How to Beat Casino Blackjack Games

The math of Blackjack has fascinated experts for decades. With careful monitoring of the proportions of high and low cards dealt – card counters can find situations where they can get a positive return from the casinos. While card-counting is not possible online, Blackjack still has a lot of appeal. Not only does it have one of the lowest house-edges of any casino game, it is great for playing through bonuses and accessing VIP rewards. This article shows you how to keep the house edge as small as is possible – while you wait for those lucky streaks to hit!

We’ll start with an overview of the only proven way of beating blackjack games, counting the cards – explaining how this works and the pitfalls. Next some information on making sure you play a ‘perfect’ strategy, and how seemingly subtle rule changes can make a big difference to this. After that some key information on how to make sure you are taking advantage of bonuses and promotions to keep the house edge down. You will also find info on betting systems at the end of this page, along with their limitations.

Card Counting Overview

If you accurately track the proportion of small cards and big cards left to be dealt, it is possible to turn the house-edge into an edge for the player in Blackjack. Since its inception in the 1960’s, card counters have been developing ever more complex systems to keep track of this information. When the deck ‘goes positive’ (has a greater proportion of 10 cards), then the counters increase their bet sizes dramatically – taking advantage of the odds being in their favor.

Of course, Casinos do not sit idly by and wait for their profits to be taken away by card counters. They have reacted in many ways over the years. First, they started increasing the number of decks in use with each game from 1 through 4 to 6 and now 8. Then banning card counters from their premises completely. With multiple decks it is very hard to get a good ‘positive shoe’, since you need to divide the running count by the number of remaining decks to account for all the extra cards.

Unfortunately, card counting will not work at online casinos. The reason is that the deck is reshuffled each hand – so there are no counts to follow. Live dealer online games raise some possibility of counting, however these shoes are shuffled when there are four decks left, making this very difficult.

You Need a ‘Perfect Strategy’

To keep the casino’s advantage to a minimum (which can be as low as 0.36%) you will need to play perfectly in every situation. This means knowing exactly when to split and double – as well as the more obvious plays like hitting or standing.

Strategy cards are available for most games; these have a matrix of your card and the dealer’s up-card and show you what to do in each situation. Seemingly small rules differences can make a big difference to the house advantage – and to your play. For example, not being able to re-split up to three times adds 0.26% to the house edge.

If you are not playing a perfect strategy then you are probably leaking quite a lot of money, even a seemingly trivial error can easily double or even treble the house advantage.

Ignore Insurance and Side-Bets

Insurance against dealer blackjack is quite simply a sucker bet. Every time you make this bet you are giving the casino a 12.5% edge. In other words every $100 in insurance costs you $12.50c – no matter what the outcome of each hand. No player who plans to win at blackjack should ever be making this bet.

Side-games which are packaged with online blackjack are also sucker bets. These have negative edges from 7% and up – huge in casino terms. Games like ‘Perfect Pairs’ or ‘Lucky 7’s’ often have a good base blackjack game, as long as you ignore the side-bets.

Bonuses, Comps And Promotions

With your prefect strategy you’ll get the house edge to a minimum, next you should make sure you are taking full advantage of bonuses. These can be initial welcome bonuses, reloads or regular promotions for blackjack players. If your casino is not offering these then it is definitely time to move on, since plenty of places will give you some kind of bonus for just about every hand you play.

By using these offers you can reduce the house advantage to a tiny fraction – which gives you the best possible chance of hitting a good run and seeing your casino bankroll get a welcome boost.

Betting Systems

Many casino players incorrectly think that betting systems will give them an edge over the house. This is not correct, over the long run all results will converge on the average (the house edge). In the short-run it is possible that stake-doubling systems like Martingale’s famous negative progression will smooth out the swings in the game. Eventually, all users of this system end up with catastrophic losses and go broke. Positive progressions which double after wins can help you enjoy small windfalls now and again. These increase the fun for casual players, though they can’t beat the house from a mathematical perspective at all.