How to Pick the Best Blackjack Strategy

blackjack insurance

Blackjack is one of the most popular games in both real-world casinos and online casino since players enjoy the mix of skill and chance that is involved in determining the outcome. Believed to require greater skill than many other table games, such as roulette, blackjack has many fans who have their own strategies to make a profit.

Once a player knows the basic rules of blackjack, he or she then needs to learn more about optimizing his or her chance of winning. While there are numerous strategies and theories that are supposed to give players an edge over the dealer, not all of them work. And some, such as card counting, are banned in casinos or are irrelevant when playing online.

When it comes to choosing the best blackjack betting strategy, the Basic Strategy comes out on top every time. Here, we take a look at how it works.

What Is the Basic Strategy?

The Basic Strategy is believed by many players to be the best way of playing blackjack. It is devised through the use of statistical probabilities in order to work out the best move in any circumstance depending on the starting card of the dealer and the cards in your hand. Its aim is not only to enable the player to win as frequently as possible, but to also maximize the number of winnings, reduce the likelihood of going bust, and, in some cases, also to minimize the expected losses. Of course, the house always has an edge, but it is reduced significantly if you choose to adopt the Basic Strategy.

The Basics of The Basic Strategy

The Basic Strategy will not consider any of the other cards being held by other players or that appeared in prior hands, which could affect subsequent cards. While this is the principle of the classic card-counting strategy, it is not especially significant when playing blackjack online since every round uses a newly shuffled deck from a pack of six decks. Usually, this results in a 312-pack deck and 24 of every card, therefore, card counting is negligible.

Although there are many complex permutations and statistical calculations forming the basis of this strategy, it is not necessary to know all the ins and outs of the math behind it. Any new blackjack players are recommended to keep the guide provided here close to them when they play online to refer to quickly until they have learned what the optimal decision in each possible situation is. On the other hand, if you’re playing in a real-world casino, you may not be able to use a reference sheet and you will almost certainly be banned from accessing it on a smartphone, tablet or PC.

There are patterns involved in the Basic strategy about where you should stand and where you should hit. Generally, if you hand totals under 11, you should always hit. If you hand is over 17, always stand. There are, however, borderline hands that can vary dramatically. By checking the table, you will stand the best chance of winning.

The Risk of Blackjack Strategy

european blackjackIf players use the Basic Strategy without deviation and according our blackjack cheat sheet, the theoretical RTP (return-to-player percentage) is 99.63 percent — a pretty high RTP. Yet, while the RTP is high with this game, the variance happens to be low, since the biggest payout that you can achieve in a single hand is 3:2. When you compare this to slots where it is possible to win thousands of times your stake, it is unlikely that you will ever win an enormous jackpot in a single gaming session.

Also, just because you employ the Basic Strategy, it doesn’t guarantee real cash wins. However, sticking to the strategy is important, even when you hit one poor result after another. Players who use the Basic Strategy always do better than those who are making decisions according to their gut instincts overall. While some people believe the Basic Strategy is only suitable for use on the first card to be drawn, don’t believe it – follow it every decision you make.

Variations on the Basic Strategy

money-mangement-gamblingThe structure of the Basic Strategy will depend on the rule of the blackjack being played. Usually, the most popular variations of the game make very little difference to the Basic Strategy, so you shouldn’t make any changes. However, both offline and online casinos sometimes have variations that require adjustments.

Split

Always split an ace. While players receive just one more card on each ace, 11 represents a very strong number to start with that, even with the limitations of a single additional card, makes this the optimal decision. You should always split 8–8, too.

Insurance

Very simple – never take it. Long term, you’ll make more profits if you risk the loss of your stake than if you protect it from your dealer getting blackjack. Ultimate guide to blackjack insurance is here.

Double Down

This is probably one of the best ways of reducing the house’s edge. If you double the stake, you put yourself in a strong position to capitalize on, and you can possibly swing the power from your dealer. In general, always make sure you double down on 11 unless it’s against the ace. Double down on 10s or 5-5s unless the dealer has a 10 or an ace. Double down on 9s if the dealer has a 3, a 4, a 5 or a 6. Remember, though, that not all tables allow double on anything other than a 9, 10 or 11.

Surrender

Surrender enables players to escape if they are in an especially unfavorable position where neither standing nor hitting is a good choice. If this exceptional circumstance occurs, surrender the hand and sacrifice half the stake. This will result in a smaller loss overall. The Basic Strategy only recommends that players surrender if they have a hard 15, the dealer has a 10 or if the punter has a hard 16 with the dealer having either a 9, a 10 or an ace. Remember, though, not every table will permit surrendering.

Side Bets

Although many games of blackjack, both offline and online, allow players to take side bets, which operate alongside by separating from the main hand, these are not generally recommended because they offer little value to players, and you’ll find that the house’s edge in these side bets is higher than you’d find in the standard game.

Amount of Decks

The number of decks that are being used can affect the house edge slightly.

0.17 percent — single deck
0.46 percent — double deck
0.60 percent — four decks
0.64 percent — six decks
0.65 percent — eight decks

While the difference is small, the fewer the number of decks in use, the better for you. Therefore, you should always look for a table that offers fewer decks. You’ll rarely see eight-deck or two-deck games on the Internet, and you’ll most commonly see six or four decks in use. Some sites, however, will offer blackjack with a single deck. But, because it usually is restricted to a single hand with the cards being reshuffled each time, there is no advantage here in playing a single-deck game unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as many aces being dealt.

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