How to Beat the Dealer in Blackjack
If you already know how to play blackjack but aren’t sure how to beat the dealer – this article is for you. We know the best way to kick it in every casino game including blackjack, and we’ll teach you!
How to Beat the Dealer in Blackjack
This question was asked multiple times during the history of the game, and here we’ll answer it fully and completely. There are many ways to help you win, but none of them ensures that you’ll have the upper hand. All these methods might only give you a slight push and allow you to exploit your own strengths behind the blackjack table. First of all, let’s figure out how to beat the dealer in blackjack without pointing a gun at them.
Blackjack as a game uses math in its very core. The game was developed in a way that gives a dealer a slight but steady advantage over players and thus allows him to profit from the game. It’s the thing with casino games: the owner puts real money in and expects them to come back and bring friends.
The house edge of blackjack depends on the combination of ten factors, including the number of decks used, blackjack payout, the ability of the dealer to hit on soft 17, ability of the player to split on any two first cards, etc. It ranges from approximately 0.4% with all the beneficial rules in power to 2.4%, which is when players have the least advantage. We don’t believe anyone will ever dare to offer such a blackjack to the public though.
In any case, there is no variation of the game with a negative house edge percentage, which means that even if you’re following the optimal strategy, you’ll more likely to lose in the long run. You should remember that optimal strategy is quite a thing to memorize since it’s pretty extensive. You’ll have to remember your actions for each possible outcome and follow the directions, fighting for every hundredth part of a percent.
The basic blackjack strategy does increase your chances to win, but it’s still not enough. Betting strategies are of little help here, since they don’t work, and, yes, we’ll keep saying that until everyone understands.
Betting strategy works only if you’re lucky, in the same way as just plain betting works. If you’re not lucky while using Martingale, for example – you’ll reach the table limit without a win and waste your bankroll. And if you’re lucky you just don’t need any betting strategies. But, as we already said, the game of blackjack is a purely mathematical game, and the only way to beat the dealer in blackjack is to exploit some hidden possibilities.
Card Counting Is the Only Way
First of all, we should say that you can beat the dealer in the long run only if you’re counting cards, and this is only possible in land-based casinos or in live-dealer games at online casinos. The reason for this is quite simple: you can count cards only if there is a physical deck (up to eight of them, actually) from which the cards are drawn. Real dealers draw cards from a shoe, and if you see the process, you can count the cards that are being drawn and adjust your play according to the results. A dealer can shuffle the shoe anytime, especially if someone suspects you in card-counting, but that isn’t the problem usually. As for online-casinos with their automatic blackjack – its mechanics are entirely different from the real-life game.
The digital shoe used in the game is always full of cards, which means that when you draw one card, the computer doesn’t deduct it from a shoe – the card remains there. It helps to maintain the house edge on the originally designed level and keep the game profitable for online gambling venues.
If you use card-counting on top of the optimal blackjack strategy, you’re likely to have the upper hand almost every time you play.
Which Cards Are Worth Counting?
You could have guessed that when we’re talking about card-counting we don’t mean that you have to just count the number of cards in a shoe. You’ll have to do that too, but it’s only a part of the greater plan. Most popular movies where card counting appears present it in the form of something miraculous or available to geniuses only. The greatest example is the film “Rain Man,” where the main character is a genius mathematician and that’s why he can count cards from the 6-deck shoe.
You should understand that there’s a huge difference between blackjack and most other games of chance like, for example, roulette and craps. Blackjack is actually a sequence of dependent events, which means that the steps you took before, affect the outcome that you might get in the following rounds. In roulette, for example, each game round is a fully independent random event, and the results of the previous rounds don’t affect the following ones. In blackjack, each round is also random, but the range of cards from which the random one will be drawn changes with every round, affecting the odds.
So, why do we even need to count cards? That’s because when a card gets drawn from the deck, you change the odds and can calculate your chances to win. For example, the high cards (aces and 10’s) are more profitable for the player, since they’re the only way to get a natural blackjack, and it pays 3:2 for the player. On the contrary, when the dealer gets blackjack, the player only loses his bet. That’s a clear advantage we have here!
Except for that, high card benefit the player because they help to win when one splits high cards or doubles. The dealer cannot either split or double. If the insurance bet is available by the table rules, it makes high cards even more profitable for the player.
As for the low cards – the more low cards (3s, 4s, 5s, 6s) there are – the better are the odds for the dealer. The dealer has to hit unless he has hard 17 or more, and if there are more cards allowing him to get blackjack after hitting on 15, 16, or 17 – the odds are lower for the player.
And, at last, the middle-value cards (7-9) don’t affect the play much and therefore we don’t need to count them.
The Actual Method
We’ve explained everything and there’s no need to wait any longer so, here it comes: the art of card counting. Again, we don’t need to count every single card in the deck. Instead, you’ll need to assign a value to each type of cards. The easiest system for beginners is called Hi-Lo and in it, you’ll have only negative, positive, and zero value. Cards of each type have their EOR (Effect of Removal), which is the effect on player’s odds done by the removal of the card from the deck.
Imagine that when the shoe is shuffled and no cards were drawn yet, the deck value is 0. Let’s say, the first card drawn is the ace of spades (no Lemmy intended). This means that the deck’s value (AKA running count) is now -1. If the queen of hearts follows the ace – the count will be -2, meaning that the player’s odds to win in the next round are a bit lower than they were. If the ace and the queen are followed by a nine – the count remains the same. If next comes the six of clubs – the count increases by one and becomes -1 because the removal of the low-value card from the deck makes it a bit more profitable for the player.
There are many different systems. Some of them are way more intricate, like the ones where you need to assign a specific value to specific card ranks. You may have cards worth +2, -2, + and – 0,5, etc. Some professional players advise counting aces separately since they have a significant impact on the game and there are just 32 of them in the deck. So, to count cards you should first master the optimal blackjack strategy and then learn one of the counting techniques.
Don’t forget that unnecessary complication won’t do you any good. You may actually win more monies by playing by the simple Hi-Lo method but doing more hands per hour than following the intricate system and counting every rank but playing slowly.