Blackjack – A Game of Strategy
Blackjack – A Game of Strategy
Blackjack is one of Canada’s most popular casino games (and indeed worldwide!) and is played with anywhere from one to eight decks. Blackjack benefits from having one of the lowest house edges, and unlike most other card games is played solely between the dealer and yourself.
21: A Goal or a Trap?
The most common mistake is to believe that in order to win you need to get your cards as close to a total of 21 points as possible. In reality, your objective should simply be to beat the dealer. This can be done in three basic ways: hitting blackjack (21) with your first two cards (so long as the dealer’s first two are less); reaching a final score higher than the dealer’s without going bust; or letting the dealer add cards to his own hand in an attempt to beat your score, but then going over 21 points.
The Importance of Strategy
The best way to increase your chances of winning at online blackjack Canada is strategy – and here’s why.
Of the three winning means, hitting a blackjack with your first two cards is pure luck, and won’t happen as often as one would hope. But getting your score higher than the dealer’s, or getting the dealer to go bust, requires the use of even the most basic strategy skills.
An important feature in blackjack is its low house edge, the built-in profit margin for casinos. Playing with the goal of achieving 21 can push the edge up, because you run the risk of busting, but playing with strategy will help you to keep the edge down and maximise your winnings. It’s even possible to very nearly eliminate the edge if you consistently play your cards right – and depending on the house rules, you’re generally free to play your cards however you want to, while the dealer has limitations.
Succeeding at blackjack is simply a matter of making educated risks and understanding that it’s possible to win with as little as 13 points if it looks likely the dealer will be pushed over 21. Of course, blackjack strategy can appear very daunting to the beginner, so here’s a basic three-stage strategy plan to help you become a pro!
1 – Blackjack Strategy for Beginners
If your total points are 3 to 11, hit.
If your total points are 12 to 16, hit if the dealer’s open card is less than 6 – if the dealer’s card is six or higher, then stand.
If your total points are 17 to 20, play it safe and stand.
The only exception to this strategy is if you hold an ace and a 7. In this case, you should hit only if the dealer’s card is less than an 8, otherwise stand.
2 – Blackjack Strategy for Intermediate Players
This strategy does not replace the Beginner’s Blackjack Strategy, but should be thought of as an extension that allows for splits and doubling down.
If you have a pair, with the exception of 4s, 5s, 10s and face cards (Jack, Queen and King), split.
If you have a pair of 4s, hit.
If you have a pair of 5s, hit only if the dealer’s face-up card is a 10, face card or an ace – if the dealer holds anything from a 2 to 9, double down.
If you have a pair of 10s or any two face cards (or one face card and a 10), stand. This is the perfect pair, because the dealer will be forced to hit 21 to beat your hand and likely bust in the attempt.
3 – Blackjack Strategy for the Pros
As with the Intermediate Strategy, this does not replace the preceding recommendations but continues to build onto them.
If your total points equal 9 and your dealer’s open card is less than 7, double down. If the dealer’s card is 7 or higher, refer to the Beginner’s Strategy.
If your total points equal 10 and your dealer’s card is 9 or lower, double down. If the dealer has a 10, face card or ace, refer to the Beginner’s Strategy.
And finally, if your cards total 11, double down no matter what your dealer’s card is. This should only be considered at casinos where the blackjack dealer sits on a Soft 17, where your dealer will likely run bust.
So as you can see, a good blackjack strategy will help you to keep the house edge low and your chances of winning high – and the most important rule to a good blackjack strategy is to avoid chasing after a 21.