Blackjack often leads to the debate of how much of a player’s success in the game is down to skill, and how much is down to pure luck. The simple answer is that both factors are significant, and although a player relies on kind hands, knowing how to handle your cards is the key to any success. Blackjack is actually the casino table game where the House has its least statistical advantage, but in order to take advantage of this fully, you must first be aware of basic strategy.
The basic strategy in Blackjack involves a system that relies solely on statistics. Some stick rigidly to the system, while others take into account other factors influencing the table. This is, in a sense, a form of card counting, but all these techniques aim to minimise the House’s already narrow advantage.
A player’s best chance of winning comes when the Dealer’s Upcard is a 4, 5 or 6, as they cannot win outright from here with just one more card. What’s more, if their second card is worth 10 (and there is a 30% chance it will be), then they’ll be on 14, 15 or 16 and more likely to go bust.
In this situation it's key not to go bust yourself. To avoid this, it is best to stand on anything 12 or over in order to give yourself the best chance, and to double on a 9, 10 or 11 to maximise your potential profit. Blackjack is all about capitalising when the odds are with you, and doubling down in a strong situation is a great way to do just that.
The Dealer’s next worst Upcard is a 2 or a 3. However, unlike the previous set, the Dealer won’t be in as much trouble upon hitting a 10. The likelihood of the Dealer hitting two 10’s in a row is around 10%, so relying on a bust isn’t so rewarding. Instead, as the Dealer has the opportunity to take multiple cards without busting, it’s important to try and achieve the highest value possible. So standing on 13+ is the slightly riskier strategy here, as there’s only a 30% chance of going bust from 12.
The next range of 7, 8 and 9 is tricky territory, as the Dealer has the chance at making a winning hand from just one more card. So relying on a bust here is unwise and you’ll have to risk a bust of your own on anything from 12-16, but 17+ is a score that can compete and shouldn’t be risked.
If the Dealer lands a value 10 card as their Upcard, they’ll have a 38% chance of hitting 20 or 21 with their next card. Your best chance is to stand on anything 17+, but unfortunately the dealer has the advantage, as the outcome relies more or less solely on their second card.
Even worse than that, though, is if the Dealer is dealt an Ace. From here they have a 30% chance of hitting Blackjack, and a 62% chance of hitting a winning score with just one more card. These moments are where the luck shines through, making it even more important to stick to a strategy for the rest of your time at the casino.
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