A Complete Guide to Blackjack Odds and Advanced Strategy

online blackjack

WHAT IS BLACKJACK?

Blackjack is a popular casino card game with a rich history that incorporates a little bit of luck mixed with a lot of skill and strategy. It is a popular game variant offered at both land-based and online casinos for real money wagers. As the game with the best RTP (99%+) of all casino games, it is a favorite among punters looking for a less risky gaming environment.

Did you know? The first mention of the word ‘Blackjack’ comes from a collection of short stories written by author Miguel de Cervantes.

Blackjack is based on an initial two-card hand. The goal of the game is to reach a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. The game is named after the highest hand in the game. An Ace and a card with the value of 10 is a two-card 21 or Blackjack (also known as a ‘natural’).  Continue with our guide to learn more about blackjack rules and strategy.

ONLINE BLACKJACK GAME OPTIONS

When loading onto a prominent online casino that supports blackjack games, you’ll be faced with various game options from top game providers like Netent, Microgaming, Evolution Gaming, Ezugi, Playtech, Felt Studios, Play’n GO, Yggdrasil, and so many more top-class studios. All the various titles can be split into two primary game categories – namely virtual and live casino blackjack.

Online Virtual Blackjack – Play the Blackjack Odds in Privacy

Virtual Blackjack is played like a video game where the casino environment has been recreated through computer-generated graphics. Only you play in each round, so you can place the bets in your own time and simply press ‘deal’ when you are ready. The results are then produced by random number generator software. This is the perfect game type to begin with if you are just starting off in the game and need to familiarise yourself with the blackjack rules, the controls, and the passage of play.

Online Live Dealer Blackjack – Play the Blackjack Odds in an Immersive Environment

Online live dealer casino games have become all the rage in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. A real dealer hosts the gameplay via a live video stream to your device from a casino film studio. Your game interface meshes perfectly with the casino display in front of you, making it feel like you are right there on the floor in the thick of the action. This immersive and interactive version of the game presents a perfectly balanced experience between retail and online casino gameplay.

Did You Know: The undisputed industry leader in Live Casino games is Evolution Gaming. They dominated the last decade with 10 straight EGR Awards for Live Casino provision. Other popular game providers include Ezugi, Pragmatic Play, Playtech, and Microgaming.

live dealer blackjack

There are clear advantages of playing live dealer blackjack, as opposed to playing virtual blackjack, even though the basic blackjack rules remain the same. Firstly, playing at a live table with a real dealer makes the outcomes in the game more transparent. No questions arise over the legitimacy or bias of random generator software, as each hand is dealt, naturally. Secondly, live dealer blackjack allows for a more social aspect of the game. Not only can you hear and see a real live dealer at the table, but you can converse with them by using a nifty live chat portal. In fact, you can chat with your fellow players at the table if you like.

BEST BLACKJACK CASINOS

Here is a list of some of the top online casinos offering the best blackjack odds to their players. Take advantage of some of their fabulous bonus offers when you sign up and boost your bankroll from your first deposit.

HOW TO PLAY  – Learn the Blackjack Rules

The Blackjack table offering is a fairly simple game to learn with fairly consistent Blackjack odds. But, before you are able to take your seat at a table and outplay the dealer, you’ll need to learn a few basics first. The very first thing to know is the Blackjack table card values. This is also really easy to remember: Cards valued 1-10 are worth their face value, while all royal suits are worth 10. An ace is worth either 1 or 11, depending on which option suits your hand best at the time.

The Passage of Play

After you have mastered the card values, you’ll need to learn the passage of play. When you load up a blackjack game at your favorite online casino, there is a specific sequence for the gameplay, called the Passage of Play. The standard sequence on most games follows a similar pattern and holds to similar blackjack rules:

  • 🔸 Drag your desired bet (in chips) onto the betting space in front of you on the screen
  • 🔹 Select ‘Deal’ once you are happy with the wager
  • 🔸 You will receive 2 face-up cards
  • 🔹 The dealer will receive one face-up card and a hole card (face-down card)
  • 🔸 If the dealer’s ‘’up-card’’ is an Ace, the dealer will ask you if you want to take out insurance
  • 🔹 You can now ask for more cards. Press ‘’hit’’ for another
  • 🔸 If you have a hand that you are happy with, select ‘’stay/stick’’
  • 🔹 If you hit too high and exceed a hand value of 21, you will go ‘’bust’
  • 🔸 Once you stay/stick, the dealer will reveal their cards. They may select more cards in an attempt to beat your hand
  • 🔹 Should the dealer bust, you automatically win 1:1 on your wager
  • 🔸 If your hand is stronger than the dealer’s, you win 1:1 on your wager
  • 🔹 Should you land a blackjack, you win the round straight away and collect 3:2 on your wager

The best way to practice the passage of play and learn blackjack rules is on demo virtual blackjack games. Here, you can experiment with the toggles and dials and familiarise yourself with the sequence of events in the most natural way without risking real money. It’s never easy learning something parrot-fashion. It’s always easier to watch it all unfold in real life.

