How Do You Win in Blackjack?

Man Looking at Cards on Left and Smiling Man Holding Money on Right

Blackjack can provide a great chance to win when compared to most casino games. It can even give you an advantage over the house in some circumstances (covered later).

The key word with all of this, though, is “can.” Blackjack rewards players who dedicate time to learning strategy. You’ll need the right approach to win in blackjack.

The following guide discusses the two main routes towards bigger blackjack winnings. It also provides in-depth tips for maximizing these methods of winning.

Approaches to Winning in Blackjack

The most common way to win in blackjack involves using basic strategy. By knowing when to hit, stand, split, or double down, you can look forward to bigger profits.

Of course, you aren’t going to naturally know when to make the perfect decision in each case. Instead, you must study the right resources to lower the house edge.

Even with perfect basic strategy, though, you’ll still be facing a house edge like with any other casino game. You’ll need some luck to win as a result.

Card counting is the other primary method for winning in blackjack. It involves tracking card values until the deck is in your favor. At this point, you raise bets to capitalize on your advantage.

The great thing about card counting is that it can actually give you an edge over the casino. It’s perhaps the easiest advantage play method to use.

Of course, nothing comes easy in gaming. You’ll still need to work much harder to win with card counting versus basic strategy.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a complex game, even when you’re just using standard strategy. You have to know when to hit, stand, split, or double down in the right situation.

You might feel like blackjack strategy is extremely difficult at first. Luckily, though, you can quickly learn it with the right resources.

As I’ll cover in the tips, a blackjack strategy chart and/or trainer are your tickets towards optimal play.

Blackjack Double Down

Tips for Winning With Basic Strategy

You shouldn’t have much trouble mastering basic strategy once you’re moving in the right direction. The following tips will help you on the path towards becoming a strong player.

Use a Strategy Chart

A blackjack strategy chart is the easiest way to quickly learn the best decisions in each scenario. It shows what action you should take depending upon your score and the dealer’s up card.

You can find these charts at many websites. In fact, here’s a strategy chart that you can use right away.

I recommend starting with online blackjack when reviewing your chart. This way, you don’t feel any pressure from the dealer or other players when referring to your chart. You can basically take all day on a decision at an online casino.

Land-based establishments also let you use these resources. You should do so sparingly, though, so as not to hold up the game.

Use a Trainer

A blackjack trainer is another helpful tool. It’s a program that points out correct and correct decisions while you’re playing free blackjack.

A trainer is helpful for developing repetition with strategy. When you get used to making the right plays over and over, you’ll eventually do it naturally.

Trainers are especially useful before heading to a land-based casino. Again, dealers and players don’t appreciate you holding up the game hand after hand. By using a trainer, you’ll have a more-natural command of correct strategy.

Look for Quality Games

Strategy can only take you so far with blackjack. You also have to choose tables that offer player-friendly rules.

Natural blackjack payouts are the first rule you should consider. Specifically, you want 3:2 natural payouts rather than 6:5. A 3:2 payoff lowers the house by 1.4%.

Blackjack Hand With Colorful Mosaic Background

The number of decks also plays an important role. Here’s how each deck amount affects the house advantage:

  • 1 deck – 0.16% house edge
  • 2 decks – 0.46%
  • 4 decks – 0.60%
  • 6 decks – 0.64%
  • 8 decks – 0.66%

Other rules that go in your favor are as follows:

  • The dealer standing instead of hitting on a soft 17
  • Being able to double down on any first two cards
  • Being able to re-split up to four hands
  • Late surrender
  • Being able to re-split aces
  • Being able to hit re-split aces

Not every rule is going to favor you. The goal, though, is to find tables that offer several favorable rules. You especially want to start with 3:2 natural payouts.

Get Online Blackjack Bonuses

Online blackjack is unique in that it offers deposit bonuses. You can receive a match on your deposit worth up to a certain amount. For example, a gaming site might offer a 100% match bonus worth as much as $500.

You do have to check and ensure that blackjack qualifies for any given casino bonus. After all, casinos mainly like offering slots deals.

Assuming blackjack does qualify, you can proceed to depositing and taking advantage of it. You’ll need to meet the terms and conditions before cashing any money out from the bonus.

Be Realistic

Basic blackjack strategy doesn’t give you an advantage over the house. It merely helps you reduce the casino house edge and improve your odds of winning.

Even if you find the best-available game and use optimal strategy, you’ll still be at a slight disadvantage. That said, you should be realistic about your chances

You will need a little luck to win with basic strategy. Assuming this luck doesn’t come, though, then you shouldn’t get overly upset.

Card Counting

Card counting is a famous advantage-play technique that applies to blackjack. It involves tracking cards as they come out of the shoe and assigning them values.

