Blackjack has been around a long time and is a casino classic, and even though it’s popular in brick-and-mortar casinos, it’s a regular feature of many online casinos and there’s rarely, if ever, a shortage of willing players. This article is a look at the different types of blackjack and how beginners and more advanced players can improve their game and enjoy it.
There’s an almost mesmerizing number of variations of blackjack. Some of the most common include pontoon and European blackjack, but you’ll also come across match 21, which removes all 10s from the deck; face up 21, in which the dealer gives you an advantage by playing with their cards face up; perfect pairs blackjack, which is like classic blackjack but with side betting; and multi-hand blackjack, which, as you might expect, allows you to play more than one hand at a time.
Of course, the version of blackjack you’re most likely to come across is the classic version. Although it’s every bit as enjoyable, there are some fundamental differences between playing online blackjack and playing the game in a brick-and-mortar casino. To start with, playing online is faster, but you can play for lower stakes and without feeling any pressure from others around you. You can also get bonuses for signing up and, in some online casinos, the rules of the game will be slightly more favorable towards the player.
Tips for beginners
The basic aim of blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. You start with two cards and you only see one of the dealer’s two starting cards until the end. Face cards are worth 10 and aces are worth 1 or 11, depending on which amount works best for you in the game. Each other card is worth the number on the card. Blackjack is an ace plus a 10 dealt straight off.
The game does feature opportunities to up the excitement (and the risk) such as doubling the bet in the middle of the game in exchange for an extra card; or as splitting the cards so that you’re playing with two hands and, effectively, doubling the bet. Although the game isn’t especially difficult, knowing when to stand, hit, split and double will make life easier for you as a beginner, as well as observing a few do’s and don’ts.
Don’t believe common blackjack myths
Remember, you can’t see the dealer’s hole card, and the myth is that this will be a 10. Don’t assume that it is, though. There are other cards in the pack, even if it’s true that a pack of cards has more 10 cards in the deck than others and the chances of the dealer having a 10 card are higher.
Always split aces and 8s (but never 4s, 5s or 10s)
If the dealer deals you a pair of aces, it’s a good decision to split while you have a “soft” total of 12. Splitting immediately will give you the chance to get a 10 in each hand — blackjack — which is, of course, a good decision.
A pair of 8s gives you a “hard” total of 16, and you’re more likely to go bust if you don’t split it. Hit and receive a 10, and this will take you up to 18, which is a high score and you could win the game.
To split a pair of 4s, 5s or 10s is to set yourself up for a defeat. If you split and hit a 10 on either of the lower cards, you’re likely to have to hit again to avoid getting beaten. The chances are you’ll go bust, whereas if you stick you have a chance of getting a 10 or an ace.
Tips for advanced players
Seasoned hands will have got their basic strategy down and know when to hit, stand, double, or split. Then it’s time to take their game to the next level. Here are some tips if you’ve been playing for a while:
Don’t take insurance unless you really have to
If your dealer’s face card is an ace, you’ll receive the offer of insurance. It’s a side bet that protects you against losses if the dealer has a blackjack. If the dealer has blackjack, you lose the bet but win the insurance bet; and if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you lose your insurance. Insurance loses you money in the long run because the dealer is less likely to have blackjack than to have it, but you may want to take it out if you have blackjack yourself so you can make some money of the side bet.
Use different betting systems
When you’ve been playing blackjack for a long time, you may have observed that incorporating a betting system into your game doesn’t work as well as you want it to. The trick is to learn the difference between positive betting systems and negative ones so you can mix things up and control how much you bet. A positive, progressive betting system will encourage you to bet higher after a win, whereas a negative one would persuade you to bet more after a loss.
Always keep the odds in mind
You might be an old hand at the game, but there will still be situations at the table that will challenge you, so you should always keep the odds in mind. These will change as the dealer deals out the cards. You can calculate your chances of winning by judging your cards against the visible cards of the dealer to work out potential hands they might have. Keep an eye on the odds to help you make sensible bets.
Whether you play blackjack online or offline, it’s an entertaining experience, but it’s worth noting that the online game offers you some considerable pros. The game is easy to learn, but don’t let it fool you into a false sense of security. Build your understanding of the game and learn how to strategize effectively so that you can place the right bets and come out on top.