You can find all kinds of so-called quick blackjack tips and tricks on the internet.
Most of them are worth the paper they’re printed on.
In other words, a lot of blackjack tips are useless and/or inaccurate.
What I’ve done with this post is put together the quickest and most important 13 blackjack tips and tricks for winning that you absolutely must know if you want to win money the casinos:
- Never Deviate from Basic Strategy
- Learn How to Count Cards
- Stick with Fun Tables Where You Have a Better Shot at Winning
- The 2nd-Most Important of All Blackjack Tips: Manage Your Blackjack Bankroll
- Treat Your Dealer Right
- Stay Away from Betting Systems
- Play Online but Forget about the Signup Bonuses
- Don’t Take Insurance Unless You’re Counting Cards
- Join the Players Club and Ask to Get Rated
- Don’t Drink and Play Blackjack
- Don’t Succumb to the Gambler’s Fallacy
- Avoid First Base, but Not for the Reasons You Might Think
- Set a Win Goal and a Loss Limit
This post has been completely updated and revised for 2020.
1- Never Deviate from Basic Strategy
But that’s only if you play using the correct strategy–basic strategy.
Players who just stick with their hunches face a much higher edge–4% or 5%.
What does that number mean?
Basic Strategy and the House Edge
The house edge is a statistical prediction of how much you’re going to lose on average for every bet you make. It’s a long-term expectation. In the short run, you’re going to see different results.
But once you get into thousands of hands, the average amount you’ve lost per hand will start to resemble that house edge figure.
In practical terms, here’s the difference between a 1% house edge and a 5% house edge:
If you average 70 hands per hour and play for $20 per hand, you’re putting $1400 into action each hour.
1% of that is $14, which is your expected loss per hour.
5% of that is $70.
Would you prefer to lose an average of $14/hour or $70/hour?
Also, who do you think has a better chance of walking away from the game a winner–the player expecting to lose $14/hour or the player expecting to lose $70/hour.
Basic strategy is easy to learn, but don’t make the mistake of deviating from it. The reasons players deviate from basic strategy are many.
But they’re usually lousy reasons, too:
Some players just have a hunch about which card is coming next. They ignore basic strategy based on that hunch. Sometimes they’re right because blackjack is a random game. They’re still going to lose more money in the long run than someone using basic strategy, though.
Other players think they’ve noticed a trend in one direction or another. Maybe they think the dealer is “due” to bust. Or maybe they think they’re “due” for a really good card. These ideas are just illusions.
Basic strategy is so important that you can safely ignore all the other blackjack tips on this page and start winning more often.
2- Learn How to Count Cards
Of course, if you really want to win at blackjack in the long run, you can’t face a house edge. Even if you’re playing in a really good game with a house edge of 0.26%, you’ll eventually lose all your money.
The house edge is like compound interest. It’s a powerful force.
But if you learn how to count cards, you can put the odds in your favor.
How to Count Cards in a Nutshell
Counting cards is easier than you think.
I can teach you a quick, easy, and effective card counting system right now:
Every time the dealer gives someone a card ranked 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, add 1 to the count.
Every time the dealer gives someone an ace or 10, subtract 1 from the count.
Decide on your betting range–1 to 4 units is common. Let’s suppose you’re betting $10 to $40 per hand.
When the count is negative or 0, only bet 1 unit, $10.
When the count is positive, increase the size of your bet by a number of units equal to the count. If the count is +3, bet the full $40.
This works because the odds change in your favor as the cards are dealt. If a lot of the low cards are no longer in the deck, you have a better probability of getting a blackjack, which pays off at 3 to 2.
That’s because the ratio of aces and 10s improves. And those are the cards which create blackjacks.
If you’re playing in a game using multiple decks, you must convert your count (the “running count”) into a “true” count to compensate for the extra cards in the deck.
You do this by estimating how many decks are left in the shoe. Then divide the running count by that number.
Base your betting decisions on the true count, not the running count.
3- Stick with Fun Tables Where You Have a Better Shot at Winning
More importantly, though, scout for tables with good rules. The house edge varies based on which rules variations are in effect at the casino.
You can find a survey of blackjack rules in Las Vegas here.
Las Vegas Blackjack Tables and Their Rules
The games with the lowest house edge can be found on the Las Vegas Strip, but you need to be willing to play for reasonably high stakes. The minimum bet on most of these games is $100, although the Bellagio has a minimum bet of $50.
