Understanding blackjack basic strategy will give players a significant leg up on those who have only taken the time to learn the fundamentals of the game. However, learning how to play blackjack like a pro requires players to have a grasp of advanced blackjack strategy. A touch more complicated than basic strategy (although ultimately far more rewarding), learning this form of blackjack gameplay is essential if you want to tip the odds in your favor, whether you play online or offline.
Throughout this guide, we’ll introduce you to advanced blackjack strategy, teach you the ins and outs of it, the difference between that and basic strategy, and set you up to start playing the game like a pro.
Having an Ace up Your Sleeve – Learning Advanced Blackjack Strategy
When playing blackjack, advanced basic strategy guides can give you an ace up your sleeve (in a manner of speaking), and help you reduce the casino’s edge. The strategy can also teach players when to hit or stand when to double, split and re-split, and when incorporated with a sensible betting system, can be used to devastating effect. All the pro blackjack players out there will have a good handle on advanced blackjack strategies. If you want to be one of them, you should, too.
Become a Seasoned Pro – Advancing Beyond the Basics
The first step on the tricky pathway to becoming a seasoned blackjack pro is to look at basic strategy. There are plenty of casino guides out there on the net, which can help you take the first steps in broadening your skills. However, once you have basic strategy nailed down, it is time to take things to the next level and learn blackjack advanced strategy. There are a handful of classic differences between the two types of strategy.
Critical Differences Between Basic and Advanced Blackjack Strategies
One of the most visible differences between basic and advanced blackjack strategies can be seen in the charts. Basic blackjack strategy generally uses a single, easy to follow chart. This chart can be implemented on all variants of the game, although with mixed results. By contrast, the rules of blackjack advanced strategy change from variant to variant. This means that several strategy charts exist, and each is specialized to deal with the rules of those individual blackjack variants, including the number of decks in use. Naturally, this makes them far more effective.
On top of that, almost every basic blackjack strategy will tell players to avoid insurance bets at all costs. Advanced strategy guides advocate taking insurance bets, but only under certain conditions. Those change from game to game, and each strategy chart will tell you precisely when it is in your interest to do so. Of course, all of this makes learning advanced blackjack strategy charts considering more taxing than getting to grips with basic strategy.
A Note On Counting Cards
Counting cards is something players using both basic and advanced strategies may wish to take advantage of. However, card counting is considerably trickier when using advanced strategies. In all blackjack strategies, you will need to “gauge” the types of cards which remain in the deck. If they are high-value cards, this favors you. If they are low-value cards, then the game is likely to be against you. Understanding true and running counts is essential, and you will no doubt have picked up these skills during your time studying basic strategy. It is vital that you have a robust grip on blackjack counting strategy techniques if you want to use this method when playing with advanced strategies.
Using Advanced Blackjack Strategy to Further Your Game
If you’ve learned the first steps of basic strategy and you have card counting down (even at a primitive level), then it is time to look at using advanced blackjack strategies to further your game. First, you may wish to identify precisely the type of blackjack variant you plan on playing. There will likely be an advanced blackjack strategy table already in existence for that specific game. Studying it as best as you can is a great start. However, there are few advanced strategy tips which are useful in many blackjack variants, and these may be worth considering, too.
Blackjack Advanced Strategy Tips – Things You May Wish to Consider
- The Time to Take Insurance
One of the main differences between advanced blackjack strategy and basic blackjack strategy is that the former advocates the taking of insurance, although only at specific times in the gameplay. Basic strategy tells you never to take insurance if the dealer has an Ace. If you’re a dab hand at counting cards, though, and you know that a generous helping of 10s is still in the shoe, it may be worth having a punt on an insurance bet. This is particularly true if your count is at +4 or higher.
- 16 Against 10: The Rule of 45
Basic blackjack strategies are usually inefficient if you have a hand made up of three or more cards, and totalling 15 or 16, and the dealer has a 10. As your hand is made up primarily of low-value cards, you will need further low-value cards to hit successfully, or risk going bust. The dealer, meanwhile, is sitting pretty on a 10 (and thus, cannot bust). In this circumstance, it is better to stand, even if it goes against your better judgement. At the same time, there is a strategy called The Rule of 45. This is essentially the same principle defined above, albeit with 16-point hand with a 4 or 5 in it, against a dealer’s 10. The outcome is the same – you should choose to stand.
