Learn how to properly play online blackjack
Practice Blackjack and Learn to Count Cards: Tips & Strategies
Played at a basic level, blackjack is a simple game. But the better you get at it, the more complex it becomes. A blackjack strategy can help new players get past the beginner level – even to the point where they can consistently win money in casinos and online casinos.
Advanced techniques such as card counting and betting strategies can raise your game to a level where you can reduce the casino house advantage, further improving your chances of winning.
Anyone can learn to play blackjack. However, it takes practice to become familiar with the strategy and techniques for counting cards to apply them correctly under pressure.
This guide will take you through basic game strategy and show you how to count cards in blackjack. You will also learn the best ways to practice the strategy online and offline without losing money during the learning process.
Practice the Blackjack Strategy
A basic blackjack strategy is one of the first tools that motivated players need. The design guides your decisions depending on what cards you have in your hand and what cards the dealer has.
Our guide to advanced blackjack strategy explains how the following tables work in detail.
You have four main decisions to make on each hand:
- Surrender: Should you give up if the casino allows it?
- Split: If you have been dealt a pair of the same cards, should you split them?
- Double-Down: Should you double down?
- Hit or Stand: Should you buy more cards from the croupier or not?
The chart below is one of the most popular blackjack charts found online and shows you what to do – on every hand you are dealt. Whether you are playing blackjack for fun or real money: The Blackjack Table shows you what decisions you should make to get the best possible result.
The Split Strategy
When you are dealt a pair of the same cards, you have the option of splitting them. Splitting gives you two different hands that can exceed the value of the original hand. Not all cards can be split. A good blackjack strategy chart will show you when to keep your pair and split.
Always split two 8s because 16 is weak, provided the dealer can hold 16. Also, it would be best if you always split aces. If they remain together in hand, one ace is assigned the value one and the other 11. If you then buy a card in addition, you risk a bust. However, if you split the aces, each ace counts as one, and you have a good chance of drawing a new card with the value 10. Each higher-value card gives you a hand that is stronger than 12.
10s, on the other hand, should never be split if you have a pair of them in your hand. This is because the probability of you getting cards that count less than an ace is high. So you will probably end up with two weaker hands than the original strong 20.
The Double Down Strategy
Once you have been dealt your first two cards, you can see the dealer’s face-up card. You then have the opportunity to double your bet and get an extra card. Your and the dealer’s upcard will determine whether it is a good idea to double down. The following strategy chart shows you which hands give you the most considerable advantage so that you can double down and maybe win more in the long run.
For example, if you have a hard nine and the dealer has a face-up card of 6 or less (but not an ace), then you cannot bust with the next card. However, the dealer must move on to 17. This means that your chances of winning this hand are higher than the dealers. So it is common sense to double your bet to get a higher return.
However, there is no guarantee that every double-down opportunity will end in a win. But if you stick to the strategy, it should lead to more wins over time.
Already familiar with basic blackjack strategy? Read also Blackjack tips for advanced players.
Practice Blackjack Online
The secret to honing your blackjack strategy is to know it inside and out, so you remember every next step – even when you’re under pressure in a real casino or online. There is no substitute for practice. But of course, it is not desirable to lose money while you are practicing blackjack card counting online. Practicing blackjack online for free is the perfect solution for that.
Sign in at a casino that offers a handsome bonus with low turnover requirements when you feel ready to take your skills to the next level. Check the conditions to make sure you can use the bonus for table games, especially live casino games. The casino bonus gives you the thrill of playing for real money. And although you have to wager to get the bonus, the bonus will stretch your balance so that it adapts to your learning curve.
The advantage of online casinos is that users can play free blackjack whenever they want by using their bonus balance. So you have the benefit of easy and instant access. Because you are not tied to a single casino, you have a range of fabulous casino bonuses to choose from.
Practice Live Blackjack
You can play blackjack online to practice your playing strategy. But if you want to learn how to count blackjack cards, a live casino is the best option. Live casino blackjack online is played with a real dealer and in real-time.
To do this, you use high-definition video streaming. Live casino games are not usually free to play, but people can access the tables if they have an account. This way, they can watch other players. If you spot a player who has a good playing strategy, you can bet on them. This means that you bet on him to win.
If you are willing to test your strategy in blackjack and try your luck at card counting, a live casino gives you the closest experience to playing in a real casino. But don’t do this until you’re experienced in blackjack card counting. Live casino blackjack is played with eight packs of cards.
These best blackjack card counting systems will teach you how to provide ongoing winnings efficiently. It also teaches you to adjust your count to the number of decks in play.
Although it sounds complicated, any player with time and patience can learn how to count cards in blackjack. All you need is a counting system that makes sense to you and is easy to remember. Then practice until you know the system well.
How to Count Cards in Blackjack
Several card counting systems are based on the fact that the player benefits from high-value cards and the dealer benefits from low-value cards. Positive, negative, or 0 values are assigned to each card to allow for a continuous count. In this way, better decisions can be made based on the count.
The basic idea is to calculate the Effect of Removal. This affects the house advantage when a single card is removed from the game. To adjust the count to the number of decks in play, divide the running count by the number of decks still in the sled to arrive at the actual count.
Although this sounds very technical, learning how to count cards is not as difficult as it may sound. A few different card counting systems have been invented to help players estimate the probability of a successful outcome with their hands. This, in turn, influences the size of bets placed per round. This allows you to bet higher on hands with a high chance of winning and reduce the loss on weaker hands.
