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Blackjack Strategy 101

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Blackjack Strategy 101

Blackjack Strategy 101

Tue Feb 22 2022 02:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

When it comes to playing card games, there is one game that everyone knows—blackjack. You might know it as pontoon or 21 or even something completely different, but whatever you call it, the game still stands as 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.


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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.

We have a fantastic range of blackjack games at Bitcaisno. Once you’re confident you can manage a basic strategy, you can get right in there and start playing.

How effective are blackjack strategies?

Much like all card and casino games out there, blackjack is ultimately a game of chance and you have no control over what cards you will get dealt. With that said, you can choose certain strategies which act as ways of reducing the house and dealer edge over players. As such, even the most skilful or well-thought-out strategy may only work to increase your odds very slightly. With that in mind, it is always good to have realistic expectations about what level of success or otherwise you expect from any given strategy.

What is the Basic blackjack strategy?

Each game of blackjack has what is known as a ‘basic strategy’, which refers to a playing hand of any total value against any dealer’s card that is facing up, and which loses the least amount of money to the house over the course of a game. When you have a good blackjack hands strategy, you will have the “upper hand” in the game.

Basic strategy was originally developed by famed mathematician Edward Thorp who first developed and pioneered the concept of basic strategy in his now-famous book, ‘Beat the Dealer’. This text was a revolution for the game of blackjack, and Thorp was able to prove that the house edge could be overcome by mathematically based card counting. This meant players could overcome what many considered to be an insurmountable competitive edge in favour of the house by keeping track of the cards in-play. Players would compare their hand to the dealer’s face-up card, which would provide them with an indication of when to take a hit, stand, double or split. 

Thorp’s method did not provide players with a sure-fire strategy to win a hand, rather, it gave players the tools to tell at any point in the game when the odds were in their favour. Players can use this information in their betting strategies to minimise losses and maximise potential gains and can be condensed into a table that is easy to use once you understand the principles behind it and the mechanics of the strategy itself.

What are the benefits of the Basic strategy?

The main benefit of Thorp’s basic strategy is that it turns what appears to be a game of pure chance into, essentially, a mathematical exercise with the strategy telling you the most optimal way to play any hand that you are dealt. This allows you to formulate a numbers-based strategy in circumstances where the only information you have to go off is the value of the dealer’s face-up card and the value of your own hand. If applied correctly, over time the basic strategy will allow you to maximise your odds of winning and minimise your potential losses.

How to approach a basic strategy

When implementing basic strategy in a blackjack game, players should ask themselves certain questions in the following sequence:

Should you surrender? If your game type allows you to surrender, players have the option to surrender upon being dealt the first two cards, but before they take a hit. If you can’t surrender, ask yourself the next question;

Should you split? This is only an option if the cards you’ve been dealt are a pair or two cards worth ten. If you can’t split, you should ask yourself;

Should you double? If your basic strategy calls for you to double this a good thing and odds wise it indicates a chance of likely success. If you can double based on this, you should; if you can’t double, consider the following;

Should you hit or stand? The last consideration for a player as it relates to basic strategy is whether to take another card from the dealer (i.e. ‘take a hit’). If none of the above options are available, you should take a hit or choose to stand at the total.

Blackjack Card counting strategy

Card counting is something that has a huge amount of controversy attached to it. It is almost a taboo subject within casino circles. However, this is an unfair stigma that is attached to it. Card counting is actually completely legal at casinos. This is especially the case when playing at a live dealer Blackjack table. The only thing that can stop you from counting cards is your own unwillingness to learn how to do it.

When used together with basic Blackjack strategy, card counting can actually lower the house edge to such an extent that the player is the one who has an edge. With as much as a 2% edge able to be created, it means that skilled players have the ability to walk to the table with the chance element of Blackjack limited.

By removing a lot of that chance element and relying almost purely on skill, skilled Blackjack players are almost guaranteed to be able to make a profit. Of course, there is still the chance element at play which means that bad luck can befall even the most skilled player, but over time, this should average out.

