How To Increase Your Chances In Blackjack

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I’m not an advantage player nowadays. I gamble recreationally, but my background as an advantage player gives me a perspective on gambling that I think is helpful to the average player.

I realize that there are several types of gamblers. One type of gambler is the person who goes into a casino and just wants to turn their brain off. They’ve brought a certain amount of money, and they want to enjoy their time gambling, drink their free drinks, and just get away from it all for a little bit. I can understand this perspective. My wife accuses me of seeing mindless movies, and my response is, ‘I just spent the whole day going over spreadsheets and documents, I just want to turn my brain off and enjoy the popcorn.’

I just want to be ‘stupid’ for a little bit.

Increase the stake to $ 100. The next hand should also be a winning one, which means you can cash in a lot more than you invested. Always remember that although blackjack requires certain skills, it is still a game of chance. Don’t just focus on the profits you can get from playing blackjack; You risk being disappointed. Blackjack strategy is about using probabilities to determine how any action you take will affect your chances of winning a hand. This is done by comparing the probabilities of all the possible combinations of cards that could be dealt, and determining how these combinations would impact the final outcome of the hand. A “blackjack” is a 2-card hand totaling 21 – it’s always a hand made up of an ace and a card worth 10 points. In most casinos, a blackjack pays off at 3 to 2 odds. This means if you bet $100 and get a blackjack, you get $150 in winnings. But in some casinos – at some tables – blackjack only pays off at 6 to 5 odds.

I call these gamblers the ‘vacation’ gamblers because gambling to them is a little vacation. They want to get away from the daily hustle, if just for a little bit.

There are more gamblers of this type than those gamblers care to admit. Those gamblers are sometimes shamed into the closet, but if my observations at the blackjack table are accurate, these type of ‘vacation’ gamblers are the majority of gamblers. I mean, how many times have we seen a person stand on a 14 to a dealers 10 or a person hit a hard 16 on a dealers 6 up?

There’s nothing wrong with gambling just to get away. Even at the worst play style, you might be at a 5% disadvantage against the house. Roulette is worse than that.

For these gamblers, giving advice such as, ‘get a basic strategy chart’ is not realistic. The advice must be the type of advice that requires almost no effort.

So in that spirit, I want to start a series of tips known as Stupidly Simple Tips that Require No Strategy.

The point of this series is to give genuine tips that are so absurdly simple that people rarely ever talk about them. They sort of overlook these tips because they’re so obvious, or actually, sometimes, they’re not so obvious because they’re right in front of your face and you looked past it.

So here we go…

Four Stupidly Simple Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning at Blackjack That Require No Thinking


This is one I see quite often. Guy steams, and slams his entire stack into the betting circle. Then he gets an 11, or worse yet for him considering his predicament, a pair of aces.

So now he has a dilemma: either play the hand out and hit the 11 and the aces, try to sell off one of the aces, or pull out more money. Either way, he is giving up a huge advantage if he does the first two options.

The third option is more of a cost-benefit analysis type situation. I’m never a fan of pulling out more money at the table unless you go in with a strategy to do so. The problem with pulling out the extra money to double down is that if you lose the hand, you will almost surely play the rest of the money. It’s bad bankroll management. If it wasn’t your intention to play an extra buy-in, then you will have increased your hourly expected loss by playing an extra buy in. So before you pull out that extra bill, ask yourself honestly, ‘was I really going to buy in again?’

If you’re honest with yourself, you probably didn’t anticipate that happening, so whatever answer you give to yourself is irrelevant. Just don’t do it.

So let’s talk about the remaining two options, playing the hand out without a reload (meaning you don’t double down or split). The best option depends on the hand. If it’s a pair of aces, then you should ask someone at the table, ‘hey do you want to partner with me on this hand?’ You can agree that you will split the wins and losses equally, or you can each pick an ace to be your own. For example, say, so the Ace of diamonds is yours, the Ace of spades is mine. For something like a pair of aces, it’s practically guaranteed that someone will incorporate with you because everyone intuitively knows that a pair of aces is so powerful.

Actually, for something like a pair of aces, the advantage is so high that I might even go so far as to say, pull out that extra bill. But remember, be honest, you most likely are going to gamble that extra bill, if you lose.

If the hand is a double down hand, don’t incorporate. You derive no benefit from sharing with someone, but you lose the benefit of hitting again if you want to hit again.


All the above can be avoided if you just follow this tip: do not ever bet your entire stack; rather, bet half, so that you can double or split, if needed.


When it comes to gambling, in general, your statistically most probable result is a loss. Remember, you are playing a game that favors the house. You are at a disadvantage. So given enough trials – whether those trials be spins of the while, rolls of the dice, or hands dealt – you are more likely to meet the expected result, which is a negative result.

Each hand in blackjack, as per the average and common rules in the US, has a house advantage of .5%, if played with perfect basic strategy. Let’s say you play poorly and the house edge on you is 2%. While 2% sounds high for a blackjack game (it is), it’s still far better than many games on the gambling floor. So don’t feel bad. You’re still doing way better than that guy over there in the corner playing roulette perfectly.

