Out of all the games you’ll find in a casino – online or in person – blackjack is the one game that you’ll pick up the quickest and intrinsically have a decent chance of winning, even as a newbie. You do need to go into the game armed with some general ideas of how the game is played and what the basic strategies are to hold your own against the house, however. Here are seven great tips for blackjack newbies who want some direction getting started in the famous card game of 21.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is a card game in which players play against the house (the dealer). You will usually play the game with other players, but you play neither with them nor against them as your win condition is to beat the dealer only. It’s played with a number of decks of 52 playing cards, but unless you’re playing specific variations of the game, the suits don’t matter, only the numbers on the cards do.
The cards have a number value as follows:
- Number cards 2 – 10 each have a number value equal to that of the card.
- The Ace represents either a 1 or an 11, the choice is yours.
- All the face cards (Jack, Queen, King) have a value of 10.
The basic premise of the game is to get the value of your hand of cards to equal 21. You’ll be dealt two cards initially and can decide how many more cards you’ll want after the initial two cards, one at a time from the dealer. If the value of your hand goes above 21, you lose the hand and your wager. Once you have reached a total you are happy with, the dealer will have their turn in the same manner, though they are forced to take another card if their total is 16 or less and are not allowed another if it is 17 or more. These are the basic rules of the game, but there are more rules you should familiarize yourself with.
Learn the Basic Strategy
The basic strategy of blackjack is quite simple. It’s a set of conditions you should outright memorize and follow when you see a specific scenario play out. As a beginner, this basic strategy will give you the statistically best chance of winning without understanding more nuanced plays in the game.
- If you have a pair of aces or a pair of 8s, always split them.
- If you have a hand with a value of 12 – 16, you can stand if the dealer has a face up card equal to 2 – 6.
- If you have a hand of 12 – 16, take another card if the dealer has a face up card with a value of 7 – Ace (that’s 7,8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace).
- If you have a hand value of 11 from your first two cards, double down on your bet if the dealer has a face up card of value 2 – 10 (number cards 2 – 10 or a Jack, Queen or King).
- If you have an Ace and a 5, 6 or 7 and the dealer has a face up card of 2 – 6, you should also double down.
This is the basic strategy. It will cover most hands and can help reduce the house edge down to as little as 0.5%, which is significantly low in a casino!
Avoid Playing Insurance
Insurance is something of a side bet, where you’re taking out insurance that the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack (an ace and a face card). Insurance will be offered if the dealer has an Ace or a face card face up in the initial deal. Blackjack professionals recommend against it, as the house has a significant edge in this insurance bet.
Play According to the Dealer’s Up Card
Your move, as you can tell from the tips above in the basic strategy, requires you to play off the dealer’s face up card, which is revealed in the initial deal. Understanding what their card is and what it offers them in terms of their odds for their draws should inform your decision on what to play next. If the dealer has an up card of 2 – 6, it’s bad for them and good for you and you have a good chance of getting the best blackjack payout, if they have a 7 – 10, face card or Ace, it’s bad for you.
Set a Budget
Don’t forget to set a budget and gamble responsibly. Blackjack can be a lot of fun, and because the odds are much better than other casino games, your budget can last longer at a blackjack table. Just remember not to go overboard or bet money you can’t afford to lose.
Blackjack is a simple and fun game that is easy to learn but takes a lot of practice to master. Reading some advanced tutorials and strategy guides is recommended if you want to take your games of Blackjack more seriously.
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