Advanced blackjack strategy: Tips and tricks


Success and profit in the game of online blackjack come from applying the right techniques at the right time. While easy and simple tactics tend to work in low limit blackjack games, you will need to be more familiar with more advanced techniques in order to make it in more difficult competitions. Read on to learn more.

Taking blackjack to the next level

Applying more advanced blackjack strategies is possible once you have mastered the basics. These include knowing when to double down, playing hard or soft hands as well as splitting amongst many others. Without knowing the meaning of these terms or else knowing when to apply them, you won’t be able to apply more high-level strategies.

To begin with, you need to remember that each option you have in hand has an average win or loss attached to it. Imagine you are surrendering or doubling with a hard 20 against the dealer’s upcard depicting a 5. This would result in a low payout compared to standing.

For the opportunity to improve, you first need to get rid of all common mistakes especially when you have big margins. You need to work harder when you have smaller margins.

To move on to the next level, you first need to know when to hit and when to stand especially when the dealer’s upcard is considerably weak. You first have to come up with your own general rules that will aid you with which type of play you should be making.  Come up with your own rules which can be applied when you know the dealer’s card as well as your own total to make a wise decision. You can then proceed to either hit, doubling, splitting or standing.

Play multiple hands in moderation

When pro blackjack players play multiple hands at the table, they are doing it to inject some fun into the game. Playing two hands at the same time increases your chances of winning since you are placing two bets instead of one.

It is similar to playing one hand after the other but you’re doing it in one go. Don’t be tempted to play multiple hands continuously though, as otherwise, you are just doubling the total you bet on each round. It can end up costing you big especially if you have a smaller bankroll.

Basic strategy for blackjack tournaments

hand holding cards

When you join a blackjack tournament, having just a pinch of knowledge about tournament strategy can increase your chances of success twofold.

Same outcome for all players

One of the most defining characteristics of a blackjack tournament is that all players in the tournament are competing against the same dealer. This means that players would have the same outcomes on any given hand round. For example, if the dealer draws a blackjack, all the players at the table would have the same result, most likely a loss.

Knowing a good basic strategy is the way forward for you to secure yourself tournament success. If you are planning on limiting the risk by betting little on most hands, then mistakes won’t end up costing you much. If, on the other hand, you are aiming to place big bets, playing incorrectly will end up costing you quite a bit.

Once you run out of money during a blackjack tournament, you are unable to buy more chips for a second chance.

Take care of your bankroll

One of the ways you could minimise risk is by bet sizing. Smaller bets can reduce and even eliminate completely your chance of ruin at the table. You need to choose your battles wisely. These days, it would be best to base your decision on strategy on how shy or bold your opponents appear to be. If all your competitors are making small bets, it would be quite smart to make a large bet early on. If there are few bold bettors at the table, it would be best to bet just enough to maximise your bankroll you are risking.

By making small bets on a regular basis with a few opportunities to make bigger bets, you can fight both styles of players at the table. Since most blackjack tournaments see a mix of both timid and bold betters, this gives you the chance to carefully pick hands where a large bet would be most opportune.

During a mid-round, you should be assessing the bets of all your opponents before opting for a bet size so you can properly assess the bet amount to give you a lead without risking too many chips. Once you are in the lead, you should keep in mind the similar outcomes rule. Making smaller bets when you’re in the lead gives your opponents the chance to surpass you. Although you will still come across poor cards and will occasionally be surpassed, the trick is to risk a medium-sized bet to match the players who are ahead.

This means that picking your battles and not placing unnecessary large bets would be wise. Players who are consistently placing medium-sized bets on most of the hands are at a severe disadvantage as their bankroll depletes. The bets individually do not give you a lead but can collectively affect your bankroll. The best way forward is to use a mix of small and large bets. If you are placing a medium-sized bet, it would have to be for one of two reasons: Either you are in the lead or else your bet is big enough to help you accomplish a pertaining goal.

