Blackjack Strategies

Blackjack has always been one of the most popular casino games and it has a massive fan base all over the world. The casino classic is a way of entertaining gambling enthusiasts both at brick-and-mortar and web-based casinos. The thrill of playing against the dealer and hoping to have a blackjack has made the game one of the top ways to gamble with real money. Of course, there is also the chance of going home with a massive win thanks to your luck and good blackjack skills.

Do not be fooled. Any type of gambling includes a big part of pure luck. If the stars have not been aligned and it is just not your day, you might end up being disappointed. However, there are most certainly some games that allow players to take the matter in their own hands, at least partially, and turn the odds in their favour. Blackjack is definitely one these games.

Whether you are a rookie in this field of gambling, or you have been playing for a while but it has always been unsuccessful, it is worth trying to play blackjack with a strategy. Some players believe that using the proper technique may guarantee them a win almost every time. If you are interested in the ways you can turn the table and win on blackjack, keep reading this article.

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Why You Should Use a Strategy While Playing Blackjack

If you are wondering if there is an actual strategy that can be used successfully at blackjack, you can be sure that it definitely helps to adopt some style of playing, rather than aimlessly lose your money on every hand you play. Although nothing is set in stone, there is definitely some type of benefit when you play using strategic moves.

One of the most popular strategies used in blackjack is card counting. It allows players to predict what can the upcoming cards be. This way it is possible to guess whether the following cards will be beneficial or not for the game. Using the right card counting technique can allow gambling enthusiasts to take the right decision and tip the scales in their favour.

Card counting system can actually improve the gaming skills of players and they can benefit from understanding the pattern that each game of blackjack is using. Another benefit of using card counting is that it helps to eliminate the cards that have already been dealt. The cards that have been removed from the deck influence the house edge in a way and it is good to know how the outcome of the game can be affected by each card that has been drawn from the deck.

Using card counting strategy basically allows players to understand better the dynamics of the game. This way they will be able to make easier decisions about their moves and bets. Rather than looking at this technique as a way to increase one’s wins, it can be said that card counting helps to decrease the losses. This is very important as it gives players a much better chance of actually sweeping good wins since they will be able to last longer in the game.

There is also a basic blackjack strategy that can be used by fans of the game of 21. Although everyone who is at least a little familiar with blackjack will know that hitting on 11 is the logical move, there are quite a lot of other situations when it can be pretty difficult to determine the move that should be done.

By utilising the basic strategy, newbies can quickly become seasoned blackjack players. If you look up for a basic blackjack strategy, you will come across charts with all possible hands that you may be holding and the moves you are advised to make under different circumstances.

Of course, depending on the blackjack variation that you are playing, it is possible that the strategy might change. This is why it is recommended to find the system that works for the version you are about to play and bet real money on.

Even though you can be certain that you will always win by using a basic strategy or a card counting system, it is much better to have some plan when you sit at the blackjack table. Otherwise, you can simply consider your gambling as a waste of time and money.

Types of Blackjack Strategies

The blackjack system you might use really depends on the type of game that you are playing. Whether you prefer to play at a land-based or an online casino also affects the type of strategy you might use. Although card counting is quite popular, it is quite impossible to use it at virtual casinos since most online variations of the game shuffle the deck after every hand that is being played. This makes the use of this technique useless. This being said, interactive players can easily have the table with the basic strategy in front of them and use it to decide their moves.

Basic Strategy

When you think of blackjack, you can say that the decisions made by the player determine a big part of the outcome. This is why it is a great advantage to have some kind of basic rules that can help you determine the best way to react to the dealer’s hand.

Each player’s decision can affect the way his/her hand is played out and it can also determine the results for the rest of the players on the table. This is why there has been a mathematical strategy that can be used during the game of 21. It provides a chance of improving the odds of winnings. This strategy, however, must be used every time you play. This way you will be able to tilt the scales in your favour and benefit from the best possible odds.

What is known as a basic strategy is a chart that shows you whether you are advised to hit, stand, double down or split under certain circumstances. On the chart, you will notice that there are sections that show all the possible hands you might be dealt. The dealer’s card that faces up is the other determining factor on the chart.

Although many rooky blackjack players prefer to follow their instincts and play cautiously due to the fear of going bust, using the basic strategy can significantly change their gambling experience. By relying on the chart, players can actually improve their chances in the game by making the optimal decision.

Although in blackjack, just like in any other casino game, the house has an advantage. However, the game of 21 is the perfect casino entertainment for many players as it has one of the lowest house edges. Using basic strategy can even make your chances of winning better.

There is definitely a benefit when blackjack players use basic strategy. For instance, when players use this technique, the house edge is lowered to 0.50%. This means that for every $100 that the player is betting, the house expects a win of $0.50. However, if the player is simply relying on his/her guts and plays without using a strategy, the house edge is rocketed to 2.5%. As you can see this is definitely a worse scenario for the player and much bigger advantage for the house.

