Blackjack is by far the most recognisable casino card game in the world, yet many players in New Zealand are unfamiliar with how it’s played and the many strategies that exist to increase the chances of success. Blackjack has taken centre-stage in many films, TV series and books, and this has led to the idea that card-counting is the only way to be successful with this intriguing game.
However, by understanding the basics of how to play, remembering a few basic strategies, and becoming familiar with the odds, players in New Zealand could see a vast improvement in their Blackjack play.
For those who are new to the game, we’ve taken a look at the basic gameplay and simple strategies that can increase your chances of having the winning hand.
Let’s start off with the basics. Online Blackjack is a card game where the player faces off against the dealer. In the online version of the game, players can choose to play a single hand or multiple hands at once.
The game set-up consists of a single table with the dealer on one side and the player on the other. Online Blackjack will have the player’s chips and the game buttons situated at the bottom of the screen for ease of use.
How the Game Works
The aim of Blackjack is to win the round by beating the dealer to a hand of 21, or as close to as possible without going over.
The game begins with the player placing his or her bet on the virtual Blackjack table. In the online game, this can be done by simply clicking on the virtual chips and placing them on the betting area. This first bet can be any size up to the maximum table limit.
Once the player has placed their bet, the dealer will then deal the player two cards and himself two cards, with one of the cards facing upwards. The upward facing dealer card is the focus of all Blackjack strategies and should influence how a player proceeds with the game.
Each card is worth a certain number of points. All cards 2 through to 10 are worth the point value displayed. The Jack, Queen and King are worth 10 points, and the Ace is worth 1 point or 11 points depending on what the hand requires.
Making Your Move
Players have a series of moves available to them in game once they have received their cards. These moves follow a sequential order.
- A player can be satisfied with their hand value and stand.
- A player can have an unsatisfactory hand value and hit, which means they will receive an additional card. A card that will push the hand total over 21 is termed a bust and the player immediately lose.
- A player can Double Down, meaning that they double their initial wager and receive only one more card.
- Players may also potentially split their hand. This can be done if a player has a pair of cards, usually a pair of 10’s. The split cards then each receive a single card and each set is essentially a separate hand. It should be noted that a hand of 21 in a split does not count as a true Blackjack. There are many rule variations online when it comes to splitting, so always make sure to read what your particular version of the game states about the rules.
- Finally, a player may surrender. This option will only be available to players after they have received their first two cards. In games that allow the surrender option you will get half your wager paid back to you.
Number Of Decks And House Edge
A Blackjack game can be played with anywhere between 1 and 8 decks. Generally speaking, most online games use 4 to 8 decks. You will find single deck games, but they often feature quite strict rules to avoid players taking advantage.
The number of decks will naturally influence the house edge. Basically, the more decks used, the higher the house edge.
- 8 decks – 0.65%
- 6 decks – 0.64%
- 4 decks – 0.6%
- 2 decks – 0.46%
- 1 deck – 0.17%
Blackjack Odds Discussed
Unlike many other casino games, the odds of Blackjack can be determined somewhat accurately. For this reason the odds of the game have been studied extensively. Strategy tables were created by running every combination of cards through computer programs in order to mathematically predict when to hit, stand, double down, split or surrender, compared to the dealer’s cards and the number of decks in the shoe.
The best strategy tables will also deal with the odds of winning on each hand as the most successful players strictly make moves based on the probable outcomes. Considering the probabilities and odds in Blackjack are best suited for those that are mathematically minded, and a reliable strategy card takes the odds and probabilities into account.
What Is Basic Blackjack Strategy?
Blackjack is the perfect game in which to employ a sound strategy, as the rules are pretty standard in most versions of the game. This game is also one that allows the player to influence the end result, and thus strategy and skill can boost your winning chances!
Basic Blackjack strategy is, of course, not a sure-fire way to win, but it will improve your success rate dramatically. Just remember to focus on your long-term returns rather than the results of a single game.
Basic Blackjack strategy should be any prospective player’s roadmap. By memorising and following basic strategy, you will be able to lower the house edge until it is as little as 1%, or even less depending on the rule variations of the game you are playing.
Blackjack strategy is pretty simple to learn and it can be applied to pretty much all versions of Blackjack, be it online or land-based play. If it is a bit intimidating memorising the strategy from text, you will be able to find charts if you do a quick Google search. You can save this chart to your phone or tablet and simply pull it up during your early games until you have mastered the strategy.
What To Look For In A Game
The ideal set of circumstances for the most effective environment to use Blackjack strategy is a game with 4 to 8 decks, the dealer will stand on a soft 17, a double will be allowed after a split and when the dealer has a Blackjack, only your original wager will be lost.
These criteria are by no means set in stone and you can still play effectively with other rules in place, they’re just ideal rules to look out for.
Rule Variations To Take Note Of
Each version of online Blackjack will have its unique rules depending on which casino you play at, and which developer is responsible for a game. Always make the effort to check the Blackjack game’s rules before you play for real money.
- Dealer hits on 17 – Playing a game where the dealer hits on a soft 17 decreases the house edge by 0.2%
- How many decks are used – The fewer decks a game uses, the lower the house edge. A single deck adds 0.17% to the housed edge, while 8 decks add a 0.65% advantage to the house edge.
- Early surrender – games that allow early surrender are more player friendly.
- No doubling down after a split – if a game does not allow doubling after a split, the house edge increases by 0.12%.
