Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack, also known to some as 21, is one of the most widely played games in both brick-and-mortar and online-based casinos. After all, it gives players a definite edge over the house, which maximizes their odds of winning a juicy prize. In the end, though, using a strategy is the only way to consistently make profits.

While other popular casino games like Keno or Roulette rely completely on luck, blackjack allows players to use strategy and skill to influence the outcome. There are a number of strategies available to you as a blackjack player and we have discussed each one of them in detail below for your better understanding:

Online Blackjack Strategies

Online blackjack strategies are very popular with blackjack players as many of them can help with deciding on a response based on the dealers up card. Blackjack strategies are also very useful for determining bet sizes.

Basic blackjack strategy

blackjack strategiesBasic Blackjack Strategy is so named as it is the most basic or essential strategy used in all blackjack games, regardless of the variation or format. Basic Blackjack Strategy follows a specific system of responses based on your two hand combination versus the dealers up card value. Since you will only ever see the dealer’s down card or hole card at the end of the round (in most online blackjack games), it helps to have a strategy when deciding your next move. The basis of the strategy has been determined over many years of virtually every possible card combination found in a game of blackjack. The following shows you how the basic system works:

Doubling

One of the most known blackjack strategies, doubling down is simple to use. When you decide to double down, an extra bet equal to your original is added and you are dealt one more card. This strategy gives you the opportunity to double the amount of money on a strong starting hand.  If the hand value of the first two cards is 11, then you must always choose to double down, as almost 1/3rd of the deck will push you to 21 and more than half the cards will give you 17, or higher. You would also want to double down on 10s and 9s in some situations.

Splitting

Splitting is a worthy strategy when used in certain situations. If the first two cards dealt to you are the same, you can split them into two separate hands, especially in the case of Aces or 8s.When you split, you will have to add another bet to your original. The dealer will then give you two new cards, one to complete each hand. You should split in these two circumstances:

  1. If you are dealt 8s, you should split because 16 is a very weak hand to begin with and an 8 is good starting hand.
  2. Splitting aces is highly favorable to the player as it creates the opportunity for other positive hands.

Splitting is an extremely popular blackjack strategy among players in both online and traditional, land-based casinos.

Surrender

Blackjack dealers offer surrendering as an option to players, but you should ignore it. This is mainly because when you decide to surrender, you do recover half of your original bet, but at the expense of the other half. At times, it may seem like a viable option to surrender, but when it comes to online gambling, you are better off standing in the long run.

Insurance

If the dealer shows an ace, casinos provide insurance as an option to the player. While insurance policies will give you 3:2 odds on blackjacks (which sounds more tempting than it really is), you are likely to lose more money by playing insurance bets in the long run. Sure, there may be instances where counting cards will decrease the already low house edge by taking insurance, but since you cannot count the cards in an online game of blackjack, you should just avoid the insurance option.

Advanced Blackjack Strategies

Card counting

Of all blackjack strategies, none is so misunderstood or maligned as card counting is. Some believe that card counting is a form of cheating, while others believe that you are required to memorize every card in the shoe (which can be 8 decks or more!).

Fortunately neither of these are true. Card counting is actually quite an easy blackjack betting system to adopt and there are various levels of card counting available, making it ideal for all levels of blackjack player. One of the easiest of all blackjack card counting strategies is the Hi-Lo strategy, where the player assigns a number to card values. In other words:

As a new deck is shuffled you can begin counting cards. You start at 0 and either go negative or positive depending on what card is played first. For instance, if the first card dealt is a Jack then your total count will be -1. If the next card is a 7 the count remains at -1 and f the third card is a 4 then your count is back to 0. By counting cards, you can track the ratio between low-value and high-value cards that remain in the deck. The higher the positive number you get the more likely that the next card will be a 10 or higher and you can adjust your betting accordingly. Although you can exactly guess what card would come next, it is a great benefit to know that the deck is full of high value cards. When the count is in your favour, you can place bigger bets to maximize your winnings.

However, while card counting can help you win big payouts as well as bring the risk of being banned from land-based casinos, it is important to note that this strategy cannot be used online. After all, in online casinos - cards are virtually shuffled between each hand, and therefore make card counting pointless.

Paroli blackjack strategy

The Paroli betting system is classified as a positive betting progression, meaning that you only increase your bets when you win, not when you lose. The Paroli system can be easily adopted to a number of games including blackjack and roulette. The Paroli betting system begins with a single unit bet. This is determined by you and a good place to start is with the table minimum. If you win your bet, increase the next bet by two and, if you win that bet, increase your bet to four. However, instead of doubling again for your next bet, go back to the single unit bet and start all over again. You will also revert to the single unit bet on any losing bet, and stay with it until you win a hand.

Fibonacci blackjack strategy

The Fibonacci betting system is based on the ancient mathematical sequence and is a popular betting system in both blackjack and in roulette. The sequence is very simple to understand and implement, making it an ideal betting system. The basic Fibonacci sequence looks like this:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc.

Used in blackjack betting, your bets would look something like this:

Bet 1: 1 unit - win

Bet 2: 1 unit - win

Bet 3: 2 units - win

Bet 4: 3 units - win

Bet 5: 5 units - win

Blackjack tournament strategy

Blackjack tournaments are enormously popular both in online casinos and land-based casinos. Canadians love online blackjack tournaments as they are exciting and can be worth quite a lot of money. Blackjack tournaments work a bit differently to regular blackjack games. You will be competing against the house but, perhaps more importantly, against other players as well. The idea is to win your table so that you can move on to the next table and so on, until there is just one table left. Blackjack tournament strategy involves combining a number of other strategies into one, including basic blackjack strategy and a solid card counting technique as well.

More on blackjack odds

Blackjack offers one of the lowest house advantages of any online casino game of around 0.28% on average. This makes blackjack one of the best casino table games to play for beginners and most blackjack games also offer a payout average of around 95% - 98%. In terms of odds, most blackjack games will payout at 3:1 for a blackjack, insurance pays out at 2:1 and even money (1:1) on most other wins.

Other Blackjack Strategies

Besides the aforementioned strategies, a number of other blackjack strategies are also out there, which offer varying results. These include:

Assume 10 in the Hole

In this scenario, you will always assume the card in the dealer’s hand is 10 and place your bets accordingly.  For example, if the dealer shows a 9, and you have an 18, they would decide to hit, despite the fact that anything higher than a 3 would best you, the player, out.  While assuming a 10 may align with basic strategy, making use of this strategy exclusively would result in you losing money in the long run.

Mimic the Dealer

According to this blackjack strategy, the player is supposed to gamble by the rules of the dealer, which means standing on 17s or higher and hitting with 16 or less. You neither split nor double. This strategy is not one of the most optimal ones, but it results in a house edge of 5.48%.

Bonus Tip – Bankroll Management

It is extremely important that players consider how much money they can lose and how long they are willing to play before deciding on the size of their bankroll as well as bets. When playing online, the results can swing quickly and that is exactly why you need to provide yourself a cushion with your bankroll, but remember to never make the mistake of going with more money than you can actually afford to lose.

Final Word

And that’s about it. These are the numerous blackjack strategies available to you, which can influence the outcome of your game, and increase your odds of winning. However, perfecting these strategies takes extensive practice. Even if you disregard the complication of memorizing basic strategy and card counting, deciding where to double, hit, split or stand is a task that calls the need for repetition.  Luckily, online casinos are just the place for that, as players can play more hands in far the less time as opposed to in traditional, land-based casino halls!

Last Updated: November 28, 2018