As you’ll read elsewhere in this blog, I’m banned from all UK land-based casinos. I was never given an official reason, although it was hinted at that I might be considered a “card counter”. Note: I didn’t say that, the casinos “assumed” it. Oh well, there’s the breaks. I can’t be blamed for a semi-photographic memory can I?
I may be banned but you’re not. In that respect, it’s my priority to train you on how to win at blackjack (and other casino games), legally, using luck and skill in combination, so that you can continue the dream of breaking the casino banks. I say dream, because it’s difficult to do – and many of the casinos you now play against are huge multi-national corporations with huge bankrolls. But they do say that big trees can grow from small acorns… so get planting!
Clearly, I can’t teach you how to card count or advantage play in one blog entry – so I’m not attempting it. I’m also not going to tell you what the game of blackjack is basically about (i.e. getting closer to 21 than the dealer without going “bust”) as there are plenty of Internet sites that can provide this level of information. I’m instead going to provide my wealth of blackjack advice over a series of articles, moving forward. This allows me to concentrate on individual blackjack topics / tasks and therefore give you more information, rather than just glossing over stuff.
This first blackjack specific article will give an introductory explanation of “Blackjack Basic Strategy” which is a reasonable way to play for all beginning / novice / medium players. It’s where most blackjack players begin, and even for card counters and advantage players, it’s a useful technique to learn / apply.
Blackjack Basic Strategy is, according to a computer (worked out through the simulation of millions of hands of blackjack – simulating many years of blackjack play for the average player), the best mathematical way to play every possible hand situation, without any knowledge of the cards left in the rest of the deck. Blackjack basic strategy does not make you a winner in the long-term: it simply reduces the edge to a respectable level when playing – on a six deck game to typically about 0.54%. But that’s still 5 times better than Single Zero roulette! Play without blackjack basic strategy and you could end up giving the casino a much higher edge: typically 2% – 5%. That’s a huge difference.
Note however that whilst the LONG TERM edge may be against you, you CAN win in the short term. And Blackjack basic strategy gives you probably the best chance to do that. Blackjack basic strategy does have variations based upon the number of decks in play, and upon whether rules like “double after splitting”, “dealer only takes original bets if they have a blackjack”, “split and re-split aces” apply. The inclusion or absence of those rules makes a difference to the long term house edge.
A blackjack basic strategy card follows for use in a 4 deck or more game. This sort of game is pretty common in all casinos – not all of us are lucky enough to live in Las Vegas where single and double deck games can be found. Typically casinos around the world use 6 or 8 decks for shoe dealt games, and 4 decks for continuous shuffler machines. Online casinos may use single decks, double decks, four decks, six decks or eight decks – but they typically always shuffle after every hand played. The blackjack basic strategy applies regardless of how the cards are dealt.
To apply blackjack basic strategy, you should follow this card EXACTLY as shown (for a 4 deck or more game – although the rules are also very similar for a smaller number of decks used). Deviating from the “rules” will over time cost you money. That’s proven. I sourced this blackjack basic strategy card from an excellent website: www.wizardofodds.com. That site is an excellent read for finding out the odds on nearly all casino games. It’s mathematically based, and good advice.
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Ideally, you should aim to memorise the actions on this card. However, if you can’t do that, don’t panic. Many casinos will allow you to print the card and take it with you when you play at their tables. Why? Because whilst Blackjack Basic Strategy reduces the edge on the game to 0.54% approx (6 decks), it doesn’t eliminate it. The casinos would rather have a 0.54% player than no player at all. In any case, if you’re playing blackjack ONLINE, you can use this card with no hassle at all. Just print it and have it in front of you whilst you play blackjack.
Repeated from the www.wizardofodds.com website: “To use the basic strategy look up your hand along the left vertical edge and the dealer’s up card along the top. In both cases an A stands for ace. From top to bottom are the hard totals, soft totals, and splittable hands. Rule variations can have an effect on some borderline situations. The most flexible rules are the number of decks, whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, and whether doubling is allowed after splitting.”
In future articles I’ll tell you how to build on this blackjack basic strategy knowledge, and apply basic card counting skills to maximize correct decision making in various / borderline situations. It’s these secrets that will enable you to reduce the house edge even further, generally to about 0.1% with perfect play. If you follow the advice elsewhere in this blog re players clubs, VIP hosts, double dipping on promotions and the like, you can get an overall “edge” on the casino experience as a whole, in YOUR favour.
As always, I’m here to help answer your questions / offer advice, so do let me know if there’s anything I can help with. I don’t mind if you’re a beginner, medium strength player, or high-rolling expert… let me share my experience with you!
Need to play blackjack right now? Check out any of the excellent casinos I feature in this blog – all of which I’ve played at myself. These include: Virgin Casino – £50 free, Betfair Casino – £75 free, Totesport Casino – up to 125% free, 32Red Casino – £100 or $100 Bonus, and Betfred Casino – 100% bonus.