- Have a Stab at the “Other Guy’s” Hand
Not many blackjack games allow it, but betting on another player’s hand is possible at some brick and mortar venues. What this involves is essentially buying the player’s hand. This is only advised when the player has blackjack, and the dealer shows an ace. After buying the hand, you then need to ensure that the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack. Consulting your advanced blackjack strategy chart should enable you to prosper from this “acquired” hand.
- Card Counting May or May Not Pay Off
Bear in mind that when counting cards, you’ll be looking for an inkling as to what cards remain in the show. If the remaining cards in the blackjack shoe are high cards (according to your count), then your luck may be in. If they are low cards, the house is in pole position. Consulting a blackjack card counting chart when starting out is advised so you can learn how to execute this practice successfully.
- Going Against What Your Learnt in Basic Strategy
As you will have learned from basic strategy, splitting a pair of 10s is a bad idea. You will generally have an 84% to 85% chance of success when keeping the hand as a 20. However, players who can count cards may want to refer to advanced strategy here.
If your card count tells you that the deck is loaded with 10s, it can be very advantageous to split a pair of 10s, as the chances that you’ll wind up with at least another 10 being added to one of your two hands is good. This is particularly true if the dealer already has a high hand, as they will likely bust if they draw another ten-point card. It sounds suicidal but putting this tip into practice can sometimes make the difference. If you can’t count cards, though, avoid it altogether.
- Splitting and Then Re-Splitting Duplicate Cards
One of the flaws with basic strategy is that it only discusses what to do with 2 cards against the dealer’s visible card. Splitting and re-splitting aren’t really on the menu with basic strategy. Advanced blackjack strategy goes beyond this. Should you find that you split a pair of cards and end up with a third card which is identical to the first two, advanced blackjack strategy advises that you re-split them.
- Hitting When Multiple Cards Appear in a Hand
There are times when blackjack advanced strategy can seem overly complicated, and one of those times is when you end up with an Ace and a low-value card. If hitting delivers further low-value cards and you end up with a Soft 18 against a dealer’s face-up 10-point card, it may be tempting to stand. Players are advised against standing on a soft 18 with multiple cards in the hand and instead should hit, as this avoids giving the house a 1%-3% edge.
- Always Play Multiple Hands in Moderation
Naturally, playing two hands at once as it appears as though you’re doubling your chances of success. Players should only play multiple hands sparingly, particularly if they aren’t very good at multi-tasking. Counting cards is hard enough without having to decide what to do with two or more hands at once. On top of everything else, it will cost you double the stake or higher, to play with two or more hands simultaneously.
- Low Card Deals: Figuring Out What’s Left in the Shoe…
Should you find yourself handed two low-value cards, and the dealer also has a low-value card on display, there is a good chance that many 10s remain in the shoe. Those 10s are cards that you’re going to want to get your hands on. When choosing a blackjack table in a brick and mortar casino, it may be advisable to join a table where there are already plenty of low-value cards already on the table, as this reduces the chance that you’ll be dealt them over subsequent hands.
- Positive and Negative Progressive Betting Systems Can Be Applied
A progressive betting system is a system of raising or lowering your bets, based on how much you may have won or lost during the last hand you played. Positive Progressive Betting Systems involve raising your stakes when you win and lowering them when you lose. By contrast, Negative Progressive Betting Systems will see players raise their stakes when they lose and lower them when they win.
While it is important to note that progressive betting systems cannot guarantee wins, they are designed to cut down your losses, ensuring that players will arrive close to breaking even, provided they have a significant enough bankroll to survive losing streaks. Blackjack strategy advanced betting systems can be used in coordination with gaming strategies to give you that edge. Learning these alongside advanced blackjack gaming strategies are recommended.
- Pre-Game Preparation: The Table and Bankroll
You should never go into a game of blackjack without knowing the basics of the table you are about to join. Players should identify the game being played, the house edge of that game, and table limits before they sit down and play. On top of that, they should also take note of whether one of their advanced blackjack systems is going to be useable (will they have time to implement it, for instance?) and whether their bankroll is enough to allow the use of betting strategies.
- When to Use The Doctor Pepper Rule
Like the Rule of 45, the Doctor Pepper Rule isn’t generally covered in basic strategy guides, and it occurs when the player has a 12, and the dealer has a 4. Your 12 could be made up of one of four possible combinations (10 and 2, 9 and 3, 8 and 4, or 7 and 5).
