hand.
However, if the dealer also lands a two-card 21, you’ll tie the hand and receive your original bet back into your bankroll.
What Role Does Insurance Play in Blackjack?
Another key facet of blackjack is the potential to take insurance. It is essentially a bet that the dealer has a 10-value card down to complete a 21-value hand.
They can take this out for half of your original bet, whilst it pays out at 2-1 where the dealer has blackjack. The benefit of this is obvious. As winning an insurance bet can equalise your losses even where you have an unsuccessful hand.
This represents a solid even bet on occasions where the dealer shows an ace and completes a blackjack. However, statistics suggest that this only occurs 33.3% of the time.
Only 30.8% of cards have 10 values. In most cases taking insurance is a poor play that can reduce the value of your wins.
We recommend avoiding taking out insurance where possible. This is unless you know that a large accumulation of 10-value cards have yet to play.
The Last Word – Blackjack Strategies Basics
It’s possible to diminish the house edge to 0.5% where you deploy a basic strategy.
This means that blackjack is a game of skill rather than one of chance. This is particularly when you create a strategy. Also, there is a skill in analysing when to hit, when to stand and when to double down.
You can also optimise the impact of your strategy with the right choice of blackjack iteration. You can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.1% when accessing games with a single deck.
The beauty of this basic but logical strategy is that it capitalises on your ability to review one of the dealer’s cards. This represents a tremendous advantage. It enables you to make informed and educated decisions rather than blithely trying to create a hand as close to 21 as possible.
You can also develop negative or positive progression betting strategies, depending on your bankroll, philosophy and outlook as a player.
Negative progression strategies require you to increased your stake by a fixed amount with every consecutive loss. The alternative sees you wager more where you win.
The former undoubtedly offers value to high-rollers who want to optimise the value of individual wins. Positive progression strategies allow risk-averse players to capitalise on their successes and find value in winning sequences.
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