Casino Dealer at Casino Blackjack Table

There are plenty of card counting systems out there that are easy to learn for beginners. The Hi-Lo is the most popular counting system. It’s also very accurate and can provide an edge worth between 0.5% and 1.5%.

Here are the values that are assigned to different card groupings as they come out of the shoe:

  • 10 through A = +1
  • 7 through 9 = 0 (neutral)
  • 2 through 6 = -1

Most blackjack games feature multiple decks. The Hi-Lo accounts for these multiple decks by requiring you to convert the running count to a true count.

To do so, you divide the running count by the estimated decks remaining in the shoe. Here’s an example:

  • Your running count is +6.
  • You believe that only 2 out of the original 6 decks remain in the shoe.
  • 6 / 2 = +3 true count
The final step to Hi-Lo success involves raising your bets during favorable situations. You especially want to do this later in the shoe, when you have more confidence in your count.

Here’s a model on how to raise your wagers based on a positive count:

  • +1 true count or less – Bet the table minimum (hopefully $5)
  • +2 true count – Bet $25
  • +3 true count – Bet $50
  • +4 true count – Bet $75

Tips for Card Counting Success

As seen above, card counting isn’t overly difficult to understand. You track cards, assign them a running count, convert that number to a true count, and raise your bets when necessary.

Putting card counting into practice, though, is much tougher. The following tips will help you survive the ups and downs on the way to counting success.

Practice, Then Practice Some More

You can memorize a card-counting system like the Hi-Lo all you want. However, knowing the system inside and out and putting it to use are two different things.

Once in the casino, you must keep up with the dealer’s speed. You also must do a good job of ignoring distractions.

Casino Blackjack, Dealer, Blackjack Players

You should practice your skills for a while before actually putting your bankroll at risk. You can conduct this practice in one or more of the following ways:

  • Use a free online card counting trainer.
  • Deal cards to yourself while counting.
  • Have a friend act as the dealer while you count.
  • Visit a casino and count off to the side without playing.
  • Play low stakes and practice counting for an authentic experience.

Have a Large Bankroll

As mentioned before, the Hi-Lo provides anywhere between a 0.5% and 1.5% edge when used correctly. Therefore, you’ll look forward to long-term profits if you can sustain your blackjack bankroll.

Doing so, though, is easier said than done. A 1% house advantage by no means guarantees that you’ll win in any given session. You could lose lots of money before your advantage starts shining through.

With that said, you want a large enough bankroll to survive the variance. You should probably have between $6,000 in $8,000 as a solo counter. When part of a team, you’ll want anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000.

These large bankrolls allow you to comfortably increase bets during favorable counts. They also help you get through any rough patches.

Consider Joining or Forming a Team

You don’t necessarily have to be part of a card-counting team to make money. However, your chances of getting kicked out of the casino decrease when you’re allied with a competent team.

With the popular “Big Player” strategy, a team uses spotters to identify favorable counts. They then signal to the big player when a deck is hot.

Hand Showing Cards Playing Blackjack, Casino Chips, Group of People Cheering

The big player can sit down and begin placing large bets immediately. They look like a high roller, rather than just somebody who’s raising bets when the count is positive.

Of course, casinos can still catch your team. However, you stand a stronger chance of successfully counting for a while with the Big Player strategy

Choose the Right Casinos

Some casinos are stricter than others when it comes to harassing card counters. They’re more apt to give a potential card counter heat and, eventually, kick them out.

You definitely want to avoid these types of gambling establishments at all costs. Otherwise, you’ll have a much more difficult time counting cards before being shown the door.

Research is your friend in this matter. You should spend lots of time online looking for advice on which casinos are more lenient towards counting.

Even the most-lenient casinos will only tolerate so much. Nevertheless, they’re the best options you have for counting without constant harassment from the pit boss.

Which Route Should You Go – Card Counting or Basic Strategy?

Ideally, you’ll become a successful card counter and make blackjack profits. The reality, though, is that counting cards is by no means an easy task.

You first need to master a given system. You should also start with an adequate bankroll so that the variance doesn’t get you.

From here, you’ll have to practice your skills. Most likely, you’ll need hours of practice before becoming a highly competent counter.

Blackjack 17 on Table

The more realistic path involves using basic strategy to whittle down the house edge. You stand an even better chance when finding tables with great rules.

You’re certainly not guaranteed to win with basic strategy. However, you’ll at least have almost a 50-50 shot of making money in each session.

Our Conclusions About These Blackjack Tips

No matter which route you go, mastering blackjack isn’t an easy task. It’s one of the most strategic casino games due to all of the decisions that you’ll face.

If you’re going to play blackjack, then you should definitely master basic strategy. This way, you’ll have almost a 50% chance of winning in any given session.

Assuming you absolutely love blackjack, then you should look into card counting. Although difficult, card counting provides an opportunity to make long-term profits.