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Blackjack Strategies: How to Win

Source: Senior Airman Felicia JuenkeSource:Pixabay

All sorts of players enjoy blackjack. It is one of the simplest card games to learn how to play, after all. Whether you play blackjack online at a casino or in person with a croupier, the game is, basically, the same. You are dealt two cards per hand and try to get as close to twenty one from the total value of your hand without going over, known as busting. Blackjack is also called vingt-et-un in France because of this score. In some places, it is known as pontoon. Regardless of the name of the game and the particular rule variations you find around the world, the essentials remain the same.

Firstly, all players in a game compete against the house or banker, not one another. Players must get a higher score than the house to win. However, if the dealer busts, then you will win. Play always proceeds on a clockwise basis with the dealer taking his or her turn last. On the face of it, blackjack is a simple game of chance in which the house has an advantage which works in two ways. Firstly, the dealer only has to draw level to win a hand against a player. In addition, by taking the final go in a round, the dealer can assess how high or low another player's hand may be from the cards that have been dealt face up. Although this may not be enough to win, it certainly offers the house an edge. That said, players can optimise their chances of overcoming the house by employing certain strategic approaches. What are the best ways to gain the upper hand over the dealer?

Play With a Low Number of Decks

Winning at blackjack is possible but the house will always have an advantage. nevertheless, the key to winning more often is to reduce the house advantage as far as possible. This is achievable if you play with one deck of 52 cards. Given that most casinos play with a shoe of more than one deck, it is best to choose a table with as few decks in it as possible. A single deck of cards gives the house an advantage of around 0.17 per cent. With two decks, this figure rises to 0.46 per cent. An eight-deck shoe will offer the house an advantage of about 0.65 per cent. Therefore, playing with as few cards as possible will help you to win more often.

Be Prepared to Double Down

Under most casino rules, you can double your initial bet. Sometimes, you have to take another card to do so and, under other rules, you may double and stand without taking another card. Crucially, you should not go with your 'gut feeling' on making this decision. The key to helping you decide is to look at the exposed card in the dealer's hand as well as what you are holding. Under this strategic approach, you should always stick if your first two cards add up to 17 or more. However, you should double down if you are holding a hand that adds up to 11. Simple enough, right?

Where it gets a little more complex is when you hold nine or ten in your hand. Statistically, it is best to double down if you have a total of ten unless the dealer has a ten or an ace exposed in which case you should twist. If you hold a total of nine, then you should twist if the dealer is showing a two or any card that is higher than a six. Conversely, it is best to double down if you have nine in your hand and the dealer has a card valued from three to six.

Know When to Stick or Twist

If your hand is low - beneath a total of nine, for example – then twist every time to increase your chances of ending up with a winning hand. As previously mentioned, hands that are 17 or above should be stuck on. If you have a total of 16, without a pair of eights, then stick if the dealer's card is six or lower. On the other hand, if it is seven or more, then you should twist. Some casino rules will allow you to surrender. If this is possible, then do so with a total of sixteen, but only if the dealer has a nine, ten or ace showing.

When you have been dealt a hand of 13, 14, or 15, it is best to twist if the dealer has any card that is higher than a six. For lower values, stick instead. Lastly, you should know what to do if your pair of cards add up to 12 so long as this total isn't formed by a pair of sixes. If this is the case, then stick if the dealer's exposed card is a four, a five or a six – otherwise, you should twist.

Card Counting – Is it Worth It?

By keeping track of how many high cards and low cards that have been dealt from the shoe during a game, it is possible to work out when it is a good idea to bet big and when to bet small. Under certain conditions, it can be much more likely that you will win a hand, depending on how 'loaded' or otherwise the shoe is. This technique takes and incredible amount of concentration which is why some gamblers used to use devices to help them keep track of the state of a shoe. Bear in mind that the use of such systems are banned in most casinos around the world so it is not really advisable. In addition, by betting small over repeated hands and then suddenly switching to a big wager when the conditions are right, it looks fairly obvious to most experienced croupiers that skulduggery is at play.

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