Are you getting inconsistent results at the blackjack table? Do you feel like you’re only losing money while playing blackjack?
Dive deeper into blackjack strategy to optimize your gameplay by picking the right kind of blackjack games, betting smarter, and building your confidence.
Here are 15 ways to get better at blackjack:
Learn basic blackjack strategy.
Use a blackjack strategy chart.
Practice card counting.
Take a seat in a later position.
Check the table minimums and maximums.
Set a budget and stop loss point each time.
Understand special table rules.
Follow proper etiquette.
Start with smaller bets and work your way up.
Base your bet sizing on card values on the table, not on a winning streak.
Don’t pay attention to other players at the table.
Always check the dealer’s up card.
Don’t be tempted by insurance bets.
Avoid tables with continuous shufflers.
Read the playthrough requirements for all casino bonuses.
Learn Basic Blackjack Strategy
Take your blackjack game to the next level, beyond just guess work. Study the basic rules, including the card values, bet sizing, positioning, and decision-making (hitting, staying, splitting, doubling down, surrendering, taking insurance, etc.). Read books on blackjack to learn the ins and outs before moving onto advanced strategies.
It can even be helpful to return to basics and refresh yourself on foundational strategy even if you’ve been playing for a while.
Use a Blackjack Strategy Chart
It can be a challenge for beginner blackjack players to remember the best blackjack strategies. A blackjack strategy chart breaks down each move to make for different card combinations and dealer up cards. Use this tool to memorize these decisions and improve your blackjack strategy.
You can always keep the strategy card handy when playing blackjack online. But when you’re at a land-based casino, you may be able to keep the strategy card with you but you probably won’t be able to place it on the table (as you’re not allowed to put anything on the table).
Practice Card Counting
Counting cards is the practice of keeping track of which cards have been played and which are still in the deck. This method helps you better calculate your odds of winning each hand. Despite what you may have seen in casino movies, counting cards is legal and it’s not cheating. However, most casinos do frown upon it and may stop you if you get really good. Like, really good.
Take a Seat in a Later Position
Blackjack is played clockwise from the dealer. The farther away from the starting position you sit, the more time you have to review your hand, the dealer’s hand, and your strategy card. That way you can make a strong strategic decision.
Check the Table Minimums and Maximums
Always check the minimum and maximum wager limits for each table or online blackjack game so you’re only playing blackjack games that are in your budget and can yield you the returns you’re looking for. In land-based casinos, there’s usually a sign on or near the table that lists the max and min bets. At an online casino, you can find the min and max on the room’s information screen before you hit the table.
Set a Budget and Stop Loss Point Each Time
You should always determine how much you’re willing to lose before you start playing blackjack. Consider only having that amount in your bankroll online or on the casino floor to prevent you from spending more than you can afford. Have that amount in mind and set that (or a lesser figure) as your stopping point — the point when you walk away from playing blackjack to avoid chasing down a losing streak.
Understand Special Table Rules
Some tables have specific rules for when you’re allowed to make certain decisions, like doubling down and splitting. Make sure to read the rules before you start playing any online blackjack, and ask questions when playing in the casino — the dealer is there to help.
Be sure to see how many decks are being played at once, too. This helps you make more strategically sound decisions and keep the count.
Follow Proper Etiquette
Many casinos don’t let you touch your cards. Others require you to use hand signals and/or verbal commands when wagering, splitting, hitting, doubling down, or staying. Spend a little time observing how others play or ask the dealer for a rundown. In an online blackjack game, however, there’s not much etiquette to follow except make your decisions in a timely manner when playing live blackjack.
Start With Smaller Bets and Work Your Way Up
When you sit at a new table or enter an online blackjack game, start with small, conservative yet smart bets. Think of it as a warmup, figuring out whether the table is “hot” or “cold” — meaning whether players are winning or losing more frequently. It’s also a low-stakes way to pick up the count in a live casino.
Base Your Bet Sizing on Card Values on the Table, Not on a Winning Streak
Now this tip is a tricky two-parter.
Some blackjack betting strategy calls for you to start increasing your bets once you hit a winning streak so you can take advantage of the deck turning your way. But other blackjack strategies suggest staying more conservative and just wagering based on the card values on the table, not what happened in your previous hands.
Ultimately, you have to pick which works better for your bankroll and skill level. Beginner players might consider sticking to more conservative bet sizing until they really learn advanced blackjack betting strategy. More experienced players can play around with adjusted bet sizing based on winning and losing streaks to find that balance between risky and smart play.
Don’t Pay Attention to Other Players at the Table
Other players may try to give you advice, telling you whether you should hit, stay, or even surrender. Like in other online and live table games, you should just nod and then stick to your strategy guns.
You should also not focus on the decisions that other players make. Good or bad, you just need to focus on what your strategy card or blackjack training tells you.
Always Check the Dealer’s Up Card
Some novice players focus too much on their own cards and forget that they’re playing to beat the dealer. So, make sure you’re always checking the dealer’s up card when making the decision to hit, stay, split, or double down,
Don’t Be Tempted by Insurance Bets
Insurance is when the dealer offers a side bet to a player when the dealer’s up card is an Ace. Essentially, you’re making a “safe” bet in the case that the dealer’s face-down card has a value of 10 and they get a blackjack. This bet is meant to offset if/when you lose the hand. It’s usually half your original wager, and you could win 2-to-1 if you take insurance and they have a blackjack.
It makes the most sense to take insurance when you’ve been counting cards. That’s because if you’re good at counting cards, you probably have a really good idea of whether they’ve got a blackjack. Otherwise, you should avoid taking insurance if it’s offered to you.
Avoid Tables With Continuous Shufflers
A continuous shuffler shuffles the cards after each hand. That helps the casino deal more hands per hour, which makes them more money but puts yours at risk more often. While wagering more often means you’re getting more chances to win, it also means you’re risking more of your bankroll.
A mechanical shuffler only shuffles after half the deck has been played, so the hands go by slower and you’re not wagering as much. Look for those tables or those where the cards are shuffled by hand. Likewise, you can also play at tables with more people, which also slows the hands down.
Read The Playthrough Requirements for All Casino Bonuses
Many online casinos offer new players bonuses just for signing up. Whether it’s a no-deposit bonus or first-deposit bonus, you can play some of your first blackjack hands risk-free. However, you have to meet playthrough requirements (an amount of your own money you have to wager) before you can claim winnings you got while playing on bonus funds.
When it comes to blackjack, many online casinos limit the amount each wager on the game counts toward meeting the playthrough requirements. That means you have to wager more of your own bankroll to get your prize. That’s why we generally recommend playing bonus funds on slots, where the casino typically counts every wager 100% toward your playthrough requirements. Check out our reviews of the online casinos in New Jersey, including what their playthrough requirements are for new player bonuses.