Blackjack is a game of aggression. It involves direct combat between you and the casino. To win consistently you must learn to use the best blackjack weapon. This weapon is what will reduce the house edge and make you a winner. The dealer, on the other hand, is essentially defenseless. He or she cannot call upon an arsenal to defeat you. The blackjack dealer is restricted by a certain set of rules. Think of it as hand-to-hand fighting with an opponent who has one arm tied behind their back.
But what is the best blackjack weapon? Is it basic strategy? Is it card counting? Is it good bankroll management? Let’s take a look at all three in order to determine the most valuable tool you can use to win at live and online blackjack.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
Without question, the first weapon you must learn to use at the blackjack table is basic strategy. If all of the tools were arranged in the form of a pyramid, basic strategy would form the base of the structure. No matter what skills you possess, all of those skills are worthless unless you are able to make the right play each time.
Learning how to execute basic strategy in a real blackjack game takes practice. It is a skill that must become intuitive. You must learn to recognize certain situations and essentially act on them without thinking. For example, basic strategy dictates that splitting a pair of tens is always a bad move. When you look down and see that you have been dealt two tens, the response to that should be automatic and require no thought. You wave your hands over the cards and stand.
But, the reactions to all hands are not so clearly defined. What if you have a hard 12 against a dealer’s 6? Do you hit, stand, or double? There are plenty of charts that will recommend what your play should be in this situation, but are they all accurate? What you will come to discover is that there is another blackjack weapon that can enhance your execution of basic strategy.
For many years, card counting has been the preferred weapon of the professional blackjack player. This skill is used by someone who literally makes their living at the blackjack table. These are the players who depend upon a steady stream of profits from the game of blackjack in order to survive.
Card counting involves tracking how favorable a deck or shoe is to the player. Contrary to what many non-blackjack players believe, it does not involve keeping track of every single card in the deck and how many of each remain, although some counting methods do require you to keep track of aces separately.
By assigning a point value to high and low cards and balancing those values out as a game is in progress, the player begins to get a picture of how many 10s and how many low cards remain in the deck. Using a plus or minus designation, the player evaluates the deck in real time as the game is being played. A positive number means the deck is in the player’s favor. A negative number means that it favors the house.
There are many card counting methods to choose from, most of which are explained here on Counting Edge. The novice should choose a simple count and perfect his or her skill before moving on to advanced methods. But, even when one becomes an expert card counter, is this blackjack weapon enough? To continue the pyramid example, card counting would sit atop the base of basic strategy and form the middle section.
Finally, the capstone of the pyramid is sound bankroll management. This is a very effective weapon because it helps to dictate how much money you stand to lose when the cards are not falling your way. To play blackjack without a money management plan is to throw your money blindly at the table and hope for the best.
Counting Edge has long recommended that you have a starting bankroll of 50X the table minimum. This means that you need $250 to sit down at a $5 live table, or $50 to play blackjack online with a minimum bet of $1. If you choose to play with less than the recommended amounts, your chances of a profitable session decrease.
For this blackjack weapon to work, you also need to have very strict win and loss limits. These can be a matter of personal discretion, although you will find many different suggestions in blackjack books written by professionals. The key point is that not knowing how much you can afford to lose or how much you should walk away with when you win is a recipe for disaster.
Which Blackjack Weapon is Best?
The short answer to this question is that none of the aforementioned weapons are best when used alone. The most deadly blackjack weapon is a combination of all three. When you learn to use them all in tandem, the result is a deadly trident that will make you a fearsome player.
If you happen to prefer online blackjack, you will find that some weapons are not as practical as others. Card counting, for example, has limited effectiveness online because the deck is randomly shuffled after each hand. Money management may be a far more important skill when playing online. Even so, you can use your online blackjack sessions to practice your card counting and become more proficient.
As we mentioned above, basic strategy should always be the foundation of your skill set. Practice at home at every opportunity until you can visually associated the right play with the cards you have been dealt. You must act on instinct.
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