Additional Blackjack Rules and Options

There are two additional game options available in every standard game of blackjack. These include the double-up or the split. These are vital options that could see you increase your Blackjack odds and payout in the event that you successfully pull them off. Read below for more information on how these play out.

The Double Up

In the event that you receive a hand and believe that you only need one more decent card to gain an advantage, you can select to double/double up your bet. In this instance, you will double your initial stake on the hand and the dealer will give you one last card. Should you win the hand, the house will pay out a match of your new doubled bet amount. Of course, if you lose, its a way bigger loss.

Splitting

In the event that you receive two cards of the same value (2x aces, 2x kings, etc), you can opt to split the hand into two different hands. The dealer will then split the cards and hit another card on top of each. This effectively gives you two separate hands. You will need to match your initial bet on the second hand. You now have double the chance of beating the dealer. Of course, if both your hands win, you will be rewarded with more than you anticipated at the beginning of the round.

American vs European Blackjack

Few people are aware of the fact that there is a difference between classic American blackjack and some of the European versions of the game. The differences range across various dynamics of the game. The table below will provide you with a better look at the comparisons.

Rule American European
Hole Card The dealer is dealt two cards along with the players. One is dealt face up and the hole card is dealt face down. The dealer will peak at the hole card if their face card is an Ace. This is in order to verify if he/she has a blackjack. The dealer is dealt one card face up. He/she is dealt their second card when the hands of the player/s are complete. This way, the dealer cannot verify a blackjack hand prior to the start of the round.
Decks  The shoe may consist of anywhere between 6 and 8 decks. The shoe consists of two regular card decks. This minimizes the house edge as it is easier to count cards.
Doubling Players may double down on any hand. Players may also double down after splitting. Players may only double down if they have a hand value of 9,10, or 11. Players may not double down after splitting.
Splitting Players can split their hands three times to create four hands. They can split any pair of cards. Players can only split their hands once and can only split cards of equal worth (eg 10s, jacks, queens, and kings).

BLACKJACK CHEAT SHEET

If you’re in need of a little help while you learn the optimum blackjack strategy, why don’t you make use of our exclusive PokCas strategy chart (cheat sheet) below? Keep it on the screen or print it off to make sure that you make the best decision with every hand you are dealt.

Blackjack Cheat Sheet

Blackjack Cheat Sheet (click to enlarge).

COMMON STRATEGIES WHEN PLAYING BLACKJACK

We should make clear at the start that there is no guaranteed way of winning a game of blackjack. All you can do, as a player, is try to learn the optimum strategy to increase your chances of walking away with a profit. No prescribed methods guarantee success, but they do help narrow the odds against the dealer. Here are some of the more popular strategies adopted across the blackjack market. Try them out to see which suits your game style best.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

If you want to have any chance of beating the house when it comes to blackjack, then you need to learn a basic strategy before you learn anything else. Your blackjack odds will be at their optimal if you learn to play the base game well.

Basic Blackjack strategy is a system that tells you how to play every possible hand in a game of blackjack. It will tell you when to hit, stand, surrender, split or double-down. In the long run, it could help you make more money than you lose during a game session.

The basic strategy has been in place for years and is constantly evolving to fit more contemporary blackjack rules. It is important that you remember that it does not ensure that you will win every hand that you play. Instead, it will ensure that over time, you are best positioned to make more money than you lose.

Did You know? Your chances of being dealt a natural blackjack are 4.8%

Basic strategy is widely available on a chart that you can find with a simple google search. Some of these cards may be slightly different from one another as a result of rule changes, but 99% of them will be the same.

A casino is, however, not going to let you pull out a card when you are sitting at a table, and most online casinos do not give you enough time to read a chart before making a decision on your hand. That means that you going to have to commit the chart to memory. This can be difficult but there are plenty of tutorials available around the internet that can help you work out a system to memorize the cards.

Blackjack Rules on Insurance

An insurance bet is a side bet offered to you when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. The bet will typically pay out 2:1 blackjack odds and the casino will never allow you to bet more than half your original stake.