At a 2% house edge, if you are betting $10 a hand, you are expected to lose 20 cents per hand. That’s less than a game of Spy Hunter at the arcades when I was a kid (for us older kids). So if you play 100 hands of blackjack, an hour, that’s going to cost you $20 an hour. If somehow you could slow down the game and play only 50 hands an hour, then that ‘free’ cocktail is only going to cost you $10 an hour. So would you like to pay $10 or $20? The obvious answer is to pay $10 an hour.

How do you slow down the game? By sitting at a full table. Since the dealer will have to contend with other players, it will take time to get to you.

This helps you win because not only do you pay less per hour but also because you have far fewer trials (hands) you have a greater probability of meeting the expected result, which is a loss.

TL;DR Play at a full table to slow the game down, resulting in a smaller expected hourly loss and a greater chance of winning.


If given the choice, and given that the same or similar rules apply to a double deck versus a six-deck game, you want to play at a double deck game versus a six or eight deck game. The reason is that the more decks are involved, the greater the house edge.

In Las Vegas, the best double deck games are confined to the high limit rooms. Outside of Las Vegas, there are quite a few tables that have excellent rules.

So if you don’t want to think, then before you sit down at a blackjack table, first make sure that it’s a 3-2 game and not a 6-5 game, and then ask the dealer this one question: can I double after a split?

In my entire 30+ years of playing blackjack, I have never seen a bad double deck game where you were allowed to double after a split. Every double deck blackjack game where you can double after a split is a good blackjack game, assuming it’s a 3-2 game and not a 6-5 game.

TL;DR If you see a double deck blackjack game, ask the dealer, ‘can I double after a split?’ If the answer is yes, then it a great game.


Have you ever watched an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The guy in the hot seat gets stuck on a question, so he polls the audience. The audience will usually get the answer right; not always, but usually. Sometimes they’ll get it wrong, but it’s not debatable that the audience gets the answer correct more often than if the contestant guessed blindly.

This is known as crowdsourcing. When you do not know an answer, the crowd is generally going to be able to answer a question more accurately or more intelligently compared to you. The earliest observation on crowdsourcing was done by Francis Galton. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Francis Galton and crowdsourcing:

‘In 1906, visiting a livestock fair, he stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 participated, but not one person hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds.

Galton stated that “the middlemost estimate expresses the vox populi, every other estimate being condemned as too low or too high by a majority of the voters”, and calculated this value (in modern terminology, the median) as 1,207 pounds. To his surprise, this was within 0.8% of the weight measured by the judges. Soon afterward, he acknowledged that the mean of the guesses, at 1,197 pounds, was even more accurate.’

In other words, when all the guesses were calculated and averaged, the average was more accurate than the individual guess.

Even the CIA has dabbled in crowdsourcing. If it’s good enough for the CIA, then it’s good enough for you. So when you don’t know the answer, be like the guy on Who Want to Be a Millionaire: poll the audience and ask the people at the table. Just ask, out loud, what should I do? People’s fear of you ‘taking the dealer’s bust card’ will compel them to answer (this topic is a future entry).

From my personal observations, the people at the table will not give you an answer that comports perfectly with basic strategy. Most of the time, they’ll actually be wrong. However, my second observation is that while people are generally wrong about basic strategy, they’re generally more correct than a person who has no idea of what they’re doing. So given a choice, you should ask for advice on what to do, rather than guessing blindly.

TL;DR The people at the table will generally be able to more accurately give you a correct decision than if you were to blindly guess what to do. So ask.

Again, here is a caveat because I know quite a few blackjack aficionados and experts are rolling their eyes. My objective here isn’t to get you to play perfect basic strategy; rather it’s to get you to do the least amount of damage to yourself at the table, which will then result in a greater chance of winning. There’s a lot of advice out there for people who are well versed in basic strategy. Many articles exist on how to extract the extra .01% out of a game. But from what I see at the blackjack table, the vast majority of people do not follow the basic strategy or any other type of optimal strategy. So for those players, much simpler advice is warranted and needed. These ‘vacation’ players – who want to take a break, turn off their brains, enjoy their free drinks, and chit-chat with their buddies – need much simpler advice. They’ve been ignored for too long.

I hope this guide helps you if you are that kind of player.

Posted in: Blackjack, Casino, Gambling

One of the most appealing aspects of blackjack is that there’s some element of skill involved. With many casino games, you are entirely reliant on luck, but with blackjack your actions affect the outcomes of hands.

Blackjack is still a game of chance; it’s just that luck isn’t the only factor that determines whether or not you win or lose.

What this means in practice is that you can actually improve your chances of winning. More accurately, in fact, it means that you can decrease your chances of losing.

Every decision you make, such as whether to hit or to stand, will have a direct impact on the result of a hand.

