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Play Blackjack Like a Pro | Blackjack

November 25th, 2013

Play Blackjack Like a Pro

By: Rich McHagans

Blackjack is known as the king of all games simply because it is the most popular casino game in the world. In part due to its popularity as well as because of its deceivingly simple play, blackjack is also the most researched game in the casino world. The complexity of the game is due in large part to the variability of probabilities in different hands and even at different stages within a hand. That is to say, the odds of winning change with the composition of the deck.

In a game of blackjack, the house advantage can be brought down to around 1 percent, provided the player follows certain rules. These set of rules are referred to, rather irreverently as ‘Basic Strategy’, and it is this owing to these guidelines which gives blackjack the reputation of one of the most fair games played at casinos.

Basic Strategy Therefore the first tip with regard to a strategy in blackjack pertains to learning this ‘Basic Strategy’. A new player must learn this before getting into a real game of blackjack. Basic Strategy is a mathematically precise formula that is an indicator of the best decision, be it a hit, stand, double, split or surrender which the player makes in a given situation.

It is easier to learn basic strategy by following color-coded charts. Such charts are available in books as well as for free online. The charts are focused around the main actions that can be taken by a player. So there are charts for split pairs, for double down and there are hit or stand charts. In almost all charts, the action is colored red and this is the key to learning the basic strategy.

Intermediate Strategy Having mastered the basic strategy, the player can adopt the ‘wagering’ or ‘money management’ strategy. Among all the different wagering schemes, the one’s that minimize losses are ‘The consistent-wager system’, The Margingale System, Labouchere and Oscar’s Grind. However, players just initiated into the game must remember that they must master the basic strategy first because the intermediate strategies can be effective only if players can count on winning and losing an equal number of hands. Without perfecting your basic strategy if you get into memorizing how to play each hand in each specific situation, in an attempt to implement an intermediate strategy, you will only maximize losses.

Advanced Strategy Advanced strategies in Blackjack, include: card counting, clump reading and shuffle tracking. These enable a player to even the odds at casino blackjack. Card counting is often discouraged but is totally legitimate and can dramatically influence a player’s winnings. In card counting, the player keeps track of the cards dealt. A card counter can predict when the odds are in his favor.

Another method is clump reading. The decks have a great degree of clumpiness at the start of the game. This is because it is difficult to shuffle the new card decks very greatly for randomness in just a brief minute or so. Hence long spells of like cards get dealt after the initial shuffle. This clumpiness decreases after several shuffles are made. The strategy is to get a seat next to the dealer’s left hand side. If the player can track the streak of cards (count the highs and lows) he can make changes to the basic strategy. Then he should try to get into the last position that is next to the dealer’s right hand so as to be able to see all the other player’s cards.

Blackjack is a game which requires a certain degree of self-education. It is relatively easy for beginners to learn the basic game strategy by employing the color coded charts. Unlike many other casino games, mastery of these basic strategies can go a very long way to improving one’s odds, whereas intermediate and advanced techniques provide only marginally better results.

Rich McHagans is a blackjack expert.

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