Blackjack strategies that still work in today’s gambling age.
Technology grows more advanced, more complicated, more beneficial to society with each passing year. Casino games – blackjack in particular – are not what they once were. As players grow smarter, rules become more strict, security more watchful for the advantage player. And that’s just the land-based variety. Online casinos are developed with such advanced software, their electronic foundation is virtually unbeatable.
Edward Thorpe, Stanford Wong, they were geniuses in their day, but it’s half a century later. Alas, it’s true – gaining an edge over the casino is all but impossible these days. But that doesn’t mean no strategy exists. In fact, there are still quite a few tips and tricks to securing the lowest possible house edge at any 21 table.
Blackjack Strategies That Still Work
In this section, we’ll cover the Ten Commandments of Blackjack, 2021 Edition – the New Testament, if you will. They include strategies, tips, advisories, and knowledge imperative to making smart decisions. Let’s get right to it.
#1 Understand the Rules Before you Play
Every blackjack game is different. Each one has at least one slight variation in its rules. It could be as subtle as whether a player is allowed to hit split Aces, or as blatant as reducing the standard 3:2 blackjack payout to 6:5. Whatever the case, every rule variation has an impact on the house edge. You need to know all of the rules, and how they impact a game, to decipher its value.
#2 Comprehend the Reality of House Edge / RTP
The house edge is the casino’s advantage over the player. The RTP, or “return to player”, is the percent of all wagers expected to be returned as winnings to the players, based on the probabilities established by the house rules. They are polar opposites. If the RTP is 99%, the edge is 1%. Together, they must equal 100%. They are also theoretical in nature, meaning that the house edge will hold true over the long term, but that players will inevitably experience swings, for better or worse, in the meantime.
#3 Basic Strategy Alone Cannot Beat Blackjack
Based on the logic above, it is theoretically impossible to beat blackjack by way of basic strategy alone. Basic strategies ensure that a player achieves the lowest possible house edge (i.e. highest possible RTP), but since the house rules are designed to favor the casino, no matter how slightly, what it really means is that you cannot turn the advantage to your own favor. So, if RTP is 99.54%, then basic strategy will return 99.54% of all wagers, in the long term.
To put that into perspective, if you wager $100,000 on blackjack over a ten year period of time, probabilities state you will win back $99,540. This equates to a loss of $460, reflecting the game’s house edge of 0.46%.
#4 Follow Basic Strategy Anyway
Do not assume that #3 is a bad thing. You should always follow basic strategy. The very first step in any good blackjack tactic is to ensure the lowest possible house edge. If you’re relying on instinct and gut feelings – deviating from perfect strategy in any way – you’re actually lowering your mathematical probability of winning.
#5 Don’t Make Side Bets
Sides bets are sucker bets, plain and simple. I don’t care how good the payouts look. There’s no such thing as a blackjack side bet with a higher RTP than the base game. If you’re making side bets, you’re lowering your overall return, and that’s the opposite of smart game play.
#6 Card Counting Can Still Be Effective
Card counting is not as effective as it was 40 or 50 years ago, when the best blackjack pros were scouting the tables from Atlantic City to Las Vegas. It’s not that the technique got worse, but rather the casino’s got wiser. They always use larger shoes, up to 8 decks, and reshuffle at or before reaching 50% depth. While this does reduce the efficacy of counting cards, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. When the house edge is under 0.5% to begin with, every little bit helps to push the advantage more towards your favor.
#7 Don’t Play Electronic or Online RNG Blackjack
As we just learned, card counting is only effective in a live dealer environment, where a real deck of cards is being dealt from a real shoe. Electronic blackjack and online RNG blackjack games are computer generated and, more importantly, the digital deck is reshuffled after every hand. If you can’t count cards, you can’t drive the house edge any lower than basic strategy allows. Stick to land casino and live online casino blackjack games with real cards and dealers.
#8 Choose the Game with the Absolute Lowest Edge
If you’ve been following along, this should be a no-brainer. The lower the edge, the more you (theoretically) win, and the more effective card counting will be in pushing you towards, if not above, that oh-so-elusive advantage-play margin. It really does pay to shop around. Your options will be more limited in a land casino, but online, opportunities spread far and wide. Which brings us to…
#9 Explore Your Options at Live Dealer Casinos
There are literally hundreds of online casinos that support live dealer blackjack (and accept Canadian players). A few are actually regulated by Canadian provinces, but limiting yourself to one of these is like limiting yourself to a single land casino. There are plenty of internationally regulated, highly reputable gaming sites you can play live blackjack on.
Here are a few suggestions of the lowest RTP live blackjack games online today. Click any one to see a complete description of the rules and proper strategy charts.
#10 Consider a Betting System, But Don’t Marry It
Betting systems are used mostly for even-money bets, like those found in roulette and baccarat. The fact that blackjack has the potential for optional wagers as a hand progresses complicates matters. Still, it’s not difficult to incorporate systematic wagering for blackjack, such as the Paroli Betting System. Just know that these systems are not guaranteed. They do not eliminate or even alter the house edge. They only serve to take advantage of upswings. In a downswing, they can be extremely costly. So while you might find some benefit to them in the short term, do not commit your entire bankroll to it.
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