Do you want to try your hand at the fast-paced game of Blackjack, but worry that your lack of skill will make you an easy target? The basics of Blackjack are easy to learn, and once you understand some strategy, you’ll understand why Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Here are five tips to get you started.
Know How to Play Hard Hands
A “hard” hand is any hand that doesn’t contain an ace. Edward Thorp, who wrote the definitive book on Blackjack, “Beat the Dealer,” gives very specific rules for playing hard hands. These include:
- If your cards are eight or less, always hit.
- If you’re holding nine, and the dealer has between three and six, double. If not, hit.
- If you have 10, and the dealer has between 2 and 9, double; otherwise, hit.
- If your cards total 11, and the dealer has an ace, hit. If the dealer has 2 through 10, double.
- If your hand totals 13 through 16, hit-unless the dealer has 2 through 6. In that case, stand.
- If you have 17 or more, you should always stand.
Know How to Play Soft Hands
This is when your starting hand contains an ace, which can be counted as either a 1 or an 11. Again, from “Beat the Dealer,” follow these rules if you are holding an ace:
- If you have a two or a three, hit, unless the dealer has three through six. If he does, double.
- If you have a four or a five, and the dealer has four through six, double. Otherwise, hit.
- If you have a seven, stand, unless the dealer shows a two, seven, or eight.
- Always stand on eight and nine.
Never Take Insurance
Unless you can count cards and know the ratio of face cards left in the shoe, insurance is a loser’s bet. When you place an insurance bet on a dealer’s ace, if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, your money is gone, and you still have to play out your hand. Even if you have blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace, you can’t increase your winnings by taking an insurance bet, your profit stays the same.
Know When to Split
Always split a pair of aces or eights, and never split fives or tens. Split twos and threes if the dealer shows four through seven. Don’t split nines if the dealer is showing a seven. Split sixes and sevens if the dealer is showing cards between two and six.
Don’t Drink and Play Blackjack
Blackjack is a thinking man’s game, and you’ll need all your wits about you to keep track of your bets. Too many new players overindulge, and their games get sloppier as the evening wears on. Nothing is more depressing than losing your winnings from some well-played hands on a careless bet made when you’ve had too much to drink.
Blackjack is an exciting and rewarding game for the quick-witted player who knows the basics. So don’t be shy, use these tips to increase your odds of beating the house.