Everybody who plays blackjack wants to win – and even those who do not play do at least (sometimes!) dream about winning this game. A search result for “how to win in blackjack” offers about 400k links, and the total number of pages containing the word “blackjack” is about 65 million! So this is a really hot topic, and it is getting hotter as more and more people try and win real money playing blackjack online or at a land-based casino.
In a way, every game is like a small model of life. Just like real life, the game of blackjack needs you to make many different decisions. If you make a good choice, your chances of winning are going to be a lot better – although you don’t necessarily win every time you make a good decision, of course! But if your decisions are not optimal in most cases, then you’re going to lose in the long run. This long-term downswing cannot be fixed easily. It leads to frustration and a lot of stress building up. That is why if you decide to play blackjack, you really need to take it seriously, and then you can finally see how much thrill and fun this game is able to provide you with!
The whole point is that in order to win real money and to beat the dealer, you need to learn how to play any cards you are dealt. If you are a beginner, you should be prepared to see that your cards are not as good as you hoped. But you still have to do your best with what you have got, and you can pick up the necessary skills relatively fast.
Don’t be misled by the well-known fact that the game of blackjack is the game with the best odds of winning. Because if you don’t play your cards well, the general odds of the game don’t really matter. Even ‘being lucky’ may not matter either, if you don’t have good enough skills and concentration. In other words, when playing blackjack for real money, you should do your best and then let luck decide the final outcome.
The game of blackjack has been played and studied for a long time. It is certainly true that if a player makes no mistakes and follows the strategy guidelines, the house edge does shrink to zero. There have been several pieces of research undertaken in the 1950-60s, “Beat the Dealer” (1962), a book from Ed Thorp, being perhaps the most famous one of them. The math says yes, statistically, you can indeed beat the house, and you don’t even have to be too lucky – you just need to do what the math is telling you!
Then why, you may ask, is blackjack still being played in casinos; if they’ve already known for almost 60 years that some players are able to beat the house? Well, one part of the answer is that even if you’re a really smart blackjack player, beating the house is still easier said than done! The casinos figured they could simply sit back and relax, as it turned out that there were not so many people who were able to systematically and consistently implement the kind of winning strategies necessary for beating the house.
Another important thing is that casinos have made many small adjustments to the rules, pushing the house edge a bit up. Take, for example, the soft 17 case – when the dealer has an ace and a six. The casinos ordered mandated the dealer to take another card at soft 17, which serves as adding a modest 0.2% to the house edge. Not much, you might say; but at a near-zero game which is exactly how blackjack generally is, every decimal counts!
There are a few other adjustments they’ve thrown into the mix as well: changing the payouts from 3:2 to 6:5, restricting splitting options for the pairs, multi-deck shoes. Think about all these changes, and you will clearly see that casinos really have done their best to keep blackjack a truly profitable venture of theirs. And by the way, we should also mention here that most casinos do not let the players have a Blackjack Cheat Sheet card handy when they’re playing!
All these sneaky tricks have actually ended up making blackjack less popular; as players have indeed paid attention all to these ‘small changes.’ These modifications to the game of blackjack have not found much favor among players. However, the opposite is the case for the expansion of online gambling.
Besides, the general idea of being able to win real money playing blackjack provided only you play the right way seems to be ineradicable – simply because it is still true! Your odds are still high enough to make your gambling adventure worth trying.
There are many, many nuggets of advice and tips on the strategy that have accumulated over the past decades, ever since the blackjack game became an object of serious study. Don’t expect that you can just read one or two articles, and then suddenly become proficient enough to win at blackjack every time! An article presenting you all playing the blackjack nuances from A to Z has never been and will never be written. But neither are you supposed to go through the whole massive library of blackjack literature out there and master all the math if you want to be a successful player. You actually don’t need to!
If you are a beginner, start with learning how not to throw your money away. There is a specific way of thinking commonly found among novices who “feel lucky” once they’ve finally been winning for a while. Then he or she will risk starting to improvise, forgetting that blackjack is not a game of improvisation! It is a probability game, which is ruled by math; and both winning streaks and losing streaks are random events.
As casinos now prohibit the use of cheat sheets, the first and best possible blackjack strategy tip for a beginner is to stay online. There are many online services where you can play blackjack for free, just for fun, and to help you practice the game until you feel confident to play for real money. Just do it! Play online blackjack for free with your cheat sheet by your side, and just see how the math works. Don’t practice in a live casino yet!
Playing free blackjack without wagering any real money is sure to give you a priceless opportunity to study the game mechanics by experience, through the large number of hands you’ve played. But as with every game, ‘just playing’ is not enough to become proficient enough. You need a training experience that is separate from the game experience.
You can still find plenty of blackjack training courses online. Maybe even too many! And you do need to be aware there is a simple reason why there are so many of them out there: the people who sell you the course just want to sell you the course! Especially when they say “in the second part of our course you will learn…” – Just to sell you the second part, of course.
Try to avoid this. If you are a wannabe gambler, then begin by thinking about what actual gamblers do. Don’t waste your money when the odds are against you – and actually, this is exactly the case with paid blackjack courses! Instead, try to find some free training resources, and combine these with practicing blackjack online for free.
Do your odds at blackjack depend on how many decks are used at this or that table? Yes, they do, and math actually has nothing to with it. It is all about tracking face cards, which is easier to do at the table with fewer decks. You should watch the face cards coming out, and just keep a general count of them. You could adjust your game tactics depending on this factor; being more conservative when you know many of them have gone, and more adventurous when there still are many face cards to come out!
The “table” agenda brings us back to the issue of “small variations” which ultimately have a serious impact on your odds of winning. You need to know everything about a table before you sit and play blackjack for real money. Mind the payout ratio as well – 3:2 is much better for you than 6:5. Pay attention to the “soft 17” rule – i.e., whether the dealer is obliged to hit on soft 17 or not. Check how many decks there are, then choose a table with one or two decks, so you can keep better track of the face cards. Read the rules used at this table very carefully. If you’re not sure about the effect of any particular clause, just look it up on the internet!
Try and pay attention to everything, just because of this one simple fact: everything really does matter! Because when it comes to playing blackjack, nothing is really unimportant or trivial.
And last but not least – try and avoid the tables where the dealer looks too sexy! Remember that this is a serious distraction factor, which risks pulling your odds down and pushing the house edge up!
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