Blackjack Tips - Understanding House Edge, Blackjack Odds and How to Win
In just a few steps you can enhance your gameplay and bet more effectively in blackjack. Here we'll guide you through the strongest blackjack hands, strategy for the cards you're dealt, and explain your chances of winning with a look at the house edge and blackjack odds. If you are new to the game, check out our in-depth how to play blackjack guide first.
Our 5 Top Tips for Blackjack
From managing your money carefully to knowing how to count cards, the list of blackjack tips that might give you an edge is endless. Unlike casino games such as slots, the choices you make in blackjack can have a big impact on the game. It's therefore essential to keep a few of these tips in mind while playing. To get you started, we've summarized our top five below.
Understand House Edge
House edge is a percentage which is worked out for all casino games, both online and at land-based casinos. The game of blackjack has a house edge of 2-3%, if the player isn’t using a strategy. This means that over time, the house is likely to win by a profit margin of 2-3%. However, when using some strategies, it is possible to reduce this.
Although frowned upon in some land casinos, counting cards is a popular and accepted strategy when playing online. Although it does require a bit of arithmetic skill, this technique gives a good indication as to whether you or the dealer is at an advantage based on the remaining number of high and low cards. This way, you will know when to raise or lower your bets.
Manage Your Bankroll
If there’s one tip we would advise you to follow, it’s knowing how to manage your bankroll. We always advise that you decide on a maximum amount you would be comfortable spending before starting any game. If you reach that point, walk away from the table. Do not spend more in the hope of clawing back your losses. And never ever bet money you can’t afford to lose.
Try Betting Systems
Blackjack has inspired a wide array of different betting systems, from aggressive options like the Martingale to safer systems like the split strategy of 1-3-2-6. Some players swear by these systems, but of course none have been proven to be 100% effective. We’ll go into more details about how these systems can be used further down this page.
Insurance is always a bad bet. It’s all in the mathematics. A dealer has a 3 in 13 chance of getting a blackjack with the ace, (a 30.8% chance). An insurance bet gives you a potential payout of 2:1, which means you lose overall. The only way we would recommend insurance is if you are an experienced card counter and you’ve got a good idea of what might be in the deck.
Using Your Blackjack Hands Effectively
When playing blackjack, every move you make has a big impact on the game. As a result, it's important that you know how to make the most of the cards you've been dealt. As an example, let's take a look at a couple of scenarios:
In this case you'll want to stand. It's possible here that both you and the dealer will go bust if you take another card, and there is a fair chance you could have already beaten them.
You can generally apply this if you get a hand of between 12 and 16, and your dealer’s up card is between 2 and 6.
In this case you'll want to hit, as there is a good chance of the dealer getting a high total and you don't want to risk them getting higher than you and winning the game.
Whenever you get a hand of between 12 and 16, and your dealer’s up card is between 7 and Ace, you'll want to apply this rule.
Understanding House Edge & Odds
It's always important to know the house edge before you start playing, so you can see how much your chosen casino pays out to its customers. Your odds of winning are also of course very important, and probably one of the first things you'll want to check out. Let's take a look at these in a little more detail.
What's the house edge?
Atlantic City Blackjack
Blackjack games on offer at reputable casinos will never be rigged to payout unfairly to players. All good casinos are regularly checked by independent bodies, to confirm that they offer players the proper odds, with games which are 100% random and not unduly weighted towards the house. However, whilst these blackjack games are entirely fair and random, players still always play at a disadvantage. The reason players find themselves at a disadvantage is because blackjack has a house edge of 2-3%, meaning that over time, the house will come out on top!
The house edge indicates the average percentage of all money paid in by players that the casino would expect to keep. At online casinos this is usually quite easy to find, but can be trickier in a land-based casino. There are ways to improve your chances when you play blackjack, for example knowing a basic strategy can get that house edge down to 0.5%. One thing to watch out for, however, is how many decks are in the shoe at each table, as this will have a great effect on the house edge. The more decks in use, the more it increases.
What are my odds of winning?
Atlantic City Blackjack
In Blackjack, it’s never possible to accurately predict the outcome of any game. Whilst there is some skill and strategy involved, the game is ultimately reliant on the luck of the cards. That’s why you can, and sometimes you will, lose several hands in a row. It’s scenarios like these that make betting systems such as the Martingale dangerous!
However, you can increase your odds against the house in a number of ways when you play blackjack. Firstly, if you manage to perfect your card counting skills, you might find your advantage over the house rise significantly, although you'll find it very difficult to count cards at an online casino, as the numbers are usually generated randomly each time. You can also choose to play games such as ‘late surrender’ which has a lower house edge to begin with. Just learning a basic strategy chart can deplete the house edge and give you much better odds of winning. Be careful though – when playing in a land-based casino, strategy charts most likely won't be allowed.
Time To Put These Tips to The Test?
Now you know your Martingale from your Fibonacci, you understand which moves to make in which scenarios, and you’ve heard how card counting could spell success when you play blackjack. So, is it time to put your newfound knowledge to the test? Check out our top rated online blackjack sites to get started.
Where can I play free blackjack games for fun?
Take a look at our top rated online casinos offering free blackjack games right now. Our recommended sites all boast a great variety of games, good security measures, excellent customer support and a wide variety of available banking options.
Do I have to download anything to play free games?
You can choose to play free games via an app, which will require a download, but you don’t have to. If you’d prefer, you can use mobile casinos in your web browser on mobile, or you can play online via your web browser on your desktop computer.
Can I play free online blackjack with other players?
Free blackjack games are generally played against the computer. If you move on to real money play, you can try live dealer games which do allow you to compete against other players.
Are there free mobile blackjack games and apps?
Yes, there are plenty of ways to enjoy free blackjack on your mobile. Choose from a wide array of mobile blackjack apps or play online via your favorite mobile blackjack casino. Take a look at our recommended free blackjack sites for all the information on the best ones for mobile users.
How can I switch to real money blackjack games?
If you’re ready to take the plunge to real money blackjack, you simply need to sign up for an account at your favorite online casino and deposit the amount you’d like to play with. You can then play in just the same way as you would have played free blackjack games. Remember, it’s best to decide on a total spend you’d be comfortable with before you start playing. Never bet money you can’t afford to lose.