Counting systems differ in their complexity and accuracy:
- Basic systems, also called Level 1 systems, are easier to learn.
- But the advanced Level 2 and Level 3 counting systems, such as the Uston SS count, are convincing with a higher degree of accuracy. However, it is more difficult to play quickly with these complex systems.
- It is easier to perfect a simple blackjack card counting system than to master a complicated system piecemeal when you are just starting to count.
The Hi-Lo Count
The simple Hi-Lo method is one of the best-known and most popular card counting systems. In this level 1 system, you count aces and all cards with a value of 10 (including jacks, queens, and kings) as minus 1. Cards from 2 to 6 count as plus 1, where 7 to 9 have a value of 0.
So count all the cards on the table: you are betting small if the value is 0 or less. If the value is higher than 0, you have an advantage over the casino – so bet a little more.
Always keep counting, so don’t start from the beginning with new hands. If the count is positive, take the number of decks by dividing the count by the same. For example, if the count is eight and the deal pile in an 8-card slide includes four decks, four decks will be left. So divide your running score (8) by your decks (4). This will give you your actual count: 2.
The Hi-Opt 2 System
The Hi-Opt 2 system is one of the best level 2 counting systems. It provides a higher level of accuracy than most Level 1 systems but is not as complicated as a more advanced method, such as the Uston SS count.
With the Hi-Opt II system, cards 2, 3, 6, and 7 count as +1, while cards 4 and 5 counts as +2. 8, 9, and Aces have a value of 0. Jacks, Queens, and Kings are assigned -2.
Starting at 0, count all the cards dealt with by assigning point values, as shown in the table above. Convert the running count to the actual by dividing your weight by the number of decks remaining in the sled. If the result is positive, the cards are in your favor. So adjust your betting total accordingly.
The Uston SS System
If you are looking for an even more accurate counting method, the Level 3 Uston SS System is one of the best examples in this series. The continuous count is crucial in determining how high you should go with your bet. However, this requires you to calculate your starting value for the count, rather than simply starting at 0, as would be the case with simpler systems.
To determine your starting value, you estimate the number of decks in the sled and multiply that number by -2. For example, if there are six decks in the sled, your starting value is -12.
Once you have determined your initial value, set a value of +2 for cards 2, 3, 4, and 6. The 5 gets a value of +3, while the seven-count is +1. The 8 has a value of 0, the 9 -1.
10s and all cards higher than that are counted as -2. It’s hard to remember this complex system, but finding the initial value means you don’t have to find the actual count during the game.
Practise Blackjack for Free
Practicing a game strategy and card counting techniques for free is the best way to improve your game without losing your budget. There are countless resources online that you can use for blackjack practice.
As mentioned earlier, you can play online blackjack for free. Or you can take advantage of one of the many top casino bonuses offers to play with real money without using your own money.
Also, you can sharpen your skills by using a blackjack app to practice or by reading books on strategies or card counting systems.
Blackjack Software for Practice
If you’re in the process of learning how to count cards or perfecting a basic strategy, free gaming apps and counting simulators can be a helpful way to practice your skills. A range of blackjack practice apps is available in iOS and Android app stores.
We’ll mention just a few to give you an overview of what’s on the market:
- Blackjack Strategy Practice (in the Play Store): You test your reactions to sure hands and get instant feedback on your decisions.
- BJCounting (in the iOS Store): This app lets you choose a counting system to practice. Choices include Hi-Lo,
- High Opt 1, and High Opt 2, and you can test yourself for free or buy the ad-free version.
- One of the best blackjack software systems for the desktop is Casino Vérité. There are a few packages of these, with the advanced options quite expensive. However, they offer a complete practice system. This includes the software and a sophisticated card counting simulator. The Casino Vérité Basic System is free and can help you perfect your blackjack strategy. It also explains the Blackjack rule variations.
Blackjack Books to Practice
Strategy, card counting techniques, and the experience of professional players beating casinos worldwide – there are hundreds of books exploring these topics.
These are some of the most recommended blackjack practice books (in English):
- Big Book of Blackjack and Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder
- Dynamic Blackjack by Maverick Sharp
- Las Vegas Blackjack Diary by Stuart Pery
- Blackjack Secrets & Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong
- Blackjack Blueprint by Rick Blaine
- Blackjack Attack by Don Schlesinger
Practicing Blackjack in a Real Casino
Players have already been banned from real casinos because they suspected card counting. Blackjack card counting is forbidden.
So we do not recommend practicing your counting method in a real casino. Stationary casinos, however, offer another learning opportunity. One of the most fun ways to learn blackjack strategy and card counting without losing money is to watch other people play.
You can gauge the level of players by recognizing their strategy and practicing your card counting system, and see how you would play the hands that players are dealt. To put your skills and concentration to the test, see if you can keep up your consecutive counting throughout the slide.
Blackjack is a strategy game. The more “tools” you have, the better your long-term results will be. If you practice your strategy consistently, you will be well on your way to making the most mathematically profitable decisions based on the cards dealt with you and the dealer.
Card counting is the logical next step for players who have internalized the basic strategy for playing. If you want to take your game up a level, you need to consider the cards each other person at the table has the cards dealt in previous rounds and the number of decks in the sled. There are different card counting systems.
The key to using them effectively, however, is a regular practice.
In summary, learning a strategy and how to count cards will help you make better betting decisions and gambling choices. Practicing blackjack for free with an app or playing it online for fun is invaluable for saving money in the short term and winning more money in a long time.