Blackjack is a simple game. I learned how to play when I was eight or nine when we used to play for pennies. It was always fun, but other than trying to get close to 21 without going over, I didn’t know anything about playing the best way.
It took me over 20 years to figure out that there was a better way to play blackjack. This is why it’s easy for me to see how most players are stuck playing the same way I used to play. Only a few players at the tables where I play seem to have an idea of the best way to play. But you don’t have to struggle any longer if you’re stuck playing like everyone else.
Use these five blackjack tricks to change the way you play the game. Luck will be something that other players rely on, because you’re getting ready to learn how to leave nothing to chance at the blackjack table.
1 – Insurance Is Bad
The first trick I want to teach you is that insurance is bad. It’s simply a disguised side bet the casinos use to take more of your money. Almost every side bet the casino offers is worse than the base game it’s attached to. The difference is that insurance looks like it’s a normal part of blackjack, and the casinos act like it is as well.
If you take the insurance wager and the dealer has a down card worth 10 points the insurance bet pays 2 to 1. You win the insurance wager and lose your original bet. This is why many players and dealers call insurance even money.
On the surface this seems like a good bet because you break even on the hand when the dealer has a natural blackjack. But you also need to consider what happens when the dealer doesn’t have a 10 point card in the hole. When this happens you lose the insurance bet and have to play your original wager.
This is a problem for two reasons. The first reason is that an ace is the best card to start a blackjack hand with, so the dealer has an advantage, even when the down card isn’t a 10 or face card. Starting the hand with a disadvantage after already losing the insurance bet isn’t the way to make a long term profit.
The other problem is the payout for insurance in comparison to the odds. The odds of the dealer having a face down card are 9 to 4. The deck has nine cards that aren’t worth 10 points and four cards that are. But the payout is only 2 to 1, which is worse than 9 to 4.
If you simply stop taking insurance while playing blackjack it’s going to improve your long term results.
2 – Only One Best Play for Every Hand
Some decisions at the blackjack table are easy. If you have a total of 10 or 11 and the dealer has a low card showing, it’s easy to see why doubling down is the best choice. If you have a hard total of 17 or higher, you should stand no matter what the dealer has.
But many decisions aren’t as clear. Many blackjack players believe that the best play changes based on their gut feeling or where they’re sitting. The truth is that there’s exactly one best play for every possible situation at the blackjack table.
This is called blackjack strategy or basic strategy. Decades ago smart players used mathematical principles to look at the odds and payouts for every possible situation to determine the best plays.
Here’s an example of looking at odds to determine the best play:
If you have a pair of eights and the dealer has a seven, you can split the eights, stand with a hard 16, or hit a hard 16. A hard 16 is the worst possible starting hand, so splitting looks like the best option. If you split the eights any card valued nine or higher including an ace is a good card for you. In addition, a two or three is also a good card.
This means that the only bad cards are four through seven. Another eight gives you the opportunity to split again. With only four bad cards out of 13 possibilities, it’s clear that splitting is the best play.
Using this same method along with the odds of the card the dealer has face down can help you determine the best play in every situation. But the truth is that this can get complicated. The good news is that you don’t have to figure this stuff out by yourself.
Smart players use computers to run all of the possible outcomes and the information is organized on a basic strategy chart or basic strategy card. This means that all you have to do to make the single best strategy play at the blackjack table every time is to use a strategy chart or card.
Using a strategy card or chart instantly improves your long term blackjack results.
3 – Bet Sizing Considerations
Just like there’s a single best way to play every hand at the blackjack table, there’s also a single best bet size for every situation. For most players, the best bet size is the table minimum. The base game of blackjack has a built in house edge based on the rules of the particular game.
A game with a house edge slowly and fairly consistently takes your money. Over time if you play a game with a house edge you’re going to lose money. Raising and lowering your bets can’t overcome the long term house edge. This is a simple mathematical fact.
Anytime you bet more than the table minimum you increase your average bet size, which in turn increases the amount you lose. It doesn’t matter what happened on the last hand or the last 10 hands, the best bet size is the table minimum.
You’re going to learn more in the last section on this page, but there is a reason to change the size of your bets. If you count cards you can get an edge over the casino by changing the size of your bets. But if you’re not counting cards you should always bet the table minimum when you play blackjack.
4 – Live Play over Online Play
If you’re a basic blackjack player who doesn’t count cards, there’s not much difference between playing online blackjack for real money and in live casinos. You should avoid taking insurance, make table minimum bets, and use a strategy card. If you count cards you have to always play live, because online casinos shuffle the deck after every hand.
The one advantage that online blackjack play has over live play can also work against you. When you play blackjack in a land based casino you don’t have control over how many hands you play every hour beyond walking away from the table.
When you play online blackjack you can play as fast or as slow as you want. Playing online lets you play more hands per hour than you can in a land based casino, but this isn’t a good thing. When you play more hands it makes you lose faster because of the house edge.
If you can make yourself play slower online than in live play you can reduce the loss rate. So if you play online blackjack try to play slower.
5 – Everyone Should Count
Did you know that you can count cards and eliminate the house edge when you play blackjack? Some players are even able to turn the edge against the casinos and make money in the long run playing blackjack.
One of the biggest myths in gambling is that counting cards is hard. With just a little bit of work anyone can learn how to count cards well enough to eliminate the house edge. You need to start learning how to count cards immediately.
These aren’t the best counting systems, but they both work good enough to get started and eliminate the house edge.
Once you learn how to use these systems find out more about an unbalanced system like the Knock Out or Red 7 and a balanced system like the hi lo. Don’t worry about counting being too hard, because once you see how simple these systems are with a little practice you’re going to start winning more at the blackjack tables.
You can use these five blackjack tricks to improve your results immediately. Until you learn how to count cards stick with minimum bets, use a strategy card, and never take insurance. These three things will help your game a great deal. But the ultimate trick is learning how to count cards and turning the tables on the casinos.