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How To Give Your Blackjack Play That Extra Edge

Of all the card games offered by online casinos, it’s probably blackjack that’s the most popular. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most obvious of these is just how easy it is to play, even for the novice.

That’s not to say that it’s easy to win consistently. But at least you can play safely in the knowledge that it is the game that offers the lowest house edge. This is the profit that an online casino calculates to make from a game. In the case of blackjack, this figure is close to 0.5% of the bets wagered, whereas, for slots, it’s more likely to be 5% or more.

The game itself has a long and noble history. Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, described a very similar game being played in the 16th century, and it was also very popular in 18th century France where it was called Vingt-Un.

As a historical side note, it only became known as blackjack when casinos in the US devised the new rule that the winning hand of an ace of spades and any other card of the same suit worth ten would pay out at 3:2 instead of the usual 1:1.

The Essentials of How to Play

At this stage, it’s worth quickly running through how a typical hand will play out following the rules of online blackjack.

It’s you against the dealer, and the first step is to place your stake in front of you. Then you will then receive two cards, face-up, and the dealer will give themselves two. One will be face up, the other face down.

Your aim is to get as close as possible to 21 and closer than the dealer. It may be you already have 21 from your two cards. In this case, as long as the dealer can’t match it, you win.

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If you don’t have blackjack, then you have two options: to hit and receive another card or to stand and wait for the dealer to reveal their hand.

Sometimes this is an obvious choice if you have either a very high hand, say an 18 or 19, or a low hand of a 6 or 7. For those in the middle, something called the basic strategy comes in very useful, as you will shortly see.

While you are free to play as you like, there are stricter rules governing the dealer who may be forced to hit or stand depending on their hand. The precise rules differ from casino to casino, but it certainly acts in your favor.

The Basic Strategy

If you take away one lesson from reading this, it’s how important it is to learn something called the basic strategy. This comes in the form of a set of tables with information that has been calculated using a sophisticated computer program.

It breaks down all of the possible permutations of hands and lets you know whether to hit or stand in any given situation. It’s not infallible – otherwise, casinos would ban its use – but it certainly tips the odds a little more in your direction.

The information to be memorized may seem a little daunting to you at first. But a combination of study and actual game experience will mean it soon becomes second nature.

Hard and Soft Hands

Start playing blackjack, and you’ll undoubtedly come across the expressions “hard” and “soft” hands. This has nothing to do with the difficulty of playing them. Rather, “soft” refers to hands that contain an ace which you can choose to play either as a one or an eleven without taking your hand over 21. A “hard” hand can also contain an ace, but the other cards in hand mean that it can only be played as one if you’re not going to bust.

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Splitting Hands

One technique that can prove to be very profitable is splitting hands. This becomes possible when you are dealt a pair. You have the option of doubling your stake and then playing two hands at the same time. In the ideal scenario, both of the hands will beat the dealer’s, and, even if just one of them does, you’ll at least cover your stake.

Conventional wisdom says that if you receive a pair of aces or 8s, you should always split your hand. But 4s, 5s, or 10s should never be split as you run the risk of either resulting in low hands or going bust.

So these few tips will be a good introduction to the enticing and intriguing game of blackjack. It’s also a game where you never stop learning – and that’s another reason why it has so many devotees all around the world.

Hopefully, you’re now ready to join them!