When To Hit Or Stand
Knowing when to Hit and when to Stand is essential in Blackjack, and the basis of any sound strategy:
- If you have a hard 11 or less, always hit.
- If the dealer shows a 4, 5 or 6, stand if you have a hard 12, otherwise hit.
- If the dealer shows you 2,3,4,5 or 6, always stand on a hard 13 to 16 hand. If not, hit.
- A hard 17 should always mean you stand.
- If the dealer shows a 9, 10 or A, you should hit on a soft 18.
- A soft 19 should always equal a stand.
When To Double
- If you have a hard 9, you may double against a dealer showing a 3 to a 6.
- If you are holding a hard 10, only double against a 10 or A from the dealer.
- A soft 13 or 14 should be doubled against a dealer showing you a 5 to 6.
- A soft 15 or 16 should be doubled against a dealer showing you a 4 to a 6.
- A Soft 17 or 18 should be doubled against a dealer showing you a 3 to a 6.
When To Split
- As a rule, always split A’s or two 8’s
- It is best to avoid splitting 5’s and 10’s.
- If the dealer is showing a 4 to a 7, you can split 2’s and 3’s.
- If the dealer shows you a 3 to a 6, then you can split 6’s.
- If the dealer shows you a 2 to a 7, then you can split 7s.
- Split 9s only if you see the dealer showing a 2 to a 6 or an 8 or 9.
For Hands That Do Not Feature An Ace (Hard Totals)
- If you have a total of 8 always hit.
- If you have a 9, double down if the dealer is showing you a 3 to 6. Hit if not.
- A 10 should be doubled down if the dealer shows you a 2 to 9. If not, hit.
- If your hand value is 11, double down.
- For hand totals of 12 to 16 against a dealer hand showing you 2 to 6, always stand or hit.
- If your hand is a 17 or higher, always stand.
For Hands That Feature An Ace (Soft Totals)
- An Ace and a 2 or 3 – Double down if a dealer shows you a 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
- An Ace and a 4 or 5 – Double down against a dealer 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
- An Ace and a 6 or 7 – Double down against a dealer 3 to 6, otherwise hit.
- An Ace and an 8 doubles against a dealer six, otherwise you stand. And an Ace and a 9 always stands.
When To Surrender
- Only surrender if you have a hard 16 and the dealer shows you a 9, 10 or an Ace.
- Surrendering is not allowed in all games of Blackjack so be sure to check the rules first.
Top Blackjack Tips
You can play with more confidence and more success when you sit down at a Blackjack table with a playing and wagering strategy.
With these 7 smart Blackjack tips you can enjoy increased winning opportunities with every hand.
1. Basic Strategy Is Your Friend
All a successful Blackjack player really needs in his or her arsenal is what’s known as basic Blackjack strategy.
Use this as a foundation for your playing, whether you play live dealer Blackjack or virtual Blackjack.
2. See What The Dealer Is Doing
The Ace up your sleeve, no pun intended, in Blackjack is the fact that the dealer will show you one of his cards as soon as all hands are dealt. This fact is the basis for basic strategy. Based on what the dealer shows you, you can plan your next move.
For example, if the dealer shows you a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, always stand if you have a 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16. The odds are against the dealer getting a 10 or Ace to beat you with.
3. Find A Reputable Casino
Our recommended casinos are the best places to find a reputable online Blackjack table.
What we mean by reputable is that the game software has been audited and proven fair, and that the casino operates a fully licensed business that employs fair practices with regards to payouts and bonuses.
4. Avoid Insurance Bets
Insurance bets are advertised as, well, just that, insurance, but it is statistically not really a great bet as it has a high house edge.
Insurance bets kick in when the dealer shows you an Ace. If it turns out the dealer has a Blackjack, the player will get a portion of their bet paid back to them, usually in a 2 to 1 ratio. You may as well take the risk and focus on your basic Blackjack strategy instead of paying extra money for a 33% chance that the dealer will get a Blackjack.
5. Understand The Rule Variations
Just choosing certain Blackjack rule variations can already give you an edge before you have even started applying basic strategy. Make sure to check your game’s stance on the important features of the game before you place your bets.
6. Plan Your Bankroll Effectively
Playing with set wagering strategies is very important for your success. This can basically be done by setting out your monthly gaming budget, then splitting it into 1% values which will then become your minimum wager on the tables.
This, of course, needs to be reconciled with the Blackjack table’s minimum wagering requirements. This all depends on what your actual budget works out to, but the main thing is that you have set betting values and stick to those, regardless of whether or not you feel you are on a “streak”. Successful Blackjack players focus on the long game.
7. Avoid Buying Strategies
The best Blackjack tip of all is to avoid the strategies and fool proof plans you will see online. Especially if you need to pay to learn the “secret insider” information. Using basic Blackjack strategy and considering the rule variations in place in the game you play already give you a great statistical advantage on your real money gaming.
You really don’t need to waste time in trying out strategies that have been doing the rounds for years, yet still have not become accepted in the mainstream because they simply do not benefit the player enough to warrant implementation.
Finding the Best Mobile Blackjack
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We work tirelessly to find the best ranking mobile casinos for both iPhone and Android, and players in New Zealand trust us to provide reliable recommendations for licensed and trustworthy mobile casinos with a wide range of games, lucrative sign up bonuses and iron-clad security software.
Use these Blackjack tips to play Classic Blackjack. Then, when you are confident move on to variations like Vegas or Spanish Blackjack, or anything else that takes your fancy at the casinos we rate tops!