Example: If you bet $20, and you’re dealt 17 while the dealer’s card is an ace, you could place an insurance bet of $10. If the dealer has blackjack, you lose your original stake of $20 but would win your insurance bet at 2:1 and receive $20 back from that, effectively breaking even.

While blackjack insurance bets sound like a good idea, when you break down the odds, it isn’t worth it. The dealer’s odds of having a blackjack when they have an ace showing are 9:4, while your bet is priced at 2:1. Your chances of losing that bet are greater than your odds of success. Maximize your blackjack odds by steering clear of this betting option.

Blackjack Rules on the Surrender Strategy

In blackjack, there are typically four basic game options:

  • 🔸 Hit: Take another card.
  • 🔸 Stick/Stay: Receive no more cards.
  • 🔸 Double-Down: Take one more card and double your bet.
  • 🔸 Split: Split two matching cards to form two hands instead of one. You will need to repeat your bet on the second hand.

However, some casinos may also offer you another option called ‘surrender’. The surrender option is incredibly rare and is typically only on offer in casinos from Europe or Asia, and it is rarely an option at online casinos. Surrendering may have negative connotations but it can be a shrewd move. If surrender is offered, it means you can surrender half of your stake when you receive your first hand if you believe you are not going to win. The move is, however, not possible if the dealer has a blackjack.

Knowing when to surrender can always be difficult. As a rule, if you have less than a 50% chance of winning the round, then it is better to surrender your hand, lose half of your stake, and move on to the next round. Studying and learning the aforementioned blackjack strategy cards will go a long way towards helping you know when to surrender.

The following are the perfect times you should look to surrender when playing:

  • 🔹 Single deck game with hard 17: Surrender when your hand is 16 and the dealer is holding 10.
  • 🔹 Double-deck game with soft 17: Surrender when your hand is 15 and the dealer is holding an ace.
  • 🔹 Six-deck game with soft 17: Surrender when your hand is 16 and the dealer holds 9.
  • 🔹 Six-deck game with hard 17: Surrender when your hand is two-eights, and the dealer is holding an ace.

Not all blackjack strategies are made equal and some of them will end up losing you a lot of money in the long run. It is important that you are aware of these strategies as you will probably encounter them at some point in your betting life. Some of these systems can provide you with some wins but you need to be careful using them

casino chips being pushed

Martingale Betting Strategy

The Martingale betting strategy is a system where if you lose a hand, you double up on the following hand. You keep doing so until you win.

For example, if in your first-hand you bet $5 and lose, you would place $10 in the next round. If you lose again, you will place $20. If you then win that bet, you win $40, which is a $5 profit overall. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this though:

  • ✅ An eventual win puts you in a profit
  • ✅ Works well if you walk away the first time
  • ✅ Simple to understand and use
  • ⛔ There is nothing, other than faith, to suggest you won’t keep losing
  • ⛔ You need a lot of money to use this tactic
  • ⛔ Low reward for high risk

Parlay Strategy

The parlay betting system is one of the more extreme blackjack methods that players use at casinos. The system is quite simple. When you win a bet, you gradually increase your stake with the next bet.

A typical parlay system is 1-2-3-5. So, if you place a $1 bet and win, on your next bet you place a $2 wager, then $3, then $5. You then complete a round of wins and go back to 1 again to start another round.

Of course, this sounds very simple, but it is a very risky method. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

  • A very exciting way of playing
  • ✅ Can have a high payout
  • ⛔ The risk level is very high
  • ⛔ No guarantee of a streak

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

The goal of learning the blackjack strategy is to try and minimize the house edge. Beginner strategies should work to marginalize the edge down to 1%. Intermediate strategies could minimize the edge down to as close to 0% as possible. But advanced blackjack strategy should aim at teaching players to have a significant edge over the house. It’s this type of strategy that superior players like Dana White swear by. While casinos in Vegas banned him for card counting and cheating, he maintained his innocence. He just believes himself to be an advanced strategist.

We do not want to advocate cheating, but rather Advantage Play Techniques. Usually, a casino has an edge over you when you play there, however, there are some tips that should put you ahead. No, there is no way to guarantee you are going to win every hand, but certain advanced blackjack strategies can be put in place to favor you. However, you will need to invest time into perfecting any of these.

1. Comps and Rebates (Comp Hustling)

Many casinos (especially online) will offer you rewards for the amount of money you spend on their platform or at their tables. They will not, however, subtract points when you lose. If you sign up for a program like this and use a cheat sheet to make sure you are playing the optimum basic strategy, you can close the gap on the casino’s edge. You will win a fair number of games and reap the reward points for the wagers you are making. Pay attention to promotions where casinos offer double or triple points during specific hours or days. Target these times.

