Blackjack strategy seems complex at first glance. However, you can quickly improve your skills by mastering certain tips.
This guide features seven blackjack tips that are highly effective and easy to learn. You should lower the house edge to 0.5% or less by using the advice presented here.
This resource will also discuss card counting, the validity of betting systems, and answer FAQs on blackjack strategy. For beginners, consider reading our how to play blackjack guide before you read these tips for playing.
7 blackjack tips for success
1. Not all games offer the same house edge
Blackjack is a simple game on the surface. It requires you to beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21.
However, blackjack features small rule differences from one table to the next. These slight rule discrepancies leave the house edge anywhere from 0.3% to 2.0%.
You should familiarize yourself with variable rules and how they impact odds. Below, you’ll see the most-important rules and their effects on the house advantage (pluses favor you):
- Single deck = +0.48%
- Double down on any two cards = +0.23%
- Double deck = +0.18
- Double down after splitting aces (DAS) = +0.15
- Double down on 9 through 11 only = -0.09%
- No DAS = -0.14%
- Double down on 10 and 11 only = -0.18%
- Dealer hits on soft 17 = -0.22%
- Natural blackjack pays 6 to 5 (instead of 3 to 2) = -1.39%
Online casinos feature a blackjack game’s rules in the help screen. Therefore, you can quickly determine which rules are present in an internet game.
Land-based casinos only list the natural blackjack payouts and if the dealer stands/hits on soft 17. You must watch the game to figure out what other rules are available.
2. Online blackjack normally gives you better odds
Land-based and internet blackjack tables can both offer favorable rules. However, the online version generally provides stronger odds across the board.
Software providers don’t need to pay dealers to run online games. They save money through the lack of dealer salaries and can afford to offer lower house edges.
Certain brick-and-mortar casinos still feature attractive odds. Downtown Vegas casinos, especially, carry a reputation for boasting low blackjack house advantages.
Again, though, online casinos offer a larger number of quality blackjack games. You’ll generally face between a 0.3% and 1.0% house edge, depending upon the game and provider.
3. Learn basic strategy
A blackjack game with favorable odds will only get you so far. You still must learn strategy to work the house edge to its lowest point and boost your chances of winning.
Blackjack strategy calls on you to master a large variety of situations. You must know when to hit, stand, split, and double down based on your score and the dealer’s upcard.
This task would normally be extensive and require much study. Luckily, though, you can use a blackjack strategy chart to quickly learn how to handle each situation.
Strategy charts show what action you should take based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard. Here’s an example:
- Your score is 13.
- The dealer’s upcard is 4.
- The chart shows to stand in this scenario.
You always want to use the appropriate chart for the variation you’re playing. You shouldn’t use a Spanish 21 resource, for example, when your chosen game features downtown Vegas rules.
4. Manage your bankroll
Bankroll management helps you accomplish two important goals:
- 1. Avoid risking money that you can’t afford to lose.
- 2. Stretch your bankroll out over time.
You should never play blackjack with funds that are meant for rent or groceries. After all, blackjack is a negative-expectation game that offers no guarantees.
Additionally, you probably hope to enjoy blackjack for hours or days—not just minutes. Bankroll management helps you place sensible wagers and last longer with the game.
You can manage your bankroll in a variety of ways. Assuming you need help getting started, though, you can refer to this example:
- You have a $1,000 blackjack bankroll.
- You want 100 units.
- 1,000 / 10 = 100 units
- You only wager 1-2 units per hand.
- You set a loss limit of 20 units per session.
5. Go for blackjack bonuses
Many online casinos offer blackjack bonuses. These deals can be strictly blackjack deals or listed under table-game offers.
In either case, bonuses let you generate extra money on the side of your play. Most blackjack offers are based on a match percentage of your deposit.
They also include wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough). You must meet playthrough before withdrawing a bonus.
Here’s an example on how these deals work:
- A casino offers a 100% match blackjack bonus worth up to $500.
- You deposit $100 and qualify for a $100 bonus.
- Playthrough is 80x.
- 100 x 80 = $8,000
- You must wager $8,000 before cashing out your bonus.
Some blackjack bonuses feature lower wagering requirements than others. You should shop around to find the best deals in terms of playthrough and other terms and conditions.
6. Avoid insurance
Blackjack insurance seems like an attractive offer. Dealers give you the option to take insurance when they’re showing an ace.
