Blackjack, also known as “21”, is one of the most popular casino and card games in the world, and it’s available in almost every land-based or online casino. The game is favoured by many punters due to its lower house edge, which means players have higher chances of winning. But Blackjack is not a simple game, and it requires a lot of knowledge for a better understanding of its rules and to properly apply the correct strategies according to the hands at play.
However, many players disregard learning blackjack strategies and practicing at free-play games, and head straight to real money tables. This leads players to make serious mistakes that severely decrease their odds of winning. A blackjack mistake is considered to be any deviation from basic strategy that presents the worst mathematical expectations. Some of these mistakes are very clear, like hitting a hard 20, but some others might seem to be a good play and end up being a bust, so players should pay attention to a few simple points.
Not studying the strategy chart
There are many common mistakes made by beginning players, such as not splitting a pair of 8s, doubling down on 11 when the dealer is showing ace, or hitting on 11 when the dealer’s upcard is 10. These mistakes can be easily avoided by studying a blackjack strategy chart.
A blackjack strategy chart is a color-coded guide that shows when players should hit, stand, split, double down or surrender, based on the player’s score and the dealer’s upcard. Running along the left side are the player’s hands, and the dealer’s upcard runs across the top. Punters just need to scan down and find the best action for each hand. For instance, if a player has a hard 14 and the dealer’s upcard is a 7, the chart shows the best play is to hit.
Strategy charts are perfect for beginners and those playing online blackjack, since there’s no pressure to quickly make decisions. But in traditional brick-and-mortar casinos, the dealer must keep the game going in a timely manner, so players need to study and get a good understanding of the strategy chart.
Playing at 6:5 tables
This is more of a game selection issue than a basic strategy one, but it causes many players to lose money. Recently, many casinos started offering blackjack games with a 6-to-5 payout for a natural blackjack, instead of the traditional 3:2, with the promise of better deals for players.
But they’re not. A 3-to-2 ratio means that a $100 bet will get a $150 payout for a blackjack. And a 6-to-5 ratio on a $100 bet will only get a $120 payout for a blackjack. But the 6:5 payout also impacts the house edge. The usual house edge for blackjack is between 0.5% and 1%, but the payout change adds 1.5% to the house edge, which means that instead of losing an average $1 per $100 bet, players lose $2.50 on average over time. Besides, if a bet is not a multiple of 5, bettors only get the 6:5 payout on the amount divisible by 5, and any overage is paid off at even money.
As for online casinos, there are many different payouts and several themed and novelty blackjack games, so players might get confused when trying to choose one, but this casino games site helps players to find blackjack tables with the best payouts available.
Insurance and side bets are very attractive to beginners because they offer players the chance to break even and big payouts. But in reality, most of them are negative expectation bets.
With insurance, if the dealer is showing an ace, the side bet becomes available and punters get paid 2:1 in case the dealer has a natural blackjack. However, the dealer’s odds for hitting it are 9:4, which means the dealer won’t hit blackjack enough times to make this bet profitable.
Apart from this, with insurance and side bets, the house edge increases to over 7%, higher than games with poor house edges like American roulette, despite offering bigger payouts.
Trying to get close to 21
It is known that to win at blackjack, players must beat the dealer. But few people realize that hitting 21 isn’t the only way to do that. In fact, there are many situations when standing is the best course of action.
For example, if a player has a hard 13 and the dealer’s upcard is 6, the best play is to stand. Novice players tend to hit in a situation like this for being far from 21. But the odds of getting an 8 or an ace without busting are pretty low. And, as dealers need a hard 17 before standing, there are many card combinations that would cause them to bust.
One of the basic principles of blackjack is that punters must beat the dealer rather than going for a high score, so a good understanding of blackjack strategies leads to better decisions in situations with a low total.