Blackjack (also known as 21) is a simple casino card game that has become popular in the last few decades.
Your goal is to get a higher card value than the dealer without surpassing 21. Ideally, you want to get exactly 21, which is called a blackjack.
We made a crucial discovery during our research – most casual gamblers consider that the game is easy to play.
We disagree. Although the game’s objective is straightforward, blackjack has complex mechanics that you have to understand before you can get consistent results.
This guide will cover the basic blackjack rules and provide you three actionable strategies to maximize your profit.
Basic Blackjack Rules
Before you claim that you know “what’s the drill” with blackjack, you need to be familiar with the game’s basic rules.
Here are the essentials:
- Card values – Cards from 2 through 10 have their face value. Jacks, queens and kings are worth 10 points. Aces can be either 1 or 11 points.
- Playing a round – Each player starts with two cards. The dealer has one card hidden until the end of the round. You have the option to “Hit” and draw an additional card or “Stand” and hold your total until the end. If your hand value exceeds 21, you go “bust,” and the dealer automatically wins.
- Blackjack meaning – Many beginners think that any hand that sums up to 21 is considered a blackjack. Wrong. Getting blackjack or a “natural 21” only happens when the first two cards dealt add up to 21. Essentially, you need to get an Ace and a 10 point card on your first draw, which will pay you a considerable amount. More on that later.
- Betting basics – Before you start wagering at the blackjack table, you need to check the minimum and maximum bet amounts. With that out of the way, it’s time to place your bets. Let’s say, for example, that you bet C$1000. If you lose the round, the dealer will keep your money. However, if you manage to win, you will get your original C$1000 back and an additional C$1000. In case the round results in a tie, you will keep your initial bet money.
- Split – If you get an identical pair, you have the option to split your hand into two separate hands. This move will double your bet because each new hand you created has the original bet’s value. This option is only available on the first move of the round.
- Double down – During the first move, you can choose to double down, which means hitting a card and doubling your initial bet. You can also double down on a split hand, which will triple or even quadruple your bet.
- Surrender – If you consider that your hand is weaker than the dealer’s after you receive the first two cards, you have the option to surrender. Essentially, you will be able to cash out half of your bet, and the house will keep the other half. This feature is not available in all versions of online blackjack. Still, it can come in handy if you get a terrible combination (like 16) and the dealer is showing an Ace.
- Insurance – Lots of casual gamblers get confused by the blackjack insurance bet. Basically, the insurance is an independent side bet that protects you against the dealer getting a blackjack when his first card is an Ace. This bet might seem like a great idea, but the insurance was created to lose in the long. That’s because the dealer will get blackjack less than 1/3 when he gets an Ace as the up card.
You now have a complete overview of the basic rules of blackjack. But you’re not ready to become a profitable player yet. Before you start your blackjack journey, you need to learn some simple and effective strategies which will drastically improve your winning odds.
Blackjack strategies that work
When it comes to finding blackjack-related information, the internet is the ideal place to start. However, most guides you find online keep telling you the same thing – develop a solid bankroll management strategy, and you will improve your odds.
Agreed. But does that information have any value for a player who doesn’t wholly understand the blackjack mechanics?
Probably not. The reader will ignore the recommendations in the guide and will continue to have a lousy strategy. This will automatically frustrate the player because he won’t get consistent wins at the table.
Luckily, we’ve found a solution to this problem. The following three blackjack strategies will maximize your odds of winning and will enhance your gambling experience:
1. Choose the right blackjack table
When you’re just getting started with blackjack, you will notice that there are all sorts of different rules, depending on the version you’re playing.
For starters, it is important to avoid tables that say “Blackjack pays 6 to 5.” These versions of blackjack are meant to trick newbies into thinking that it’s the most profitable way to play. In reality, what 6 to 5 means is that you will get C$6 payout for getting a blackjack on a C$5 bet.
Instead, we recommend looking for tables with “Blackjack pays 3 to 2.” These are fairly easy to find, and the payout for getting a natural 21 is C$3 for a C$2 bet. Essentially, you get 150% profit for landing a blackjack, compared to the 120% payout that you receive from the 6 to 5 version.
Thus, playing the 3 to 2 version of the game will lower the house edge and automatically improve your odds of winning.
1. Always split the aces
While splitting on 10s is obviously a bad idea, since you already have a high hand value, splitting on aces is necessary. If you choose not to split your aces, you will most likely lose that round.
Think about it.
With two Aces, you have two chances of landing a blackjack. Even if you don’t get blackjack, there are other high-value cards in the shoe (eights or nines), improving your chances of getting two winning hands.
All in all, splitting Aces is a long-term strategy that can potentially increase your profits or even help you recover from a losing streak.
2. Use all the available actions
During our blackjack games, we’ve noticed that most players are solely focusing on hitting or standing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but not taking advantage of the extra actions available will minimize your chances of long-term success.
Remember: in addition to the essential hit or stand, you have the option to split, surrender, or double down. These extra decisions will make or break your strategy, so use them wisely and not spam them during a gambling session.
Instead, when you’re facing a tough decision, spend a few seconds to analyze all the possible outcomes and choose the best action you should take.
The table below will help you understand which decisions are the best, depending on your starting hand:
The bottom line
This marks the end of our guide about blackjack rules and strategies. Despite being a simple game, mastering it takes practice. Make sure you use all the information from this article, and you will surely maximize your payout potential.
Remember that gambling is a form of entertainment and you should never consider it a main source of income.
Have fun and gamble responsibly!