Blackjack is one of the oldest card games to ever exist, with its first mention of it being in the late 16th century. Despite trying to get as close to 21 as possible, the most important thing is beating the dealer.
Whether a real dealer or a dealer on an online game, there is a house edge that you need to minimise in order to be a consistent winner. There are strategies that players need to base their game around, in order to play what can be called perfect blackjack.
Many players play with something that is called an optimal strategy, which is the closest thing to maximising your chances at winning every blackjack hand.
Hard or soft hand?
Before getting into strategy, it is important to know the difference between hard and soft hands. The difference is simply one card. This card is the ace. If you have an ace and an eight, you have a soft 19. If you have a ten and a nine, this is a hard 19.
In blackjack, splitting can occur when you are dealt two of the same card. When this happens, you have the option of splitting – before being dealt two more cards. This also means your bet is doubled. You have the chance to beat the dealer twice.
One of the most important strategies in playing perfect blackjack is to split your 8s. The reason for this is pretty logical. 16 is a number in blackjack that is more than likely not going to lead to a winning hand if you don’t split.
16 means just a six or higher will mean that you bust, and it is also a number that a dealer will be able to beat with their first two cards.
A pair of 8s is still not an ideal position especially when your dealer has a nine or ten, but is more likely to win you more over time if you do indeed split, rather than chancing your hand at holding and trying to draw a card that is five or less.
Splitting 9s can also be of some importance to a blackjack player too – except when the dealer is showing a seven. If the dealer is showing a seven, it is somewhat likely that they are going to have a hand of 17 – meaning they need to stand. This is going by the assumption that any card you cannot see, is a card with the value of ten.
This is an assumption that all players should go by, considering there are more cards in the deck with the value of ten than any other value.
Some players also opt to split their 10s, which is probably only a move you would see from more experienced players. Having a hand of 20 is more than likely going to get you in the money, but some players like to chance their hand at winning more.
There aren’t that many points in a game of blackjack where doubling down is a great idea, despite many thinking that putting more money on and in turn, winning more money, is the ideal scenario.
There are more cards in the deck that have a value of 10 than any other value, by quite a bit too. As we said, it is important to assume that any card you can’t see is a 10. Because of this, you only want to double down when the value of your two cards is 11 or less.
That way, it is impossible to bust. Remember you only get one more card when you double down also, so doubling down when the value of your two cards is less than seven or eight is entirely pointless.
Doubling on 11 is imperative, and is a tactic that must be used.
It is also important to notice what card you can see that the dealer has. If their first card is a six or seven, they could be suspect to getting a 16 or 17, which are numbers that put them in the danger zone. From here, they are likely to bust, which means you are a winner.
Getting as close as you can to 21 without busting is one of the aims of blackjack, other than of course beating the dealer. However, with the average winning hand in blackjack being just over 18, anything at 18 or over is enough to give yourself a good chance of beating the dealer.
Assume that the next card the dealer is going to get will be a ten. If the dealer shows a ten, you must hit on 16. Once again, assuming that the dealers second card is a 10, which will give them 20. 16 means you must hit. You have more of a chance of hitting and getting lucky than sitting on a 16 and hoping for the best.
You should only stand if you believe you are going to beat the dealer, or if the dealer is going to bust. An important thing to remember is that the dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17.
Optimal strategy says you need to stand on a hard 12 when the dealer is showing 4-6, and on a hard 13-16 when the dealer is showing 2-6.
Always stand on a hard 17 or more.
Always stand on a soft 19 or more.
Always stand on a soft 18 except when the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or A.
Playing blackjack still relies heavily on the house edge that comes with any casino game. Keeping a strong strategy can reduce the house edge from 5% to as low as 0.5%, which is ultimately going to make you as much money as possible – with a better chance of beating the dealer.
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