Strategy plays a fundamental role in a game of blackjack.
1 – The difference between hard and soft cards
The first trick any blackjack player should know is the difference between hard and soft cards. If you have an Ace in your hand, they are soft cards; if you don’t have an Ace, they are hard cards. From here, we can follow the basic strategy table, which lists all the combinations you can have, the dealer’s card and the most recommended action. Another interesting distinction is hard cards versus weak cards: 7, 8, 9, 10 and Ace are strong cards, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are weak cards.
2 – Stand with 17 or more
Although this is a rule that applies to the dealer, you should also follow it: stand on 17 or more, as the risk of hitting 21 with the new card is very high and you have a good chance of beating the dealer. The exception is when you hit 17 with an ace, when the double value of the ace comes into play. You can take a risk in search of a higher combination, making the Ace worth 1 if you go over 21 with 11, or settle for what you have.
3 – Look for the dealer to pass
We play with the advantage that the dealer is obliged to draw with 16 points or less, so when the dealer shows a 4, 5 or 6 you only have to draw a card if you have a soft hand. Even if we get a low score with a single card, below 16, the double Ace value works in our favour as the dealer is obliged to draw, increasing the chances of a pass. In this situation we must be conservative, and split the hand if we can.
4 – Never accept an insurance bet
At first glance, covering with an Ace from the dealer may seem like a good option, especially knowing that there are 16 cards with a value of 10 per deck in the deck, but when a player calls insurance it increases the dealer’s advantage. Only with a blackjack will you get that insurance bet back. Insurance bets should only be accepted by card-counting players – we’ll talk about this blackjack trick later – when the circumstances warrant it.
5 – Always split with 8 or Ace
In other combinations such as 9-9 or 7-7 you have a lot to lose, not to mention splitting with low cards, but with 8-8 or A-A you have a lot to gain by splitting. 16 of the 52 cards are worth 10 points, so we have a high percentage chance of getting a combination of 18, 19 or 21. We will never split with two 10’s, a hand of 20 is very good and the chances of improving are slim. If the dealer has a weak card (2 to 6) you can split except with pairs of 4, 5 or 10.
6 – When should you double down?
With hard cards we will double with 9, 10 or 11 points and the dealer with a weak card, although if the dealer’s card is an Ace we will not double with 11. With soft cards things change: with 13 or 14, if the dealer has a 5 or 6; with 15 or 16, if the dealer plays with 4, 5 or 6; with 17 or 18 soft, if he has 3, 4, 5 or 6. In the basic strategy table we have all the combinations clearly detailed.
7 – Surrender only in exceptional situations (Blackjack surrender)
When playing with the surrender rule you should be clear that there are only two situations where we will surrender, taking back half of the bet. The first is if you have 15 in your hand and 10 in the dealer’s; the other is if your cards total 16 and the house has 9, 10 or Ace, even if they don’t have blackjack. In all other possible scenarios you should continue to play according to the rules of basic strategy, drawing or standing as appropriate. Remember that by surrendering you lose half your bet, and you must make this decision before making any other moves.
8 – Tips specific to European blackjack
Although all of these tricks apply to both the American and European versions of blackjack, there are a number of tricks for European blackjack that we cannot include in our American blackjack strategy because of the differences between the two versions, but that you should keep an eye on:
- Don’t double with 11 against a dealer’s 10, you can get an Ace and get the blackjack. Call card.
- Do not split 8-8 against the dealer’s 10 or Ace for the same reason. Draw.
- Do not split Ace-As against dealer’s Ace, you have too many numbers to lose. Call for a card.
9 – Do not count cards in online blackjack
Many blackjack strategies and systems are based on card counting, but in online blackjack they are sterile because, although multiple decks are used, the cards are shuffled and dealt after each game, so the same card can appear in several games in a row. Counting cards in blackjack is a trick that can be used in a land-based casino as long as the cards are shuffled by hand. If the dealer has a shuffling machine or all the cards are shuffled, it won’t work either. The key to this trick is that the cards used do not return to the deck.
10 – Test your blackjack strategy in demo mode
There are quite a few online casinos that offer you to play in their rooms in demo mode. It’s a free game, where we can’t win money but we don’t lose it either as we practice the different blackjack tricks and perfect our strategy. These rooms are the ideal scenario to make mistakes that will cost us dearly, so take this opportunity to practice and practice until you master the tricks to win at blackjack before you start playing for real money.
From these 10 tips you can devise an optimal strategy for winning at blackjack. Although it is a game of chance, we cannot overlook the tremendous importance of mathematics in blackjack, where it is more relevant than in other games. There are no 100% sure-fire blackjack betting strategies, but if you follow the tips above and stick to the basic strategy chart your chances of winning at blackjack will increase, making you a better player and minimising the number of mistakes you can make.