The basic strategy in a nutshell
So, all you have to do to improve your play is to learn what to do when you’re holding a particular hand total depending on the card shown by the dealer. In the simplest of terms, the blackjack basic strategy breaks down as follows:
- Always split Aces & never split 10s
- Always split 8s
- Always split 9s, unless the dealer is showing a 7, a 10, or an Ace
- Split 7s if the dealer is not showing a card from 8 to an Ace
- Split 6s if the dealer is not showing a card from 7 to an Ace
- Split 2s and 3s if the dealer is showing 4, 5, 6 or 7
- Never split 4s
Playing ‘soft’ hands
In blackjack, ‘soft’ hands are the ones containing an Ace, which means the total can be counted twofold. For example, an A and an 8 can be both 9 and 19. You can never go bust when taking a card holding a ‘soft’ hand.
- Always stand on soft 20 (A, 9)
- Always stand on soft 19 (A, 8) unless you’re allowed to double; if you can, double
- Either stand or double (if allowed) on soft 18 (A, 7) if the dealer is showing 2 through 6; hit on 7 and 8; otherwise, stand
- Soft 17 (A, 6) – always hit and double if the dealer is showing 3 through 6
- Soft 16 (A, 5) – always hit and double if the dealer is showing 4 through 6
- Soft 15 (A, 4) – always hit and double if the dealer is showing 3 through 6
- Soft 14 (A, 3) – always hit and double if the dealer is showing 5 or 6
- Soft 14 (A, 3) – always hit and double if the dealer is showing 5 or 6
Hard hands are the ones not containing Ace, so you’ll be playing hard hands more often at a blackjack table. Totals you should know are as follows:
- Always stand on 17
- 13 through 16 – stand if the dealer is showing 2 through 6, otherwise hit
- 12 – only stand if the dealer is showing 4 through 6, otherwise hit
- 11 – always double
- 10 – double unless the dealer is showing a 10 or an Ace
- 9 – double if the dealer is showing 3 through 6, otherwise hit
- 8 and lower – always hit
If you’re completely new to the blackjack strategy, the whole thing may seem a bit confusing at first. However, once you start using it, you’ll begin to recognize certain patterns, which will make it much easier to do the right thing almost every single time. With more time and practice, you should be able to play the perfect game of blackjack every time.
A good thing about living in a modern age is that you can apply the basic strategy while playing blackjack online and you can actually have this text or a strategy chart open at all times. That way, you can quickly consult it before you make your decision.
Keep in mind, there is absolutely nothing illegal about using the blackjack basic strategy and some land-based casinos will even let you take a strategy card with you to the table, but most people are ashamed to do it.
By perfectly using the blackjack basic strategy, you’ll seriously reduce the house edge, bringing it down to around 0.4%, which is really huge. You still won’t be beating the casino, of course, but you’ll be playing in a game with much better chances.
P.S. – In blackjack, just like in poker, string bet is not an allowed option. So whenever you are placing your chips on the table, make sure to do it in one hand motion and avoid stacking one chip after another on the betting field. In most casinos, such action is not permitted.
Blackjack and card counting
Blackjack and counting cards go hand in hand, especially in the popular culture. The ability to count cards, combined with the blackjack basic strategy, was the very thing that made it possible for various players and teams to make money off the casinos.
In a nutshell, card counting means keeping track of the cards in a shoe in a simplified way, tracking how many good and bad cards are still remaining.
The exact breakdown depends on the counting system as there are more than one, but the good cards are always 10s and Aces, for obvious reasons.
So, can you take the principles of card counting and apply them to blackjack online just like the basic strategy? Sadly, the answer to this question is a resounding NO. Computerized blackjacks are operated based on a Random Number Generator (RNG), which means once the hand is finished, all cards are back in the mix.
A traditional game of blackjack is played with six or eight decks. The dealer draws cards and when the hand is over, he moves them to a separate pile, so you can know that a certain number of 10s or Aces (and other cards) is now not in play. With computerized games, however, this is not the case, as there are no actual cards and every new hand is played with the full range of cards.
