How to Win at
win at blackjack
you. All you have to do is
follow a few simple gambling rules while playing this fun game and
the odds of winning can swing in your favor. Of course it helps to
have luck on your side. This article will help you make your own
luck - avoiding the simple mistakes and approaching the game like
Are you ready to begin? Great, then
lets get started.
Rule #1 - Learn how to
play your cards.
Learning to play your cards
correctly is the first thing you must do if you want to win at
blackjack. In addition to helping you win, there is another
important reason for mastering this part of the game. Unlike some
other table games, with blackjack it isn't just you against the
dealer. It is you AND every other player at the table against
the dealer. And if you play your cards like a beginner (a
"newbie"), you will lose your money and maybe cause the other
players to lose their money too. When that happens, they may just
leave the table OR scold you and ask you to leave the table.
Learning to play your cards the right
way takes a big stress factor out of the game. Your play will
be smooth and confident, knowing you are doing what you can
to tip the odds of winning in your favor without sitting and
thinking about it. The other players, assuming they know how to
play the game, will appreciate the fact that you are playing your
cards the right way and not infringing on their chances of winning
Strategy Chart on your right is pretty much the agreed upon
strategy to use for correctly playing your cards. Your play is
based on the cards you are dealt (along the left hand side), the
dealer's up card (across the top) AND the belief that the dealer's
down card is a ten. As
an example, lets say you were dealt a six and a ten (jacks,
queens and kings all count as ten as does the ten of each suit)
for a total of 16. Looking at the chart, you can see it shows you
should stand on your 16 IF the dealer's up card is a two, three,
four, five or six BUT take a card if the dealer shows seven or
higher. Can you lose by doing this? Of course you
can! That's the nature of gambling. But you will increase your
chances of winning by just following this strategy. That's what
this chart shows - the best play based on the odds of winning. If
you decide blackjack is your game, study and memorize this chart.
Once you learn how to
play your cards correctly, you will see lots of ways of
how NOT to play cards by others. In one of my recent
blackjack "experiences" the man on my right split every
pair of tens he got dealt - every time. Sometimes he won
but usually he lost. The lady on my left and I both shook
Then she did something just as
bad. She got dealt a pair of Aces and didn't split them
because she "hadn't done well splitting Aces earlier". She
took a hit and got a face card (a ten) for a 12 count. She
took another hit, got another face card and went bust with
Let's go back to the two players in
my story. The guy splitting 10s did exactly the wrong thing
if you go by the chart which says ALWAYS stand or stay on a
hand totaling 20.
Since Aces count as a one or an eleven, depending on how
best you can use them with the hand you were dealt, always
split a pair of Aces and hope for a pair of tens or face
cards for two 21 hands.
Now that you have the Blackjack
Strategy Chart before you and have decided to take the time to
study and memorize it, you should be ready to win big - right?
Well not quite. Would it surprise you to know that most if
not all casinos in Las Vegas sell pocket-size blackjack strategy
cards like that above in their gift stores? And most even allow
you to use the card while playing the game? That should convince
you that there is more to winning at blackjack than just playing
your cards right.
And that leads me to the second
Rule #2 - Card Playing
This is related to Rule #1 but it
occurs so often, it deserves its own rule. Play your cards
(card playing discipline)! Let me explain. Let's say your first
two cards are a three and five for a total of eight. You take a
card (a hit) no matter what the dealer's up card is (it's on the
chart). You get another five and now have a 13. Now the dealer's
up card comes into play. Let's say it is a nine. You take another
hit and get a deuce for a total of 15. Now what?
Don't do what so many players
do and stop there just because you now have four cards.
Don't sit and think about it, hem and haw or look to others for
advice. It doesn't matter how many cards you have in front of you
- you still have a 15 with the dealer's nine showing so take
another hit. Once you have taken the time to learn the basic card
strategy, gamble that way consistently. The dealer doesn't have
any decisions to make. He or she has to play consistently because
the house tells them how to play. And the house says take
a card on 16 or under, stand on 17 or higher. It
is not that unusual for you to have four or more cards in order
to get a "good" hand".
guy I mentioned above was playing his pairs of tens
consistently. The trouble is he was consistently WRONG.
Don't split 10s - EVER. And the lady who played the pair of
Aces sometimes the right way and sometimes the wrong way got
what she deserved. I'll say it again - you always split Aces
hoping for two 21 hands.
