The game of blackjack is one that has seen many strategy books written, videos, charts, and strategy tables produced over the years. These come in both the conventional form while others, such as blackjack strategy apps, are more technologically advanced and designed to help tip the scales in your favor.
Regardless of which you prefer, our experts have studied many and put together a list of the most efficient and popular strategies out there. The important takeaway is that there is no best blackjack strategies to help you win, but more of general guidelines you can use at certain times in the game to beat the dealer.
Perfect blackjack strategy
One of the key strategies for any blackjack player to master is card counting. Why? It gives you a greater degree of control and information based on the cards in the shoe compared to those being dealt from the show. However, make no mistake, those who can master card counting and have the mathematical ability, stick to it and avoid other common blackjack strategies.
1. The Martingale system
The Martingale is based on negative progression. It dictates that you increase the size of your bet when losing in so far that you double your bet on the next hand after a losing hand. The principle is that if you wagered $50 and lost, your next bet would be $100, and should you lose the next bet, you once again double to $200. So, if you follow this strategy and win, you will eventually gain smaller amounts but win over longer playing sessions. Once a winning hand is achieved, you start over at the $50 bet amount. Always be careful though and wager responsibly according to how big your budget is.
Based on the Martingale system, this is what would be at risk if you were on an extended losing streak. As you can see below, it can be rather expensive and damaging to bankrolls and it is why many experts advise against it. While most people would not bet the amounts listed below, many blackjack tables do not permit larger bets. As a result, if you’re on a losing streak, being able to win back your losses is quite a challenge. Here’s how wagering according to the Martingale would look like:
- $50 bet lost = $50 in total losses
- $100 bet lost = $150 lost
- $200 bet lost = $350 lost
- $400 bet lost = $750 lost
- $800 bet lost = $1,550 lost
- $1,600 bet lost = $3,150 lost
- $3,200 bet lost = $6,350 lost
- $6,400 bet lost = $12,750 lost
2. The Paroli system
Another popular system used in blackjack is the Paroli Betting System. This is a positive progression based system that is used to gain the most out of a winning streak. It teaches you to set the number of wins in the progression. In other words, if you set it at three, then you would bet in the following manner.
In this example, we will use $10 as the opening bet. Therefore your first bet would be $10 and you win $10, your second bet $15 and you would win $30, and your third bet would be $20 and you would win $40. At that point, you stop the progression betting and return to your original bet of $10. This progressive betting, if successful, allows you to win back half of what you wagered while still retaining what was staked.Best live blackjack casinos
How to play blackjack based on your cards
Playing blackjack is about knowing what you must do based on the card that is dealt in your hand and the card in the dealer’s hand. However, to win at blackjack, there are some standard moves you need to make as the game progresses to increase your win percentage. Applying these blackjack strategies can do wonders in improving your chances of scooping bigger winnings.
1. When dealer shows 7 or higher, hit up to 17 or more
When a dealer shows a 7 or higher, it is imperative to hit until you get 17 or more. Hitting on soft 17 is a popular blackjack strategy. Due to the next card the odds are high that the dealer will have a “made hand” and therefore is favored to win. Unless your two cards total 17 or more, you should hit. If your hand is 17 or more but less than 21, you should stand.
2. When the dealer has a 2 to 6, hit until you get to 12 or higher & stand
When a dealer’s face card is a 2 they are less likely to bust (go over 21). If they show a 3, 4, 5 or 6 those odds decrease somewhat, but not much. In reality, when a dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, you should hit until you get 12 or higher. Of course, if your two-card total already is 12 or higher, then you should stand.
3. If you have an 11, double down
If you are dealt two cards that total 11, you should double down. You’re likely to hit a 10 and therefore have blackjack. The only exception to this rule is if the dealer’s face card is 10. If you chose to double down, you will be required to ante up a bet equal to your initial wager, then one additional card will be dealt to give you your hand total.
4. When to double down if you have a 10
If your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s face card is anything other than a 10 or an ace, you should double down. The reasoning for this is the same as doubling down when your cards total 11. It’s likely that you’ll hit a 10 card and therefore have greater odds of beating the dealer’s hand total. As with any case you double down, an ante bet equal to the original amount staked will be required.
5. If you have 2 aces or 2 eights, split
Splitting any two eights or aces is a basic blackjack strategy. The point in blackjack is to get 21 or close to it, and when poised with two eights or aces it’s best to split the two into two hands. Aces give you the chance to hit two hands of 21, if a 10 card is dealt for each ace. With eights, the same rule applies but this will give you the maximum possible total of 18 per hand, and if the dealer busts or hits 17, they must stand and therefore the odds are in your favor.
6. Hard 17 vs soft 17
The game of blackjack has both a hard 17 and a soft 17. The two are different from each other in so far as a “hard 17” is one that does not contain an ace, and a “soft 17” is one that does. The reason a hard with an ace is referred to as a “soft 17” is that the ace has a value of 1 or 11. Remember that when dealt a soft 17 you have an advantage. That’s because you are able to hit without worrying that your hand will bust. Why? Well, the ace has a value of either 1 or 11.
7. Stand or hit on soft 17
When playing a soft 17 the basic principles of blackjack strategy is you hit, and never stand. This applies no matter what the dealer’s face up card is. Many players make the mistake of believing that standing on a soft 17 is the safe way to go. In reality, you are placing your hand at greater risk as you must factor in the rule that dealers stand on 17. Thus, if matched by the dealer, you gain nothing and will lose money versus win money long-term. It is also recommended that you double down on a soft 17 if the dealer is showing a low card, as your odds are favorable for a positive outcome.
If you are one who plays blackjack casually, or have an interest in learning the game in greater detail, using strategies as part of your bankroll management are key to scooping greater winnings and success in the long run. While blackjack in its simplest form is a basic game, once you grasp it properly, you quickly understand that being an efficient player can get quite complex. As such, mastering card counting and the various other strategies can greatly increase your earnings.