Blackjack has its roots dating back to the 1600s. Not only has this game been around for a long time, but, like many other games with proud histories, people have also had a long, long time to figure out the most successful blackjack strategies for a successful gaming session. Modern versions of blackjack differ somewhat from the original version that used that Spanish baraja deck, but the core simple ideas that made it so popular then have persisted to the present day.
To that effect, blackjack may be simple, but as with other card games like rummy and solitaire, the strategies for winning aren’t always quite so simple. This is because rather than relying on cards that give you blackjack, players need to learn a strategy that will help to turn the odds in your favour. After all, the odds on you getting blackjack when using one deck of cards are about 1 in 20.7 (thanks to some fairly complicated mathematics for helping us work that out!).
Developing a clear strategy and knowing your own playing style will increase your chances of winning, and will also show the dealer that they are up against someone who means business, whether in reality you are a high roller, just a casual player, or somewhere in between. We’ve outlined a few tips below to help you develop this strategy and, over time, hopefully that convincing winning persona as well.
Knowing When to Surrender
Fighting a losing battle or chasing a hand that just isn’t working for you might sound like it has an element of excitement to it, but this approach can turn out to be time-consuming and downright pointless. If you end up in a position where you have been dealt your first two cards and the dealer isn’t sitting on blackjack, you can offer to surrender. This does mean that you will be walking away from this hand with your tail between your legs somewhat, but what you get back in exchange for accepting defeat is only forfeiting half of your bet.
Knowing when to surrender is all about working out your chance of winning. The chances of you beating the dealer on any given hand (before the cards are dealt) is about 42%. If you end up with a starting hand of 16, arguably the worst in blackjack, this knowledge gives you an escape route before you end up committing to a game. This means that you can save your cash for far more winnable hands.
Of course, should you end up being dealt two 8s when playing blackjack, you might want to consider splitting, but in other scenarios, showing that you are aware the odds have suddenly become very much stacked against you proves you are a player who knows what they’re doing.
Avoiding the Banana Skin by Knowing When to Split
One of the reasons why almost every casino offers the chance to play blackjack and also why it has such a mystique in the media is because of the fact that, despite the simple premise of this popular game, the range of variations and the chance to alter the game to increase the chances of winning make it hard to resist. In some casinos, these chances come in the form of insurance, where you can make a side bet in case the dealer happens to have blackjack, but more commonly it comes in the form of knowing when to split your cards when you’re dealt a potential banana. Knowing when to take insurance is one of the topics tackled in blackjack pro Edward O Thorp’s books, including Beat the Dealer.
In our previous example, we looked at the fact that players don’t want to be stuck when it comes to being dealt a hand with a value of 16. However, if you are dealt this, then you can at least take the option of splitting your cards, handing yourself a greater chance of success if you don’t want to surrender. Splitting is an option frequently – but not always – offered by casinos, in which you turn your hand into two separate hands to play against the dealer with. Each of these hands is played independently of each other. As we understand more about blackjack, some variants of the game allow for splitting equal hands more than once. The key is to be aware that splitting is certainly one way to play if you are keen to try out a few different strategies as the split hands are played independently of each other.
Practice Makes Perfect
Perhaps the most important tip to bear in mind when it comes to enjoying a game of blackjack is simply play, play, and play again. Take time to work out how best to use different strategies, balancing your desire to take on the dealer with the competing consideration of making sure you don’t double down on hands that will see you end up being beaten by the dealer. Practice really does make perfect, and it certainly helps that you’re bound to have a lot of fun along the way whilst you sharpen your strategic thinking