The great thing about blackjack is that there are plenty of betting systems and other strategies in existence that can help increase your chances of winning. No matter what game you are playing, someone somewhere has developed the perfect betting strategy. There are ultimately two betting strategies that each player should take up when playing blackjack.

The main blackjack betting strategies you should apply

playing cards and padlock

Before we dive into the topic of betting strategies, you should set up a bankroll before you join a blackjack table, whether online or offline. As has been mentioned before, the game of blackjack is meant to be fun but these betting strategies require a considerable bankroll for you to follow and make a neat profit.

The Martingale Blackjack Betting System

One of the oldest betting systems around, originating in 18th century France, the original theory stated that a player who is considerably wealthy could prevent a loss in even money bets by doubling each bet each time he lost. It was originally used for roulette, but it has since been used for a number of games as well as the stock market trading.

You will often see players apply the Martingale system at the blackjack table, doubling each bet after each loss. In theory, this betting strategy is considered solid and one which could help recover all your losses with a single win. However, if you run into a bad streak of cards, you could end up losing a lot of money. Unless you are a high roller, it might be worth sticking to making a smaller loss.

Of course, this betting system comes with its own risks. For starters, if you are playing blackjack and the table has a bet limit, you won’t be able to recover your losses if you’re on a losing streak. Another problem would be if you have a small and limited bankroll.

Oscar’s Grind Blackjack Betting System

The creator of the Oscar’s Grind system was a craps player by (surprise, surprise) the name of Oscar. Implementing this betting strategy is fairly easy. To begin, a player must make a bet of the table minimum (one unit). The main aim is to make a profit on one unit, which is when the progression begins. If you win first hand, the next bet should still be at one unit.

If the first hand, on the other hand, loses, your next bet should also be one unit. If the second-hand wins, then the next bet should be doubled and each successive winning hands should use an increased bet. This keeps on going until the player has achieved a profit of one unit, at which point, the player must start the progression all over again with a bet of one unit.

The advantage of this betting system is that it will help you preserve your bankroll over long sessions at the blackjack table. If you remain patient and stick to the system, then it will be very hard to lose a large amount of money with this betting system.

Some players also swear that playing multiple hands increases their chances of winning. Playing multiple spots can lead to a thrilling time, but it does not increase your win rate.

Most of these betting systems fall under the progressive bets category. While these are the most common, and most preferred betting systems, it is also okay to play the exact same bet every hand. While this strategy might be considered as boring by some, if it works for you, it’s what matters. There is also nothing wrong with creating your own strategy.

When it comes to playing blackjack with the aim of meeting a wagering requirement, to take advantage of a casino bonus offer, the strategy for blackjack changes a little. If you don’t have a blackjack strategy or else you are not quite familiar with one, it would be best to look at our basic blackjack strategy here, which will give you the best possible start to your gameplay.

If on the other hand, you have already adopted a blackjack strategy, then you’ll be surprised to learn that the strategy changes a little.

Best blackjack strategy with a wagering requirement

Let us give you an example of how a simple logic such as a double down decision would change in this case. If you need to know whether you should double down on a 9 against a dealer’s 2, then you must consider the return on getting double the money with this rather strong total whilst at the same time, giving up on the option to hit if you are a dealt a 2 or 3 next.

If you had to double down on a 9 against a 2 and receive a two, you’re bound for a rather sad result. This is one of those instances where such bold decisions could change depending on the number of decks in play. If you are playing with a single or a double-deck, it would be best to double down on a total of 9 against a 2, since the 2 is already taken out of play, removing a huge percentage chunk of the remaining 2s to make the double down a good play.

If you had to play with three decks, it would also be a good idea to double down on a 9 against a 2. Let’s imagine that your hand is made up of a 7 and a 2, this would mean that 2 deuces would have been removed from the deck of cards. However, if we had to play with 4 or more decks of cards, in the same scenario, it would be best to hit rather than doubling.