Online Blackjack Variations
Blackjack may have started its life as a single game but, over the years, different people and casinos have come up with different ideas slightly tweaking the basic rules. In general, if you know how to play blackjack, you’ll have no problems with any of the variations you might encounter, but it doesn’t hurt to know what you might come across as you play online blackjack.
Some of the most popular blackjack games in existence today are:
- Classic (following the rules as explained here)
- Single Deck – played with a single deck but often with unfavorable rules for the player
- Double Exposure Blackjack – both dealer’s card are dealt face up; however, blackjacks pay at even odds and the player losses in the event of a push
- Vegas Strip Blackjack – doubling down is allowed on all hands regardless of the total and players can split up to three times
- Atlantic City Blackjack – very similar to Vegas Strip
- Super Fun 21 – just like classic blackjack, but with some differences in payouts that favours the player. Also, players BlackJack always wins against casino, Blackjack, so this is one of the best variants to play.
You might come across other variations as you play blackjack online at different internet casinos. The rules are always pretty much the same and these subtle differences are usually announced clearly when you join the table. Keep in mind, however, that some variations are more player-friendly than the others. We can’t afford to go into explaining all of this in this one text, but a good rule of the thumb, if you’re about to play a new blackjack variety, is to do some research beforehand.
Choosing an Online Casino for Blackjack Play
Now that you know how to play blackjack and are aware of the blackjack basic strategy, you have the tools you need to play this popular game pretty much as good as it can be played.
There are some tweaks to the strategy depending on special rules and the exact number of decks, but you’ll be fine with it in most modern-day games.
So, the last thing remaining is to pick an online casino for your blackjack play. There are a couple of things that are the most important here as not all casinos are equally good for blackjack players.
Blackjack online & casino bonuses
First of all, there is the matter of the welcome bonus. Most casinos will let you have some extra cash when you first join and this is issued as a welcome bonus. For example, you deposit €100 and receive another €100 to play with.
Up to this point, this is all great, but the problem arises from the fact that all bonuses come with wagering requirements, which is the number of times you have to wager the bonus money before it is released. For example, to be allowed to cash out that €100 and any winnings related to it, you might need to wager €3,500 or €4,000.
This still sounds great, especially if you consider the house edge when applying the blackjack basic strategy is really low. However, casinos are aware of this fact as well, so often, your contribution when playing blackjack online will be counted at 10%, 5%, or not at all. So, instead of having to wager €4,000, you’ll need to wager €40,000. That’s a lot of money for a €100 bonus.
So, if you want to play blackjack online and are keen on taking advantage of the bonus as well, you’ll need to do some research.
There are some casinos that actually offer much better percentages and there are even places with specialized table game bonuses where your wagering will be counted at full. Usually, these bonuses are somewhat smaller, but it is still better than having to wager dozens of thousands just to clear a couple of hundred.
You can find some good suggestions at blackjackcanada.ca for casinos offering BlackJack options.
Selection of games
The second thing to look into is the variety of blackjack games offered by a particular casino. If you’re someone just learning how to play blackjack, you might be fine with just a few basic variations, but as you learn more, you might want to venture into other varieties as well.
These days, many online casinos also offer live dealer blackjack tables. These are great for players who already know how to play blackjack but aren’t too comfortable with playing blackjack online.
These games are dealt by flesh and blood dealers using real cards so you don’t have to worry about random number generators, games being rigged, or anything of the sort. It’s the same game you play at your local casino but you get to play it from the comfort of your home thanks to modern technologies.
Summary: Quick Blackjack Tips & Tricks
After reading this text, you should not only know how to play blackjack but you should know how to do it well. From rules, over the blackjack basic strategy, to finding best casinos for blackjack players, this guide covers everything you need to get started with blackjack online and do it right straight from the get go.
Now you can comfortably play this game to relax after an extensive poker training session or your grinding time and have some fun.
In the end, we can only summarize a few most important takeaways from this text and wish you the best of luck at the blackjack tables.
- Pick an online casino with favorable bonus terms
- Always stick to the basic strategy when playing
- Remember that card counting at blackjack online is a futile effort
- Surrendering your hand is a losing proposition a majority of the time
- As with all gambling, never spend more than you can afford
- Remember that no matter what strategy you use, the casino will always have a slight edge