Holding a 12 which does not contain a ten-point card means that there are more 10s left in the shoe (and thus, a heightened chance of busting) than if you had a 12 with one 10-point card. In short, if you have a 12 consisting of a 10 and 2, you can hit with a lower risk of drawing a ten and busting. If your 12 consists of one of the other three combos, it may be better to stand.
- White Flag: Surrender When You Can
Some blackjack games, notably those which can be played online, may have a rule which allows a player to surrender. Surrendering essentially means that after checking if they have blackjack, a player can hold their hand (without making any further moves), and only lose half their bet.
When using advanced blackjack strategy, there are ideal times when to surrender, and when not to. On most occasions, if the dealer has an ace or ten shows, and the player has 16, you are advised to surrender. However, these rules vary from game to game and should all be covered with 6-deck blackjack advanced strategy guides, and many others.
Blackjack Betting Tips – Things to Note Before You Bet
There are also a few things that players may wish to keep in mind when deciding to bet on blackjack games. These do not compromise advanced blackjack strategies, and instead can be worked into the game alongside those strategies.
- #1: Think Carefully About Where You Wish to Sit
When choosing a table, the last seat is usually ideal. Known as the anchor seat, it gives you the best shot of seeing what has been dealt and gives you more time to count the cards to predict what remains in the shoe.
- #2: Dabble with Different Betting Systems
Sometimes a positive or negative progressive betting system may favor one type of game over another. Players are advised to learn both (and the differences between the two), and then chop and change them as required when playing blackjack.
- #3: Studying Payout Charts and Odds
This should go without saying. You should try and memorize the payout chart and study it. Obviously, this will be challenging as there are several advanced blackjack strategy guides out there. Pick the one which is applicable for your game and learn the odds. You will soon have a far better understanding of what your chances of success are as well as know when to hit and stand.
Blackjack Betting Systems – Can They Make a Difference?
Selecting a blackjack betting strategy is down your own preference (and budget). As mentioned, these can work alongside blackjack advanced strategy gameplay, and don’t really interfere with those strategies. Some of the most commonly used blackjack betting systems are…
- The Ever-Famous Martingale System
The Martingale System is a commonly used betting system, even if it can be used for all gambling games and isn’t specialized for blackjack. This betting system will see players double their stakes after a loss and reduce them following a win. However, the flaw with this system is that if you go on a losing streak, you could end up running out of moolah before you win again. This system is frequently used by most players trying out blackjack advanced strategy guides for the first time.
- Oscar’s Grind: The One You’ve Likely Never Heard Of
Oscar’s Grind is popular if trickier to use a betting system. Oscar’s Grind typically involves betting in cycles with a single unit (such as $1). Following any win, the player doubles their bet, until they have achieved a profit of one unit. They then restart the cycle over by betting a single unit. Following any loss, the cycle starts a new with a single unit bet. The significant risk associated with this method is that if you miscalculate just a single stake, it could ruin your system and cost you.
- Other Top Betting Systems You May Know
A few other betting systems can also be found and used to play blackjack. These are known to include the Manhattan Strategy, 1-3-2-6, Parlay, D’Alembert, and Paroli systems. Like studying card counting strategy charts, and learning advanced strategy, studying these systems well enough to implement them will take time and always comes with both perks and risks.
Advanced Blackjack Strategy: Our Verdict
You are never going to be a winner 100% of the time, but by studying blackjack advanced strategy charts, and using betting systems will get you closer to that goal. When the two are worked together with the tips listed above, they can see you gradually chip away at the house edge. This involves lots of work and can be frustrating at times, but if you want to play blackjack like a pro, this is the way to go about it. Using all three methods simultaneously can significantly affect how successful you are playing one of the world’s most popular table and card games.
One Last Note On Advanced Blackjack Strategy
Before diving into a land-based casino or trying your hand at the live dealer or online blackjack, we recommend a bit of practice. Opening free online RNG (random number generator) blackjack games can see you play without any risks attached. These demo games give you the time and space to practice advanced online blackjack strategy. When you’re ready to put those skills to the test, it is advisable to play online blackjack at first, as this gives you more time to think about what to do. In a brick and mortar casino, your reaction time will be greatly reduced. When it comes to learning and implemented advanced blackjack strategy, practice really does make perfect.