Players’ Hand Dealer’s Up Card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D H H H H
11 D D D D D D D H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
Ace-2 H H H D D H H H H H
Ace-3 H H D D D H H H H H
Ace-4 H H D D D H H H H H
Ace-5 H H D D D H H H H H
Ace-6 H D D D D H H H H H
Ace-7 S D D D D S S H H H
Ace-8 S S S S S S S S S S
Ace-9 S S S S S S S S S S
Ace-Ace SP SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H
2-2 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
3-3 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
4-4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D H H H H
6-6 SP SP SP SP SP H H H H H
7-7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
8-8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9-9 SP SP SP SP SP S SP SP S S

Card Counting

There is hardly anyone who has not heard about card counting, especially if they are interested in gambling. This advanced strategy is known to give players a big advantage. This is why although card counting is not illegal, many land-based casinos would kick out players who use this tactic.

Card counting is a strategy where you have to use your memory in order to keep track of which cards were dealt and which ones can be the upcoming cards in the next deal. This way players would be able to make better and easier decisions when it comes to their betting. Since in the majority of brick-and-mortar casinos the cards are dealt from a shoe, it can be predicted which cards have remained in the deck and this way the moves of players can be adjusted to the upcoming possibilities.

Most card counting techniques are based on the -1, 0, +1 system which gives each card of the deck a certain point. Usually the cards from 2 to 6 equal +1, the 7s, 8s and 9s are considered as 0 and face cards and Aces are counted as -1.

Thanks to the card counting tactic, players can get a general idea which cards have remained in the shoe after the first deal. However, the fact that many blackjack tables use several decks requires players to divide their current count by the number of remaining decks. This way they will get what is known as a true count.

Although card counting system was developed by mathematicians, it is a common misconception that only players with extraordinary mathematical skills and photographic memory can apply it. In fact, every average blackjack fan can develop the ability of card counting and use it in his/her gambling adventures. What is difficult to be learned, however, is hiding your skills from the dealers at land-based casinos. This might be an issue as many gambling facilities do not accept players who use card counting.

How Can You Use Card Counting

Although there are different variations of blackjack, the main of the classic one is to get a score of 21 without exceeding it. After being dealt two cards and taking a look at the dealer’s face-up card, players must make a decision about the move they would like to make.

In most cases, the deck is shuffled only once before the game begins. Players who use card counting will be able to keep track of the cards that have already been drawn and this way they will be able to deduce which cards have remained in the deck. This way blackjack enthusiasts will make a decision whether they would bet high or low. Let us assume that during the game only low-valued cards have been dealt. This would mean that there is a big chance that the upcoming cards may be Royals. This would be a great time to make a high bet. Having been dealt only high-value cards would imply that it is the best if you make low bets and hit without worrying about going to bust.

The essential thing about card counting is that the odds of the game change with every card that has been dealt. Usually, the dealer puts the hands that have been played in a discard tray. Only the remaining cards in the deck are used during the next deal. Usually, the card counting system revolves around estimating the possibility of drawing a 10-valued card from the remaining ones in the deck. The easiest way to count cards is by assigning them with a tag, i.e. +1, 0, -1.

Card Counting Systems

Since card counting is a strategy used by many blackjack players, it is no surprise that nowadays players can utilise various systems of counting. For those who are excited that test the card counting technique, there are several variations they can choose from.

Hi-Lo System

Probably the most widely known card counting system is the Hi-Lo (High-Low) one. Its popularity can be contributed to the fact that it is considered a very reliable system. What is more, this method of card counting is very easy to comprehend. The Hi-Lo system uses the so-called tagging technique which gives each card of the deck either a positive, a neutral or a negative value.

Thanks to this system of counting, players can adjust their bets easily. It is determined that those who utilise the Hi-Lo system would count the cards from 2 to 6 as +1, the ones from 7 to 9 as neutral (0) and the rest of the face cards and the Ace are tagged as -1.

Cards Count
2, 3, 4, 5, 6 +1
7, 8, 9 0
10, J, Q, K, A -1

Red Seven

This system of card counting is another easy-to-use technique while playing blackjack. The method of assigning cards with positive, neutral and negative values is yet again used in Red Seven. However, there is a slight difference when it comes to the 7s of the deck. As the name of the system suggests, instead of counting the red seven as 0, you would give it a value of +1. The black seven is tagged as 0 and the counting principle for the rest of the cards is the same as the one in Hi-Lo.

