The game is one of the simplest ever invented. The rules are few and there’s no physical effort involved in playing it. You just sit, look at a few cards and make your bets. That’s probably why it’s become one of the most popular casino games of all time. Of course everyone knows the House has an edge. That’s how it pays all the expenses for running the casino. Remember it makes no difference whether this is a casino in the real world or online. You still need people and a base. So common sense tells you that no-one beats the House unless they invest some effort. Put another way: if everyone could beat the House without breaking sweat, the casino would go out of business in a day. This produces the headline: no pain, no gain. You have to put in some study time to master the basic strategy.
So what is this strategy? Over the years, some serious math types did all the work for you. They calculated the best way to play all the card combinations and wrote them down in simple charts. If you were going to play in a real casino, you would have to learn all these rules. That saves you having to pause before every decision to check the charts. Not only would the other players around the table be less than impressed, the casino would probably suggest you leave. But playing online changes all that. You can consult the charts as often as you like before deciding which card to play. It may be slow but, if you get the strategy right for every hand, you just shifted the odds in your favor.
So what are these charts? The first gives you the rules on when to split a pair. The strategy changes depending on the value of the cards dealt to you and the value of the card you can see the Dealer holding. So it starts with the rule that you split a pair of aces no matter what the Dealer holds, and goes down to the choices when you hold a pair of 2s. The other two charts deal with hard hands and soft hands. A hard hand is when neither card is an ace and the strategy changes significantly depending on the card held by the Dealer and the table rules on when the Dealer must stand or draw. A soft hand contains an ace and is easier to play because you can always draw one more card without busting – this takes some of the pressure off the play. I started off by saying blackjack is an easy game but, like all games, you can play for fun or you can take it seriously and play to win. In this case, you are more likely to win if you learn the charts and can play the strategy without thinking. To really take on the House edge, you also have to become a card counter but that’s a whole new story because it does not work in a virtual casino. For now, focus on the basic strategy and start your winning blackjack career.