You bet half your original wager to take insurance. In turn, you stand to win 2 to 1 if the dealer shows a natural blackjack.
Here’s an example:
- You wager $10.
- The dealer shows an ace.
- You take insurance and bet another $5.
- The dealer flips over a 10 for a natural blackjack.
- You lose the $10 bet.
- However, you win $10 for the insurance wager.
The problem with insurance is that the dealer will only have a 10 hole card approximately 31% of the time.
The 2-to-1 payout isn’t enough to make up for the numerous times that the dealer won’t have a blackjack. You face a 7.69% house edge with insurance as a result.
7. Consider card counting
Blackjack gives you a rare opportunity to beat the house. The catch: you must master card counting to win profits.
Card counting is a famous advantage-play method that involves tracking card values. You assign points to cards based on which group they fall into.
The famed Hi-Lo system features the following groups and point values:
- Ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 (high cards) = -1
- 7, 8, and 9 (neutral cards) = 0
- 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (low cards) = +1
You assign points to each card that comes out of the shoe. You bet more money when the count is positive for two reasons:
- The dealer stands a higher chance of drawing bust cards (10s and aces).
- You boast stronger odds of getting a natural blackjack (3-to-2 or 6-to-5 payout).
Card counting involves a few more intricacies, including how much to wager and accounting for multi-shoe decks. You should also practice your counting skills before actually trying this technique in casinos.
Nevertheless, card counting becomes an attainable task with the right passion and work ethic.
Will blackjack betting systems help you win?
What is a betting system?
A betting system requires placing wagers in a specific pattern. Some strategies call on you to raise bets when you’re losing to recoup losses (a.k.a. negative-progression systems).
Here’s an example:
- The Martingale requires doubling wagers after every loss.
- You bet $10 (table minimum) and lose.
- You bet $20 and lose.
- You bet $40 and lose.
- You wager $80 and win.
- 80 – 70 = $10 in winnings
Other systems call on you to increase wagers when you’re winning to capitalize on hot streaks (a.k.a. positive-progression systems).
Here’s an example:
- The Paroli requires you to double bets following each win.
- You return to the minimum bet after winning three straight wagers.
- You bet $10 and win.
- You bet $20 and win.
- You bet $40 and win.
- $70 in winnings
- You go back to wagering $10.
Pros of blackjack betting systems
Betting strategies can accelerate your winnings. They can also help you win back losses in quick fashion.
Systems also help break up the monotony of flat betting. You base your wagers on a specific strategy rather than placing the same-sized bets over and over.
Cons of blackjack betting systems
No blackjack betting system can overcome the house edge. You might experience short-term luck with a system, but you won’t truly circumvent the house advantage.
These strategies can also hasten your losses. The Martingale is especially risky, because it requires you to keep doubling bets in the midst of losing streaks.
FAQs on blackjack tips
You can play free blackjack at online casinos after completing registration. Free mode offers an excellent way to practice this game without risking real money.
Another option is to try blackjack for free here on online.casino. We have multiple different blackjack versions for you to try for free.
The best blackjack games are those that feature the most-favorable rules. You’ll generally find tables with the lowest house edges at online casinos.
Tables with “Vegas Strip,” “downtown Vegas,” and “Atlantic City” rules usually feature low house advantages. However, you should always check rules in the help screen to make sure.
The film 21 creates the impression that you must be a mathematical genius to count cards. In reality, you can become a card counter regardless of your background.
You can quickly learn the intricacies of card counting in less than an hour. The challenge, though, comes with counting in an actual casino environment.
You should practice your skills for hours before visiting a casino. You can use free online blackjack trainers to hone your abilities.
No, you can’t effectively count cards in online casinos. Most internet blackjack games shuffle the shoe after every hand.
This aspect eliminates deck penetration. The latter refers to the percentage of the shoe that’s dealt before the cards are reshuffled.
You need reasonable deck penetration to maintain confidence in your count. For example, a +3 count means nothing when only one hand is dealt.
Live dealer blackjack features odds that are competitive with virtual online blackjack. Most live blackjack games boast between a 0.4% and 0.7% house edge.
Your chances of beating blackjack improve as you learn basic strategy. However, casinos still holds an advantage in every situation.
You can make blackjack into a near coin-flip situation. For example, you’re almost on equal footing with the casino in a game with a 0.4% house edge.
However, card counting is the only way to guarantee long-term profits. You must practice your counting skills for extensive hours before becoming capable of winning profits.