Of all the online casino games out there, blackjack is by far the one with the highest element of skill involved. As such, the game lends itself perfectly to the realm of strategy. While it’s true you can play entirely based on gut and instinct, in our professional opinion, it’s also advisable to familiarize yourself with basic blackjack strategy, at the bare minimum. This, more than anything means understanding how to play your hand against the dealer’s in a wide range of circumstances, and how to handle your cards best.
The term doubling-down: for those less familiar with blackjack lingo, is the option to literally double your bet on your dealt hand. That is, placing another wager equal to your initial wager on the cards you’ve been dealt. In return, you receive exactly one more card, and the chance to win twice as much cash.
All online blackjack games give you the option to double-down, though when and how may differ somewhat between which version of the game you’re playing. Usually, the house will allow you to double-down on any two first cards, while others games only let you double-down on hands valued at 9, 10 or 11, as is the case in European blackjack.
So how can we give good doubling advice? Well, no matter which version of the game you’re playing, there are certain steadfast “rules” you can keep in mind.
Most blackjack games give you the option to split your cards into two separate hands when you’re dealt a pair of the same card. If you choose to split your hand, you will need to double your bet. In return, you will receive another card for each hand. But not all pairs are created equally. So how do you know which pairs to split?
Surrendering is a way to lighten your losses on a losing hand: That is, when you choose to surrender, you knowingly lose half your bet, though you’ve now also eliminated the risk of losing it entirely. The option to surrender does not exist in every blackjack game, but when it does, it’s important to know how to use it effectively.
The option for an early surrender rarely appears: so it’s less worth exploring. In short, it allows you to forfeit your hand before the dealer checks his. It’s recommended generally when the dealer is showing an Ace or a 10, and you have a really low hand like a hard 5-7, or an iffy hand like a hard 12-17.
For the late surrender, which happens after the dealer checks for blackjack, it’s a somewhat complicated equation between balancing how many decks are in play, your total hand, and the dealer’s face-up card. There are lots of details to chart, but the basic-of-the-basic would suggest you consider surrendering when:
When the dealer’s showing an Ace: Some games will give you the option to place an insurance side bet (which must be half your original wager, paid at a winning rate of 2:1), which is independent of your original bet, that the dealer himself has blackjack. It’s basically a way to hedge your bets, or kind of bet both for and against yourself. This may seem like a good idea, but truth be told, most blackjack experts advise against it.
The term card counting – which is basically a system that allows you to determine if the next hand is likely to have a probable advantage for you by assigning different values to different cards – has become synonymous with the game of blackjack. Most online casinos frown upon this practice for obvious reasons. And though not outright illegal, the casino can refuse to deal players in who’ve been caught in the act, or suspected of card counting.
Though you can count cards to a minimal extent playing online blackjack, due to the mechanics, card counting is a far less viable option at online casinos.
What we’ve outlined thus far, are by far the most popular blackjack strategies out there. That being said, if you’re looking for something a little more exotic you can explore strategies like:
Now that we’ve got all the basic blackjack strategies covered, it’s important to keep the ultimate strategy in mind. And that is, in the simplest of terms, that no matter how many strategies you employ, blackjack is at the end of the day a game of luck, with luck determining the draw of the cards.
That means, while it’s certainly useful to learn on the proven probabilities of the various strategies, which will certainly give you an advantage in playing your hand, you need to know how to manage your money. And good bankroll management is an integral part of this. That means knowing what size bets you need to be made to achieve your winning goals while keeping you in the money long enough to keep playing.