Don’t follow the gut feeling
Although you may be tempted to make a risky bet you can’t afford that can potentially lead to a great win, it may also lead to a devastating outcome. Remain calm at all times and go by the book. Emotions can influence your decision making process. Once you sit at a table you must think clearly and restrain yourself from any emotional outbursts that can put you on tilt.
Remember, the goal of the game is not to hit Blackjack or get as close to 21 as possible, but to beat the dealer. Once you enter this mindset and put it into practice your style of play will change. If you don’t bust you’re still in play, but you need to know when you need take chances and make risky decisions.
Increase your odds – Stick to a Strategy
Blackjack offers the highest return to player if played perfectly. The probability factor is always present, but if you’re familiar with the game you know when you’re at an advantage. Over the past 60 years numerous strategies emerged that if followed guarantee high winnings. Unlike other casino games blackjack allows the player to choose what the next course of action will be, for example hit, stand, split, double or surrender. Some types of blackjack don’t allow all of these and besides hit and stand the rest can’t be exercised always. Because of the nature of blackjack sometimes you must kick it up a notch with higher bets.
Bear in mind, we’re talking about a strategy which means the benefits come to light after some time of play. There’s always a chance the dealer to hit a blackjack, however, we want to minimize our losses in cases of that kind. You won’t always win, but we want to make wins as frequent and as high as possible.
In effect there are 2 types of strategy which are easy to comprehend. In addition to this with some practice on your end you can master them and become a better blackjack player. From here on we’ll try to explain each and every detail as simply as possible.
Basic Strategy (4-8 Decks)
The blackjack basic strategy has become so popular because of the simple, but extensive rules. It’s easy to understand, however, to learn all the rules by heart you will have to practice. The easiest way to learn the rules is to practice, practice a lot.
The decisions you make with following the basic strategy are based on the individual optimal play whereas the plays you make with card counting require great deal of focus at all times. Just remember, follow the rules.
Before we introduce you to the specific rules you need to memorize we’ll try to explain the logic behind the game plan.
The basic rule says, the dealer has to hit until the hand is equal to 17 or more. Most players who don’t consider this rule just look at their hand and hope they’ll get close to 21 or hit blackjack. And when we’re hitting instead of standing we bust. That’s a risky illogical play. Note, you must consider your hand, but the hand of the dealer as well.
First and foremost, know when to surrender. Don’t even think about hitting when you have a hand of 16 and the dealer has a hand of 9, 10 or A. If the dealer has an Ace and you have 15 you should surrender as well. The chances of the dealer getting a hand higher than 16 or even 21 are so high that it simply is not worth it to take a chance. See how you can reduce the house edge just by not making any premature and baseless plays. Bear in mind this rule excludes a pair of 8s.
If you decide to double you effectively double your bet and you can receive only one more card, that’s it. No more hitting after that. Now, if you have a great hand and the dealer doesn’t, doubling your bet is a great opportunity to further reduce the house edge. Double when you have:
Hard 9 vs. dealer 3-6.
Hard 10 vs. unless the dealer has a face card, 10 or an A.
Hard 11 vs. unless the dealer has an A too.
Soft 13-14 vs. dealer 5-6.
Soft 15-16 vs. dealer 4-6. Soft
17-18 vs. dealer 3-6.
Aces and 8s. If you don’t split 8s you end up with 16 and the rules say you surrender with a hard 16.
2s and 3s vs. dealer 4-7 and vs. dealer 2-3 if you can Double After Split (Game rules may vary).
4s if Double After Split is allowed when dealer has 5 or 6.
6s vs. dealer 3-6 and vs. a dealer 2 if Double After Split is allowed.
7s vs. dealer 2-7.
9s vs. dealer 2-6 and/or 8-9.
Hit or Stand
Hit hard 11 or less.
Hit soft 17 or less.
Stand on hard 12 vs. a dealer 4-6, else hit.
Stand on hard 13-16 vs. a dealer 2-6, else hit.
Stand on 17 or more.
Stand on soft 18, except when vs. a dealer 9, 10 or A.
Stand on soft 19 or more.
Card Counting Systems
Card counting systems should be used in conjunction with the basic strategy. Unlike the basic strategy where every round is considered individually if you use some of the card counting systems you should be focused.
WARNING: Using some of these methods will bring you some heat. Casino operators track your behavior especially your bets. So you want to act as normal as possible like increase your bet after a win, or keep the bet the same after a push and reduce your bet after a loss. This affect you profitability, but you won’t be bugged by the staff.