Card Value Count
2, 3, 4, 5, 6 count +1
7 red count +1
7 black count 0
10, J, Q, K, A count -1

KISS

This system of card counting has more to offer than simply an intricate name. KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) has three variations and the newest one definitely gives players bigger advantage compared with the original KISS system. This method is quite simplified which gives inexperienced players the opportunity to use it.

The reason why this system is so easy to be used by players is that they do not have to count almost half of the cards in the deck as they are irrelevant to the process of predicting the outcome. Those who use this method would have to give a new value only to the face cards and the ones from 4 to 6. The former ones are counted as -1, while the latter equal +1. The rest of the cards are counted as 0.

However, with the KISS 1 system, players would also have to count black deuces as +1. This is done so that the system becomes unbalanced which is a way of avoiding the conversion of the running count into a real count.

The KISS 2 counting method adds a few other cards you should keep in mind while playing. According to this system, the cards from 3 to 6 are counted as +1, along with the black deuces. Face cards and 10s are valued as -1 and the rest of the cards are tagged as 0.

Last but not least is the KISS 3 variation of this card counting system. It resembles the previous two but is optimized to provide the best odds and to help blackjack players make the best decision. If you want to use this method of card counting you will have to give the face cards, 10s and Aces a value of -1, while the cards from 3 to 7 should be counted as +1. The black deuces also worth +1, while all other cards are counted as 0.

Card Value Count
3, 4, 5, 6, 7 count +1
2 black count +1
2 red count 0
8, 9 count 0
10, J, Q, K, A count -1

K-O

The K-O (Knock Out) counting system resembles the Hi-Lo one a lot. Yet again, players give cards either positive, negative or neutral values. This way they can determine what can be the possible outcome of the game and make the best possible bets. According to this system the cards from 2 to 7 worth +1 point each. The face cards, 10s and the Aces are counted as -1 and the rest of the deck is counted as neutral.

As you can see, the K-O counting system is also pretty easy to be used in the game and even inexperienced players would have no issue utilising it. The K-O method of counting is not balanced since this will eliminate the need of converting the running count into a real count. What is more, when you play using this system, you might not start the count at 0 as you normally would. Depending on the number of decks used in the game, players might have to begin counting from a different number. If you are playing a single deck blackjack variation, your start-count will be 0. However, two decks would mean that you should start counting from -4. Six decks indicate a start of counting at -20, while a game with eight decks would mean that the count begins at -28.

Card Value Count
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 count +1
8, 9 count 0
10, J, Q, K, A count -1

Omega II

All of the aforementioned methods are level one card counting systems. This means that they are quite easy to comprehend and use. Omega II is a level two card counting technique. This means that players will have to sacrifice a bit more time to learn and memorise the specifics of this system. The efforts of learning Omega II, however, can definitely be repaid when players bet on blackjack.

The Omega II is one of the most accurate counting systems and it can give players a significant advantage if they learn how to properly use it. This is a multi-level system which means that there are some cards worth 2 points. Grasping the intricacies of this card counting technique allows players to make the most profitable decisions while playing the game of 21.

Although the Aces are counted as 0 in this system, it is recommended you keep a separate count about them. Since these cards play an important role in the forming of a blackjack, it is important to keep a track of how many Aces have remained in the play.

The Omega II system gives half of the low-valued cards +1, while the other half of low-valued cards are counted as +2. The 2s, 3s and 7s are worth +1 and the 4s, 5s and 6s are counted as +2. The 9s are worth -1, while the 10s are tagged as -2. The rest of the cards are counted as 0.

Card Value Count
4, 5, 6 count +2
2, 3, 7 count +1
8, A count 0
9 count -1
10, J, Q, K count -2

Hi-Opt I & Hi-Opt II

Hi-Opt (High Optimum) is a card counting system that has two different variations. The original Hi-Opt I version is a level one system that is still considered fairly easy but it is definitely more complex than the rest of level one systems. The Hi-Opt II card counting technique is the updated version of the first one. It is, however, more intricate and this is why it is a level two system.

Both of the variations of Hi-Opt are not very suitable for beginners as they require quite the knowledge about the game of blackjack as well as the other level one systems of card counting. However, those who get familiar with this method, will be able to tilt the balance in their favour and enjoy great odds of winning.

Players who use Hi-Opt system do not make it their goal to memorize which were the cards that have been played, nor to predict which ones will be the next one to be played. The purpose of using this method is to estimate the ratio of high-value cards to low-value cards in the deck.

The Hi-Opt I system is very similar to the Hi-Lo one and it is considered to be more accurate. The thing that makes this technique more advanced, however, is the side counting of the Aces left in the game. The cards from 3 to 6 are worth +1, while the 10s are worth -1. The Aces, 2s, 7s, 8s and 9s are counted as 0.

