Hit or Stick? The Best Blackjack Strategies Explained

Blackjack, also known to many as ‘21’ or even ’21 Blackjack’, is a casino game that has stood the test of time. It was invented in the early 17th century in Europe and has since exploded with popularity, finding its way to casinos around the world. The aim in this card game is to get dealt a hand that is as close to 21 as possible, while never going over 21. The simplicity of this game is its biggest draw but the more you get to know the game, the more strategies you’ll come to know which will give Blackjack many exciting twists and turns as you decide whether to hit or stick!

Blackjack Betting Systems and Strategies

Blackjack strategy and rules
It is highly recommended that players playing Blackjack employ systems and strategies to assist them in having the best possible chance at winning. It has been proven that using strategies in Blackjack gives you more consistent results and can even lower the house edge! This is because, unlike other casino games, Blackjack is not based entirely on luck alone: skills play an important role too. Below are some of the most popular systems and strategies that have been successfully used in the exciting game of Blackjack:

Doubling Down

 Doubling Down is by far the most widely used and well known of blackjack strategies and every player should know of this so-called ‘rule’. It is so widely used because of its ease and simplicity. If you choose to double down you need to announce it to the dealer after you have been dealt your first two cards. Your bet will then be doubled and you’ll be handed an additional card, giving you 3 in total now. The basic rule for doubling down is that you should always make use of this strategy if your original two cards add up to 11. This is because a third of the deck would give you 21 and half the deck would push you to at least 17. Most experts also advise to double down on combinations of 9 and 10 too.

Splitting

You can only make use of the splitting strategy if you are dealt a pair. Splitting involves splitting your pair and being dealt two new cards to create two hands instead of one. You will also need to double your bet so that it covers your extra hand. It may be tempting to split every time you get a pair but splitting is usually only worth taking the risk when you are dealt a pair of 8s or a pair of Aces. A pair of 8s (combination of 16) is a weak hand while a single 8 is a good starting point. Similarly a pair of Aces is stronger when split up as it gives more potential.

Surrender

Surrendering should only be an option if you are dealt a really bad hand and even then it is not always a good idea. The dealer gives you the option to surrender at the end of every opening deal, when you have received your first two cards. More often than not, it is best to stick with your hand than to surrender it because even though by surrendering you get to take back half your bet, the other half is still forfeited, potentially unnecessarily.

Card Counting

This Blackjack betting system is quite complicated and is usually reserved for experienced players with good mathematical abilities. Counting cards involves keeping track of all the dealt cards to help you establish what the likelihood is of certain cards being dealt. While it is near impossible to estimate the exact cards in the deck, many card counters just determine whether the pack has mostly high cards or low cards remaining before placing their bets. In many instances, where a dealer plays with more than one pack of cards, card counting becomes impossible. Card counting is not recommended when playing in online casinos.

Assume 10 in the Hole

This strategy works off the assumption that the dealer has a combination of 10 in his first hand. So if the dealer sticks, assume he has 10, if he deals another card for himself and it’s a 7, assume he has 17. Based off this assumption you bet accordingly. The assumption of 10 is the most likely but if you use this strategy and this strategy only, you are bound to lose as the game progresses. This is because, although 10 is the most common combination, it is impossible for it to crop up every time and just one number in Blackjack makes the world of difference.

Mimic the Dealer

Playing with the rules of the dealer is a conservative way to play but it can be highly effective. This strategy is very simple and is often recommended for first time players. You, basically gamble the way that the dealer would, by sticking on 17 or higher and hitting on 16 or lower. There is also no splitting, doubling or the use of other systems in this strategy. It is known to be relatively effective and is a good way to start playing Blackjack.

Basic Strategy Charts

Basic strategy charts for blackjack are easily available online. The charts show what action you should take for each and every hand, depending on various elements. These decisions were determined by a computer in the efforts to help players win at Blackjack. Certain players have memorized these charts so that they can always take the most effective route in their game and hopefully have the most profitable payouts.

Blackjack Odds

One of the reasons that Blackjack is so highly favoured by players from around the world is because of its exceptionally low house edge. A house edge is, essentially, the advantage that the casino has over the player so it makes sense, in this case, that lower is better!

Another great feature of Blackjack’s house edge is that it can be lowered depending on your skill set! This is because Blackjack is game of both chance and strategy and it certainly pays to have done your homework.

Although house edges differ from game to game a typical house edge in Blackjack is usually around 0.5%. But like previously mentioned, this number can fluctuate depending on your level of skill.

Game Variations

Blackjack, no matter what online casino you choose to play at, the rules and principles of the Blackjack game should be fairly similar. The single major divide in blackjack is between European and American Blackjack in which the American version’s dealer has a hole card while the European version’s dealer does not. The only other real differences in games you should encounter are a variety of themes as well as the option to have a live dealer.

Live dealer games are becoming increasingly popular and the work by means of a webcam so you can see and even communicate with your dealer in real time. Many players even have favorite or ‘lucky’ dealers that they come to know and keep going back to.

General tips for Blackjack