Maximizing Your Odds: Online Blackjack Strategies
Blackjack offers some of the thinnest house edges in casino gaming. Sometimes, it’s as low as 0.42% (single-deck Blackjack).
But to achieve these numbers, you must play optimally. Below, we’ll teach strategies that’ll give you the best possible chance of winning a hand of Blackjack at an online casino.
Should I Hit or Stand?
It all starts with your hand. For quick reference, check the table below:
|Your Hand||Dealer Up Card||Your Action|
|Hard 16 (no pair)||7-A||Surrender/Stand|
Let’s discuss the above concepts.
Standing on 12 or higher when the dealer’s up card is 2-6 may seem strange. But when the dealer starts with a low score, they have a much higher chance of busting (scoring over 21).
Also, if you’re new to Blackjack, standing on 17 or higher may seem like common sense. But if you have a soft 17 (a 17 made with an Ace), hit every time.
Aces can be worth 1 point or 11 points, so if you hit, you have zero chance of busting. The same applies for soft 18s – no chance of busting, and mathematically, you improve to 19-21 enough for it to be a profitable move.
The worst Blackjack hand is a hard 16 versus a high dealer up card. The best setup is a pair of 8s – in this situation, ALWAYS split (more on this later). Literally anything is better than a hard 16. Alternatively, if you can surrender, do so, as you’ll get half your bet back.
Otherwise, stand, but know that you’ll lose a LOT here. Standing means you’ll lose 2.1% less than hitting – not appealing, but statistically, it’s the optimal play.
Should I Double Down?
Any hand can look like a good double-down candidate when you’re running well. But there’s a catch – you only get one more card when you double down.
So, in reality, only a few Blackjack hands are good double-down candidates. If your opening cards total 9-11 (minus the Ace) or soft 16-18 (with an Ace), AND the dealer doesn’t have an Ace, double your wager. Otherwise, don’t bother.
To Split or Not to Split?
Doubling down is simple, but splitting can get complicated. If you’re ever in doubt, refer to the table below:
|Your Hand||Dealer Up Card||Split?|
Let’s discuss the above concepts.
The easiest decision comes with TT and paired face cards. NEVER split these – you’re much more likely to win by standing versus hoping for TWO more high cards to come.
Conversely, 99 should be split almost every time, EXCEPT for a dealer 7. This is because the dealer instantly loses on hard 17s (they have to stand) and busts much of the time hitting on soft 17.
AA and 88 should be split every single time. Aces are versatile, as they can be worth 1 or 11 points. And 88? As mentioned earlier, hard 16 is the worst hand in blackjack – so break it up!
Should I Take Insurance?
No. We get it – when you decline insurance, the dealer always APPEARS to roll over a blackjack.
But hard statistics don’t lie – the probability of a dealer blackjack is only 31%, so taking insurance is a negative expected value move.
So don’t listen to the table (or that nagging voice in your head). In the long run, you’ll gain by declining insurance every time.
Decline Even Money Payouts on BJs Versus a Dealer Ace
A Blackjack versus a dealer ten presents a unique dilemma. Sure, you have an unbeatable hand, but if the dealer also turns over a blackjack, you push (i.e., you get your money back, which means NO profit).
So to “guarantee” you’ll make money, the dealer will offer you a 1/1 payout over the usual 3/2.
Do NOT take this deal. The probability of a dealer Blackjack is only 31% – 31% of the time you’ll break even, and get paid at 3/2 69% of the time (nice).
So if you take the even money payout, you’ll sacrifice 50% of your BJ profits – that’s a LOT of money over the long run.
Choose Variants That Use Less Decks
The more decks used in a Blackjack game, the fatter the house edge.
So, to minimize the house’s advantage, play Blackjack titles that use as few decks as possible. Doing this increases your odds of drawing a Ten or Face card in double-down situations.
Pushing these thin edges will reduce your long-term losses and slightly increase your short-term probability of hitting a winning hand/blackjack.
Take Advantage of Blackjack Bonuses
To attract and retain customers, most online casinos offer welcome bonuses. But while many of these target slot players, Blackjack-specific bonuses do exist.
For example, 888 Casino often runs a promotion that mixes bonus cards into their live dealer casino game section. If you draw one, you win the amount shown as bonus funds.
By participating in these promos, you can win cash that’ll further reduce the site’s edge.
Stay Disciplined at the Tables
Your biggest enemy isn’t the dealer at the blackjack table – it’s your emotions. Cards have no memory, they don’t have vendettas. They simply fall based on statistics. So don’t take that third improbable win-in-a-row by the dealer personally. If it’s statistically possible, it can and will happen.
As a player, your job is to employ optimal strategy against whatever the dealer shows. The second emotion enters the equation, step away from the tables and take a break.
Before we start, a disclaimer – NO betting system can overcome Blackjack’s house edge. In fact, these systems can magnify the house’s advantage (i.e. when luck turns against you, you lose your money quicker).
Nevertheless, many gamers swear by their favourite system when playing at a live casino site. Below, we’ll talk about the ones commonly used by seasoned Blackjack players.
The Martingale System
The Martingale System appears to be rock solid. The idea behind it is simple yet elegant – by doubling your bet after each loss, you’ll eventually make back the deficit.
However, this strategy has two fatal flaws. Firstly, the Martingale System only works in games with no house edge. In blackjack, every hand has negative expected value. So, in the long run, you WILL lose money, regardless of bet sizing.
And secondly, Martingaling can put serious pressure on your bankroll. For example, if you’re betting $10/hand and you hit a five-hand losing streak, by the fifth hand, you’ll need to wager $160.
Because of this, following the Martingale System exponentially increases your risk of ruin (especially if you’re tilting).
The Paroli System
Whereas the Martingale System is based on negative progression, the Paroli System employs positive progression. This means you’ll double your bet when you win, and if you hit three wins in a row, you’ll return to your initial stake.
If you don’t want to bust your bankroll, the Paroli System beats Martingaling. But like the Martingale System, Paroli cannot overcome Blackjack’s house edge.
Here’s why: the house edge is a statistical measure, which means it’s not affected by your bet sizing. So for every win streak captured by Paroli, you’ll lose your share of doubled and quadrupled wagers (and then some).
Oscar’s Betting System
Oscar’s Betting System is a hybrid between the two systems described above. It employs positive progression whenever you win and negative progression when you lose.
Start with a specific size (say, $10/hand). After every win, you would raise your stake by one unit, so the next bet would be $20. Every win adds another unit to your bet size ($30, $40, etc.)
But once you lose, you’d cut your wager back to the initial bet sizing – in this case, $10.
However, like the other systems, Blackjack math wins in the long run (i.e. over time, your losses will always overshadow your wins).
Take the House by Storm
Like any other casino game, Blackjack has a house edge. But thanks to its thinness, you can go on short-term runs.
Now you have learned the best tactics for playing this popular card game, check out our list of the best NZ Blackjack sites.