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Build up your Blackjack basics: tips for playing smarter

Before making any play at the Blackjack table online, it’s important to understand the basics behind this great game. 

It all boils down to determining the odds of winning every hand and making a smart play based on the likely outcome. For example, in a single deck of Blackjack, there are 52 cards, and you know your two cards plus the dealer’s up card. That means you can determine the probable odds of a dealer pulling a certain card by assessing how many of that value of card is left in the deck and dividing by 49. Let’s put this math in action.

If the dealer shows a 4 and you’re dealt a 6 and 6 (totaling 12), you may want to Hit to get closer to 21. However, provided the dealer isn’t holding a 10, there’s a 16/49 (or 32.65%) chance that you’ll receive a 10-value card and bust. By the same token, it’s just as likely that a dealer’s hole card is a 10-value card, and in most versions of Blackjack, the dealer will have to Hit unless they have soft 17. Since the most the dealer could have in this case is 15, the dealer would need to Hit and has a 40% chance of busting. Therefore you’d want to Stand since there’s a better chance that the dealer busts than you making a strong hand.

If you want all the benefits of understanding the odds without doing the math every time, you can follow a Blackjack strategy chart that tells you when the odds are in your favor to Hit and Stand depending on what hand you and the dealer each hold. Obviously the odds vary depending on how many decks are in play, so be sure to keep that in mind as well.

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When it comes to playing Blackjack online, it’s important to remember that the dealer shuffles the deck after every hand. Your focus should be on the best move for each hand dealt because the previous hands have no bearing on what’s in front of you. Since consecutive hands have no impact on one another, both hot and cold streaks are possible. It’s natural to want to change your strategy or even your bet amount when things go cold, but sticking to strategic play is better for your bankroll in the long run. 

Follow the Dealer. The dealer doesn’t make any decisions himself – he has rules to follow. In most variations of Blackjack, the dealer must Hit on soft 17 (such as A6) and keeps going until he reaches hard 17 or busts. He also can’t Double Down or Split. Therefore following his lead wouldn’t be your best chance of winning or maximizing your profits. 

Know the Value. While you may have some options that the dealer doesn’t, not all offer optimal value – namely, Insurance. The option to make an Insurance bet comes up if the dealer shows an Ace. The player can bet half their original wager, and it pays out at 2/1 should the dealer have Blackjack.  While some players may find it appealing, if the dealer doesn’t have Blackjack, the Insurance bet is lost. 

Going back to the odds, if the dealer has a 33% chance of drawing a 10-value card – which is even lower should the player hold one or two 10-value cards already – then the Insurance bet just doesn’t offer proper value and isn’t worth taking. 

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