Blackjack is one of the few casino games where your skill will improve your odds dramatically when you are playing. Once you settle into it, you will find that it is immensely enjoyable, and it provides you with the best chances of real money returns.
It’s easy to learn to play and picking up the strategy is satisfyingly simple, but when put into practice can be truly rewarding. Your success at the table will rely on your knowledge of the rules and your ability to play with the optimum strategy in place.
This guide is designed to teach you the ins and outs of playing intelligently and providing you with the necessary tools to make a success of your gaming session at your favourite Ireland-friendly online casino or gaming house.
What is the House Edge in Blackjack?
The advantage that the house has over the player is called ‘house edge’. At a rudimentary level, the casino has an astounding 8% advantage in Blackjack on every game round. This edge can be significantly reduced in your favour to a pleasing 0.5% when the optimum skill and strategy are applied to the game.
There are a few good reasons why the house carries an advantageous edge in each round:
- Because you act first in the game, the dealer has an advantageous position from which to respond.
- Every time you exceed 21 (an average of 28% of the time), the dealer wins irrespective of their outcomes.
- Because the house ‘conveniently’ conceals one of its card values. The mystery of the face-down card adds to their advantage immensely.
Understanding that the house is always at an advantage provides a sober platform from which to play. It means that you will have to work smartly to increase your chances of winning.
What Are the Player’s Advantages in Blackjack?
While the dealer has a stacked edge in the game, as a player, you have more convenient and exciting options to make than they do. This can be used to your advantage and increase your chances of winning the game round and claim the exciting cash rewards for doing so.
- We are not bound by the same limitation set for the dealer and can freely choose to stand or hit at our pleasure.
- We can split our hand in an attempt to increase our chances of winning big.
- We have the convenient option to double down on an advantageous hand to reap higher rewards in return.
- We receive a lucrative 3:2 reward for landing the top-ranking hand of Blackjack.
- Depending on the game type, we have the liberty to beneficially surrender our starting hand and save half our money if the dealer seems to have a favourable hand.
- We have the option of safeguarding ourselves from a Dealer Blackjack by opting for an Insurance bet; a safety that could see us win 2:1 on that wager.
Understanding our options is the first key to a successful strategy in Blackjack. The next is knowing the odds and playing cleverly around them.
How Do I Know When to Stand or Hit?
Understanding the odds and probabilities in Blackjack is a massive step towards playing at the optimum skill level. Knowing these statistics automatically teaches us what moves we should make at what times.
One of the most important things to learn about Blackjack is when to ask for a new card and when to refrain and stay with what you have.
In our guide towards the best Blackjack strategy, we will provide you with the statistics on the probability of you busting on the next card, depending on the value of the hand you hold.
- A hand of 11 or less: 0%
- A hand of 12: 31% chance
- A hand of 13: 39% chance
- A hand of 14: 56% chance
- A hand of 15: 58% chance
- A hand of 16: 62% chance
- A hand of 17: 69% chance
- A hand of 18: 77% chance
- A hand of 19: 85% chance
- A hand of 20: 92% chance
- A hand of 21: 100% chance
It is always the safe bet to stand on a hand with a value of 17 or more, but if you have a hunch that smaller values lie ahead in the pack (by card counting) you could chance another card. In truth, the dealer will rest on 17 at most tables which mitigates the risk nicely. The helpful percentages above are based on the number of cards left in the deck that could land you over the 21-value mark.
Always base your decisions by comparing your probabilities with the probabilities of the dealer. When you understand both your and their chances of winning, you can decide the better play far more effectively.
How do I Know When to Double Down?
Where a game allows for you to double down on your hands, you will be able to do it just after you have received your initial two cards.
You must be certain that you are doubling your hand in the correct circumstances as this can prove very rewarding for you. There are three optimal opportunities for you to use the double down that have a high chance of success and gain on your part.
- When you have a hard nine and the dealer is presented with a face-up card of between 2 and 6.