Let’s get the percentages to give you a better understanding. If you are dealt a total of 9 against the dealer’s 2, you have an advantage of 7.85% over the house if you proceed to hit. In terms of money, that would mean that with a bet of €100, your average return if you hit would be that of €7.85.

If you had to double down in a game with 4 decks, your winning expectations would be circa €7.45. What one needs to keep in mind that if you expect a return of €7.85, then you must also play an extra €100 hand and assume that the cost of this hand will have a house edge of 0.50%. This extra hand must then meet a wagering requirement with a negative return of €0.50. So, for both hands, your total return is that of €7.35.

If you are playing on casino bonuses with wagering requirements, here’s what you must do:

  • If you have a total of 9 against a 2 = double if you’re playing with 4 decks of cards or less
  • If you have an Ace and a 7 against a 2 = double
  • If you have an Ace and a 6 against a 2 = double
  • If you have a total of 8 against a 6 = double down in a 2-deck game with a 5 and a 3. Don’t double down if you have a 6 and a 2
  • If you have a total of 11 against an Ace = double down in a 2-deck game

It would always be best to follow a wagering requirement basic strategy as opposed to a normal blackjack strategy where a no wagering requirement has been imposed.

Should you take up insurance in blackjack?

Should you take up insurance in online blackjack?

Insurance is one of those options offered in the game of blackjack, but which is often used incorrectly in live play. Insurance is a side bet which is placed independently of the main bet. What many players fail to realise is that just because it is on offer it doesn’t mean it’s always a good option.

Experienced blackjack players know when to use insurance and when not to. Taking insurance at an appropriate time can reduce the house edge albeit by a small margin.

What is insurance in blackjack?

This side bet’s main purpose is to protect your hand against the possibility of the dealer having a blackjack. In this game, a blackjack by the dealer is an automatic loss for the player.

When a dealer’s upcard is a 10, the first thing the dealer does is to check if he has a blackjack. When a dealer has an Ace as an upcard, the process is a little different. Before looking at his hole card, the dealer asks the players at the table if they’d like to take insurance.

If the blackjack player wants to make this side bet, they must place an extra bet of half the initial bet on the table. Once all the participating players at the table have reached a decision, the dealer checks to see if they have a blackjack.

If the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, the players who took out insurance will lose their original bet. They will, however, win the insurance bet and collect odds of 2:1. The player ultimately has come out even on the hand.

He does not win more money, but neither will he lose any. If on the other hand, the dealer does not have a blackjack, the players who took insurance lose their insurance bet and the hand continues as normal.

When to take out insurance?

The casino is offering you to protect yourself in case the dealer has a blackjack but what many fail to realise is that, although insurance might look like a great deal, the percentages show otherwise.

The house edge on the insurance side bet varies depending on the number of decks used in the game of blackjack:

Single deck – 5.9%

Double deck – 6.8%

4 decks – 7.25%

6 decks – 7.40%

8 decks – 7.47%

The insurance bet is by far in favour of the house. The percentages above ultimately reflect how likely the casino is to win the bet.

Let’s put it into perspective. Imagine you place a €100 insurance bet, the casino will win €106 if you lose. This means that for every €100 wagered on insurance, you are only to get back €94, losing €6 in the process.

The right time to take out insurance

We can only think of one possible scenario when a blackjack player should take out this side bet. If you hold a blackjack in hand, you might want to insure it so you get a positive return.

Blackjacks pay out 3:2 but they don’t come by very often. If you suffer the unlikely worse case scenario of having a blackjack at the same time as the dealer’s, it will result in a push. When a push happens, you won’t receive any money for your blackjack.

If you do take out insurance in this scenario, it will result in a push in blackjack, but you will collect 2:1 thanks to the insurance side bet. If the dealer does not own a blackjack, you will lose the insurance bet but collect 3:2 on the blackjack.

Some blackjack players go a step further and always insure their own blackjack. We don’t recommend it. You would be better off riding out your hand and hoping the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.

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How to use your mathematical skills for online casino success

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