How To Play Blackjack
Ask any experienced casino online player what the best online casino game is and they will all have one answer; blackjack. Blackjack has the lowest house edge and is also considered one of the easiest games to win. Why? It’s simple. Casinos usually operate almost exclusively on luck with a small dependence on the house edge, specifically on games like Slots. Blackjack has an edge of around 1.5%, whereas roulette’s house edge is around 5%. In addition, a game like roulette is unpredictable. You never know where the ball is going to land and this could be dangerous when everything you have rests on that tiny ball. In blackjack, you could win if you have a background in the game and a certain level of skill. Also, decisions made in the game are what determine the odds. If you are smart about it, you end up having the mathematical advantage over the casino. In blackjack, it all comes down to using the correct strategy.
History of Blackjack
There is no clear origin of blackjack, but many players believe that the game originated from French casinos in the 1700s. Back then it was called Vingt-et-Un, which translates to 21. The card games are derived from games like French Ferme and Chemin de Fer. Back then, only the dealer could double. Vingt-et-Un was commonly played at the French Royal Court during King Louis XV’s reign. Some believe that blackjack was invented by the Romans. The Romans played blackjack using wooden blocks marked with different numbers. 21 expanded through North America thanks to the French occupying those regions.
Around the time that blackjack was discovered, there were other games that were already dominating regions of Europe. These games were Spanish versions like Trente-Un (One and Thirty), French Quinze (Fifteen) and Italian Sette e Mezzo (Seven & a 1/2). Sette e Mezzo is played with a deck of 40 cards. The face cards count as ½ a point and the A counts as up to 7 points while other cards count as normal values.
Trete-Un means 31. In this game, the objective is to get as close to 31 points as possible. J’s are counted up to 11 points, Q’s up to 12 points and K’s up to 13. In Quinze, players needed to draw cards until they would reach a certain value just like Ving-et-Un. However, the 3 games are much older than the French version. Ving-et-Un made it to America in the 1800s. Although it is basically the earliest version of blackjack, Ving-et-Un is a very different game from the blackjack we know and love today. Sometimes, the dealer’s second card is visible to players. It was also okay for the dealer to make their own decisions.
The game continued to evolve in America during the 1900s, especially after it started to be played in New Orleans in 1820 in a few gambling halls. Eleanor Dumont heard about the prospects in America and emigrated there from France. Dumont was a skilled dealer and settled in California, where she opened a gambling hall. She called it Vingt-et-Un. Her place became so popular that crowds from all over the country gathered there to witness two shocking things. One, a woman was gambling and two, she was good at it.
Blackjack card counters started to emerge in the 1950s. Two books were instrumental in the popularity of blackjack. The first was “Playing Blackjack to Win” written by blackjack players Maisel, Baldwin, McDermot and Cantey. This was published in 1957 and the 2nd book was “Beat the Dealer” by Edward O. Thorp released in 1962. Thorp’s book birthed the concept of card counting. His theory was based on a ten-count system where you would start with 2 numbers, 16 and 36. These were both related to the 10’s in the deck. When the game begins, the author counts backwards and divides the remaining card numbers against 10. This system, known as the Thorp Ratio, worked perfectly when the game was played using a single deck. Today players use multiple decks, so Thorp’s Ratio has become more complex to use.
Harvey Dubner borrowed from Thorp’s Ratio when he introduced his high-low method of card counting. Around this time more players started to learn strategies and dealers began to offer advice at the tables on the ideal moves to make in whatever situation. Nowadays, players can use card counting, but there are even more strategies out there to master. However, although card counting is not illegal, it is highly frowned upon. Casinos have the right to refuse entry and that is exactly what they do to blackjack counters. Blackjack dealers are also highly trained when it comes to identifying card counters.
Today, you can play blackjack anywhere you are as long as you have a smartphone an internet connection. Using card counting online is almost impossible because the game moves so fast. Even when there are 6 to 8 decks, they are continuously shuffled. The best way to enjoy blackjack online is to play a live version of the game.
How to Play Blackjack
The first thing you need to know when playing blackjack in a live casino is what the house edge is and what it means.
The house edge refers to the mathematically expected amount that you lose on each bet made in the long run. Think of it in this way;
If a game has a house edge of 3%, a player should expect to lose $3 for every $300 bet made in the game. The house edge doesn’t refer to the randomness of a game. It refers to the probabilities of a win or loss against the amounts you win/lose.
