While all casino games involve a certain degree of luck, the popular 21-based card game of Blackjack is one of the few games where following an optimal blackjack strategy can help to radically lower the house edge and increase your odds of winning more consistently.
This is why Blackjack has countless fans at online, mobile and land casinos in South Africa and beyond. It is also why so many of them are eager to learn the ins and outs of how to win at Blackjack, a highly entertaining and easy to learn and play game with many variants.
Where a casino game like slots requires almost no thought, Blackjack is the opposite. Every decision you make, whether it be to stand, hit, double, split or take insurance, can impact your chances of winning not to mention your bankroll, which is why you’re reading this.
The objective of this page is to show you how to win at Blackjack by using your head and a basic Blackjack strategy. While we offer no guarantees that what you learn below will net you millions, rest assured it will help you maximise your chances of winning more often.
And once you’ve sussed out all of the rules, strategies and tips of Blackjack, you’ll take your playing to a whole new level. Whether you play once in a while or every day, with a little knowledge you can raise your Blackjack stakes financially and entertainment-wise a lot.
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Learn the Rules of all Blackjack Variants you Play
The number 1 rule of Blackjack – or any other gambling game for that matter – is to learn and understand its rules. When playing with real money, that last thing you want is to eat away your chip stack because you’re unsure of the rules, or worse, don’t understand them. This is especially important when you consider how many different types of Blackjack there are.
Although the aim of all Blackjack games is to beat the dealer with the best hand or through the dealer busting, each variant has slightly different rules. For instance, European Blackjack has 2 decks (of 52 cards) while Atlantic City Blackjack has 8, and in Blackjack Switch you can swop cards between two pairs while Spanish Blackjack is played without the four 10 cards.
The point is that whatever Blackjack game you decide to play, you must be fully aware of its particular rules and what they mean. No Blackjack dealer in the history of the world has ever refunded a player’s money ‘because they didn’t understand the rules properly.’ As soon as you have the rules of Blackjack under your belt, it’s time to move on to the basic strategy.
Learn the Basic Blackjack Strategy
The best and fastest way to grow your chip stack is by using a basic Blackjack strategy, which is simply “the mathematically optimum way to play Blackjack hands”. In other words, when to stand, hit, double, split, surrender or take insurance based on your particular hand. By following a basic Blackjack strategy you will literally maximise your chances of winning.
There will always be Blackjack players around the world who win small and big fortunes with nothing more than “luck and a prayer.” However, the reality is that the majority of Blackjack players who rely on nothing more than their ‘gut feel’ or ‘instinct’ hands don’t come close to matching the level of success enjoyed by players who actively employ a basic strategy.
Learning and using the Blackjack basic strategy is a barrier to entry to becoming a successful Blackjack player, and the only way to be taken seriously by your fellow players both in land and online casinos. In fact, if you’re just starting out, it’s always a good idea to print out the basic strategy and refer to while you’re playing until you have it completely memorized.
Before we list the basic strategy for classic single-deck Blackjack, it’s important to mention that every variant has its own basic strategy. This is because the different rules or criteria of each variant alters the mathematics in the strategy, which in turn alters the way you should play a certain hand. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘one basic strategy fits all.’
For instance, criteria that change the basic strategy include the number of decks used (1, 2, 4 or more), whether the dealer has to stand or hit on soft 17, whether you can double after the split or not, whether or not you can surrender, and whether the dealer can peek at their hole card or not. Here is the Classic Blackjack basic strategy every player should know:
Classic Blackjack Basic Strategy
In the following Classic Blackjack Basic Strategy, be aware that the following criteria apply:
- Played with a single deck
- Players may double after splitting their cards
- Players are not permitted to surrender their cards
- The dealer must stand on Soft 17 (a pair where at least one of their cards is an Ace)
- NB: Insurance is not taken into account (most pro players don’t take insurance)
S – Stand
H – Hit
P – Split
D/H – Double or if not Hit
D/S – Double or if not Stand
Most Effective Blackjack Tips at Online Casinos
To help you grow your chip stack as fast and effectively as possible, here are a few Blackjack tips worth remembering when playing at your favourite Rand online casino:
- Make sure you learn the rules and basic strategy of Blackjack before you bet your first Rand at any land or online casino.
- Only ever choose to play Blackjack games at the most safe and reputable licensed and regulated South African casino sites.
- Stick to online Blackjack games and variants with table limits and chip and bet sizes that suit your respective budget.
- Seek out Blackjack variants with the lowest house edge. For instance, single-deck Blackjack has a relatively low house edge of 0.17% compared with 0.46% percent for two-deck Blackjack and 0.65% for eight-deck Blackjack.
- Accept that every Blackjack player has hot and cold streaks, and that includes you. The trick is to stop for the day if you hit a cold streak.
- Always hit on a soft 17
- Always stand on a hard 17 (or higher)
- Always split Aces and 8s
- Always double down on 10 or 11
- Never split 5s or 10s
- Never stand on 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 if the dealer shows a 7 or higher
- Never take insurance – this is just an easy way for the casino to make money off you. You’ll do much better in the long run with the 3/2 you make from a Blackjack than you spending more on what is essentially an unnecessary even money bet. (This is even known by many Blackjack pros as ‘sucker’s bet’).
- Forget trying to count cards – online Blackjack games use state-of-the-art random number generator (RNG) software that makes it virtually impossible to count cards.