The rules for these games give the house a tiny edge of just 0.26%. The rules in effect include dealing from just 2 decks. (You can’t really find a single deck blackjack game on the Strip in Las Vegas.) The dealers in these casinos stand on a soft 17, which is also favorable to the player.
They also allow doubling after splitting, which is also favorable to the player.
Other casinos and tables might have the dealer hit a soft 17, which increases the house edge. A lot of casinos are restrictive about when you’re allowed to double and/or split.
And of course, the more decks in use, the higher the house edge.
4- The 2nd-Most Important of All Blackjack Tips: Manage Your Blackjack Bankroll
What’s a bankroll?
It’s money that you’ve set aside from all your other funds specifically for the purposes of gambling. It’s money you don’t need for food, rent, or child support. This cash is pure entertainment money that you won’t miss if you lose it.
How big a bankroll do you need?
If you’re a basic strategy player, you just need enough money to cover the buy-in at the table where you want to play. Since the house has an edge, you’re going to lose your money anyway — if you play long enough.
If you’re a card counter, though, you need a big enough bankroll to minimize your risk of ruin. The bigger your bankroll is compared to the amount of your lowest bet, the less likely you are to go broke before your edge kicks in.
Blackjack Apprenticeship suggests that you have a bankroll of at least 200 units.
1000 units are enough to reduce your risk of ruin is only about 1%.
5- Treat Your Dealer Right
Some players just give the dealer a $5 chip once or twice per hour.
But there’s a more entertaining way to tip your dealer than that:
Place an extra bet for them on your next blackjack hand.
If you win, the dealer gets twice as much money for a tip.
And if you hit a blackjack, that $5 tip turns into $12.50.
This is not to say that you should tip a dealer who’s been rude to you or who’s provided poor service. I’ve dealt with some dealers who were downright surly. At this stage in my gambling career, not only do I refuse to tip such dealers, I complain to the floorman and/or the pit boss.
Tipping the dealer is a great example of the Golden Rule in action, though. Do unto others as you would done unto you. I’m sure if you were dealing blackjack, you’d want to get appropriate sized tips–especially if you’re trying to be polite and kind.
6- Stay Away from Betting Systems
Just to clarify, betting systems don’t include counting cards. When you count cards, you raise the size of your bets based on the composition of the deck. It’s data and math driven.
That’s not how most betting systems work.
Some people, for example, will try to use progressive betting systems to either raise or lower their bets based on whether they’re winning or losing.
The classic example of this is the Martingale System, which requires you to double your bet sizes after each loss. If you bet $10 on a hand, lose, then bet $20 on the next hand and win, you’ve won back your previous loss and made a $10 profit.
If you lose twice in a row, you’d bet $10 the first bet, $20 the second bet, and $40 on the 3rd bet. And if that 3rd bet wins, you’ve recouped your $30 in losses.
The problem with the Martingale is that it assumes your losing streaks will be short. It doesn’t take a very long losing streak before it’s impossible to make the next bet in the progression. You’ll either run out of bankroll or bump into the table limits.
The Martingale Systems Breaks at the Blackjack Table: An Example
Here’s an example:
A lot of casinos offer blackjack where the minimum bet is $100 and the maximum bet is $1000. How many times in a row would you have to lose before you bump into the table max?
You can only lose 4 bets in a row before it becomes impossible to make the next bet in the progression.
And even if you could make the next bet in the progression, you’d be risking $1600 for a net profit of only $10.
Yes, in the short term, systems like the Martingale might help you win some small amounts here and there. Those small profits are inevitably going to be eaten up by later devastating losses, though.
Other betting systems involve hare-brained schemes like starting out with larger size bets and lowering the amounts as you lose. The idea is to bet big when you’re on a winning streak and bet small when you’re not.
The problem with that kind of system is that it’s impossible to predict a winning or losing streak. They both happen, but only in hindsight. Every hand of blackjack is more or less independent of the previous one in this respect. (I say more or less because the composition of the deck does change, but the only way to take advantage of that is to count cards.)
7- Play Online but Forget about the Signup Bonuses
When you play blackjack online, you’re usually playing a game with superior rules conditions than you’d see at a land-based casino. The house edge for most online blackjack games, even those at low stakes, is well below 1% if you use basic strategy.
This makes online blackjack a better deal for most players. You’ll still lose in the long run, but you’ll get a lot of play for your money.
One marketing gimmick that a lot of online casinos use, though, is the signup bonus. This is where you deposit a certain amount of money, and then the casino awards you bonus chips of 100% or 200% so you’ll have more money to play with.
