Blackjack has emerged as the world's most popular card game due to the speed, simplicity and low house edge it offers. It can be an exhilarating way to spend a couple of hours at your favourite land-based or online casino, but you may struggle to earn a profit if you do not follow a clear blackjack strategy. Any new blackjack player should learn how to use basic strategy, but there are several other factors that can improve profitability, too. With that in mind, we consulted blackjack dealers to glean these top 10 blackjack tips.
Top dealers are always surprised by how frequently they see players' strategies fall apart as a direct result of choosing the wrong table at a land-based casino or when playing live dealer blackjack. It is imperative that you find a table with broad enough limits for your chosen strategy. For example, if you are following a negative progression strategy like the Martingale, you may not be able to effectively chase your losses if the upper limit is too low.
One of the top blackjack tips is to avoid playing at a 6:5 table. Blackjack should always pay 3:2, and the RTP (return to player) ratio will drop significantly if it pays 6:5. Another of the most common blackjack winning tips is to avoid dealers who try to distract you and hide unfavourable rules which could have an impact on the house edge. Single deck games tend to have a lower house edge than multi deck games, and you also want to avoid continuous shufflers if you hope to count cards.
Wonging is the art of entering a blackjack game after the deck has assumed a positive count stacked in your favour. It was pioneered by an author called Stanford Wong, who wrote a fabled tome called Professional Blackjack. Wong, whose real name is John Ferguson, is a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
He advises players to avoid getting involved in a blackjack game where the casino has an advantage. Never play right after the shuffle. Watch what happens, and if a bunch of low cards come out, you can pounce, as the positive count will benefit you. If the count goes negative, pick up your chips and move to another table.
Certain positions at a blackjack table come with an inherent advantage. This is true of many casino games. For instance, the top no-limit hold'em players like to play most of their hands from a late position to unlock more free cards, pot control, greater bluffing opportunities and knowing how opponents will play a postflop street. It is therefore a vital component in poker strategy.
Mathematically, it makes no difference where you sit at a blackjack table. However, blackjack winning tips dictate that you have a better chance of counting cards by sitting at third base, known as the anchor player. Other players like first base, which affords a view of the entire table and the discounted pile, so you can keep an eye on the cards that have and have not been dealt.
The goal should clearly be to count cards while making it appear that you are not doing so. When gleaning blackjack insider tips, we were informed about the training that dealers receive in attempting to spot players that are counting cards. They look out for players that pay attention to fellow players' cards after the hand is finished, major changes in bet sizes, people that make large shoe bets at different tables before swiftly leaving, and people that look as though they are solving mathematical problems as opposed to simply gambling. You need to take a subtle approach and keep an impassive face.
Dealers are told to warn the pit boss about any suspicious activity, and you may then be scrutinised and eventually banned or lumbered with unfavourable rules. Live dealer casinos provide a compelling alternative to real world casinos, but your patterns and behaviour can easily be monitored, so you have to be careful not to draw attention to yourself.
You can gain an edge over the dealer if you can read the subconscious expressions or gestures he or she makes during a blackjack game. For example, the blackjack winning tips we gathered suggest that many dealers give away their hole card.
If the dealer has a small stiff card, he or she may have to lift it up for longer and scrutinise it more closely. A number 4 card is often the most difficult to see, as it can easily be confused with an ace. By contrast, face cards are easy to spot, and your dealer may have one if he or she spends very little time studying it.
Blackjack dealer tips often state that many players see their strategies crumble after failing to come to the table with a serious bankroll. You need a large war chest, particularly if you are following a negative progression strategy like the Martingale or the D'Alembert.
Your bankroll should be an amount of money that you can afford to lose in a worst case scenario. It is important to have a reasonably large pot in order to ride out any potential losing streaks.
You should assign a portion of your bankroll as a base unit. It may be 1% of your bankroll, and you can start by wagering this on your first hand.
It can then help to follow a particular strategy, which helps give you a measure of control over your bankroll as you play. Examples include the Paroli system, the Martingale system, Reverse Martingale, D'Alembert, Fibonacci, 1-3-2-6 and Oscar's Grind. You can use practice software to put systems to the test, and play with online casino bonuses.
This involves calculating the chances of your entire bankroll being wiped out in a worst case scenario. You need to know the implied chances of success, the risk amount and the number of hands you intend to play.
You can then feed it into a risk of ruin calculator to understand the probability of you going bust within a particular timeframe.
Understanding deck penetration is vital for anyone hoping to succeed when playing live blackjack. It refers to the number of cards dealt before the deck is reshuffled, and it is very important for card counting. Ideally, you should try to find a game with deck penetrate that is higher than 50%.
Rounds per hour also comes up frequently in blackjack insider tips. It is determined by the number of players at the table, and the speed of the dealer and the players. You should generally expect to play around 90 hands per hour with four players at the table and 75 with five. This knowledge can help you plan your strategy.
Grasping the concept of expected value (EV) is important if you aim to beat the casino while playing live blackjack. In a nutshell, it is the expected amount of money you will win or lose over a set period of time, based on the way you play.
Casinos work hard to generate positive EV from each player in the long run, but your goal is to generate positive EV from the casino. If you count cards effectively, it is possible to win 55% of your blackjack hands. If you can achieve that EV, you will generate a long-term profit, and it will help you stay upbeat during losing spells.
These are some key points to bear in mind when perched at a blackjack table:
|Learn the rules and basic strategy.||Play in 6:5 blackjack games.|
|Behave courteously to dealers and fellow players.||Advise fellow players how to play their hands.|
|Use hand signals.||Touch the cards.|
|Take advantage of bonuses.||Hand money to the dealer.|
The most important of all the live blackjack winning tips is to practice playing on a regular basis. This will help you hone your strategy, figure out how best to react in certain situations, put progression systems to the test, and learn how to effectively count cards.
Most top online casinos will offer you a welcome bonus when you sign up. If the terms and conditions allow you to play either live dealer blackjack or classic blackjack with the bonus funds, then this is a great way to practice without risking your own money. Remember to check the wagering requirements and T&Cs before you accept any casino bonus.
In some countries, you can play for free at online casinos before taking the plunge and playing blackjack for real money. If that is not possible in your country, you can download free blackjack software that allows you to play with a phantom bankroll.
You should also learn as much about the game as possible. Books like Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp and Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong are worth a read, and platforms like YouTube are full of educational materials. Learn from the pros, put their strategies to the test, find an approach that works for you and then see if you can generate positive EV.
You stand the best possible chance of success when playing live blackjack if you follow the dealer tips laid out in this article. Choosing opportune moments to play a hand at the right table is crucial, subtly counting cards, stacking the odds in your favour and generating positive long-term EV should form the cornerstone of your approach.
Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.Read Full Bio