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How to Win on Blackjack

live dealer blackjackEven if everybody assumes Aussies like nothing best but to play pokies, we know many will rather get dealt at an online or live blackjack table and use their skills to influence the game’s outcome rather than fully rely on luck. This guide was created to help both newbies and intermediate blackjack players get the most out of this popular and exciting casino game.

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Crucial Blackjack Rules

blackjack card valuesThe basic rules of the game are the same no matter which variant one chooses to play. You’ll be testing your luck and skills against a live dealer or one built out of microprocessors, trying to get as close as possible to 21 without going over. The party with a higher hand total wins. The best one can hope for is Blackjack, a hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card, and the next in line any card combination which totals 21. The standard payout for Blackjack is 3 to 2, though one can find variants paying only 6:5. Any other winning game outcome (your total is higher than the dealer’s or dealer has busted) pays even money. If the two hands tie, it’s a “push” and the casino will refund your bet.

The game starts with both the player and the dealer receiving two cards. Yours will be dealt face up while one of the dealer’s cards remains hidden. At this point, you can decide to Stand (if happy with your score), Hit (ask for another card) once or multiple times, Double Down (double your initial bet) or Split two cards of the same value into two separate hands. Having done the latter, you can Hit both hands as many times as you wish, though usually split Aces can receive only one card each. 

More often than not, the dealer has to keep drawing as long as their card total is 16 points or lower. Some game variants will offer “insurance” if the dealer’s upcard turns out to be an Ace. You’ll be given an option to place a side bet worth half of your original wager, and should your opponent indeed get Blackjack, you’ll lose the original stake but win 2:1 on the insurance bet. A few developers have also included a “surrender” option as a way to minimize your losses when dealt a particularly poor hand. Instead of losing the entire stake, surrendering will save 50% of it.

There are two basic blackjack variants and they differ in the manner in which the dealer receives their initial two cards. In American blackjack, the other party gets them both before asking you to make Hit/Stand/Double/Split decision. In the case their up card is an Ace, they’ll peek at the face-down card and end the game if that card happens to be a 10, Jack, Queen or a King. In European blackjack, the dealer receives their second card only after players have decided on what to do next. This minor difference can cost you money if an additional investment was made via doubling or splitting.

Many of the available game variants offer optional side bets with a larger win potential. The two most commonly featured are Perfect Pairs and 21+3. The latter is based on the player’s initial two cards and the dealer’s up card and wins if these three forms a straight, a flush, a straight flush, or three of a kind. Perfect Pairs side bet wins if your first two cards are a pair and, depending on the developer, you may be paid different amounts for a pair of identical cards, a pair of the same color and a non-colored pair.

How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack players are advised to apply the Basic Strategy which tells them when to hit or stand, double down and split pairs. Strategy charts can be easily found via the internet and one should have them handy when placing blackjack bets online. Eventually, rules will be memorized and correct decisions made within seconds and with a minimum of effort. It must be mentioned that this approach, same as any other, doesn’t guarantee a win, but it’s still the best available tool for increasing your chances. You should also know that there are some deviations in the Basic Strategy depending on whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, as well as the number of decks in play.

If playing a game where the dealer has to hit soft 17, the Basic Strategy will tell you to the following. Soft 20 (an Ace and a 9) should always stand, soft 19 should double against the dealer’s 6, while soft 18 doubles against 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and hits against 9 through Ace. Hard totals of 17 and over always stand. Soft 17 doubles vs 3 through 6 and hits otherwise. You should double on soft 16 against 4 through 6 and stand with hard 16 against the dealer’s 2 through 6; otherwise hit. Soft 15 should be doubled when the dealer has 4, 5 or 6, and hard 15 should stand vs 2 through 6. Soft 14 and soft 13 doubles against 5 or 6, and hard 14/hard 13 stands when the opponent holds 2 through 6. You should stand with a hard total of 12 vs 4, 5 or 6, double on hard 11 always and do the same with hard 10 against 2-9 and on hard 9 vs 3-6. If you’ve got 8, hit no matter what the dealer’s up card.