Most casinos don’t count wagers on blackjack toward their wagering requirements for these bonuses. Since a savvy advantage gambler could create a positive expectation for himself by claiming bonuses and then cashing out after doing minimal amounts of wagers, casinos have specific rules about how much gambling you have to do before cashing out.
One of the most important blackjack tips I can offer is to be sure you understand the differences between online blackjack and brick and mortar blackjack.
8- Don’t Take Insurance Unless You’re Counting Cards
Here’s how insurance works in blackjack:
It’s a side bet that the dealer has a blackjack, and its size is limited to half the size of your original bet.
If the dealer DOES have blackjack, the insurance bet pays off at 2 to 1 — which is just enough to cover your losses on your original bet.
The insurance bet is only available when the dealer has an ace for her upcard.
To look at why this is a bad bet, you just need to compare the odds of winning the bet with the payout odds.
Since you know that the ace is out there, you have 51 more cards in the deck — 16 of those are worth 10.
This means the probability of the dealer having blackjack is 16/51, or 2.18 to 1.
The payout is 2 to 1.
That extra 0.18 is where the house gets its edge on this bed.
But there’s an exception:
If you’re counting cards, and the count is positive, insurance can sometimes offer you an edge over the casino. Unless you’re counting cards, though, you’re better off just skipping the insurance bet every time.
In fact, it’s part of basic strategy:
Never take insurance.
9- Join the Players Club and Ask to Get Rated
They’re right about this, of course.
But you’re also eligible to get comps from the casino when you’re playing table games, too.
All you need to do is present your players club card and ask to be rated.
They’ll look at the average amount of your bet and credit your account based on that.
Also, the casinos assume that your hourly loss rate is based on the average player. By using basic strategy, you’re reducing your house edge to a point where you might even see a profit in the long run.
But it all starts with joining the players club and getting rated.
10- Don’t Drink and Play Blackjack
But for some reason, everyone thinks that because the drinks are “free,” it’s okay to drink and gamble.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The #1 faculty that’s affected by drinking alcohol is your judgment.
And that’s what will destroy your blackjack bankroll faster than anything — bad judgment.
Just say no to the free drinks.
Think about it. Would the casinos offer these free drinks if they weren’t making a profit from them?
Where do you think that profit comes from?
I’ll tell you:
They come from your mistakes.
11- Don’t Succumb to the Gambler’s Fallacy
It’s the idea that the odds will eventually even out to what they’re expected to be.
People who buy into the Gambler’s Fallacy might lose 7 hands in a row and decide to raise the size of their next bet because they think they’re unlikely to lose 8 times in a row.
But you’re not betting on losing 8 times in a row.
You’re betting on losing the next hand.
The previous hands don’t matter unless you’re counting cards.
Don’t fall for it.
Remember when I talked about the Martingale System earlier?
It’s based on the Gambler’s Fallacy, too.
12- Avoid First Base, but Not for the Reasons You Might Think
(Third base is the person who gets his cards last.)
Some people might think playing from first base is just bad luck.
Others think that they’re more likely to make decisions that affect the other players’ outcomes from first base.
The truth is that there’s no such thing as bad luck, and nothing you do affects the other players’ odds.
You should avoid first base because you need some time to think about your cards and what you want to do. If you’re in a rush because you’re the first player to act, you’ll make more mistakes.
13- Set a Win Goal and a Loss Limit
A win goal is just an amount you hope to win while you’re at the table. Once you’ve won that amount, it’s time to quit for that session.
A loss limit is the same thing but in reverse. It’s the amount of money you’re willing to lose at the table. Once you’ve lost that amount, it’s time to quit for that session.
Some gambling writers hate money management techniques because some uneducated gamblers think they can affect the odds of winning just by setting win goals and loss limits.
They’re right about that, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to have a strategy for sometimes quitting while you’re ahead.
Win goals and loss limits can be helpful when you’re trying to develop self-discipline.
Finally – Quick Blackjack Tips and Tricks You Can Use to Win, Summarized
Blackjack is one of the best games in the casino. If you use perfect basic strategy, you face the lowest house edge of any table game. If you learn how to count cards, you can get a mathematical edge over the house.
But don’t make silly mistakes like taking insurance, using betting systems, or thinking you’ll be able to profit from online casino bonuses at the blackjack table. Those strategies don’t work.
Those are really the only quick blackjack tips and tricks you need.