For a seemingly simple game, blackjack can also be surprisingly complex and nuanced, as a new player soon discovers. Its popularity as a casino stalwart also comes from the fact that it’s fast to play and exciting too. That you’re directly taking on the dealer adds more than a frisson of extra pleasure when you do come up on top.
Because so many professionals play the game there’s also no shortage of strategies and techniques ranging from the simple to the complex. But, even for the novice player, there’s something in all these strategies that anyone can use.
Learn the basic strategy
Edward O. Thorpe was a Professor of Mathematics from MIT who, in 1961, decided to take a logical look at all the permutations that can exist in hands dealt in a game of blackjack – over 500 in all. Having identified them all he devised what became known as his basic strategy and published it in a book called Beat the Dealer. This details every hand and how it should be played.
The book’s become the definitive guide to using probabilities and it is generally acknowledged that anyone who wants to succeed as a player needs to memorise the basic strategy. Doing this can greatly tip the odds in your favour.
Scan the cards
Henry Tamburin is one of today’s most highly regarded blackjack authorities and writes books and regular columns about all aspects of gaming and blackjack in particular.
He recommends that you should pay extra attention to the cards dealt in each hand to see whether there have been more high value cards (10s, picture cards and aces) dealt than low value cards (2s to 6s). If more high value cards have been dealt it stands to reason that there will be a greater number of low value cards in the deck. But if the opposite is true and there are more high value cards left the odds shift in the player’s favour who should feel more confident about staking more.
Choose the game to play
Tamburin is also a strong advocate of thinking carefully about which particular game of blackjack you should play when there are a number of options available.
By gaining a knowledge of how the number of decks being used and the specific table rules affect the “house edge” – or the amount the casino stands to gain from the game – then your choice of game can tip the odds in your favour. It sounds complex but there are odds websites where the information is easy to find.
Rely on “tells”
Like many casino games, the body language of the dealer and other players can tell you a great deal about the hands they’re holding as well as their attitude to the game. Steve Forte has written the definitive guide to using these observations to your advantage.
Count the cards
The final strategy is one which, if not against the rules, will certainly not be welcomed by casinos. It involves the counting of cards that have been dealt with the aim of working out how many high value ones remain in the deck. To try and limit the practice casinos have gradually increased the number of decks in play at any one time, hoping to make it too difficult for any player to keep track. As well as being ethically dubious, this is probably a strategy better left to the professionals.
Nevertheless, the previous four techniques are ideal for any level of player to use, including you. 888 casino’s blackjack guide could be the most comprehensive yet and while it may not turn you into a pro overnight, it will definitely make playing blackjack a more enjoyable experience – so if you feel like playing blackjack for real money right now you may find a more profitable way to spend your time.