Expert Blackjack Guide: Play Like a Pro in 10 Easy Steps

While blackjack seems complicated at first, we at CasinoTop reckon that there are in fact ways and means to becoming a pro in no time. This is why we’ve compiled 10 super easy steps to becoming a blackjack pro right here!

Before You Get Started

Here are some fun facts about blackjack. The origin of blackjack is unknown; however, it does have many ties to Spain, where street hustlers used this game to gain financial advantages over their opponents. There are other references for the game which are found within the region of France which used it in casinos back in the early 1700s. Blackjack, known as twenty-one at the time, was later introduced to the United States market by casinos which offered lucrative payouts to entice potential players.

Blackjack has established itself as one of the staples within any land-based and online casino. With the rules being relatively simple to grasp it’s quite easy to get caught up in the hype of hitting 21 without any concrete strategy of play.

In this guide we look at 10 steps you can take to playing like a pro.

1.Know the Rules

Before getting started with any casino game, knowing the rules is a vital part of being successful. Unlike most games, blackjack can be played with a strategy, which means that it isn’t entirely a game of chance. You should also know that blackjack can be played with one or up to eight decks. How it works is that both the dealer and yourself are dealt with two cards with one of the dealers’ cards being face down, this is what’s known as the hole card. Winning is achieved by having your hand equal to 21 and not exceeding it, if the total of your cards exceeds 21 then you lose immediately. However, your hand should also exceed the total of what the dealer has. So, if you stand on a total of 16 and the dealer exceeds 21, you win the round.
There are five choices a player can make when playing their hand in blackjack and we’ll point them out right here. First, you can choose to “stand”, this means that you’re satisfied with your hand, after choosing to stand the dealer will then reveal their hole card. Then there’s the “hit”option, this is done by tapping or scratching the table alongside your bet and the dealer will provide you with another card. Next, we have “double down”, this should only be done when you’re sure that you have a good hand. When doubling down you add more money to your initial bet and then you’ll receive one more card, you won’t be allowed to hit after doubling down. The third option is “splitting”, this means that you’ll be taking one hand and turning it into two, by combining doubling down and splitting you’re able to win double the amount of money.

Just something to take note of. Insurance is when a dealer has an Ace faced up on the table, so there’s a chance that they would have a blackjack. If a dealer has a blackjack, you lose, so now you have the option to bet half of your initial bet on whether or not the dealer would hit blackjack or not. If the dealer’s hand does total 21, you win. Finally, you have the option to “surrender”, this is where you are given the option to give up and receive half of your bet back.

 

Blackjack cards in hands on red table

 

2. Start With a Basic Strategy

It’s worth it to enter any game with some form of strategy in mind, this minimizes the chances of making mistakes and ultimately losing. In blackjack, there are a couple of really good strategies; however, it’s vital to understand that strategies cannot beat the house edge.

Below you’ll find a simple list of rules to follow which should increase your chances of success when playing blackjack. These rules, when understood and memorised, will make a huge difference in whether you’re successful when playing as they will help you to understand exactly what the cards in your hand mean.

3. Know When to Surrender

There are only two occasions when you should surrender, this either when you’re on 16 against a dealer with a 9 through an Ace and when you’re on a 15 against a dealer with a 10.

4. Should You Split?

Splitting is a move where a player splits a hand of two cards of the same value into two different hands. This can be both beneficial and detrimental to your blackjack round as you’ll need to know when it’s okay to do this. Below is a guide on when to split.

  • Always split aces, this is due to the probability of receiving a card with the value of 10 on either one or both of them.
  • When the dealer has a face-up card of 2 to 9, except 7, and the player has a pair of 9’s, always split. The other option would be to stand.
  • Always split 8’s.
  • There are a few other situations that would require you to split based on what the dealer has such as when the dealer has a face-up card of 2 to 9, and the player has a pair of 5’s which doubles, always split.

