Whether you are taking on the dealer at the Woodbine Casino or playing for matchsticks against your grandmother, blackjack is one of the most enduring card games ever. Unlike bridge or poker, this is not a game that takes years to master. In fact, practically everyone knows the basic rules of blackjack, and a child of six can be playing competently in a matter of minutes.
Yet the game also has a hidden depth. Master basic strategy, and your average return against the dealer increases from around 96 percent to 99 percent or even more. Perhaps it is that aspect of being able to build on that essential simplicity and to go ever deeper into strategy that is part of blackjack’s enduring appeal. Here we cover some basic strategy tips that will sharpen your game and improve your returns at a land-based or online casino.
Take advantage of special offers
Right now, with the land-based casinos temporarily closed, more of us than ever are playing blackjack online. The casino sites all want your business, so check out free-spins.org Canada to find out which ones are offering the most tasty promotions. A few extra hands for free can make all the difference in pushing the scales in your favour – especially if you also observe the following strategy rules.
If you are dealt a pair, you can split the cards and play each as a hand in its own right. Doing so can give you a strategic edge, but it depends on both your cards and the dealer’s upcard. Mathematicians have dedicated long hours to working out all the probabilities, meaning we don’t have to. In fact, we only need to remember these three basic rules:
- If you have a pair of Aces or 8s, you should always split them
- If you have a pair of 4s, 5s or 10s, you should never split them
- For all other pairs, you should split them if the dealer’s upcard is 7 or lower
Hitting and standing
Once you’ve decided what to do with a pair, you get to the fundamental aspect of blackjack gameplay. Hit of stand? Again, this doesn’t just depend on your score, you also need to take the dealer’s upcard into consideration.
This is an area of strategy in which you can go into minute detail, as even the composition of your hand can make a difference – for example, advanced players will treat a 16 made up of four low cards differently to a 16 comprised of a 10 and an 8, as it affects the cards left in the shoe. However, we are talking basic strategy, so here’s a rule that anyone can remember:
If the dealer’s upcard is 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace, hit if your cards add up to 16 or less. If the dealer is showing 4,5 or 6, hit on anything up to 12 while an upcard of 2 or 3 means you should hit on 13 or less.
Try these simple rules next time you play and see how you get on. Once you have them committed to memory, there are plenty of deeper blackjack strategies that you can start to explore.