Hard 16 = hard luck mate.
It’s the worst hand in Blackjack, and now, as you gaze anxiously down at the dealer’s face-up Ace, you’re kicking yourself for going all-in on this round.
“You’ve done it again, genius”, you mutter, as the tuxedo-clad dealer, impatience clearly stamped on his face, asks “Another hit, sir?”.
This is the third time he’s asked, you realise, as you try to pull yourself out of your stupor of mental self-flagellation.
No, this is no time for regrets, it’s time to be dynamic and make your move.
Hit or stick?
But what the hell do you do?
You could stick and hope the dealer somehow busts on his favourable ace, or hit again and pray to the deck gods to somehow give you a 5 or less?
Either way, your chances are bleak – but making the right choice here could be the difference between winning at blackjack and whining.
So, what’s it going to be – hit or stick?
Success and profit in the game of blackjack come from applying the right techniques at the right time. While basic tactics can work with simple hands, you will need to be familiar with more advanced techniques in order to make it in sweatier situations – like this one.
Speaking of which, what SHOULD you do with a hard 16 facing off against a face-up ace on the dealer’s side?
If you’re playing at an actual table and get a hard 16 straight up without hitting first, our answer would be to surrender to get some of your stake back. Online blackjack, however, is a different story, as bets can’t be surrendered.
That means you have to risk it for a chocolate biscuit and hit – because the chance of the dealer getting a soft/hard hand that beats yours is WAY too high.
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. 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.
Also, you need to practice at playing optimally and playing the long game to cut out any simple mistakes and impulsive plays you might be making.
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 can easily find guides online that give you an indication of the correct plays – but the complex strategies need to be learned the old fashioned way, with research and practice.
Multiple Hands: Help Or Hindrance?
Before we get cracking on some Blackjack betting systems I first want to destroy one common urban myth – that playing multiple hands is a great way to maximise your winnings.
Playing more than one hand on a table may increase how much fun you have, you crazy adrenaline junky you, but that’s pretty much it.
There’s a misconception that playing more than one hand at once can lead to doubled wins but it can just as easily double your losses!
We recommend playing smart, not fast, and concentrating on one hand at a time is a good way to do that.
Everyone has their own golden answer to beat the house edge – whether that be a Microsoft Excel sheet full of hand percentages, or trending betting systems that DEFINITELY work (sarcasm warning)… but, in all seriousness, can they work? Can you earn more playing blackjack with a system?
Let’s take a look!
The Martingale Blackjack Betting System
One of the oldest betting systems around, originating in 18th century France, is the Martingale. The original theory stated that a player who is considerably wealthy could prevent a loss in even money bets by doubling each bet every time he lost. It was originally used for roulette, but it has since been used for other games like Blackjack, as well as stock market trading.
It’s a common strategy to see on blackjack tables, with players 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 other tactics.
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 the first hand, the next bet should still be at one unit.
Even If your first hand loses, your next bet should still just be one unit. If the second-hand wins, then the next bet should be doubled and each successive winning hands should then 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 moolah.
Some players also swear that playing multiple hands with this system increases their chances of winning. But, as we’ve already touched on, playing with multiple spots is not a good idea if you’re trying to play smart.
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. This might be considered boring by some, but, what matters is what works for you.
When it comes to playing blackjack with the aim of meeting a wagering requirement, so that you can take advantage of a casino bonus offer, then you should play the game a little differently.
Wait a minute, it’s possible to clear those annoying casino Wagering Requirements (WR) by playing Blackjack instead of some random slots?
The answer is yes, but casinos usually offer lower percentages on Blackjack winnings. Therefore, to meet the WR you need to win quite a bit more than you would on a slot.
The good news is that Blackjack has the best odds of any casino game, so you are more likely to win. This neatly explains why casinos don’t give Blackjack the same WR percentages – those crafty fudgers…
Insurance is one of those options offered in the game of blackjack that is often used incorrectly in live play. Insurance is a side bet that you’re offered when the dealer’s face card is an Ace that protects you if the dealer has drawn a Blackjack.
It may sound like a good idea, like insuring your house and pets, but is it worth it?
The gain of a successful insurance bet is decent, as you’ll get two pounds for every pound you bet (2:1).
But, you could also just be throwing your hard-won money away if the dealer doesn’t have the magic hand.
So, what should you do? Let’s get into it.
[js-featured-quote]Insurance bets are expected to lose money in the long run.[/js-featured-quote]
What Is Insurance In Blackjack?
Did you ever wonder why Blackjack is called Blackjack?
Was it because the game was created by a Mr/Mrs Blackjack – or because the top hand (known as the Blackjack) is that powerful, that the game needed to be named after it.
It’s definitely the second option, as dealer Blackjacks mean an automatic loss for players.
When a dealer has an Ace as a face card, he/she will ask 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.
If 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 may be offering you a way to protect yourself in case of a dealer blackjack, but, although insurance might look like a great deal, the percentages show otherwise.
Insurance bets are expected to lose money in the long run – because the dealer is likely to have a Blackjack (a card with a value of 10) less than a third of the time.
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 online casino is to win the bet.
The Right Time To Take Out Insurance
One possible scenario when you should take out this side bet is when you hold a Blackjack yourself. You might want to insure it so you get a positive return.
Blackjacks payout 3:2 but they don’t come by very often. If you suffer an unlikely worst-case scenario of having a Blackjack at the same time as the dealer, 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 still result in a push 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 in the long run following the Hunger Games slogan, because the odds will be “ever in your favour”.
Want to get started with Blackjack? We’ve researched it to death so you don’t have to and also compiled a list of the very best and trusted UK casinos where you can play. Check them out and give an eye on our useful guides to help improve your game!
Online Blackjack Expert
Drogo Schultz, the master of online blackjack, offers winning strategies and invaluable insights for players. With his expertise in the game, he helps players improve their skills and increase their chances of hitting the jackpot.More info on Drogo Schultz