2. Card Irregularity (Edge Sorting)

While it doesn’t happen so much anymore,  you may notice certain irregularities in the patterns printed on the backs of cards. You could use them to possibly identify high cards like royals, tens, or aces. This form of gameplay proved to work well for Phil Ivey when playing baccarat, however, one casino caught onto his strategy and denied him any payouts. He then sued them and the case was dismissed. While many gambling purists do not deem edge sorting to be cheating, a court of law certainly did.

3. Hole Carding

If you are a good poker player, you may exhibit skills where you can read facial expressions or subtle tells. The same skill can be used in Blackjack when the dealer checks his/her hole card. Eventually, you should be able to pick up certain behaviors and tells when they spy out their card. These mannerisms will usually differ when the hole card is high versus when it is low. This advanced blackjack strategy can only be used at live blackjack tables online or at retail casinos.

4. Shuffle Tracking

Shuffle tracking is all about watching the way a dealer shuffles cards at a live table. The aim is to try and get a glimpse of where high cards are in the deck (as the cards protrude out during the shuffle). This strategy only works at land-based casinos where the dealers shuffle by hand. It is impossible to shuffle track if the casino uses automatic shufflers. You’ll need to spend some time walking the floor and watching the dealers. You will want to find a sloppy dealer and then find which angle is best suited to follow their shuffle. Chose that table and that seat to play at and keep your eyes peeled on each and every shuffle.

KNOWING THE BLACKJACK ODDS

On the face of it, blackjack sounds like a fairly simple game to win. All you have to do is get a better hand than the dealer. Of course, this is never as easy as it sounds and there are numerous factors you should take into account.

Blackjack odds do favor the player more than a game like roulette or online slots because of the element of skill involved in the passage of play. The casino does still hold an advantage though. Because your cards are dealt first and you have a chance of going bust before the dealer even begins their round. The house edge in blackjack is slimmer than in any other casino game out there and in most casinos, it ranges between 0.5% and 1%.

Player Hand Probabilities – Blackjack Odds in any given game round

The Cards in Your Hand A Probability of Blackjack
Dealer has a blackjack 1 in 22
Player doubles or splits 1 in 7.7
2 Cards 1 in 2.3
3 Cards 1 in 3.8
4 Cards 1 in 10
5 Cards 1 in 50
6 Cards 1 in 400
7 Cards 1 in 4
8 Cards 1 in 79
9 Cards 1 in 2

Asking the dealer to hit you with another card comes with its risks.

Odds of busting on an extra card while playing Blackjack

The Player’s Hand Value Probability of Going Bust
21 100%
20 92%
19 85%
18 77%
17 69%
16 62%
15 58%
14 56%
13 39%
12 31%
11 or lower 0%


HELPFUL TIPS TO ROUND OFF THE GUIDE

  • 🔸 Always do your research: make sure you check out the blackjack rules and bet limits at different tables and online sites
  • 🔹 Learn the basic strategy
  • 🔸 Don’t make insurance wagers
  • 🔹 Avoid gambler’s myths and don’t listen to superstition and old wives’ tales
  • 🔸 Remember, you are never due a win
  • 🔹 Be careful of what betting strategies you use
  • 🔸 Start small: take your first few hands as a chance to gauge the dealer and the table
  • 🔹 Don’t worry about other players

At PokCas, we are eager to keep our players entertained. Hopefully, you’ll be able to apply much of what we have covered in this guide. If you are careful to demonstrate an optimum strategy in each instance, your chances of victory are far higher than with any other game on the casino floor. While we have given you the tools to play the game, how you put them to work is entirely up to you.

Blackjack FAQs

When was blackjack founded?

Most historians agree that blackjack's roots begin back in the 1700s as an adaptation of Chemin de Fer. It was originally named 'Vingt-et-un' (twenty-one). From there it went through several transitions across Europe and then the USA.

Are Blackjack and 21 the same game?

Yes, the two games are synonymous. Blackjack was named after the highest hand in the game, which is an ace and a 'ten value' card.

Do any famous people play blackjack?

Numerous celebrities play blackjack. The most famous ones include Ben Affleck (actor) and Dana White (boss of the UFC). Both have been banned from numerous Vegas casinos for beliefs that they win by card counting.

How many variants of blackjack are there?

There are several variants of blackjack. The most famous ones are the American, European, and Spanish variants. This also includes Pontoon. There are also various rules for playing the game from table to table. These usually involve when the dealer must stay.