Using a Basic Blackjack Strategy Saves Your Cash
A few tricks to help improve your odds against the house.
Did you know that the casino has a “house edge” in every single table game and slot game? The house edge is the percentage profit that the house, or casino, is expected to win every time you play.
Now, you might well think it’s a bit unfair that the odds are stacked in the casino’s favor every time. But consider what would happen if the players had the edge in a particular game: All of us would play that game, the casinos in Atlantic City and elsewhere would go bust – and soon there would be nowhere left for us to enjoy our entertainment.
With that in mind, all casino players treat the house edge like a small entertainment tax. We must all pay it, and we know that if we get lucky, we can still make a profit over a single session or the short term.
However, many casual gamblers have no idea that there is a lot of difference between the house edge on various games and that with a little skill and application, you can nearly wipe the house edge out.
House Edge in Blackjack
Blackjack is the perfect example. As a general rule, the house edge in this popular game is around 2%, meaning that for every $100 you bet, you can expect to lose $2. Of course, there will be variance at play, but if you played continuously, these figures are accurate.
But if you apply a basic blackjack playing strategy, you will bring this house edge down dramatically to only around 0.5%. That’s a wafer-thin advantage to the casino. If you are playing in a Las Vegas casino, where you get free drinks, it makes blackjack a solid choice.
For most of us who enjoy playing blackjack online, to use a solid blackjack strategy means saving cash because a 0.5% house edge means we lose less. It also increases the chance of us making a profit in any particular session.
What is a Basic Blackjack Strategy?
A solid blackjack strategy is based on the fact that all the picture cards in the game – the jacks, queens, and kings – are valued ten. Together with the actual tens, that means 16 cards in every pack of 52 have that value.
Armed with that information, you can assume that the next card to be dealt by the dealer will be more likely to be a ten than any other card. So how does that help?
If the dealer has a low-to-mid upcard like 4, 5, or 6, you must assume his downcard is a ten, meaning he will have a total of 14, 15, or 16. He would need to take another card and likely go bust. So, in this case, you can safely stand if your two starting cards amount to over 11 – why risk taking another card, even on 12, if the dealer is more likely to bust?
In the above example, you can double down with a wider range of starting hands to get more money on the table when you are in a favorable position. Usually, you might double down on 11 or ten, but now you can do so on 9 or 8 as well
If the dealer’s upcard is a 9 or a ten, you must assume his next card will be a ten, giving him a strong total of 19 or 20. In this case, you must be prepared to take another card more often to try and get your total closer to 21.
Other Solid Blackjack Strategy Tips
Follow these bits of advice to help you bring that house edge down to around 0.5%.
Never take insurance
If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, you will be offered insurance in case his downcard is a ten, giving him blackjack. Do not pay for insurance! It is a losing proposition in the long run and will eat into your profits.
Do not split tens
Many beginners are tempted to split a pair of tens, believing they can go on to make two winning hands and make more money. This is wrong – you already most probably have the winning hand, so why pay more to risk not having a winning hand at all?
Refer to a playing chart
Look online for a blackjack chart and print it out. Refer to it every hand you play because it will give you the optimum decision each time. You can even take one to a brick-and-mortar casino – there will be more opening in the U.S. in the coming months and years, including New York, as legislation becomes more gambling-friendly.
Double down on 10 and 11
It’s always optimal to double down on ten or 11 – unless the dealer shows a ten or an ace. In this case, you are doubling your investment when the chances are the dealer’s second card will mean he beats you or ties.