Gambling Tips

Playing Blackjack Smartly

Also called as Twenty-one, Blackjack is arguably the most popular and most played card game in casinos all over the world. It is easy to play, as the game mechanics are actually very simple. The main objective in Blackjack is to beat or outdo the dealer’s hand. This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Obtain 21 points on the player’s first two cards (this instance is called “Blackjack”), without the dealer getting a blackjack hand too
  • The player gets a higher score than the dealer in his/her final hand (without going over 21)
  • The dealer draws another card and exceeds 21

Sounds simple, right? This is perhaps one of the main reasons why Blackjack has become very popular; due to its simple mechanics, but exciting gameplay. Nevertheless, despite the game being simple at first glance, card experts and probability wizards have developed some techniques to improve the players’ chances of winning. Meet the MIT Blackjack team – if you haven’t heard of them yet, you’re probably very new to the game, or living under a rock. It was started by Bill Kaplan in the ‘80s, in Las Vegas, where he recruited MIT and Harvard students and former students to form a professional blackjack team.

Here are some tips based on the strategies that Kaplan’s team employed during their heydays.

  • Aim for 17 – Considered to be the safest and easiest score to get, 17 is a very good number to aim for in Blackjack. It is often called soft 17. Also, keep in mind to split 8s and aces as much as possible, and to double down when you score 11. When you get 17, stand hard on that score and you already have a high chance of winning that round.
  • Base your decision on the dealer’s shown card – If the dealer’ shown card is 7 or higher, do not settle for a score lower than 17 (e.g. a score of 16 or lower, like 14 or 12). When the dealer’s card shows a 7, keep in mind that there is a very high probability that his or her score is 17 or higher. Additionally, do not split on 10s or 5s as well, as this will most likely lead you to a bust.
  • Myths are just myths – Yes it can’t be helped to listen and believe in some myths or superstitions surrounding a certain game, especially betting games like Blackjack, as most believe that winning in it involves pure luck. Nevertheless, as Bill Kaplan and his professional card counter colleagues have shown, there is also a particular science behind it. Thus, do not ever believe in losing or winning streaks, or cold and hot tables or dealers. The best thing about Blackjack is that you can make your own luck. Always play with level-headed thinking, so avoid playing under the influence of alcohol, and do not get brash by over-betting when you suddenly have this impulse that you’re on “lucky time”. Also, avoid playing for very long hours, as this might overtask you mentally, and cloud your judgment and ability to make smart decisions.

All in all, Blackjack is not just a “simple” game per se; it is a smart game, so play it smartly if you want to win. Besides, how can a game be fun if you’re always on the losing end?

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