Blackjack is one of the most profitable games in the casino when it is played correctly. Winning at blackjack involves more than just basic blackjack strategy and card counting. It also involves a proper blackjack betting strategy. Here are some tips that beginners can use to improve their chances of success at online and offline casinos.
Understanding Blackjack Betting
Before one begins to play blackjack online for real money it is important to understand the betting structure of the game. Knowing how bets are placed is crucial to success. You cannot sit down and play blindly without understanding what you are betting on.
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The betting action at blackjack begins with a minimum wager. You can bet more than the table minimum but you cannot bet less. In a live casino the table minimums can be as low as $5 or they can be $10 or more. On the weekends and at busy times in the casino the table minimum goes up as the casino tries to maximize its profit per hand.
When you play blackjack online you will find games that are offered for as little as $1 per hand. Right away this should reveal to the beginning blackjack player the advantage of playing online. Therefore, the first blackjack betting strategy tip that Counting Edge will propose is playing blackjack online if you are new to the game.
Why play for less when you are a beginner? Because your blackjack skills are still being developed. You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. By keeping your bets low as you learn to play the game you will lose less money.
Once you have made your minimum wager the cards are dealt. You will then have the opportunity to act on your hand. At this stage of the game more bets may become possible. You could have the option to split, double, or take insurance. All of these will require an additional wager.
Splitting, Doubling, and Insurance Blackjack Bets
Let’s take a look at all of the different types of blackjack bets that can occur after the cards have been dealt to the players and the dealer.
A split is possible when you are dealt a pair of cards on your first two cards at the blackjack table. A common example is 8-8. You can elect to split these cards and receive a new card on each. This requires you to place a bet equal to your original wager in order to cover the new hand. When this bet is placed the dealer will split the cards and place a new card on each. You will then play out both hands according to the standard rules of blackjack.
A double is when you have a total that you think can be improved to a winning hand with one extra card. The most common totals that a player will double are 10 and 11. Blackjack betting strategy dictates that the player should always double down on a total of 11. The goal is to get a ten to make a total of 21.
When you double you place an additional wager equal to the original one on the table. The dealer will then give you one additional card on the hand. If you double down you are not permitted to draw any additional cards that could improve the total that you hold. In some casinos it is also permitted for the player to double for less than the original amount. For example, if your original bet was $10 you might be allowed to double for $5. This is always a bad idea unless you simply don’t have the $10 to make the full wager. If you have confidence that the hand is worthy of a double down, double for the full amount.
Insurance is offered when the dealer shows an ace as his upcard. You can make an insurance bet that is equal to half of your original wager. If the dealer has blackjack, you will win the insurance bet at odds of 2-1, but you will lose your original wager. In other words, you will break even. If the dealer does not have a blackjack you will lose the insurance wager but the original wager may still be won if you have a total closer to 21 than the dealer when the game is over. In almost every case taking insurance is a bad bet.
Crafting Your Own Betting Strategy for Blackjack
When you start playing blackjack it can be tempting to just throw money at hands and hope for the best. This might work for a little while if you have a good grasp of basic strategy. It will ultimately fail, however, as the casino edge asserts itself. You must have a blackjack betting strategy in place before you start to play.
The first thing that you need to understand about betting for blackjack is that always betting the table minimum will get you nothing. The house edge will eventually catch up with you no matter how good you are at the game. When that happens you will lose money.
You must learn how to maximize your bets when you have the best of it. There are a few ways to do this. First, you can learn how to count cards. Card counting will give you an idea if the deck is favorable to the player or to the house. The second thing you can do is be aware of betting opportunities like the double down and how to take advantage of them.
When the deck is favorable to the players, your bets should increase. When the deck is cold, the bets should remain at a minimum. By doing this you will increase your chances of maximizing profits at the blackjack table.
No one blackjack betting strategy works for all players. Some of them do not work for any players. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples that may help you to choose which strategy will work best for you.
Successful and Unsuccessful Strategies at Blackjack Betting
One of the worst strategies ever devised for gambling is called the Martingale System. Those who use the system will argue with you until they die that the system is profitable. Smart players know that it has an underlying flaw that makes it unsuitable as a good strategy.
In the Martingale System of betting you are looking to capitalize on winning streaks while always insuring that the worst you can do is break even. You begin by making a table minimum bet. Let’s say $10. If you win the first bet continue to bet the minimum amount until you lose. When the first loss happens, your next bet is twice the table minimum or $20. If you win this hand, you go back to $10. If you lose the hand, you double again to $40.
Can you see the general idea here? You are always guaranteed to either win one unit or break even. That sounds pretty good, right? It is good until you encounter one of those streaks at the blackjack table that results in losing 7, 8, or 9 hands in a row. Those streaks do happen. Ask any blackjack player and they will tell you so.
So, let’s see what happens with the Martingale when you lose 5 hands in a row. Your first bet is $10. Your second is $20. Your third is $40. Your fourth bet is $80 and the final bet in the sequence is $160. Your heart sinks as you lose the $160, but you are not discouraged. You have the power of the Martingale System on your side! A win will come sooner or later and you will be even again. With a smug look you snatch up $360 in chips and slide them to the table, knowing that you have the big bad casino by the balls. You can’t lose.
Imagine your dismay when the dealer informs you that you have exceeded the maximum bet for the table. With a $10 minimum the maximum bet is usually around $200. That is all the dealer will allow you to bet on the next hand. You didn’t really think the casino would forget to build in protections against such a system, did you?
Bear in mind that the scenario we just described only requires losing 5 hands in a row at blackjack. That can happen with regularity. As you can see, the Martingale System is flawed.
A better blackjack betting strategy that we have written about at Counting Edge is known as the Up and Pull. In this system you begin with a bet that is twice the table minimum. If this bet wins you pull back half and the next hand is bet at the minimum. If you win this second hand your next wager is doubled. You keep doubling the bet until you lose a hand and then start the system over again.
The point of the Up and Pull is to lock in a small profit on your first win and look to maximize winning streaks. By locking in that first profit you are insuring that you’ll do no worse than break even if the second hand is a loser.
The Worst Strategy is No Strategy
Know this. The worst blackjack betting strategy is having no strategy at all. You must have some type of plan to conquer the casino. Otherwise you will lose again and again.