Blackjack is a popular casino table game. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a hand that scores closer to 21, without going bust. It’s quite a simple game to play, but hard to master. As blackjack involves some skill and decision-making on the part of the player, improving your strategy will maximize your odds of winning.
The house edge is already relatively small in blackjack when compared to other casino games like roulette and craps. The edge for the casino against a typical player is 2–3 percent, whereas, against a solid player who uses a basic strategy, the edge goes down to 0.5 percent.
So, What is Blackjack Basic Strategy?
The basic strategy is a mathematically correct way of playing blackjack. It is a set of rules that tells you whether to “hit,” “stand,” “double” or “split,” according to what cards you hold and what card the dealer shows. For example, you should “hit” on 12–16 if the dealer shows a seven. If you want to learn every move, get yourself a blackjack strategy chart.
The basic strategy also says that taking side bets and insurance reduces your edge. Some players believe that they can gain even more of an edge by using certain betting patterns. One example is Oscar’s System in which players place the same bet after a loss but a slightly bigger bet after each win. In truth, any systems of betting like this have the same odds. Therefore, you don’t gain an edge by increasing or decreasing bets. Unlike with matched betting, the odds are set in favor of the casino.
The only way to gain an edge over the house in blackjack is by using a system of card counting. It’s where players try to keep track of what cards have already been in play and make bigger bets depending on whether the deck is in their favor. Famous poker player Phil Ivey used an even more ingenious method called edge counting to beat the house. It involved paying attention to subtle differences in the backs and edges of playing cards to keep track.
These methods are valid because they center on making advantage plays against the casino. Although players have made money this way, it’s impossible to card count at online casinos, and brick-and-mortar casinos frown upon it. For recreational players, the best way to maximize your odds is to learn the basic strategy and stick to it.