Among the most popular casino games there is undoubtedly blackjack, a very popular game also in the online version. This card game stands out because you do not compete with other players, but against the dealer.
This makes blackjack ideal for having fun when alone or having playing a cheeky game with your smartphone while travelling . This does not prevent you from playing blackjack online with friends, perhaps sitting at the same virtual table in a live room.
Let’s explore online blackjack together to understand what are the reasons for the success of this card game.
A brief history of blackjack
As with many games still in vogue, blackjack has an uncertain origins, but some trace it back to the French gambling halls of the 18th century.
The game in question was called “Vingt-et-un”, or Twenty-one, the name with which it became popular in Italy as well. Through the French colonies, the game would spread to different parts of the world and even to North America. There are traces of it dating back to 1820, in the halls of New Orleans
Although with different rules than the current ones, 21 grew in popularity and also spread to Nevada. Here its name changed to “Blackjack”. Probably due to a rule that offered a bonus for combinations between a black jack and an ace of spades.
Blackjack rules and the house advantage
Unlike other card games, blackjack has fairly simple rules, which can be summed up in a few words. The player must score a higher score than the dealer without however exceeding 21. To do this, the player uses the cards dealt by the dealer. These retain their face value, while the ace can be worth 1 or 11. Precisely for this simplicity, blackjack is considered approachable for everyone. Unlike other games, such as poker, which instead convey the idea of requiring a certain level of expertise.
In blackjack, the dealer’s advantage is around 5%. But there are rules that mitigate this advantage, such as that the dealer must hit if he doesn’t have at least 17 points. The good news is that by adopting a perfectly rational behaviour, as indicated in the basic strategy, the house advantage can be reduced to about 1%. This means that the player has a 49% chance of success. Not bad, huh?
The MIT basic strategy
Luck plays an important role in blackjack. But as we explored in the previous paragraph, it is possible to foster good luck by adopting a basic strategy. The basic strategy consists of a theoretical model applicable to blackjack games. This suggests the best action to take once you have seen your cards and the dealer’s face up card.
If the words “theoretical model” sound intimidating, do not worry, the strategy is presented as a simple table to read. The vertical column shows all the possible combinations of cards in the player’s possession. On the horizontal one, on the other hand, the dealer’s up card is shown. By crossing the two data, you will have a suggestion between:
- To stay (stand)
- Ask for a card (hit)
- Double down
There are several tables with the basic strategy, this can vary according to the rules of the table or the number of decks used. The table created by MIT is very popular and can be considered universal.
In any case, applying this strategy will lead to effective game choices in the long run.
Why the basic strategy works
By applying the basic strategy, you will not be sure of winning every hand. No strategy can guarantee this result. But as already mentioned, this strategy is effective over time, so it will lead to increasing your winnings in the long run.
The reason is that this strategy takes into account all possible game situations. For each of them, behind the suggested action there is a mathematical calculation that increases one’s chances of success. Although the basic strategy does not negate the role of luck, it gives a big hand by allowing a game mode based on rationality.
Playing Blackjack Online
To realize the popularity of blackjack just visit any online casino. Alongside the section of slot machines and online roulette, there is always the one dedicated to blackjack. In addition, this game is also offered in live mode, with real dealers connected in live streaming.
To play online, you must be of legal age and sign up for one of the AAMS licensed sites. Before trying your hand at real money, you will also have the opportunity to do some training with the demo versions of the game. Maybe by training to apply the basic strategy.
It is important to know that not all blackjack tables are created equal and a first step towards success is to choose the right table. The things to look out for when choosing a table are different:
- Number of decks used – Better to prefer tables with fewer decks than those with more decks
- Minimum and maximum bet – Choose tables with a low minimum bet, so as not to waste your budget in a few hands
- Rules on the behaviour of the dealer – Prefer tables where the dealer must stand with 17
- How much blackjack is paid – If paid 3 to 2 it is better than if paid 5 to 6 blackjack
- Side bets – Side bets, while fun, increase the house advantage
Among the rules of blackjack there is also the one that allows toy to take insurance when the dealer has an ace. Behind this rule is the idea that the dealer is likely to possibly have blackjack, and therefore apparently this tool should protect the player. But is this really the case?
By taking the blackjack insurance the player has to pay a side bet, that is an additional bet, equal to half of the initial bet, paid 2 to 1. Suppose that the main bet is €10, the dealer reveals an Ace, and then it is decided to bet €5 with insurance. What happens next? Here are some scenarios:
- The dealer scores blackjack and the player does not: the player loses €10 with the main bet, but earns € 10 with insurance.
- The dealer and the player play blackjack: the main bet is tied and the insurance is also pocketed.
- The dealer does not do blackjack, but wins: the player loses both the main bet and the insurance.
- The dealer does not do blackjack and the player wins: the player wins the main bet, but loses the insurance.
As you can see from these examples, insurance is seldom a convenient choice for the player. Often increases your losses or decreases your winnings. So, it should be used with great caution.
Counting cards in blackjack
Card counting is prohibited in casinos and gambling halls. This is enough to suggest that counting techniques can indeed help you win at blackjack.
This is true. Due to its characteristics, blackjack is one of those games in which knowing what kind of cards are left in the deck gives an advantage.
Counting systems do not require you to memorize all the cards issued one by one. These are based on dividing the cards into certain groups, sometimes it is required to count the aces separately.
Each group of cards is assigned a value, +1, 0 or -1 and in the more complex counts -2, -1, 0, 1 and 2. As the cards come out, the player must add or subtract in mind and some point will have to make decisions.
Although apparently everything is very complicated, in reality there are relatively simple counting methods, such as HI-Lo and KO.
The important thing is to understand what kind of indications they give. Card counting pays off from one centre point onwards. In fact, based on the partial result obtained, it can be deduced whether there are more high or low cards left in the deck. Based on this information, you will need to act on your bets, increasing or decreasing them.
For a counting system to work, it is important to know how many decks are in play. Dividing the current count by the number of decks gives the true count. This will make the results more accurate.
How to win at blackjack
From what has been said in this guide it is easy to deduce that winning at blackjack is not impossible, on the contrary it is quite probable. Just familiarize yourself with the rules, choose the right table and apply a basic strategy to have a good starting point.
Anyone who wants can also try their hand at card counting. But you need to know that this is totally useless in online blackjack tables, where you play with software and the decks are reset all the time.
However, the demo versions of online blackjack can be useful for practicing counting and applying your betting strategies. Furthermore, you can always test some counting system in the live tables offered by the best AAMS online casino sites.
To win at blackjack you need luck and skill, but proper budget management is also important. Fixing it before starting to play will help reduce losses on bad days. We also recommend having fun with minimum bets in order to prolong the game and put aside your chips to be daring at the right time.