Blackjack is a popular game, and almost everyone knows how to play. But did you know that you can use certain strategies to improve your chances to win?
The way you play your hand, and the table rules, both change your chances to win. The more you know about blackjack strategies, the better your chance to show a profit.
Here are seven profit-producing blackjack strategies that you can start using today.
1 – Use a Strategy Card
The easiest way you can improve your chances to win at the blackjack table is to use a strategy card. A blackjack strategy card or chart has a table that shows the best way to play every possible hand. You can find a blackjack strategy chart here or you can buy a card in a casino gift shop.
Some hands are easy to play, like when you have a face card and a nine and the dealer has a six. Most blackjack players understand the best play is to stand. But some hands aren’t as easy. A strategy card takes all of the guesswork out of the equation.
2 – Never Take Insurance
One of the worst bets at the blackjack table is the insurance bet. When the dealer has an ace showing, they offer all of the players insurance. The insurance wager is half your original bet, and pays 2:1 when the dealer has a blackjack.
When the dealer has a natural blackjack, you lose your original wager and get double your insurance bet, so you break even on the hand. But when the dealer doesn’t have a natural blackjack, you lose your insurance bet and play out the rest of the hand with your original wager.
This might sound like a decent bet, but it’s not. The insurance wager is really just a side bet that you can play that has nothing to do with your regular hand. It’s triggered by the dealer showing an ace, but you need to look at it as a standalone side bet.
The deck has 13 ranks of cards from two through ace, so the dealer will have a natural blackjack with an ace showing when their down card is a 10, jack, queen, or king. This means that four out of 13 times on average they have a blackjack, and nine out of 13 times they won’t.
This is a ratio of 9:4, and the wager only pays 2:1. The ratio needs to be 8:4, or the payout needs to be 9:4, or 2.25:1, for it to be a fair wager.
3 – Play at Tables With Good Rules
Every rule used at the blackjack table is either good for you or good for the casino. The tables where blackjack pays 3:2 are much better than when it pays 6:5. In fact, you should never play blackjack where a natural pays worse than 3:2.
Other favorable blackjack rules to look for include:
- Allowed to double down on any two cards
- Allowed to double down after split
- Allowed to split multiple times
- Dealer stands on a soft 17
Of course, there are many other blackjack rule variations, and you need to learn about all of them, but these are the main ones to watch for. Another good rule for players is surrender, so look for it where you usually play.
4 – Always Play for Comps
Every single time you make a bet in the casino, you should be receiving casino comps. This includes blackjack, but it’s the same for any gambling activity. It doesn’t cost anything to join the player’s club or slots club, so there’s never an excuse for not getting comps.
It doesn’t matter if you only play occasionally, or just play for small stakes, you should always make sure the casino is counting your comp points.
Before you play another hand of blackjack, sign up for the comps program. Then, make sure you present your club card before you start playing every time you gamble. Even earning a free meal makes one less thing you need to pay for, and the comps for big players can be even better.
5 – Start Counting Cards
Counting cards is actually one of the only ways you can get a real edge against the casinos. It’s not as hard to do as most people believe, and once you learn how to do it, you can use the skill for the rest of your life.
You can find all kinds of information about how to count cards online, or you can read a good book. With just a little bit of practice, possibly as few as 10 hours, you can learn all of the basics of card counting.
Once you learn how to count cards in blackjack, all you need to do is practice. You can practice at home or playing free online blackjack.
6 – Learn About Shuffle Tracking and Ace Sequencing
Shuffle tracking and ace sequencing are advanced blackjack strategies, but you should at least be aware of what they are. The reason I’m covering both of them in the same section is because they’re closely related.
Shuffle tracking is done by watching the value of cards as they’re put in the discard tray. When groups of aces and other high cards are placed in the discard tray close together in a hand shuffled game, you can watch where the group of cards goes as the shoe is shuffled.
Ace sequencing is when you track aces that are close together the same way you use shuffle tracking. When you see three or more aces go into the discard tray close together, you can sometimes watch and predict when they’re going to be dealt.
Aces are the best card in the deck for blackjack play, and any hand that you get that includes an ace is a profitable long-term hand.
7 – Learn About Hole Carding
Hole carding is another advanced strategy blackjack play, and it doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, you can play with a big advantage against the casino.
Here’s how hole carding works… When you’re sitting in certain spots at the blackjack table, usually directly in front of the dealer or at first base, you can sometimes see the value of the dealer’s hole card if the dealer is sloppy.
You have to pay attention to have any chance to see hole cards, but when you see one it helps you make the best play on your hand.
Let’s say you receive a jack and a six, and the dealer is showing a queen. Normal strategy says you should hit in this situation, but if you saw the dealer’s hole card and they have a six, the best play is to stand with your 16. The dealer is going to have to take another card, and eight out of the 13 possible cards will bust their hand.
You can get started right away using some of these seven blackjack strategies. Get a strategy card and use it every time you play, never take insurance, and find games with good rules. If you just do these three things, you can start seeing better results every time you play blackjack.
You should always sign up for the comp program at every casino where you play, no matter what games you play. Getting comps is like getting free money for doing something you’re planning to do anyway.
The last three strategies listed on this page are more advanced, but you should at least take a few minutes to learn more about them to see if you can learn how to be an advantage blackjack player.