If you consistently make the correct decisions, you can reduce the house edge to a level where the casino’s advantage is almost obsolete.

On this page we explain how basic blackjack strategy can help you make correct decisions each and every time you play.

We explain how it works, how to use it, and we provide a sample strategy chart. We also look at a few blackjack strategies that don’t work.

How Blackjack Strategy Works

You have some information to work with every time you have a decision to make at the blackjack table. You know what cards you have, and you can see one of the dealer’s cards. Based on this information, it’s possible to work out the probabilities of what could happen next.

This is because there’s a fixed number of cards in the decks, and a fixed probability for each of those cards being dealt.

Blackjack strategy is about using probabilities to determine how any action you take will affect your chances of winning a hand.

This is done by comparing the probabilities of all the possible combinations of cards that could be dealt, and determining how these combinations would impact the final outcome of the hand.

Once you know how the different actions you can take will affect your chances of winning, you can then choose the optimal one. There’s always a correct mathematical decision to make, and taking it enables you to keep the house edge to the absolute minimum.

That is essentially the whole point of blackjack strategy.

The problem with basic blackjack strategy is that it’s not always easy to establish the correct decision accurately. There are some complicated mathematical calculations required.

Unless you’re a genius, there’s a very small chance of you being able to make those calculations every time you play a hand. Thankfully, you don’t have to make any calculations.

Blackjack strategy has effectively been solved, and turned into a defined set of rules.

These rules tell you exactly what action you should take in any given situation, based on the cards in your hand and the exposed dealer card.

By following them, you can apply basic blackjack strategy without using any math at all. All you have to do is learn the rules.

Given that there are hundreds of different situations you can find yourself in at the blackjack table, learning the rules for what to do in each one isn’t necessarily easy.

It might be pretty obvious that you should stand if you have 20 and the dealer is showing an eight, but situations such as having 12 when the dealer is showing a three are perhaps not so clear.

If you want to apply basic blackjack strategy perfectly, then you need to know what to do in every possible situation. This is where the use of strategy charts comes in handy.

A blackjack strategy chart is a matrix that shows all the possible combinations of your hand and the dealer’s exposed card. It shows the action you should take when facing each combination.

These charts are based on the correct rules for employing basic strategy, so if you do what the chart says, you’ll be making the right decision every time.

The following is an example of how a strategy chart looks. Along the top you have the dealer’s card, and down the side is your hand. Each individual cell shows what action you should take for the relevant combination.


The chart includes a key for the action each symbol in the cells represents.

You’ll notice that some of the actions are dependent on certain rules. For example, splitting is the right decision in some situations only if you are allowed to double after a split. This is because there are variants of blackjack where some of the rules are different.

The perfect strategy will vary depending on the exact rules of the blackjack variant you are playing. The chart shown above is the correct strategy for playing an eight deck game where the dealer stands on soft 17.

A few decisions would be slightly different if you were playing another game. These differences are, however, very marginal. If you follow the above chart for any variant, you will still play close to perfect hand.

Please be aware that even applying perfect blackjack strategy doesn’t mean that you can beat the game in the long run. The odds are still against you; it’s just that you’ll have reduced the advantage of the house to a minimal level.

Therefore, you stand a much better chance of winning more hands than you lose during a single session.

There are a few blackjack strategies that, for some reason, are popular among players even though they don’t work. These are as follows:

  • Mimic the Dealer
  • Never Bust
  • Assume a Ten
  • Progressive Betting

Mimic the dealer is a simple strategy where you simply act in the same way as a dealer would in any situation. You would never split, double, or surrender, because these options aren’t available to the dealer.

How To Increase Your Chances In Blackjack Games

Basically, you would just hit on less than 17 and stand on 17 or higher, regardless of the dealer’s exposed card. This isn’t a good strategy at all, because splitting and doubling can be very advantageous to the player in the right situations.

Never bust is an equally simple strategy.

How To Increase Your Chances In Blackjack Game

You just never hit if there’s a risk of going bust, so you always stand on 12 or higher. While this might seem like a safe approach, it actually increases the house edge.

A ten strategy works on the basis that you assume the next card will always be a ten, and that the dealer’s unexposed is a ten. Players often work on this assumption due to the fact that cards valued at ten make up around 30% of the deck (remember jacks, queens, and kings are all valued at ten).

However, 70% of the cards aren’t valued at ten, so you are still more likely not to get a ten. As such, this strategy doesn’t really work and increases the house edge.

Progressive betting is increasing or decreasing your bet size based on the result of your previous bet. This is a strategy that can be used in any form of betting, and there are several different progressive betting systems in existence.

They don’t have any effect on the house edge, because your chances of winning or losing a hand don’t change based on how much you bet.

How To Increase Your Chances Of Winning Blackjack

They can also be very dangerous, particularly when aligned with systems such as the Martingale where you keep increasing your stake after a loss. One bad run can result in the loss of your entire bankroll.