Although card counting is legal if you’re caught the casino can and probably will show you the door. It was first introduced in 1963 and ever since then it’s been a popular topic among blackjack players. Many have benefited using it, however, there is a number of players that can’t enter a casino anymore because of using this approach.
he Hi-Lo method should be used in conjunction with the basic strategy. Most of the decisions will be based on it whereas the Hi-Lo will determine when you should increase your bet or reduce it. So we said we should count cards? How do we do it? Instead of memorizing each and every card that was already played we put cards in three groups depending on their value.
Cards with a face value of 2-6 are assigned a point value of +1; cards with a face value 7-9 are neutral or 0; face cards, 10s and Aces have a point value of -1. You must be able to quickly add and subtract so you can follow the dealer and keep a precise count. For example you have a hand of 4(+1) and a 5(+1), the player next to you has a 10(-1) and a 9(0) and the dealer has a 6(+1). We add and subtract and end up with a card count of +2.
Whenever the card count is positive you have the advantage because there are more high cards remaining in the deck, therefore the higher chances to win. Note when the card count is positive you should also increase your bet. This is the key point in the Hi-Lo. You must use the advantage you have by placing a higher bet to win more, otherwise the Hi-Lo won’t work for you. Now this is the trickiest part where you can get caught. Beware!
If you’re playing a blackjack with say 6 decks some modifications have to be made. We need to find the true count otherwise our card count won’t be as accurate since we’re playing with more than one deck. For example, the current card count is +8, to find the true count we need to divide the card count with the number of decks in play, +8/6=1.333(3). As you go deeper into the decks, or as the penetration increases the number of remaining decks decreases. You can make a rough estimate say when there are approximately 2 decks remaining to divide the true count of +8 with 2.
This makes blackjack a whole lot more interesting since the pressure is very high. You are playing blackjack while counting cards and trying to remain calm at all times under the watchful eyes of the pit boss. Before you go and try this technique with real money we recommend you to practice with your friends, you’ll be surprised how difficult it is.
- Knock-out Count
The KO Count is fairly similar to the Hi-Lo method, but it’s stunningly simpler.
One of the main distinctions is you don’t always start your card count with a fresh 0, instead there are special Initial running counts for different number of decks. For single deck blackjack the IRC is 0, for double deck blackjack it’s -4, for 6 decks -20 and for an 8 deck blackjack the IRC is -28.
The card value of each card is identically the same as the one used for the Hi-Lo with the 7 added to the low cards. That being said, whenever you see a 7 you add +1 to the card count. The complete list looks like this: 2(+1), 3(+1), 4(+1), 5(+1), 6(+1), 7(+1), 8(0), 9(0), 10(-1), J(-1), Q(-1), K(-1), A(1).
The adding of the 7 as a low card makes the KO count an unbalanced method. Once all cards are out of the decks the final count is +2 per deck, for 2 decks it’s +4, for 6 decks it’s +12 etc.
KO Count promotes the use of Insurance. Insurance is a side bet that’s a winning one if the dealer hits a blackjack. According to basic strategy players should never opt for insurance, but with the KO Count players are instructed to always go for insurance when the card count is +3 per used deck, for example for an 8 deck blackjack whenever the card count is over +24. You have higher chances of hitting a blackjack, but so does the dealer.
- REKO (Ridiculously Easy Knock-out)
Yes, it gets easier. We recommend this method for beginner blackjack players. REKO is a simplified version of the KO count. As such you probably expect it to be less complex. The initial running count is derived by multiplying the number of decks used with -2. If 6 decks are used the IRC is -12, for 2 decks the IRC is -4 etc.
The cards values are the same as with the KO Count and the principles are the same. On the bright side it’s simple than the KO, but it has its own share of drawbacks. It proves to be less accurate when one or two decks are used. The more decks are used the more accurate the REKO is.
We would advise you to never drink while you’re playing blackjack or any other card game, especially if you’re in for the money or you want to test a strategy. Always stick conservative approach in money management. Try not to get caught if you’re using some of the card counting systems, the ultimate responsibility falls on your shoulders.
Card counting takes a lot of practice. You must be calm while doing rather fast computations and in the same time make crucial decisions. If you want to have fun and win some cash on the side stick to the basic strategy. In time you can try some of the card counting methods.
If you’re interested and want to find out more about blackjack strategies feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to provide you with more tips. Also if you have some questions related to Blackjack don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we’re here to help.