5.Doubling Hard or Soft

A soft total is any hand which has an Ace as one of the first two cards where the Ace is valued at 11 and a hard total is any hand that doesn’t start with an Ace in it or is a hand which has been dealt an Ace but the value of the Ace is 1 rather than 11. Sometimes, you’ll be given the option to double down on your existing bet, and players often fall into this trap when they believe that they have a good hand. However, there are times when it’s best not to, such as when you have a soft total. It’s a good rule to only double down when you have a hard total close to 21, as the dealer will have a higher chance of going bust.

6. Taking a Stand

Standing is when a player chooses not to receive another card from the dealer, and there are times where the odds will be against your hand, and taking another hit will have you lose the game. It’s usually okay to stand once you’ve hit certain totals from 12 to 16; however, there are certain totals you should always stand on, from 17 to 20.

 

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7. When to Hit?

Hitting is when a player requests another card from the dealer, and the card you receive adds to the total of your hand. There are times when it’s okay to hit, but once you get to a total of 17, then you shouldn’t even think about hitting. Totals of 12 to 16 are also considered risky, but you can get away with taking another hit when you have those totals.

8. Don't Try to Count Cards if You're New to the Game

Counting cards is against the rules of the casino and beginners are usually easily caught due to the prolonged time taken to decide to either hit, stand, split, or surrender. Another reason to not do it is that by attempting to count cards and not knowing the system could backfire and you could be making some very bad choices.

You can say that counting cards goes hand-in-hand with taking insurance and what most players fail to realize is the fact that insurance is meant to benefit the casino and not the players. Unless you’re a card counter, this option is a bad idea as the odds of the dealer getting the required card for you to win back half your bet is 30.8%, and those are awful odds to play against. Insurance is completely unnecessary if you’re not a card counter and it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

9. Become Familiar with Side Bets

Side bets are usually avoided due to the house edges they have; however, you can use them to your advantage if you were to know-how. Below you’ll find a brief explanation on some of them and what they entail.

21+3

This side bet acts like a mini-game that allows you to win based on your first two cards and the upcard of the dealer. Based on the formation of these cards, you’ll be able to win if they display either a three-of-a-kind, straight, flush, or straight flush.

Super Sevens

This side bet rewards you based on how many 7s you have, and the more the better. The payout received on these cards is based on whether or not they’re suited and this is also based on if you’ve already received two 7s.

Over/Under Thirteen

This is one of the simpler side bets where you’ll be allowed to bet on whether your first two cards will be over or under the total of 13. The ace will count as the value 1 and if you hit a total of 13, then you’ll automatically lose.

10.Try to Beat the Dealer

It’s a common misconception that you must get 21 to win, but essentially, all you need to do to win is to beat the dealer, either have a total higher than theirs or stand on a high value that they’ll hit on, causing them to go bust (exceed 21).

Our Final Words: Practice Your Strategy

Strategies have been formulated by teaching a computer how to play blackjack, the computer then proceeded to play millions of hands which were recorded. Through trial and error, the computer learned how to make decisions that were best for the player as it had been given every possible hand with every possible dealer hand to go up against. The strategies can be used depending on your style of play and once you’ve chosen a strategy you should practice it until you’re comfortable enough to be sitting in front of a dealer.

There’s no harm in practicing, and if your goal is to be a great blackjack player, you should know exactly what you’re doing without having to second guess the decisions that you’re making.

Sources

  1. https://www.pinnacle.com/en/betting-articles/casino/the-history-of-blackjack/4VFJVGWL3S9Q9M7J
  2. https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/blackjack4.htm
  3. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1528&context=gradreports
  4. https://wizardofodds.com/ask-the-wizard/blackjack/probability/
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/02/01/how-to-tell-if-youre-playing-blackjack-with-a-card-counter/#50fea5081784
  6. https://towardsdatascience.com/winning-blackjack-using-machine-learning-681d924f197c
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