According to the Basic Strategy, you should always split Aces and 8’s and never split tens. A pair of 8’s creates a hand worth 16 and that’s one of the worst blackjack hands you can get. Two tens create a strong hand and you will not want to risk it. A pair of 9’s should be split against the dealer’s total of 2 through 9 (with the exception of 7), and in any other case, the player should stand. Split a pair of 7’s if your opponent holds 2 through 7, and hit if they don’t. Split a pair of 6’s if playing against 2 through 6 and hit otherwise. Double a pair of 5’s against the dealer’s 2-9, otherwise hit. A pair of 4’s should be split if the dealer has 5 or 6 and hit if they have any other card. A pair of 3’s and a pair of 2’s should be split against the dealer’s 2 through 7 and hit in every other case scenario. The above may sound complicated but via the internet, you can find the same instructions in charts which are fairly easy to follow.

Blackjack Basic Strategy Card

Click to enlarge!

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Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Choose Blackjack games with a lower house edge. You’re basically looking for those using fewer decks, with the dealer standing on soft 17, players able to double on any first two cards and allowed do so even after a split, and Blackjack paying 3:2.
  2. Use the Basic Strategy in a consistent manner. Everybody is, of course, free to do as they like and test different moves, but the Strategy is a proven tool for making the most out of funds the player has got available. Advanced gamblers do occasionally diverge from the Basic Strategy but you should avoid doing so if you’re a beginner or even an intermediate player.
  3. Avoid Insurance. The odds for this optional wager are not corresponding to 2:1 payout and you’re more or less guaranteed to lose money over time.
  4. Don’t copy what the dealer does. Some players assume that, as the dealer has better odds, it’s best to follow their lead – hit until 17 and then stand. What they forget is that the player has to make a decision first, and if they bust, they lose regardless of their opponent’s hand.
  5. Don’t rely on card counting to win: in most RNG games, cards are shuffled after each hand and that makes card counting impossible.

Best Online Casinos to play Card Games

Australians used to have a big choice of blackjack online casinos until 2016. This is when the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill made it illegal for companies to offer online gambling services without a license issued by the country’s regulatory bodies, and consequently, a lot of great gambling sites stopped admitting Australian players. However, that doesn’t mean one can no longer find licensed and trustworthy online casinos willing to let you register and play.

BitStarz is a reputable site operating since 2014 with a Curacao license and offering a choice of RNG and live blackjack games with a wide range of betting limits. Thanks to iSoftBet, Platipus, BGaming and BetSoft, you’ll be able to choose among multiple standard game variants but also play Blackjack Surrender and Double Exposure while betting between 0.50 AUD and 200 AUD per hand. Evolution Gaming and Vivo Gaming have provided more than 80 tables with live dealers and bet limits ranging from 0.50 AUD to 10,000 AUD. Evolution alone offers numerous 7-seat tables as well as Infinite Blackjack able to serve an unlimited number of players simultaneously. First Person Blackjack combines RNG and Live Casino gaming, with a 3D animated environment and Go Live button which takes the player directly to an Evolution Live Blackjack table. Members from Down Under get to pay in AUD and fund their accounts with several digital currencies, and those newly registered are able to collect up to 500 AUD in welcome bonuses.
PlayAmo is a Curacao-licensed, multi-provider online casino established in 2016. Its library counts 1,800 games and includes a large number of those bound to appeal to blackjack fans. Microgaming provides variants such as Super Fun 21, Spanish Blackjack, Hi-Lo 13 and European Blackjack Redeal, BetSoft has supplied 21 Burn, Pirate 21, Super 7 and Pontoon, Yggdrasil contributes with its unique Sonya Blackjack which mimics live play, and more than a few other options are available courtesy of Platipus, BGaming, 1×2 Gaming, Evoplay and iSoftBet. Live Blackjack experience has been made possible by Evolution Gaming, Vivo and Ezugi. Players get to pick among 80 tables and bet a minimum of 0.50 AUD and a maximum of 10,000 AUD per hand. They can start their PlayAmo adventure with up to 1,500 AUD in welcome bonuses or claim a high-roller deal worth up to 3,000 AUD.
Fair Go is an RNG-powered gaming site launched in 2017 and licensed in Curacao. The Casino caters primarily to Australian residents and offers a choice of a download and instant-play version. Players can launch one of the classic blackjack variants, take advantage of Perfect Pairs side bet, and enjoy several unique options no other developer offers. There’s Face Up 21 in which dealer cards are dealt face up, Blackjack pays even money and player wins Blackjack ties. Match Play 21 plays with all 10’s removed from the deck, allows players to surrender anytime and win as much as 40:1. Suit ‘Em Up Blackjack pays up to 60:1 for suited cards, while Super 21 pays even money for Blackjack and 2:1 for Diamond Blackjack, 5-card 21 and 6-card 21. Australian players are able to claim a 150% welcome bonus up to 200 AUD as many as five times while making a deposit in AUD or Bitcoin.
Joe Fortune has been welcoming Aussies since 2016. Its offering includes a choice of single and double deck RNG games, Perfect Pairs and Zappit Blackjack. The latter allows players to use Zap option when dealt a hard total of 15, 16 or 17 and replace cards with two new ones. One can also claim a seat at one of 13 Live Blackjack tables provided by Visionary iGaming and wager between 5 AUD and 2,500 AUD. Among them you’ll also find Live Blackjack Early Payout with an RTP of 99.50% and an option to collect the offered early payout after each card dealt. New players can make an AUD deposit with a credit card and collect bonuses of up to 1,500 AUD or pay with Bitcoin to claim a welcome deal worth a maximum of 2,250 AUD. A similar choice of blackjack options is available at Ignition Casino, another popular gaming site willing to welcome Australian players.

