How to beat the house in blackjack?

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Blackjack is one of the oldest casino games out there. It originated in French casinos in the 1700 hundreds. It was back then called “21”, this is also the aim of the game, getting as close to 21 as possible. You start off with receiving two cards in the start it could be a 5 and an A which gives us a total of 16, A counts as an 11 or 1 depends on the other cards in your hand. The dealer also draws two cards, but only one of these cards has the face side up. (Crescent school of gaming and bartending, 2019)

It is to this day still a very popular casino game both online and at land-based casinos. This is due to the player having an impact on the outcome of the game. We can compare it to another old and popular game, roulette. Each time the wheel spins in roulette there is an equal chance for the ball to land on every number, and it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the previous game was.

The same concept is also true with slot machines, where each spin is different it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the previous game was, even though it sometimes seems like you have a feeling when you are going to get a big win on a slot machine. In blackjack it is different, here we play with a deck of cards, so when for example a 10 is pulled out of the deck, then there will be less remaining 10s in the deck compared to the other types of cards, in other words, the outcome of previous games matter, and this is what makes blackjack are really enticing game for many players.

This is the reason why you in the game of blackjack mathematically can win more money than you lose if you play correctly. Personally, my interest in blackjack was first spiked in a math class about statistics, where our teacher told us that if you had to play a game at a casino it should only be blackjack. So, I went home, watched the movie 21, did some research about basic blackjack strategy and how to count cards in the, and I was instantly hooked on the game of blackjack, because everyone’s dream is to beat the house, right?

Basic Blackjack strategy

But how can you do it? First of we have to talk about basic blackjack strategy, which is a strategy that was invented back in the 1960s where they had the computer running millions and millions of blackjack games, and in that way calculating what the optimal way to play was on each hand. The left side of the chart shows the values of your hand, and at the top, we see the possible card that the dealer is showing, then all you have to do is follow the rows and columns and then find out what the best play in that situation is for you. For example, you get a 5 and an 8, combined that gives you 13, not a great hand, but the dealer is showing a 6 so the optimal play here would be to stand, and hope the dealers go over 21. (Jones, 2020)

Counting cards

This brings us to the art of counting cards. We start off with giving every card a value:

2-6 = +1

7-9 = 0

10-A = -1

Then we just start counting every card dealt in the round, including the other players’ cards and the dealer’s cards. We do this for every round in what is called a running count, so if all the cards shown in the previous round ended up with a count of -2 then we start from -2 the next round and so on. Ideally, we would want the count to get as high as possible, the benchmark I used when playing blackjack and counting cards was around 10 then I would play.

This also depends on how many decks are back in the shoe, the little plastic thing to the side of the dealer which holds all the cards. Because most of the time we are not playing with only one deck of cards but multiple. This is where the true count comes in. (Jones, How To Count Cards, 2020)

The true count is calculated by this formula. The true count is important because if the running count is 7 and we have 6 decks remaining, then we as the players wouldn’t have that great of an advantage compared to if the running count was 7 again but only with 3 decks or 2 decks remaining.

The reason for this working and giving the player an advantage returns us back to the rules of blackjack. The house gets an advantage in blackjack due to it being the players who is playing first and possibly busting out, getting over 21, and even if the dealer also gets over 21, then the player still loses.

We can look at an example, we are the only player at the table vs the dealer, we get a 7 and a 5, which gives us a total of 12, the dealers up card is a 6, now it might seem like a good idea to hit, but if the count is high, then there is a higher probability that we would bust out and go over 21 than if the count was low, and since the dealer has to at least draw another card from the deck, he/she has to draw another card up to 17, then it would be better for us to stand on this hand when the count is high.

To sum it a bit up the house will have the advantage when the count is low, since the dealer will have a better chance to get closer to 21, and when the count is high, the likelihood of the dealer going over 21 is significantly higher. A high count also gives you a bigger chance of landing a blackjack.

I hope you learned something about card counting in this post, if you want to try out your newly learned skill then head over to FindFairCasinos to find the best blackjack casino for you!

reference list

Crescent School of gaming and bartending. (29. May 2019). The History of Blackjack. Hentet fra crescent.edu: https://crescent.edu/post/the-history-of-blackjack#:~:text=The%20origins%20of%20Blackjack%20is,were%20popular%20at%20that%20time.

Jones, C. (17. June 2020). Learn Blackjack Strategy. Hentet fra blackjackapprenticeship: https://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/blackjack-strategy-charts/

Jones, C. (17. June 2020). How To Count Cards. Hentet fra blackjackapprenticeship.com: https://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/how-to-count-cards/

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