How To Be Good At Playing Blackjack

24 February 2016 5 minutes to read
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Of all the casino games played in the United States, Blackjack is the most popular by a long shot. The game’s house edge hovers between 0.2 to 0.7 percent. This also depends on the blackjack variation you’re playing.

The simplistic premise of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without busting. Novice players normally end up losing turning a favorable game into a windfall for the house.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can gain an advantage by learning a card-counting strategy. The rules of blackjack differ from casino to casino. Novice players normally plop down at a table without even understanding the game’s basics. On the other hand smart players know exactly what to look for. How big is the disparity from one game to the next and which are the best and worst games.

Rule Barona Rio
Decks 1 1
Blackjack payouts 3 to 2 1 to 1
Dealer soft 17 Hits Hits
Double any first two cards Yes Yes
Double after split Yes No
Allow late surrender Yes No
House edge 0.2% 0.7%

In this section I’m going to illustrate to you how blackjack differs from city to city. Let’s have a look at how the game of blackjack is played at the Barona casino in San Diego and at the Rio casino in Las Vegas. It’s pretty evident from the above table that the game rules at these two casinos differ slightly. I must point out that blackjack in Rio is played in a bikini pit.

Many experts reckon that blackjack has become tighter over the years. Casinos are now hitting the soft 17, it simply means that it now favors the house. Blackjack is a great game to play but you must understand the game rules, variations and its small nuances. Let’s have a look at the game rules imposed by Las Vegas casinos.

Normally when experts are talking about winning strategies they’re typically referring to ”basic strategy”. Practically speaking, basic strategy is a mathematical analysis of when to play the best hand.


Basic Blackjack Tips And Strategy

  1. There are six decks.
  2. The dealer hits soft 17.
  3. On any first 2 cards the player must double up.
  4. After a split the player may double.
  5. To make  separate hands players may split up to 3 times.
  6. Only one card may be drawn to each split ace. Aces can only be split once.
  7. Surrender is allowed.

When playing basic blackjack, no matter what folk tell you avoid insurance at all costs. This is a bad bet where the house edge can be as high as 7.5 percent. Never use it in an online casino because the cards for each hand are shuffled randomly, it’s considered poor play and a waste of money.


How The Deck Is Shuffled

The shuffling method can have an impact on the house edge. Card games can be shuffled in three ways:

  • The cards are shuffled by the dealer also known as the hand shuffle.
  • The cards are shuffled automatically by a machine. One to eight decks can be shuffled at once. Two shoes are normally rotated on different colored cards. The one is being shuffled while the other one is used. One can say it’s similar to that of a hand shuffle.
  • Continuous shuffle. This method of shuffling is done by the machine. Discards are placed back into the shoe and shuffled. Five decks are used by most machines, it’s the same as shuffling the cards after each game.


The House Edge

When you play blackjack in a Las Vegas casino you’re looking at a house edge of 0.5% to 1%. The late Peter Griffin, one of the greatest blackjack players concluded that the average player loses 1.4% because of strategy mistakes. He believed that players can win way more if they understand the basic strategy of the game.


Variation Of The Rules

As mentioned previously blackjack rules vary from casino to casino. Significant variations normally occur in the number of decks being dealt. The less decks there are the better for the player. When the dealer hits on a soft 17, it’s better that the player stands. if you play in Las Vegas, find out if doubling up after splitting is allowed.

New versions of blackjack are now popping up online. Some blackjack rules have been taken directly from terrestrial casinos. Others are designed specifically for the online gaming community. In this section I’m going to discuss some popular online variations.


Blackjack Switch

This is the same as conventional blackjack. However, there’s a slight difference. What’s considered cheating in normal blackjack is allowed in Switch. The player is allowed to trade cards between two hands. The game begins when the players makes two bets of equal size. Cards are dealt face up and the player can ”switch” the second card dealt to each hand.

How does it work? If the player is dealt an 8 and 2 for the first hand and a 9 and 3 on the second hand, the 2 and the 3 can be switched to create two new hands 11 and 11. The following rules apply:

  • The game is played with 6 decks.
  • A soft 17 must be hit by the dealer.
  • On any two cards players are allowed to double.
  • After a split players can double.
  • Even money is paid to the winner.
  • Player loses total wager against the dealer.
  • Any player total of 21 is tied against the dealer’s total of 22. That said, if the player hits 21 it still beats the dealer’s 22. Blackjack Switch can now be played at most internet casinos.


Caribbean 21

This is another blackjack variant offered by online casinos. Caribbean 21 differs from conventional blackjack, some good and some bad. The game is played with 8 decks. The game is played according to the following rules:

  • An ace only counts 1 point. The other card values count the same as in traditional blackjack.
  • The dealer only receives one face up card but the player receives two. There is no hole card.
  • Players are allowed to hit, stand, surrender, split or double.
  • A player can double at any time. Half of the total bet is lost when the player surrenders.
  • On any two cards splitting is allowed.
  • All ties are won by the dealer.
  • When the player is dealt two 10-point cards and an ace, the hand is called a ”Caribbean 21”-it’s the highest ranking hand. It pays 3 to 2. The rest of the winning hands pay 1 to 1. Although it’s a great game to play it offers a surprisingly house low house edge of 0.19 percent. The game does have some advantages like the dealer winning all ties.

In summary. There may be subtle variations in the blackjack game rules. Make sure you know which version of the game you’re playing. Before you play have a look at the game odds.

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