While all card games retain an element of chance, some require far more skill than others. With the exception of poker, blackjack tests a player’s decision making more than any other and it’s no coincidence that those two games are right up there as the most popular live casino options.
The basics and the aim of online blackjack are all very simple but, that skill level means that you shouldn’t approach the table without a solid strategy. With that in mind, here are our tips for success which offer solid advice for facing the dealer.
Practise makes perfect: That’s an ancient saying but it holds true in most walks of life. We have a guide to the basic rules of blackjack later on and naturally, you shouldn’t take to the tables unless you are fully conversant with the rules.
Once you are confident with the concept, there are many ways in which you can play blackjack for free. At Unibet, it’s simply a case of clicking on demo play and away you go. You can also read our in depth guide to live Blackjack. There are no stakes involved so you can’t actually win any cash but by practising and perfecting your technique, you should lift those confidence levels for the times when money is on the table.
Hit and Stand
When considering whether to hit or stand, we need to keep in mind the magic number 21. This is the mark that we want to reach, or get as close as possible to it while beating the dealer in the process.
Having been dealt two initial cards, knowing whether to hit or stand is, therefore, crucial to our chances of success. You can use your intuition or ‘gut feeling’ or, you can take advice from the many experienced players who have been involved in the game for years.
At a very basic level, there is little point in taking a hit when you have scored twenty on your opening two cards. Even if the dealer’s upturned card is a ten, there is more chance of a 9 or lower dropping in on the next turn.
Similarly, if you have an Ace and a 2, you must hit or you’re out of the game. This is basic stuff but there are further recommendations on hands that are not quite as obvious.
For example, if you have a hand between 2 and 16, take a hit if the dealer’s card is 7 or higher. Study these recommendations in depth and your decision making can become automatic.
Knowing when to split
At a slightly advanced level, anyone tackling blackjack for real stakes should be aware of when to split. Splitting is an option when two identical cards are dealt so, if you have 2x Ace, 2x 6 etc, you have the option to literally split those cards, creating two hands instead of one.
In theory, this should give you an advantage over the dealer, providing they aren’t splitting too. The question is, should you split on every occasion and the answer to that is a very emphatic ‘No’.
You should certainly split if you have been dealt two Aces. The odds on a ten or a picture card coming next are higher than any other so, you now have a great chance of hitting 21 or even landing Blackjack.
Conversely, there is little point in splitting two tens. You already possess a strong and competitive hand so why split and risk gaining two weaker ones?
Of course, blackjack is a game of chance to an extent and there are no guarantees. Splitting two Aces may subsequently see a raft of low value cards that ultimately leads you to bust on both occasions. Conversely, you could split two tens and receive two aces on top of them.
Experienced players also advise to split two eights on every occasion. In this case, you are not coming from a position of strength as 16 is the worst possible blackjack hand. The odds of busting are high if you take a hit and it’s a weak total if you choose to stand. Therefore, the best approach is to split those eights for a better chance of an improved hand.
These are all possible scenarios which should be taken into account as part of your overall strategy. Study the art of splitting in greater detail and you can develop your potency at the Blackjack table.
Don’t Buy Insurance
There are two schools of thought on this subject but the majority of experienced blackjack players would advise against buying insurance. This is an option that is taken at odds of 2/1 which will effectively return your losing stake if the dealer has blackjack.
While it can provide useful compensation, insurance has been described as a dumb move in places. Once again, we should state that the method has its supporters but it is essentially a new bet which will only return your original stake in any case.
And, we have to remember that the odds of Blackjack landing are slim. Even when the dealer shows an Ace as their upturned card, the chances of blackjack are rated at 31% so that’s less than one in three.
We would reiterate that this is an optional move and you are free to take insurance whenever you want but the common advice is to skip and simply take the hit on those occasions when blackjack does come in.
Know Your Stats
To play blackjack at an advanced level, it helps to have a good grasp of the mathematics behind the game. For example, did you know that the odds of winning any single hand are 42%? The game is all about player versus dealer but, as that dealer holds a certain advantage, this isn’t a 50/50 call.
We’ll cover the basic rules of blackjack in a moment but players should know that when the scores are level, dealer always wins. So, for example, if you stand with a score of 20 and the dealer also lands 20, you lose.
42% is therefore the figure to keep in mind but by applying the above strategies you can hit or exceed that mark over a level of time. If, however, you are on a winning streak then it may be worth keeping in mind that the odds of winning six games in succession stand at 0.99%. Therefore, if you’ve just collected on game five, is is time to walk away from the table and come back at a later point?
The decision is entirely yours but these numbers are worth remembering when you take your seat.
Basics of Online Blackjack
To recap, Blackjack is a card game between player and dealer. The object is to hit 21 or as close as possible without going over that level. At the start of each hand, the player is dealt two cards as is the dealer. Only one of the dealer’s cards is visible and the player must assess all three cards before making their next move.
The options are to ‘hit’ or to ‘stand’. If the player is some distance away from 21 then their best option is to hit and receive another card. Alternatively, if they are close to that mark - let’s say with a hand of 20 - the sensible option is to stand and declare their hand.
The best possible hand is 21 from just two cards. An ace plus a ten, jack or queen, will give you this result and it is referred to as ‘Blackjack’. Remember, if the dealer draws blackjack then the game is over as it is impossible for you to beat their score.
Similarly, players should keep in mind that a draw will see the pot scooped by the dealer. The player must beat the dealer’s hand by at least one point to win the round.
When calculating your score, remember that the Ace can be worth either one or eleven and it’s appearance also determines whether a hand is soft or hard. For example, a soft 17 would consist of an Ace and a Six. It’s soft because it can also total 7 if the ace counts as 1 and this is important when it comes to hitting or standing.
In contrast, a hard 17 might consist of a ten, a five and a two. The absence of an ace in this scenario means that the hand is rigid and cannot be calculated in any other manner.
- You can play trial games of blackjack by hitting the demo button.
- Make sure you are fully conversant with the rules before playing with real stakes.
- Do not be tempted to buy insurance.
- Do the percentages: If the dealer holds an ace, there is much higher chance of drawing blackjack.
- Know when to hit and when to stand.
- Understand when a hand is soft and when it is hard.
- Know when to split.
- Keep all of these points in mind and you will be better equipped to succeed when you next head to the blackjack table.