Learn the simple strategies that professional blackjack players use to turn the house edge in to their own advantage.
Blackjack is one of the most popular table games to play in any casino. Quick and easy to understand, the goal of Blackjack is for players to compete against the dealer to build a hand as close to, but not exceeding a card value of 21 (called Blackjack). When played correctly, a player can reduce the house advantage to less than 0.5%.
Outside of card counting or outright cheating, here are some tricks to bring the house advantage as close to even as possible.
Tens are your friends
Each card in Blackjack has a point value. Numbered cards are worth their corresponding number, aces are worth either 1 or 11, and face cards are worth 10. With four types of cards (10, Jack, King, Queen) worth 10 points, the odds of drawing a 10 are 4/13 or a little over 30%.
Because of the high odds of a card being worth 10, a safe rule is to treat every face down card as a 10.
At the beginning of a round of standard Blackjack, the dealer deals each player two cards face up, while dealing himself one card face up and another face down. The player then must decide whether to “hit” (draw another card) or “stand” (keep his point total). When treating the dealer’s face down card as a 10, deciding when to hit becomes a simple matter of comparing hand values. A dealer’s face up 9 is treated as a 19. A player holding a 13 would then hit.
A player can double his bet (double down) in exchange for standing after receiving only an additional card. This strategy is best used when a player has 10 or 11 points, because, by using the rule of 10, he treats the un-dealt card to as a 10, and hopefully makes a strong hand of 20 or 21.
In Blackjack, if a player is dealt two of the same type of card (for example two 10s), he can elect to “split” the cards and make two separate hands for an additional bet. However, a 10-10 hand (worth 20 points) wins around 80% of the time, whereas each split hand wins only around 60% of the time, making it safer to not split your 10s.
In Blackjack Switch, a player is dealt two hands face up, and can elect to switch the top two cards between hands. This greatly increases the odds of making Blackjack (21 points), so the payout for a win is significantly reduced. Additionally, a dealer can make a hand up to 22 points to push (tie) all player hands except for a natural Blackjack: a Blackjack with only two cards.
The trick in Blackjack Switch is that to win money, you have to beat the dealer with both hands. A one hand win and a one hand loss is a push, and a two hand loss is a heavy liability. In general, it’s best to balance out a player’s weak hand when a dealer is showing a 7 or an 8, and switch to make a player’s stronger hand stronger when the dealer shows anything else.
Blackjack Switch is far more complicated (but often more fun!) than simple Blackjack, so practicing with play money through an online casino is an excellent way to hone your strategy before swimming with the real card sharks.