So to summarize this rule: play your
cards the right way consistently. Don't worry about how many
cards you have to take or what happened the last time you split
Aces, or eights or anything else. Following this rule adds to
your confidence and shows others you know how to play the game.
Casinos love players who don't follow this rule and gamble at 21
the wrong way.
Rule #3 - Find The Cold
You don't see this rule talked
about much by the "experts". But every time I have searched for a
cold dealer, found one and sat down to play - I made money.
Just like you and I, dealers have hot
and cold streaks. And just like you and I, when they are cold they
are REALLY cold. I'm not talking about winning a hand or two,
losing one, winning the next three, losing the next two, etc. I'm
talking about a streak of 10, 12 or more losing hands in a row.
That's how you can make some real money.
There is no better place to shop for a
cold dealer than Las Vegas. Your chances of finding one or a few
cold dealers are better when there are a larger number of dealers
to pick from. Trying to find a cold dealer among a small number of
blackjack tables may be difficult. You may get lucky and find one
but cold dealers can be a small percentage of total active
coldest dealer I ever saw was a lady dealer at Circus Circus.
She couldn't get a winning hand to save her butt - going bust
hand after hand. When she didn't go bust (go over 21) she was
getting 17s or 18s. The players at the table were having a
blast. The pit boss (being no fool) placed her at the lowest
stakes table in the casino where she could do the least
damage. Just one problem...
were no empty spots at the table. And
to make it worse, it was full of "players" who were putting
down the minimum bet, winning the hand, pulling back their
winnings and leaving the minimum bet there for the next
hand! What a waste.
had better luck at the Lady Luck (now the Downtown Grand Las
Vegas) in downtown Las Vegas. This dealer was so cold, he was
getting nervous about losing his job. It was great fun for me
and the other players. Our winning streak (his losing streak)
went for several hands before he finally won a hand. This is
what you are looking for. This cold dealer could have easily
started another long losing streak after winning one hand. I
had to meet up with someone so I took my winnings and left.
When you shop for a cold dealer, don't
be concerned with how the players are playing or what cards they are
getting. Concentrate on what cards the dealer is getting and make
your decision to sit or move on based on that.
If you are going to
play blackjack at the higher stakes tables ($25
and higher), you can be pretty sure the dealers were placed there
because they are on a winning streak. And if they really are on a
winning streak, you had better be red hot!
Rule #4 - Bet Smart To
In this last section I want to give
you some guidelines on how to bet. This won't be specific
because I don't know your money situation, how much you set
aside per blackjack "session" or what risks you are willing to
Developing your own betting
strategy, one you can be comfortable with, is most important.
Your goal is to be playing with the casino's money as soon
as possible. How do you do this?
First, assuming you understand and are
following the first three blackjack rules, you want to be
steadily increasing your bet as your winning streak continues.
When you first sit down, it may be okay to play the first few
hands with the minimum bet just to convince yourself you really
do have a cold dealer on your hands. But don't stay in this
mode. If you won with a $10 bet, bet $15 on the next hand. If
you win, go to $20 or $25.
Second, the fast path to making money is to
take advantage of every opportunity to split pairs or double
down. The Blackjack Strategy Chart shows you 50 double down
situations and 52 split pair situations. Learn them all and
follow them consistently.
Third, don't bet so much money per hand that
you won't be able to take advantage of every double down or
split pair situation that comes your way. Let's say you have a
$40 bet on the table and get dealt a pair of eights. You are
always supposed to split eights but would you plunk down another
$40 and feel okay about it? What if you split eights and your
first card is another eight. That's a $120 bet. This is not that
Fourth, set a limit per blackjack session - one
you can live with if you lose it all. And don't go over that
limit. You have done everything you can to win but some things
are out of your control. Maybe the dealer got on a hot streak.
Or another player sat down and stopped your winning streak cold.
Or some player(s) didn't take a hit when they should have or
took a hit when they shouldn't have.
Last, but not least, know when to leave the
table and end your blackjack session. If you are up a few
hundred and things go against you. Don't hang in there and give
it all back . Take a break for awhile then go scout for another
table, even if you have to leave and go to another casino.
have to factor all of these things into your own personal
blackjack betting strategy. The last thing you want to do is
leave the blackjack table feeling terrible because
things "got out of hand" and you lost lots more than planned.
Wishing you the
very best of luck at the blackjack tables.
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