Blackjack: Tips for Beginners

There are many complex strategies and counting systems that can help players increase their chances of winning at blackjack but less experienced players often struggle to gain a good understanding of the basic, most important things in blackjack play. After learning the rules, some novices head to the nearest casino where they may easily lose their entire bankroll by following bad advice.

There are obvious things most blackjack players, even beginners, probably know well such as to avoid drinks at the blackjack table, not to use a credit card for gambling, etc. But there are also widely spread myths about the game of Twenty-One that many still believe in although these ideas have been proven to be false multiple times. The article below includes some basic tips for beginner players – how to start with blackjack, how to play certain hands, what to avoid, and more. We have included a few essential money management tips, which would be helpful for all casino gamblers, whether they play blackjack, roulette, or slot machines.

Basic Tips for Blackjack Players

With their idealistic depiction of casino gambling, Hollywood movies usually show how easy it is to win at the blackjack table but in reality, it is not an easy task to follow a strategy strictly, nor is the counting of cards. There are a few basic steps one should follow when entering the world of blackjack.

Learn the Game
Manage Your Bankroll
Know When to Quit
Avoid Progressive Betting Systems

Playing Basic Strategy

Unlike other casino games such as roulette, for example, where you could guess the winning number, blackjack is a game of mathematically correct and wrong ways to play hands. Based on the probability of certain cards being dealt, researchers have calculated the optimal decisions in every possible situation. These, of course, will change, depending on certain rule variations in the different blackjack games – one important rule to consider is whether the dealer is required to draw an additional card to a soft 17 (an Ace and a 6) or not.

For example, players should always draw more cards (a move called Hit) to hard hands of 11 or less. Hard hands are those without an Ace or with an Ace, which can be counted only as 1 – if the Ace can be 11 without busting the hand, then this is a soft hand. In addition, players should always Hit on soft totals of 17 or less.

If they have a good hand, however, they should pat or Stand, as it is called in blackjack and play with their two cards against the dealer. Of course, they should always Stand on hard 17 or more, as well as on soft 19 or more. They should also refuse more cards on hard 12 against dealer 4-6 but if the dealer has another total, they should Hit. Players should also Stand on hard 13-16 against dealer 2-6 – otherwise, they should Hit. The basic strategy also suggests to Stand on soft 18, except against dealer 9, 10, or Ace.

These are the basic rules for Hitting and Standing but players have a few more options to choose from – they can Double Down on their bet, they can Split if they have two cards of the same rank, and they can Surrender under certain conditions. Below, we have listed the specific situations when each of these actions would be correct.

When You Should Split Pairs
When You Should Double Down
When to Surrender
Don’t Buy Insurance

Beware of Gambler’s Myths

Blackjack players are known as reasonable people who rely on logic, strategy and rational thought but there are dozens of superstitious beliefs in gambling and some of them could be overheard at the blackjack table, too. Novices could also be easily confused by unfounded theories and concepts that range from simply speculative to downright false and misleading. Here are several common gambler’s myths blackjack players should always be skeptical about.

”Hot” and “Cold” Dealers
Players Due to Win
Good and Bad Betting Positions
Avoid Continuous Shuffling Machines

Is Card Counting Necessary to Win?

1What is Card Counting?

Card counting is a technique of tracking the cards that have been dealt on the table and assigning them certain values in order to calculate roughly what cards are still in the dealer’s shoe. There are various systems for counting but the simplest ones differentiate two or three types of cards – low and high, or low, middle and high. One of the most common card counting systems, the Hi-Lo, assigns +1 to low cards (2-6), 0 to middle values (7-9), and -1 to high cards (10-Ace).

2Basic Counting System

Based on these values, card counters simply keep a track of the ratio of low to high cards rather than memorizing every single hand that has been used in play. Depending on the count of these values, players decide whether to increase or decrease their stakes. This is the simplest, most basic version of a counting system and it could be applied by everyone. It also does not provide a great advantage over the house. The systems that guarantee to change the odds in favor of the player are much more complex and learning them requires concentration and practice.

3Easiest way to win

Very few players manage to generate solid winnings by counting cards at blackjack tables. It is extremely difficult, demanding, and risky since casinos do not allow card counters – although the practice is not officially illegal. For the majority of players, a much more effective option is to apply basic strategy at a table with more liberal rules. Moreover, using a composition-based strategy reduces the house edge even further. In conclusion, card counting is not necessary in order to win at blackjack – players should simply learn the fundamental concept of the game and the basic strategy if they want to be successful.