This means that players who utilise clever bankroll management will be able to ride out any poor performances. This will give their skills the chance to shine through and allows for a profit to be made.

If you are serious about playing live dealer Blackjack, then dedicating your time to learning how to count cards is one of the most important things that you can do.


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How to carry out the Knock-out system strategy

The Knock-out system is one of the most widespread card counting systems around. Just like other card counting systems, it does not require the ability to memorise specifics in terms of which cards have come out of the deck and which are left. It uses an estimation method that attaches a score to the deck. This score is then used to calculate what level you should be setting your wagers at.

It should be used in conjunction with basic blackjack strategy to ensure that you maximise your potential for winning. This means that essentially, the Knock-out system is a bankroll management system, but it does guide basic blackjack strategy at times. If the point score of the deck means that blackjack strategy is less likely to be successful, you can change the way that you would normally play in order to increase your own edge against the house.

The Knock-out system is one of the simplest card counting systems out there and as such it does sacrifice a small amount of accuracy. However, it does offer players who are new to blackjack and card counting the ability to learn a card counting system that will improve their chances of winning.

The system itself is incredibly simple to understand – it is putting it into practice that is difficult. For the system, the Ace, royal cards and 10 are all worth -1. The 2 through to the 7 are all worth +1. The 8 and 9 are worth 0. Depending on how many decks the game starts with depends on what your score starts at. For one deck, the score starts at 0; for two decks, the score starts at -4; for six decks, your score starts at -20; and for eight decks, your score starts at -28.

When the game is running, you will update your score based on the cards that are dealt out. In order to get the true score, you just need to divide your current score by the number of decks that you think are left in the shoe. Then, based on what your score is, you will adjust your wager accordingly. If the score is low, then you will decrease your wager. If the score is high, then you will increase your wager. It really is as simple as that.

Does the Knock-out system strategy work?

The Knock-out system does increase the edge in favour of players. This means that in terms of being effective, it is more successful than just using basic blackjack strategy alone. However, the player edge can be improved even more by combining the knowledge of the Knock-out system with basic blackjack strategy to know the right moves to make in every situation.

If you manage to do this, then the house edge will be decreased by much more than just using hunches and intuition to make your blackjack decisions. There is a slight issue with that though. There are more effective card counting systems out there that would take a similar amount of time to master as combining the Knock-out system and basic blackjack strategy. So, despite it offering an excellent introduction to card counting for beginner players, there are a number of other options out there that offer a superior system for more advanced players.

This is not to disparage the Knock-out system. It will improve your playing, and for beginners, it is definitely one of the best methods out there to start learning how to count cards efficiently.

Is it for blackjack only?

The Knock-out system, and all card counting systems in general, are solely useful for blackjack. This is mainly based around the fact that it is the only game where you can see all of the cards that have been dealt and you are in charge of all of your own decisions. Even though baccarat is a very similar game and poker requires having an idea of what cards are coming next, card counting is not particularly helpful in these situations.

This means that if you do not play blackjack, then learning any card counting system is unlikely to offer you any benefits. Because of this, stick to tried-and-tested methods to improve your chances with other games and only use card counting systems when playing blackjack.

Shuffle tracking in blackjack

Shuffle tracking is a challenging yet great technique to master that can help you reap great returns. Level up your casino gaming experience by learning all about blackjack shuffle tracking here at Bitcasino.

Mix and match: Three types of shuffles

Before knowing how to shuffle track in blackjack, you must understand the three different types of shuffles. The main three types of shuffles are as follows:

Hand shuffle

The hand shuffle is when the dealer takes all the six decks of cards and shuffles them together. Afterwhich, they put it back into the shoe and start dealing for a new round of the game. 

Though this type of shuffle is more trustworthy as you see the different cards shuffled in front of you, it also takes longer and can make the game run at a slower pace.

Automatic shuffle machine (ASM)

Usually, after the dealer gets to the end of the shoe, they put all the cards in the discard tray into the automatic shuffle machine (ASM). It shuffles all six decks at the same time. 