Online Blackjack FAQ

Actually, there are many benefits to playing blackjack via the internet. You’ve got the general advantages of online vs land-based play such as 24/7 availability, a much larger choice of game variants, and an option to practice for free. You’ll never have to wait for a seat to become available and it’s easier to find games and tables with bet limits that fit your budget. Another important advantage of online play is that you can pause the game to check what the Basic Strategy advises you to do in the given circumstances. Your cheat sheet can be by your side, ready to help out when unsure how to proceed.
You’re bound to have heard of card counting and may have come across betting progression “strategies” advising players to increase their wagers after a win and decrease it when they lose. The latter is based on a (wrong) assumption involving losing and winning streaks. While it’s possible to score consecutive wins as well as consecutive losses, the two outcomes will frequently alternate and acting on this advice can easily cost you tons of money. The only approach which has been proven to work is a consistent application of the so-called Basic Strategy.
The Basic Strategy was not created overnight nor by a single individual. It is, in fact, the result of a computer simulation. Having learnt how to play, the computer has played millions of hands with all kinds of combinations of the player’s initial hand and the dealer’s up card. This learning process with many trials and errors has ultimately resulted in the Basic Strategy and a list of best decisions in different circumstances.
One would assume that if the dealer has to hit on soft 17, they’d bust more often. While that’s true, the fact doesn’t worsen your opponent’s odds. One should understand that a hand of 17 is relatively weak and it’s not as difficult to beat as you may think. There is a good chance to improve it if one of the dealer’s cards (or yours, for that matter) is an Ace.
Card counting is a method that helps you predict which cards are more likely to come up in the next hand and thus improve your odds. It’s done by tracking the number of low and high-value cards already dealt. If there are more low-numbered cards left in the deck, you’re less likely to get Blackjack and your opponent is less likely to bust. Card counting doesn’t require perfect memory; there are systems which make it quite easy, especially if you take some time to practice.
So, the idea behind card counting is to tract cards which have been dealt. The more cards you’ve seen, the more accurate will be your prediction of what’s coming next. The issue is that, when playing RNG (non-live) blackjack games online, deck is shuffled after every hand. What that means is that your count resets to zero each time and that makes the exercise pointless.
Casinos have recognised the risk of allowing players to count cards a long time ago and have responded by increasing the number of decks in play. The more decks, the more difficult it is to predict what’s likely to come up next. What’s more, you’ll need to see a big part of the deck to be able to make an accurate assumption. Many online casinos instruct their staff to shuffle the shoe once 50% of the deck has been dealt and that’s not enough to make a confident count.

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