Blackjack has long been a casino favourite for many gamblers and with an increase in popularity thanks to online blackjack, there is no shortage of ways to play. However, millions of people worldwide are playing blindly without using any kind of plan or strategy and wrongly assuming that winning is 50/50, like tossing a coin. Game of chance or not, there are means that can help you greatly improve your chances of winning.
The best way to play blackjack is by following our comprehensive strategy guide, including some of the top online blackjack tips. You can’t win every single hand you play, but with a good plan and careful strategy, you can win more times than you lose.
Read on to find out how to win at online blackjack the easy way.
Blackjack originated in France in the early 1700s when it was known as ‘vingt-et-un’ which translates as 21 and it spread slowly to the rest of the world before reaching Nevada in the 1930s when it really started to become popular in casinos.
The idea of the game, like most card games, is to beat the dealer and in blackjack you are trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going over or going ‘bust’. Beating the dealer will see you paid at 1:1, but if you get blackjack (Ace and a King, Queen, Jack or 10) the odds improve to 3:2. A draw is known as a ’push’ and stakes on these hands are returned.
A dealer must ‘hit’ (take a card) if he has less than 17 and must stand with a ‘soft’ 17 (Ace and 6) or better. There are no rules for when a player must stand.
A player is dealt two cards face up and the dealer takes one face up and one face down. The player makes a decision to hit or stand based solely on the dealer’s visible card. Once the player stands, the dealer will reveal their face down card and hit or stand depending on what they have.
Best Blackjack Strategy
When it comes to finding the best blackjack strategy, many people will tell you to simply use the basic blackjack strategy. This means always standing on 17 or better, never splitting a pair of tens and doubling down if you have a certain total and the dealer is displaying a favourable card. You should always split a pair of Aces because of the potential for 2 x 21, even if the casino doesn’t pay 3:2 for blackjack when you split.
As you can see, there is a recommended reaction to most, if not all possible outcomes with the basic blackjack strategy. Therefore, it does make sense for many to employ this strategy due to its simple yet effective nature.
There are helpful charts to advise you which you can refer to whilst playing that can be printed out, and some casinos will even give you a pocket-sized version of them.
Basic blackjack strategy isn’t foolproof, but it shows you what is the best way to play, statistically speaking.
Card counting was a sure-fire way of getting banned from a casino many years ago, despite the fact that it isn’t illegal. It’s still frowned upon in some places, but as long as you only keep a mental note of the count and don’t try to use hidden cameras to help you it’s fairly safe. Counting cards is a way of knowing when the advantage in blackjack shifts towards the player.
In blackjack you get to see every card which is played which is fundamental to the success of card counting. You will give a value to every card – 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are +1; 7, 8 and 9 are 0; and 10, J, Q, K and A are -1. A running count is kept, so for example if you are dealt a 9 and a 6 and the dealer has a 10 and a 5, the running count is +2. The higher the count, the greater your chance of winning as there will be a lot of 10s, picture cards and Aces remaining in the deck.
Counting cards works with single deck or multi-deck games of blackjack. In online blackjack counting cards is only effective if the game you play plays through a whole deck of cards – many online versions give the player a completely random deal which renders the system useless. Check how your favourite game is played before you play blackjack online and start to count the cards.
One of the online blackjack tips you will often hear is potentially the riskiest. It involves doubling up after a loss. It starts out fairly sensibly but can soon escalate if you go on a losing streak.
Because of the payout odds of 1:1, you can start with $1 and keep doubling after a loss and always be $1 ahead when you eventually win.
Let’s say you stake $1 and lose, so you stake $2. That bet also loses so you bet $4. Again, you lose and put $8 of chips in front of the box. This time you win. You have staked a total of $15 and you have just received $16 of chips so you are $1 up. You then drop back down to $1 and start the process again.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
The problem is that if you lose 10 hands in a row – it’s more than possible, as is winning 10 in a row – your eleventh hand will cost you $1024. That’s quite a large bet to win just $1 and many online blackjack games will have a table limit which is far less than what you need to stake.
If you do find somewhere which will take such a massive bet if needs be, you will also need a rather large bankroll. If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars and can afford to double up until stakes become staggeringly high then congratulations, you’ve discovered the best way to play blackjack that guarantees you will always come out on top.
There are other players who use a less aggressive online blackjack strategy when it comes to staking. This also involves increasing your bet following a loss, but it doesn’t become dangerous so quickly.
Again, you start with $1, but instead of doubling up after every loss you add $1 to your previous stake. After a win you subtract a dollar from your previous stake. Several losses in a row will mean you are only playing $8 or $9 hands instead of risking hundreds of dollars.
With both of these staking plans there is the added bonus of a blackjack being worth a lot more. If you’re up to $8 using the doubling up method you will have staked $15 and a blackjack will see you returned $20, so you make $5 profit instead of $1.
Other Online Blackjack Tips
Some of the best blackjack strategy doesn’t involve what you should do, but what you shouldn’t. For instance, there are a number of online blackjack games which offer you the chance to make side bets or have inflated odds for things such as getting 21 with three 7s.
Think about this last one for a second: you have two 7s and the dealer is showing a 5. Basic blackjack strategy says you should split the 7s, definitely a wise move as it will give you the chance to potentially make two hands of 17 while you suspect the dealer might bust. Nobody in their right mind would hit on 14 at this point hoping for a third 7 – a 49:2 chance at this point which will often be paid at lower odds.
Basically, avoiding any fancy versions of the game and sticking to the classic game is how to win at blackjack more regularly.
Insurance is also something to be avoided and that is something anyone giving advice on online blackjack strategy and tips will tell you. Insurance is available when the dealer shows an Ace. It will cost you half of your initial stake and pays out at 2:1 in the event of the dealer having blackjack. If the dealer has blackjack you lose your initial bet, but when on the insurance bet which results in you breaking even. If he doesn’t have blackjack you lose the insurance bet and can still lose your initial bet. It is seen as something of a mug’s bet and statistically has been proven not to be an advantage. It will also throw a spanner in the works if you are doubling up or using any other kind of staking plan.
You should play just one hand at a time, at least in the beginning. Plenty of blackjack tables online give you the chance to play up to five hands at once and if you’re experienced you can play as many as you wish. It’s also better to play for level stakes if you play multiple hands as trying to keep track if you start doubling up can be problematic.