Blackjack is one of the world’s most popular card games. The rules of blackjack are fairly simple (you want to get to 21 without going over), but winning against a professional blackjack dealer isn’t so easy. Because at the end of the day, beating the dealer is the ultimate goal.
It’s not enough to just know the rules. If you want to hold your own at the table during a casino party you’ll need to have a few professional strategies up your sleeve.
Start With Basic Strategies Before Counting Cards
You may have heard how some card sharks will “count” cards at the blackjack table to get the upper hand. They’re essentially trying to determine how many face cards and 10s are left in the deck. This can help you determine if your hand is more or less likely to beat the dealer.
It sounds simple, but it’s far from easy – and it is frowned upon. However, you can use basic strategies to gauge your odds before the hit based on the dealer’s upcard. Use this chart to start studying when to hit and when to stand based on your hand and what you know the dealer has.
Use the 17 Rule
There are a few rules that the blackjack dealers themselves follow to play the odds. The most basic rule they use is to stay if they get 17 or higher no matter what. If the dealer thinks it a good idea you should too. If your hand is a 15 or 16 use the dealer’s upcard to determine if it’s smarter to stay or hit. When the dealer’s upcard is a seven or higher it’s probably best to hit.
Doubling and Splitting
There are two blackjack strategies many beginners aren’t aware they can use after the first two cards are dealt. If doubling is allowed you can use it to double your bet but you’ll only get one more card. It’s typically a strategy that you’ll want to utilize when you have an ace and a low number card on your soft hand or a total of 11 or less.
Splitting also doubles your bet, however there are different stipulations. Splitting can only be done when you’re dealt a pair. It splits your pair into two separate hands that are each worth the original bet. You can also double on a split hand to increase your bet further. Just remember, the higher the dealer’s upcard is the less likely you are to win by splitting.
Weighing the Odds of a Side Wager
If the dealer’s upcard is an ace “insurance” side bets can be made. The 2-to-1 side wager is on whether or not the dealer’s face down card (hole card) is a 10-card. If they do have a 10-card you win, if not you lose. This is optional and should be carefully considered. A good rule of thumb is to only take the insurance bet if there are several people playing and none of the upcards are a 10-card. The payout is tempting, but chances are the card is less than 10. It’s best to stay focused on your hand and winning it.
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