Many new Blackjack players assume that the objective of the game is to get a 21 point hand and make poor decisions as a result. Although being dealt Blackjack is nice, the aim of the game is always to beat the dealer. If the dealer has a low card showing (2-6) it is often wise to stand with a hand like 12, 13 or 14 and hope he busts.
Know when to double and split
Many players, even Blackjack regulars, are too cautious when it comes to doubling. Doubling is only the right course of action when you expect to win the hand, meaning that doubling at the right time will significantly reduce your losses. You should always double with an initial score of 10 or 11 if the dealer doesn’t have a 10 or an ace. It is also generally advisable to double with a 9 if the dealer has a low card showing.
Splitting is another area which even regulars misplay. The most useful rule to remember is to always split a pair of aces, but never split a pair of 10s, 5s or picture cards. A pair of 8s or 7s should always be split if the dealer has a card of equal or lower value and 2s or 3s should be split against a 4, 5 or 6.
You can gain a full knowledge of when to double and split by consulting a basic strategy guide.
Use soft hands wisely
A soft hand in Blackjack is a hand which contains an ace. Because aces can be worth either 1 or 11 soft hands have two potential values. For example the hand A,7 is called soft 18 and can be worth either 8 or 18 points. When you have a soft hand it is far safer to hit, because no card will bust your hand. Use this to your advantage when you have a hand like soft 16 and hit to take a chance on creating a better score.
Learn basic strategy
It doesn’t take much time at all to learn basic Blackjack strategy; it’s surprisingly easy, memorable and simple. Knowing the right move will save you a lot of money over the long run, if you play basic strategy the house edge is under 1%, but beginners will often lose much more (up to 15%) by not using it.
Don’t chase losses
Chasing losses in any gambling game is a quick way to go bust and ruin a night’s entertainment. It can be incredibly tempting to double a lost bet to attempt to recoup a loss, and the strategy even has a name, ‘the Martingale’. Although some people will tell you this doubling strategy is a winner it can be mathematically shown to be a bad decision which may leave you with crippling losses.
Learn to count cards
Unfortunately card counting doesn’t work in online casinos, but if you play in a brick and mortar establishment card counting can reverse the house edge and make you money. If you’re looking for a simple but effective method our Intermediate Blackjack Strategy article has just what you need!
Never take insurance
Insurance is an option you will be offered if the dealer’s first card is an ace, which pays at 2/1 if he has Blackjack. Although insurance may be tempting it’s a losing bet in the long run and you’ll lose less money by taking the risk that the dealer has a 10. The only exception to this rule is if you’re card counting and know that the deck has a high proportion of 10s remaining, in which case insurance is the right decision.