Everyone wants to get good at gambling, no matter their game of choice, so it’s hardly a surprise that cheats sheets, strategies, and tips are some of the most asked for resources in the industry.
When looking at the most popular games that players are looking to become great at, it’s blackjack that reaches the podium alongside poker and 3 card brag. There are countless players all looking for success while trying to make that magical 21, we’ve probably got Hollywood to thank for that.
With blockbuster movies including “The Hangover”, “21” and, of course, “Rain Man” bringing blackjack straight into the public eye, it’s no wonder that gamers take to the felt to try and win life-changing sums of money.
Granted, there is always the option of counting cards at the table if you’re wanting the most reliable method of changing your odds, but unless you fancy getting kicked out of the casino, we’d recommend avoiding it.
So, if you’re wanting to become a great blackjack player (and still be allowed to take a seat inside the casino), we’ve got 7 top tips to keep in mind the next time that you’re playing for keeps.
1. Only play the games with liberal rules
The first thing you want to focus on when playing blackjack starts before you’ve even taken a seat it’s picking the right table to suit your style (more, in-depth guide, here).
As a general rule of thumb, players should look for the most liberal playing rules available with blackjack that pays 3-2. Some tables will offer 6 to 5, or, if you’re incredibly unlucky, even money, meaning that you should steer well clear.
Other liberal rules to look out for when scouting the perfect table include:
- The dealer stands on a soft 17
- Players able to double down on any two cards
- Doubling after pair splitting allowed
The fewer decks present, the better the odds are so if there’s the option of a single or double-deck game, it should be chosen over a six or eight-deck game.
2. Learn the basic playing strategy
Next up on the list of things to cover before you sit down, learning the basic playing strategy of blackjack, but you might want to study at home rather than the casino floor.
It might surprise you, but blackjack isn’t just a guessing game and some of the world’s top mathematicians have studied the game for well over 60 years to devise what is widely regarded as the optimal strategy.
The optimal strategy is designed to minimize the house edge to a value of less than 1%, vital if you’re looking to increase your odds of winning.
3. Avoid making the insurance wager
If you’re looking to avoid any bad bets when playing blackjack, there’s one that stands tall above the rest the insurance wager.
The insurance bet is what we not-so-fondly call a sucker bet. You’re betting that the dealer has a ten-value downcard to nicely match their ace upcard (giving blackjack).
A winning insurance bet will pay you 2-1, but the odds of winning are worse, so even if you have a blackjack yourself and the dealer offers you even money, decline it.
4. Ignore the players surrounding you
Blackjack is notorious for being a “team sport” even though you never really asked for one in the first place.
It’s not uncommon for the players to your left and right to offer you advice and root for your play against the house, but for the most part, they’ll full of hot air. At the end of the day, it’s your money that you’re betting and your decision about what should be done with the cards.
You should almost always ignore the players surrounding you unless, of course, they’ve amassed the most impressive collection of chips you’ve ever seen that might be ground for hearing their two cents.
5. Never believe that you’re due a win
It’s one of the biggest mistakes that we see newbie blackjack players (more details here) make but no matter how long of a losing streak you’re on, you should never believe that you’re due a win any time soon.
The cards don’t know when you’re winning or when you’re losing, so to increase your bets and adjust your patterns depending when you think you should be winning is frankly bizarre. The cards don’t owe you anything and you should act accordingly.
Never bet big on a hunch, granted it might come off, but it’s hardly ever worth it.
6. Avoid tables using a continuous shuffler
A continuous shuffling machine (or CSM if you want to impress your friends) is a device used to shuffle the cards after each round in the game of blackjack – but if you’re wanting to give yourself the best odds, you’ll avoid the tables using the shuffler.
Players should target tables that use a traditional mechanical shuffler (shuffling following 50% to 75% have been played) or tables with dealers that manually shuffle the cards. This reduced exposure to the number of hands played will protect the bankroll of the players, reducing the expected takings of the casino.
In the interest of bankroll management, selective play is your best friend.
7. Make use of a strategy card
It may sound too good to be true, but plenty of brick-and-mortar casinos are more than happy to provide a strategy card to those playing the game.
The plastic laminate cards are great for beginner players for getting to grips with the game and can be referred to during each hand to look for the best play in the situation. It’s a great way to keep your strategy on the straight and narrow.
Adrian Sireca, of OnlineCasinoGems, is all for the idea, stating: “Strategy cards are a great way for players to get to grips with the game [blackjack]. Other players can become a little impatient or frustrated with poor moves, so it gives a little confidence in the play for those newer to the game”.
Just don’t forget to avoid putting the card on the table, the casino isn’t that fond of anything but the cards and chips on the felt.