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Last updated on April 7, 2019

Blackjack is one of the simplest and most straightforward game in the casino, and if played correctly, can give the player the best chance at winning. Based only on the probabilities of the cards in the shoe, Casino Sage has calculated the most mathematically advantageous playing strategy for the player.

### Blackjack Rules

The basic rules of this card game involve adding the value of an initial two cards in hand, while hoping of being dealt a value of twenty-one. If a value of less than twenty-one is dealt, the player may choose to be dealt single cards until they either reach a value of twenty one, reach a value they feel comfortable to play, or reach a value that exceeds twenty-one.

The winner holds a hand with a value of, or nearest to, twenty-one without exceeding it. Much of Blackjack’s popularity is due to the mix of chance, skill, and the publicity that surrounds card counting (calculating the probability of advantages based on the ratio of high cards to low cards).

As long as the blackjack player uses the best possible strategy (a strategy which is known as “Basic Strategy”), the house advantage in blackjack is usually less than 1%. This is very favourable to the player compared to other casino games. Of course, many blackjack players do not know Basic Strategy or do not follow it, so the true house advantage in those cases is much higher.

The game is played in many variations at casinos with different table rules so choosing the right table is important in Blackjack. Looking for a table with the least number of decks and a table that does not ‘Hit17’ is a must! In my opinion once you master the Basic Strategy and learn counting cards you’re left with the luck factor, the same luck factor found in roulette that we try to overcome by using a betting sequence.

### Blackjack Betting Strategy

The Casino Sage has calculated the best move for that combination of cards and came up with the below blackjack betting strategy table. Playing exactly by the table will allow the player to even the odds as much as possible. Depending on the online casino you choose to gamble at, using the basic statistical strategy can lessen the casino’s edge to less than 2%.

Ok, enough statistics … here’s the basic blackjack table for most casino using multiple decks when the dealer must stay on a soft 17:

This strategy, when utilized for the long-term, can give the player odds close to 50%. However, this does not mean that the player will never lose using this table. You will never have a true odds advantage in the casino, but casino gambling will have large short-term swings. The trick is cash out during an up-swing and not get greedy!

Doubling Down: Your best chance of winning money is on a smart double down. Beware, though, players that double down when odds are not in their favor tend to lose the most. Always double down on an 11, and sometimes on a 9 or 10 or certain soft hands(look at the chart). Never, ever, double down on an 8!

Splitting: You may have heard “Aces & Eights” when people are talking about when to split. This is absolutely true, if you have a pair of aces, or a pair of eights, always split them! You’re much better off with two 11’s or two 8’s than a 12 or 16. Never, ever, split two face cards!

Insurance: Do not take insurance, even when you have blackjack. You may have amateurs tell you that you should, but the house always has the edge. Every time you accept insurance you are statistically losing money.

Surrender: in the late surrender the player may choose to surrender after the dealer checks for blackjack. Surrending may be useful when your net statistical return is less than 50%. There are only four different scenarios when this occurs. When the dealer has a 9, 10, or an Ace, and the player has a 16, the player should surrender. The fourth scenario occurs when the dealer has a 10 showing and the player has a 15. Unfortunately, most online casinos don’t allow you to surrender, but many land-based casinos do.

## Counting Cards

Firstly do note that in reality card-counting mentally (or on paper if playing online) is not illegal and is not considered cheating. Basic strategy provides the player with the optimal play for any blackjack situation based on billions of hands played in the long run.

However in the short run, as the cards are dealt from the deck, the remaining deck is no longer complete. By keeping track of the cards that have already been played, it is possible to know when the cards remaining in the deck are advantageous for the player.

Card-counting, if done correctly, can give the player an advantage, typically ranging from 0 to 2% over the house.

The basic principle behind card counting is the fact that high cards, particularly aces and tens, are better for the player and low cards, particularly 4s, 5s and 6s, are good for the dealer. A high concentration of Aces and tens give a higher chance of Blackjacks and the tens also increase probability of a hand totalling 20, which are almost as good.

Basic card counting assigns a positive, negative, or zero value to each card value available. When a card of that value is dealt, the count is adjusted by that card’s counting value. Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards in the remaining shoe, while high cards decrease it for the opposite reason.

For instance, the Hi-Lo system subtracts one for each dealt ten and Ace, and adds one for any value 2-6. Values 7-9 do not affect the count. The High-Low system is considered a single-level or level-one count, because the count never increases or decreases by more than a single, predetermined value.

A multilevel count, such as Zen Count or Wong Halves, makes finer distinctions between card values to gain greater play accuracy. Rather than all cards having a value of +1, 0, or −1, an advanced count might also include card ranks that are counted as +2 and −2, or +.5.

Advanced players might additionally maintain a side count (separate count) of specific cards, such as a side count aces, to deal with situations where the best count for betting accuracy differs from the best count for playing accuracy.