Card Value Count
3, 4, 5, 6 count +1
2, 7, 8, 9, A count 0
10, J, Q, K count -1

If you decide to use the Hi-Opt II system, you will have to spare a bit more time to study the values used in this method of card counting. If you utilise this strategy while you play blackjack, you will have to count Aces, 8s and 9s as 0. The deuces, 3s, 6s and 7s are worth +1, while 4s and 5s are worth +2. The value for 10s is -2.

Card Value Count
4, 5 count +2
2, 3, 6, 7 count +1
8, 9, A count 0
10, J, Q, K count -2

Zen Count

Zen Count is yet another system similar to Hi-Lo but the former is a little more complex. Even though the two methods of card counting resemble each other, the Zen Count provides a much better estimate of changes. This is why players who decide to use it may benefit a lot from learning this type of strategy. The system is definitely more suitable for seasoned players who are well aware of other card counting variations.

According to the Zen Count the 2s, 3s and 7s are valued +1 and 4s, 5s and 6s are worth +2. If you use this strategy the 10s would be counted as -1 and the Aces are worth -2 each. All of the rest of the cards in the deck are counted as neutral (0).

Card Value Count
4, 5, 6 count +2
2, 3, 7 count +1
8, 9 count 0
A count -1
10, J, Q, K count -2

Wong Halves

If you think that the previous systems are quite difficult to comprehend, wait until you see the Wong Halves method of card counting. Memorizing the values of cards is quite difficult as the system uses fractions. Due to the complexity of this strategy, there are rarely players who use it at land-based casinos. This being said, Wong Halves has proven to be one of the most accurate systems that can improve the odds and turn the tables in favour of the player. If you learn how to apply this strategy, you will be able to make the optimal betting decisions that can bring you amazing payouts.

In the Wong Halves method of card counting, the Aces and 10s are worth -1, 9s are worth -0.5. The deuces and the 7s are counted as +0.5 if you utilise this counting system. The worth of 3s, 4s and 6s is +1, while 5s are worth +1.5. As you can see it is quite the work to remember the value you must give to each card.

Card Value Count
5 count +1.5
3, 4, 6 count +1
2, 7 count +0.5
8 count 0
9 count -0.5
10, J, Q, K, A count -1

Is Card Counting Legal

Unless there are some types of devices used during the card counting, utilising this system is not illegal. Even though many brick-and-mortar casinos have tried to take some measures against the card counting strategy, at the end of the day, you cannot be judged for using your skills or count in your mind.

The issue comes from the fact that many land-based casinos do not accept players who use card counting as a technique for playing blackjack. This is because blackjack players who use this type of strategy can actually cause serious losses to the casino. The majority of gambling facilities even hire experts who can spot card counters and throw them out of the casino. The worst part is that if players are caught using one of these systems, they can be blacklisted from other brick-and-mortar casinos as well.

In conclusion, card counting is definitely not illegal and you are not breaking any type of regulation. However, you will have a hard time finding a land-based casino that will not kick you out if you are found out counting cards. Unfortunately, most online versions of blackjack are also designed to prevent players from using this type of strategy. The majority of virtual blackjack games shuffle the decks of cards after each hand is played. This makes card counting impossible.

Other Tips You should Know Before Playing Blackjack

One of the most common tips for any type of gambling, including blackjack, is to set your budget and stick to it no matter what. By doing this, you can be sure that even if you are not on a winning streak, you will not exceed the amount you are willing to lose.

Another tip is to be aware that nothing is certain in this type of games. The word “gambling” itself means that you are relying on your luck and risking something in the hope of gaining another thing. This is why you should not use blackjack strategies with the mindset that you are guaranteed to win. Even if you use the right type of tactic, you are lowering the house edge but the odds are still in favour of the gambling facility/website.

Last but not least, you should pick the right strategy for you. Although a level two system of card counting might sound tempting to use, you should stick to a simpler one, at least at the beginning of your blackjack adventures. This way you will be able to control your losses which can also be beneficial in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

This is a term, used when there are different variations of blackjack and players need to get familiar with the rules used in the game of 21 they are playing. A blackjack variant that uses “Las Vegas rules” allows players to double down on their initial two cards. Re-splitting is also allowed, as well as taking insurance. If you are playing with this type of rules the dealer can hit a soft 17.

The honest answer to this question is that nothing in this life is certain and gambling most definitely is not an exception to this rule. Even though card counting systems may improve your chances of winning, there is still a chance that you might lose your bet. This is why it is advised you set your budget and think about how much you are actually willing to lose before you start counting your winnings.

If you are using the basic blackjack strategy, you should not be thinking of taking insurance. In the case of card counting, however, players know when it is the right moment to make an insurance bet. If you are dealt a blackjack and the face-up card of the dealer is an Ace, you will simply have to take your chances. Refuse to take even money, when receiving payouts of 3:2 is much more beneficial for you.