The house edge does not affect short term goals. If you are playing blackjack and betting $300 on a single hand, you may lose $300, win $300 or win $350. The $3 loss is the theoretical average a player may get if they continue to play the game. Most casinos employ something that affects the house edge e.g. how in roulette adding a single 0 to the wheel changes the odds. Adding a double 00 affects the edge even further in their advantage. In blackjack, the order in which the dealer and players play affects the edge. A player can lose instantly when they go bust and the house gets its edge by playing their hand last. If the player and the dealer both go bust, it’s not a push. You will have already lost your bet before the online casino dealer even plays their hand. There are plenty of more conditions that affect the house edge.
The rules of blackjack are simple; players are paid off at 3:2 odds so if you bet $300 and get a win, you win $350 instead of $300. A win is formed when you have 2 cards that total or are close to 21. Blackjack can only form with an A & 10, 10 meaning any combo of cards that equal 10 points which can be the J, K or Q. The dealer always stands on 17 or more and always hits on 16 or less. A soft 17 is where the player has an A & 6 or an A & other cards giving you a total of 17. Since the A counts as 11 or 1, you can’t bust with a 17. The dealer also can’t stand on 17. Different games have different rules, but these are always indicated on a placard next to the table. You can also easily tell if it’s a single-deck game or a multiple deck game. However, knowing when to split or double down isn’t obvious. Some casinos don’t allow players to re-split after splitting or double down. At others, players won’t be able to hit the hand again after they split A’s. The more generous a casino is with their rules, the better.
In some blackjack games, the payout ratio is at 6:5 odds instead of 3:2 odds. It sounds impressive, but it isn’t at all. A $300 bet that hits at a blackjack 6:5 table wins you $320 instead of $350. Other games have favourable rules, but only pay even money when a blackjack hits. The 6:5 game has a 1.4% higher house edge, while the even-money game is 2.3% higher. This ends up adding to your expected losses per hour. You will find that in a game you’re betting $300 per hand, you’re averaging 50 hands per hour. That means you’re putting in $15,000 per hour into action. If your current blackjack game has an edge of 0.5%, your expected hourly loss is $750. That means the loss gets even greater in a 6:5 odds game and even larger in the even-money game.
-Single deck vs multiple decks
People love to play single deck blackjack online casino games because these are usually the easiest to use strategies on. It gets easier to get an edge over the house when you are counting cards in a single deck game. Multiple decks came into the picture to prevent the counting cards strategy. A single deck game usually subtracts 0.5% from the house edge. Every deck of cards a casino adds to the game raises the house edge higher. If you are playing a single deck game with a 6:5 payout, the difference from the low payout is more than enough to compensate for the low number of decks. However, if you’re choosing between an 8-deck game and a single deck game, both games will pay off the same. Always choose a single deck game even if you don’t know how to count cards as the odds are always better that way.
There’s more to mastering blackjack than knowing which strategy to use. You must also know the customs of the game and know how to navigate the rules and the lingo. For example;
- When you sit at a table, wait for the dealer to finish the hand that is in progress. After they are through, you can buy your chips. Place your currency on the cash section and slide it toward the dealer.
- No currency is to remain in the betting box on the table. Casinos don’t take cash bets unless stated otherwise. You need to specify why you have the cash on the table by saying ‘Money plays’ out loud.
- Keep your hands off the chips in the betting box until the hand dealt is over.
- If you are new to the game, avoid sitting on the last seat at the table as this means you will be the last to play before the dealer. It could put you at a disadvantage when players notice that they are losing money because of your mistakes.
- If you wish to leave the table and then return, you can ask the dealer to mark your spot. A clear disk is placed in your betting box to signify that the seat has an occupant.
- Don’t be the guy who is drunk and disorderly at the table. Everyone wants to have a good time and you shouting and messing up the table just kills everyone’s night.
Basic Strategy of Online Blackjack
The basic strategy of blackjack usually comes down to this; it is up to you to study this online casino game, understand it, practice and develop your own strategy. At the end of the day, strategies do work and it is up to the player to try them all and then develop one for themselves. Of course, casinos want you to develop a strategy. That’s why the dealer shows you one of their cards to help bring your total as close to 21 as possible. By revealing one of the cards, the dealer gives you a chance to make an educated guess as to the eventual outcome of the game.
If you are wondering whether you should learn how to play blackjack, the answer is yes. As an online casino game is great because it allows players to challenge themselves mentally with each game. A blackjack player will always evolve with each game they play, whether a win or loss. Start studying today and see how fast you grow.