Blackjack Strategy Guide: Top Tips for Cutting the House Edge
Blackjack is beatable. Let those three words resonate in your mind’s eye.
Few casino card games present players with opportunities to beat the house. Blackjack is one such game where it is possible to reduce the house edge through advantage play. Today, we’ll walk you through tried and trusted techniques that professional blackjack players use to cut the house edge and level the playing field.
A blackjack table is a blackjack table. Wrong! Blackjack aficionados strongly caution players against simply dropping anchor at the first table they come across. Check the blackjack odds. Are they 3:2 on Blackjack or 6:5 on Blackjack? Numbers make a big difference. A $100 bet only pays $120 with Blackjack at odds of 6:5, but it pays $150 at a 3:2 table – a big difference.
You can play Blackjack with any number of decks. However, Classic Blackjack with one deck of cards is optimal for players who are card counting. Unfortunately, finding a blackjack game at a casino with just a single deck of cards in play is a rarity. The usual is 6 – 8 decks of cards for every blackjack game. Even so, it’s still possible to optimize your game irrespective of the number of decks in play. Things like continuous card shuffling machines, and deck penetration factor into the equation.
Bankroll management is one of the most important elements of your game. Without a bankroll, you can’t bet, and if you can’t bet, you can’t win. It’s a good idea to try out free Blackjack online before you play Blackjack for real at a casino. There is no substitute for the experience you gain under real-world conditions.
Your budget should be divided up into manageable portions for multiple blackjack sessions. If you burn through your entire budget in one session, you make yourself susceptible to emotionally-based playing decisions, fatigue, and getting stuck with bad luck. Remember, the most effective bankroll management techniques will not serve you well if lady luck goes against you.
It is a shock to some players that it’s entirely possible to perfect the art of card counting. Granted, it takes time to be able to quickly count a deck of cards and end up with a zero total at the end. However, the Hi-Lo card counting system assigns three values to specific sets of cards, including 1, 0, and -1. The objective is to keep a running count, increase bets when the count is high, and decrease bets when the count is low.
Why? Because cards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 have a value of +1, cards 7, 8, and 9 have a value of 0, and cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace have a value of -1. When the count is really high, that means most of the low-value cards have been dealt, and the number of high-value cards remaining in the deck is higher. That’s when you bet more.
Granted, the true count is equal to the running count divided by the number of decks remaining. You can get a good idea of the number of decks remaining by looking at the discard tray on the table. If the discard tray is 60% full, then you can infer how many decks remain from the number of decks in play.
For example, in an 8 deck game, 60% of cards in the discard tray amounts to approximately five decks dealt and three decks remaining. Therefore, a running count of +12 will yield a true count of roughly +4. This presents the game’s average number of high and low cards. It tells you what your advantage is at any time. The true count can reduce the house edge and make it more favourable to the player.
These tips are recognized worldwide as the gold standard for playing Blackjack like a pro. Use them to cut the house edge but take the time to master these tactics and strategies.
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