- When you have a hard hand of 10 or 11 and the dealer’s card is lower. The chances are you will not go bust, but the dealer must hit until 17 and may go over 21.
- When you have a soft 16, 17, or 18, and the dealer’s card is valued between 2 and 6. With the Ace’s unique and adaptable ability to be an 11 or a 1, the chance is good that you can improve your hand with one more card.
Pulling off a successful double down will put you in the pound seats, as your wager will have doubled, therefore increasing the amount the house will payout to you as a reward.
When Should I Split My Hand?
Being able to split your hand when you receive a pair of the same value card can really work out to your advantage, especially when you make your play at the most strategic time. It will effectively give you double the chance to win the round.
There are certain advantageous hands in Blackjack where the probability of success when splitting your hand is highly likely. Always opt for this move when:
- You have two Aces: Be happy when this happens, for this hand is so advantageous that some online casinos have put rules in place to prevent this play. However, if you can, be sure to do it! On their own, two Aces represent a hand of 12, but splitting them increases your chances of landing a blackjack, or two.
- You have two 8s: With few options for this hand, the best advice is to split it and hope for cards that produce a better result for you.
- Just like there are ideal times to split your hand, there are times where you should carry on the play as normal, instead, for the best results. This includes when you land:
- Two 10s: 20 is already a very promising hand and you already have a great chance of winning.
- Two 4s: When you have a pair of fours, you can take another card confidently, without fear of exceeding 21.
- Two 5s: Landing 10 is a fabulous hand and should be doubled down unless the dealer has a 9, 10, or Ace.
- There are other opportunities to split your hand, but these depend on the dealer’s card. This includes:
- When you have 2s, 3s, or 7s, and the dealer’s card is 2-7.
- When you have 9s and the dealer’s card is 2-6.
- You have 6s and the dealer’s card is 2-6.
Memorising this optimum splitting strategy will help you reduce the house edge and increase your chances of winning the game round.
Can I Calculate Probabilities on the Fly?
Card counting is a fabulous strategy when playing both Live Blackjack and at land-based casino tables. Most Irish-friendly casinos do not fancy that you use this strategy though and keep an eye out for it. Fortunately, you can practice it to your heart’s delight at online Live Casinos.
Learning this strategy is intensive, yet rewarding, and requires quite a bit of natural skill. You will need a penchant for numbers and an incredible memory. If you can impressively remember what cards have been dealt and have a good idea of what cards are left in the deck, you can conveniently average out the odds and determine the probabilities of what types of numbers will be dealt next.
Blackjack is an exciting math game, so calculating the percentages accurately will increase your chances of success, greatly.
Top Tips for Playing Blackjack
There are many other useful ways to ensure that playing Blackjack remains a fun ordeal. While not as calculated as advanced strategy gameplay, we have some tips that will ensure that you enjoy every minute of the gambling entertainment and can play as responsibly as possible.
Play the base game with the optimal strategy offered in this guide and avoid side bets, as these raise the house edge tremendously.
Approach the gameplay with the mindset that you are engaging in enjoyable entertainment and not from a stance of needing to make money. You will be far happier this way, irrespective of the result.
Play virtual Blackjack to adequately prepare for the Live Casino and real-life casino Blackjack tables. These non-confrontational games will allow you to apply the strategy learned here in a laid-back environment, so you can master your art.
Make use of unique and rewarding casino bonuses that are designed especially for Blackjack and table games to bolster your bankroll and give you useful bonus credits to play with.
Remain composed and maintain your planned betting strategy regardless of the outcomes. Level headedness is a great asset when playing casino games.
Budget for your gaming entertainment and remain disciplined when it comes to sticking to your plans.
Blackjack is one game where you can clearly see the advantages of a keen strategy play out in front of you on the table. Be sure to go through this guide and try out some of your newly learned skills at a top Livecasino.ie Irish casino and reap the rewards.