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Some Common Blackjack Strategies

Despite being a very simple game, a number of strategies for winning Blackjack have been developed over time. Without using any strategy, the house will have a 2% advantage over players. By employing common strategies, you can cut that advantage to under a half of a percent.

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Blackjack Playing Strategies

Try out this great strategies for beginners. When the total of a hand is 8 or under, the players should always hit because no matter what card they get, they will never bust. If the hand total is between 12 and 16 and the dealer is showing a 7 or more, the player should also always hit because the dealer is most likely to have a 10 not showing. Hands totaling between 17 and 20 should always stay, as the dealer will not hit a 17 and the risk of the player busting are also much higher.

If a player's hand totals 9 and the dealer is showing 2 to 6, the player should double down because the dealer will most likely have a 10 not showing, and will have to hit on 16 or less, making it more likely they will bust. A hand total of 10 should be doubled down if the dealer is showing 2 to 9, as the assumed additional values of 10 place the player's total about the dealer's. Hands totaling 11 should always be doubled down unless the dealer is showing an ace, as the most likely value of 10 will beat everything but another 21. If the dealer is not showing the recommended double down value, just hit instead.

Hi-Lo System

The most basic card counting method is called the Hi-Lo or High and Low system. In the Hi-Lo system, each card is assigned a numerical value. Cards 2 through 6 are considered low cards and have a value of +1. Cards 7, 8, and 9 are mid cards and have a value of 0. High cards of 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace have a counting value of -1.

The count starts at zero. Each card that hits the table affects the count. The cards that comprise a hand give the hand a total value. Players counting cards should read hand totals not individual card values for ease of tracking. For example, if the first player has an ace and an eight, the second player has a 5 and 4, and the dealer has a King and a 6, the hand values are -1, +2, and 0 respectively. These values together put the current count at +1.

Once the count is determined, the player now has a better idea of how likely they are to get certain cards. If the count is negative, the next card up is more likely to be a low card. If the count is positive, the next card up is more likely to be a high card. The more positive or negative the count, the greater the odds are that the indicated card will come up.

True Count

While the Hi-Low system certainly helps, it is important to know the true count for optimal advantage. The true count takes the number of decks remaining in the "shoe" into account when figuring the count. Depending on the type of game you are playing, the shoe may contain as many as 8 decks of cards.

The simplest way to determine the remaining decks in the shoe is just to eyeball it. Eyeballing the shoe requires a firm idea of what a deck of cards looks like and judging the remaining cards by the overall thickness. A second way is to count the number of hands that have been played, and allocate 3 cards per hand. Take the number of rounds times the number of players times the 3 cards per hand and you have a rough estimate of the number of cards already played.

Take the regular count you have and divide that by the number of remaining decks. A count of +8 with four decks remaining in the shoe denotes a true count of +2. The more the count is in your favor, the greater the odds are in your favor.

Betting Strategies

A common betting strategy of players tracking the true count is to increase betting incrementally with the count. At +1, the player should stick to their standard betting unit. At +2 or +3, the player should double their standard bet. A true count of +4 or +5 should be bet at triple the standard unit. The higher the true count, the more likely the player is to get the high cards, making high bets more safe.

The Paroli betting system is a standard system considered highly stable. The player first determines the number of wins in a row they continue on the system before resetting. The player than bets their base amount and if they win they double that bet on the next hand. The player doubles the bet after each consecutive win until they hit the reset point and start back over at the base bet.

Opposite of the Paroli system is the Martingale system. If the player using the Martingale system wins, the bet remains the same. The bet is only doubled following a loss. The bet is doubled after each loss until the player wins, starting back at the base bet. This strategy is guaranteed a small profit unless the player loses an infinite number of times.

The Parlay betting system is one of the oldest known betting strategies and works similarly to the Paroli system. The player decides what their reset mark is, but instead of doubling the bet after a win, the player instead bets the original bet plus the winnings from the previous winning bet.

A third common betting system is 1-3-2-6. This is a predetermined 4 part cycle of betting where after the first win, the player bets 3 of the base bet unit, and moving down the cycle for each successive win.

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