When the ASM is finished mixing the cards, the dealer puts them in the shoe and starts dealing for another round of blackjack. It makes the game run faster, however, you have no clear view of how the cards are shuffled, meaning fewer chances to shuffle track.

Continuous shuffle machine (CSM)

The continuous shuffle machine (CSM) is a large device that continuously shuffles cards as the dealer inserts them in every round. Once the shoe is empty, the dealer takes a shuffled deck from the CSM and continues with the game, allowing seamless and non-stop playing. CSM constantly shuffles 5 decks at a time. Although this increases the speed of the game, it is more difficult to pinpoint an accurate True Count.

Ultimate guide to shuffle tracking blackjack

Shuffle tracking is an advanced technique that can increase your chances of achieving bigger payouts in blackjack. Players use this as a way to trace the cards placed into the discard tray and shuffled so they can predict the next cards to be dealt.

It’s a skill mostly used in single-deck, hand-shuffle games. However, some gamblers still attempt to use this in games that use ASMs despite the high level of difficulty.

Shuffle tracking vs card counting

Both shuffle tracking and card counting are useful strategies that help you decide next actions to take in the game. Unravel the intricacies of shuffle tracking and card counting by diving into the details below:

How does shuffle tracking work?

Shuffle tracking requires a keen eye for detail since it involves memorising where the cards in your last play were placed in the discarded tray. In the next round of play, observe how the dealer shuffles the cards and try to find where the high cards are placed.

By ‘tracking’ where the best cards are, you can then increase or decrease your bet in that round. Although there is no clear scientific method on how this works, this technique can help you decide on how much you should bet for the next round.

How does card counting work?

Card counting is a mathematical edge that involves assigning values on different cards. In the common card counting system, the following card values are as follows:

  • 2 to 6 = +1
  • 7 to 9 = 0
  • 10 to Ace = -1

As each card is dealt during the game, you will either add 1, subtract 1 or do nothing based on the value of the card in your hand. By taking a mental note of the different cards dealt in the game, you will have a better idea of how many high or low cards are left on the deck. In turn, it can increase your chances of winning especially when you increase your bet at the right moment. 

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Every day you’re shuffling: Tips to help you get started

Becoming a master at shuffle tracking involves a lot of time and effort. Although it’s a steep mountain to climb, the view from the top is too great to ever pass up. Here are some tips that can help bring your A-game in blackjack:

Learn the basics

Shuffle tracking is a technique suited for advanced players in blackjack. You have to first understand the basic rules of blackjack before trying out different strategies. It helps to consistently play the game and research more about it at Bitcasino so you can level up your overall skill.

Since shuffle tracking requires a high level of mastery, it is also best to practice it first on hand shuffle games before trying it against machines.

Try 500 winning hours of blackjack first

Before trying shuffle tracking on an actual game, you should first practice it on your own. Aim to achieve at least 500 winning hours of shuffle tracking blackjack cards to get a better understanding of how this technique works.

Practice different winning methods in blackjack

Besides shuffle tracking, you should also learn the other strategies in blackjack like card counting or the hi-lo system. Compared to shuffle tracking, counting cards is simpler and leaves a lot of players satisfied with the results. 

Do not lose heart

As the famous saying goes, practice makes perfect. This means consistently working on improving your skill can lead to mastery you can apply in your next round of blackjack. You can challenge yourself by playing Bombay Club Blackjack by Evolution to test the level of your current skill. Although victory is not promised, it makes the game more exciting so don’t be afraid to take a risk and use each chance as a learning opportunity!

Insurance betting strategy

Blackjack is a fun game with simple rules. You place your bet, wait for your hand, and hope that you draw blackjack before anyone else. You’ve probably seen movies portray blackjack to be a dead end game where players end up betting their house, car, and all the other things they can bet. This simply isn’t the case when you play blackjack in real life.

