Card counting no longer works. Until relatively recently, many great blackjack players specialised in the complex art of card counting. They kept close track of which cards were coming out, so that they could anticipate which cards were still to come out.
This skill improved their chances of success.
They might not always get it right, but it was a hell of a lot better than playing blind.
Today, new casino game configurations prevent card counting from being effective. And if we focus on the online casino, the one we are most interested in here, it is directly impossible.
The reason for this lies in the characteristics of the online blackjack software, which draws randomly numbered cards. In other words, it’s like shuffling after every hand, which makes it impossible to count.
And if you’re thinking that live dealer online blackjack is different, you’d be wrong.
Although every online casino has its own strategies to prevent you from counting cards, it’s common to encounter the same impediments as in a land-based casino.
For example, cards are shuffled after each hand, formats of up to eight decks are used, and/or the shoe is changed midway through a hand, among other blocking methods.
Bottom line: don’t count cards.
Use other tactics to turn the game in your favour. Starting with basic strategy.
The basic strategy
Although the object of the game is to get close to 21, in reality, your goal as an advanced player is to beat the dealer.
Getting a blackjack is a win-win, but there are other ways to win.
It’s a duel between you and the casino.
Card counting is a good method although, as we have explained, the current conditions in land-based and online casinos make it difficult or impossible to practice.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t other strategies that can reduce the casino’s advantage and improve your chances. While it is not possible to predict with absolute certainty which cards will come up, it is possible to estimate the odds of doing well or poorly on a particular play.
So if you see that the dealer has a good hand, should you take a risk – double down, stand, call?
You can learn to manage that risk to your advantage by mastering the so-called basic strategy. It’s not elementary or simplistic. Nothing of the sort.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to learn complex statistical equations.
The basic strategy has been converted into convenient tables and today you only need memory and practice to get the hang of it. Or a printer, for that matter.
Below we show you the basic strategy tables according to the number of decks involved in the game.
To use them, just check which hand you have in the left-hand margin and see which card the dealer is showing in the top bar. The box where the two intersect will tell you which play is the most appropriate at that moment.
Basic blackjack strategy with a deck of cards
If you are going to play a game of blackjack with a single deck, pay attention to the following guidelines.
This table refers to games where any pair may double down, doubling down after splitting is allowed, and the dealer stands on 17 soft. Surrendering is not allowed.
In addition, in this model the dealer plays American style. This means that he can look at the hole card.
The European style of blackjack does not allow this manoeuvre by the dealer and, although it is the predominant game variety in land-based casinos and in online casinos the American version is the most frequent (or the most chosen when both are available).
- The dealer has an 8. You have an ace and a 5.
- You look on the table for the cross between the dealer’s 8 and your A-5. The table prompts you to Ask.
- You follow the instructions on the board and hit. The dealer gives you a 6.
- You add up your hand: 5 + 6 + 1 of the ace = 21 points. You beat the dealer!