When it comes to playing card games, there is one game that everyone knows – blackjack. You might not know it as blackjack. You might call it pontoon or 21 or even something completely different, but whatever you call it, the game still stands as quite possibly the most popular card game in history. With links dating all the way back to the 1600s, blackjack is not only an incredibly popular card game but it’s also an incredibly old one.
Of course, there are more modern games available out there, but blackjack has a simplistic nature to it that keeps players coming back for more. They know that once they learn the strategy, winning can be based on skill rather than just relying on luck and chance.
So, it’s definitely worth finding out more about this classic game. Here at Bitcasino, we have a fantastic range of blackjack games. Once you’re confident you can manage a basic strategy, you can get right in there and start playing.
What you need to know
When it comes to strategy, blackjack is a game that has a huge amount of potential, especially for such an easy game to learn. While it is impossible to provide you with the perfect strategy, we can still give you some pointers to improve your skills and help you on your way.
The first thing to know is how the dealer will play, which will always be in a certain way, constrained as they are by rules and house requirements. The dealer always hits if they have a total of 16 or less. The dealer will also hit if they have a “soft 17.” A soft 17 is a term to describe a total of 17 that includes an ace. The reason it is called a soft 17 is that the ace is worth 1 or 11. This means that if the dealer draws a card that goes over 21, they can still carry on because the ace will change to be only worth one. Any totals without an ace in them are called hard totals. So, an 8 and a 9 would be a hard 17.
This means that the dealer will always stand on a total of 18, even if it is a soft 18. The dealer will always have their turn last as well, so you carry out your turn first, and then the dealer players their turn. There are positives and negatives to this. The positive is that you can sometimes beat the dealer with a low hand simply because they had to hit on 16, which can make them go bust, even if you chose to stand on a score of 13. A negative is that if you go bust before the dealer has their turn, you will automatically lose. Try it out for yourself with our live dealer games, like Sonya Blackjack, and test your nerve in real time.
Next, you need to decide what you should do depending on which cards you have drawn. The important thing about this is that in almost all cases, what you choose to do depends on which card the dealer has showing. While you don’t get to see both cards they have drawn, you can still draw conclusions based on the card they are showing.
There are eight hands you can be dealt that your choices will never change no matter what the dealer has showing. The first one is a hard 17. If you have a hard 17, then you should always stand. This is because there is a high probability of getting more than a 4 as your next card, which would make you go bust. Since you have a hard 17, you don’t have the little bit of breathing room that a soft 17 gives you, so it is best to stand.
Next, we have a soft 20, which means you were dealt an ace and a 9. With this combination, you should also stand. This is because the only way you can better this score is with another ace. Your chances of getting an ace when you already have one are incredibly low, so it makes sense to stand. In addition, you already have one of the four aces in the deck, which lowers the chances of the dealer getting an ace and bettering your score.
Next up we have a hard 11. If you have a hard 11, you should always double down if the casino allows it. If they don’t, then you should hit. This is because on a hard 11, it is impossible for you to go bust. The worse score that you can get is 12, but even though it isn’t the best score, it still gives you a fighting chance, especially if the dealer goes bust. It’s also best to take this option because there are more cards of a value of 6 or above in the deck than those below it, so you have a good chance of ending up with a score of 17 or above.
The next one is two hands in one. If you have a pair of 8s or a pair of aces, then you should always split them. This is because both hands give you more power to work going forward than they do together. A hand of 16 from the two 8s means your only option is to stand with that combination in general. If you split them up, you can hit on both and get a score closer to 21. The aces are more useful split up because that gives you the chance to create soft hands which are easier to get closer to 21 than any other hands. That said, if you’re playing something like double exposure blackjack where you will have two hands to play with, just be careful that you don’t get your hands confused if you then go on to split one.
We have another two for one with this next one. If you get a pair of 10s or a pair of 5s, then you shouldn’t split them. This is obvious with a pair of 10s. The score of 20 is going to be very hard to beat, so splitting them up will give you no real benefit. The reason to not split up the pair of 5s is that the score of 10 is a perfect score to hit on. This is due to it offering the chance to get very close to 21 or being close enough to 10 to take another hit afterwards.
The final hand that always has the same choice no matter what the dealer has is a hard 8. You should always hit on a hard 8. This is because no matter what card you get next, you won’t go bust. Because of that factor, you can increase your score without having to worry.
There are several other more in-depth tactics when it comes to blackjack, but those eight hands should be enough to see you through your first moves into the game.
Words: Sean McNulty
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