Blackjack Strategy Guide

Blackjack Strategy Guide

Playing blackjack online can be a daunting process, but it doesn't need to be. The popular game is one of the most simple options you can choose when playing at an online casino, and picking things up is only as difficult as you make it.

Every Australian online casino will offer some form of real-money blackjack, and some will offer more variants than others. However one thing is for certain, and that is that Aussie players can choose from a number of different strategies in their quest to win real cash in internet blackjack games on desktop, mobile or tablet.

Basic strategy

There are a number of scenarios in online blackjack, many of which will provide you with a crossroads where one of two options can be taken. Some people swear by one strategy in certain situations while others will go in the other direction.

'Basic strategy' is the most simple, 'by the book' approach to blackjack. Basic blackjack strategy involves following blackjack charts to the letter (more on this later) and never straying from what is widely recognised to be the optimal method for successfully playing the game, and first of all it is worth recapping some of the terminologies from the game:

  • Split: if you are dealt two of the same card (e.g. a pair of threes), you may split your hand into two separate hands, taking a second card (and sometimes further cards) on each of your starting cards.
  • Double Down: you can choose to double your bet, and receive one more card, after being dealt your first two cards
  • Surrender: many online casinos give you the option of sacrificing half your stake rather than drawing a third card and risking losing the full amount
  • Insurance: you can pay a small amount to insure against the dealer hitting blackjack

Which strategy should you use?

According to basic strategy, there are a few absolute rules and others where other factors will play a part:

  • Always split aces, without exception. Most online casinos will only allow a blackjack player one more card alongside each ace, but considering the ace counts as 1 or 11, there is more chance of you hitting a winning hand than if you opted not to split.
  • Split 8s every time, and never split 10s (or jacks, queens or kings). For every other pair, your decision should depend on the dealer's holding.
  • Always double on 11. For every other starting hand, it will depend on what the dealer holds.
  • Always stand on a hard 17 or higher, and for a soft 20.
  • It is rarely profitable to surrender, especially in variants where the dealer peeks for blackjack.
  • Never take insurance. Over the long term it is more profitable to risk running into a dealer blackjack and losing your entire stake.

How to use blackjack strategy cards

A blackjack strategy card takes the form of a grid, with the player's hand on one axis and the dealer's up-card on the other. By looking for your own hand on the grid, then looking across to where it intersects with the dealer's card, you can find the optimal play in any given situation.

Playing optimally will ensure a decent return over an infinite sample of online blackjack hands (often above 99%), however there is nothing to stop you from straying from this approach at any given moment. Just because this approach is recommended doesn't mean it will necessarily serve a player well over a smaller sample size.

Strategy can change for different variations

Online blackjack has a number of variations which, while only slightly different from one another on the surface of things, can have a significant impact on the most optimal approach to take to the game (such as European Blackjack Gold). One of the more relevant variables is whether or not the dealer peeks to see if he has blackjack, as the no-peek option gives players more reason to surrender their hand.

Your best strategy will also vary depending on whether the dealer is required to hit on a soft or hard 17. This rule may be different from one online casino to the next, so it is always worth your while to check what rule is in place before you start playing for real money.

Is it worth straying from basic strategy?

Moving away from basic blackjack strategy can bring short term results for players who get lucky, however in the long run your results will tend to be better if you keep things simple. That is not to say you will not have heard stories of players having great winning runs after adopting more unorthodox approaches.

It really depends on what you want to get out of your blackjack play online. It is usually the case that Australian players sticking with basic strategy rack up some wins from time to time (it is the best way to minimise house edge, after all), but different things work for different people.

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