Blackjack plays 3:2 if you get a blackjack or if you beat the dealer. There are many different strategies you can use to play this game without having to be on the losing end. Among the many techniques used in blackjack, only the brave choose to place insurance bets. Learn more about what insurance bets are and how to use them to your advantage.

What is an Insurance Bet?

Insurance bets are side bets offered to players when the dealer draws an Ace. Insurance bets are worth half the amount of your original bet. These side bets work by betting that the dealer will draw a 10-value card after drawing an ace, resulting in blackjack.

Before the dealer reveals their hole card, they will ask the players if they wish to place an insurance bet or to play even money. Insurance bets are worth half of your original bet and pay 2:1.

Many players believe that taking even money and placing an insurance bet is the same thing, but it’s not. Even money is offered to players who have blackjack while insurance bets are offered to all the players in a blackjack table. By taking even money, you are guaranteeing yourself a 1:1 payout. This means that you’re guaranteed to keep your bet, but you won’t get more than that.

It’s not the same with a blackjack insurance bet. There are two possible outcomes in blackjack insurance betting. One, if the dealer has blackjack, you don’t lose your initial bet and you also win your side bet. If it’s the other way around and the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you lose the side bet but continue to play your hand.

Simply put, if you place an insurance bet of $5 and the dealer draws a 10-value card on top of their Ace, you win $15. This is particularly advantageous if you have a strong hand or a blackjack. Having a strong hand means that you have a chance of beating the dealer later on once the game continues.

Why should you place an insurance bet?

Casinos offer a standard blackjack stack consisting of six to eight card decks. If you sum that up, a standard blackjack deck would have 312-416 cards. In a single round, 120-160 cards are valued at 10. This means that once a dealer draws an Ace, there’s a pretty high chance that they’ll draw a 10-value card, resulting in them having a blackjack.

Blackjack is a simple game that pays big if you know how to plan your game. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to make the most out of your blackjack insurance bet. They’re strategies that you already know because they’re generally used in the game, but using them increases insurance bet advantages.

Blackjack Insurance Tips

Insurance bets are most useful when your hand’s value is over 17 or if you have a blackjack. The chances of a dealer drawing a 10-value card are lower than drawing a regular card. If the dealer doesn’t draw blackjack and draws a card with a lower value than yours, you win 3:2.

Another way to make the most out of an insurance bet is card counting. Card counting works by checking on what cards have been dealt with each player, including the dealer. It involves keeping tabs of high cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10), low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and neutral cards (7, 8, 9). Players use the statistics of each category to come up with probabilities of which cards left will come out. It may sound a bit complicated, but knowing how to use this technique will significantly lower your chances of losing both your original bet and insurance bet.

Another technique to make your insurance bet count is by splitting your hand. The most beneficial splits you can make while an insurance bet is placed is by splitting your aces and your eights. If you are dealt two aces or eights in one hand, splitting them and getting one new card for each hand raises your chances of getting blackjack. With an insurance bet and split hands, beating the dealer is more possible.

Finally, this last tip is usually underrated and overlooked, but placing an insurance bet is good when you have blackjack. Placing an insurance bet when you have a blackjack ensures your win against the dealer because if the dealer doesn’t draw blackjack, you still beat the dealer and win 3:2. If the dealer happens to draw blackjack, a push happens, and you win both your original bet, as well as your insurance bet.

With a bit of luck, you will win money playing this game. If you have a good strategy, you will take into account the specific blackjack rules for each variant. This means that you will never lose more than you can afford to.

Give our blackjack games a try here at Bitcasino and get ready for lots of excitement to come. We always have a massive range of variants and amazing promotions. It means that you can look forward to playing in a way that suits you the best.

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It is more than just blackjack that is on offer at Bitcasino though. We have a wide range of other games. If you love video slots, or find the realism of live casino games enthralling, then here at Bitcasino, we have a wide selection available for you. No matter what games you like to play, we can provide something for you—there is something for everyone at Bitcasino.


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Blackjack Strategy 101