Many online casino games
are games of pure luck. Blackjack is different. Blackjack is a game of combined skill as well as luck. There are blackjack strategies, based on the science of probability, that can definitely help you win at blackjack
. Of course, no black jack strategy can guarantee that you will win every hand. But following a good blackjack strategy can definitely improve your odds of coming out ahead over the long run.
can seem pretty complicated at first, but the basic theory is quite simple. Most blackjack strategies are based on a few simple facts derived from the science of probability.
Let us examine how probability works in blackjack strategy. In a standard deck of 52 cards, the odds of drawing a 2 are 4-out-of-52 (7.7%). The odds of drawing a 3 are also 4-out-of-52. And so on. The odds of drawing any particular denomination are always 4-out-of-52. Except for drawing a 10.
Tens are different because there are so many of them. Tens, jacks, queens, and kings are all worth 10 in blackjack. So the odds of drawing a 10-value card are not 4-out-of-52, but 16-out-of-52 (30.8%). The higher probability of drawing a 10 plays a big part in blackjack strategy.
Another important fact to remember is that, under the rules of blackjack, you have free will but the dealer does not. You are always free to hit or to stand. In appropriate circumstances, you may also double down, split, or surrender. You make the decisions. The dealer, on the other hand, has no choice but to play blackjack like a robot. On any hand up to 16, the dealer must hit; with 17 or more, he stands. The blackjack rules
give him no choice.
Putting Blackjack Theory into Practice
How do these two facts — the multitude of 10s and the dealer's lack of free will — affect you in the actual practice of your blackjack game? Suppose you have a hand of 12, and the dealer's up card is a 5. The best blackjack strategy would be to stand. You know that there is a high probability that the dealer's hole card is a 10, giving him a total of 15.
Now suppose that the dealer indeed has a hand of 15. If the dealer had free will, he would stand, and his 15 would beat your 12. But since he lacks free will, he must hit. If he draws a 7 or higher, he busts, and your lowly 12 will win the hand. This is a fact that you can use to your advantage when you play blackjack online
The prevalence of 10-value cards, and the absence of dealer free-will, are the fundamental principles upon which most winning blackjack strategies
Blackjack Basic Strategy Tables
Some brilliant mathematicians, working with high-powered computers, have created the blackjack basic strategy. The blackjack basic strategy
is expressed in a table. Your possible hands run along the side of the table; the dealer's possible up cards are across the top. Where the two intersect, the blackjack basic strategy table tells you how to play your hand.
The black jack basic strategy table looks like a complete mess that you couldn't possibly learn or memorize. If you take a closer look, however, you will see that it actually makes sense and that it is based on the two fundamental principles of blackjack strategy.
You can find blackjack basic strategy charts in many blackjack books and Internet blackjack sites. It's a good idea to print one out and study it. If you play blackjack in an online casino
, you can keep a blackjack basic strategy chart at your side while you play.
By the way, it is a mistake to speak of a single "blackjack basic strategy table." There are many different blackjack games
, and there is a basic strategy chart for each one. For example, in some games, the dealer hits on soft 17; in others, he stands. This difference in the blackjack rules affects the probabilities and, therefore, the basic strategy. Also, different games use different numbers of decks. There are blackjack games with one deck, two decks, five decks, or eight decks. This also affects the basic strategy. So make sure you are using a basic strategy chart that is appropriate for your particular blackjack game.
Now, a final word of caution. The blackjack basic strategy does not promise that you will win every hand. It claims only that, in every situation, the prescribed play will win more often (or lose less often) than any other possible play. So be prepared to still lose plenty of hands.
Blackjack Card Counting
Blackjack card counting strategies are based on the theory that blackjack probabilities do not remain constant, but change as cards are played and removed from the deck. Let us examine how this works.
Suppose, on the first hand in a single-deck game, you receive a 4, 5, 3, and 5, and the dealer receives a 4, 7, and 7. In other words, seven cards have been removed from the deck, but none of them was a 10. So now, on the next hand, the odds of receiving a 10 are no longer 16-out-of-52 (30.8%); they are 16-out-of-45 (35.6%). A skilled card counter will now increase his real money bet in order to exploit those five extra percentage points.
The theory behind blackjack card counting
is pretty simple, but translating the theory into actual real-money winning blackjack is very difficult. It requires intense concentration, the ability to calculate quickly, and many hours of practice. Also, card counting only works in a land-based casino; it is virtually worthless if you play blackjack online
. Nevertheless, it is interesting to read and learn about blackjack card counting and some of the colourful characters who have practiced this fine art.
The Most Important Blackjack Strategy
The most important blackjack strategy is to enjoy the game. If you play with a cool head, good cheer, and an appreciation of this great game, then, win or lose, you will always come out ahead.