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Blackjack strategies have been grouped into two sections: Basic and Advanced. These tips can be applied across both online and land-based games; however the material is more related to making money online, with an edge.
The Basic Blackjack Strategy
There are many rules and thoughts as to how to approach Blackjack, however if you follow the next few Blackjack strategies you will have an edge next time you sit down. Basic blackjack strategy is simply a set of rules that tells you, the player, the correct way to play your hand. Basic strategy reveals when to hit, stand, or double by taking into account only two factors: your cards and the dealer’s upcard. Basic strategy allows you to win more and lose less.
The following terms are useful when learning basic blackjack strategy:
- Hard Hands: all hands not containing an Ace.
- Soft Hands: all hands containing an Ace coupled with a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9.
- Pairs: all hands that contain a pair of cards with the same value.
A simplified approach to basic blackjack strategy is as follows:
- Hard Hands: If you have a 9 or lower, hit. If you have 10 or 11, double down if your total is more than the dealer’s upcard; hit otherwise. If you have 12 through 16, hit when the dealer’s upcard is 7 or higher; stand otherwise. If you have 17 or higher, stand.
- Soft Hands: If you have 13 through 18, double down when the dealer’s upcard is 5 or 6. If you have 17 or lower, hit. If you have 18, hit when dealer’s upcard is 6 or less; stand when dealer’s upcard is 7 or more. If you have 19 or higher, stand.
- Pairs: Always split a pair of 8′s or Aces. Never split 10′s, 4′s, or 5′s. Split all other pairs when dealer’s upcard is 6 or less.
- NEVER TAKE INSURANCE!
Following the Basic Blackjack Strategy will give players an edge. Once comfortable with this kind of play, try the Advanced Blackjack Strategy which takes into account a few more factors which will allow you to gain a slightly better edge.
One card counting system is known as the Hi-Lo system. Here, cards assume a value in card counting and usually take the form of +1, -1, or 0. Any card ranging from 2 to 6 is counted as +1. Any cards from 7 to 9 are counted as 0. Tens, Face Cards (Jack, Queen, King), and Aces are -1. When a card is played, you either add or substract. There are other card counting systems, but this one is the most accurate one around and it’s easy to understand.
If the count is positive, you should increase your bet amount. Why? Because this means that more high cards remain in the deck and the more high cards in the deck, the higher your chances of getting a Blackjack hand or the Dealer busting. If the count is negative, you should lower your bet amount, because the odds of getting an authentic Blackjack hand are fewer.
This involves keeping track of certain cards or series of cards through subsequent shuffles. Shuffle tracking involves factors such as clumps of cards, both good and bad, where particular cards fall in the deck, how many hands have been won, and how many have been lost within a certain amount of game play. By knowing these factors a player has the potential to take their card counting to the next level. There are better odds in knowing where key cards are, and by knowing the cuts you will have a better picture on when to wager high and low.
To understand Shuffle Tracking lets take a look at a Blackjack game starting with the first round of a shuffle. The cards are broken into 4-8 piles, (depending on the number of decks,) the individual piles are shuffled then placed together. In this example the first half of the game many cards with a ten value are played, leaving many low value cards in the second half of the deck. When the dealer reshuffles, the clump of low valued cards end up in the top half of the deck and remain roughly together. If the dealer asks you to cut the deck, you will know the low value cards are near the top, in which case you would want to cut the deck near the centre to place those cards at the bottom of the stack. Now you will have a higher probability knowing the lower clump is buried deeper in the card stack giving you a higher probability of a better hand. Although it is more difficult for dealers to point out players who are shuffle tracking, it is also harder for a Blackjack player to become proficient at shuffle tracking.