The Easiest Way to Play Blackjack

Want to know what the easiest way to play blackjack is?

Really? You want to know?

It’s quite simple.

Basic strategy.

Yes, I know, I’ve talked about basic strategy before, but some things you need to go over a few times before novices and hold-outs will finally give over and use it.

But the truth is that basic strategy is the easiest way to play blackjack—online or off. All you have to do is check what the chart says to do with the two cards in your hand when faced with whatever the dealer’s up card is. It is that easy.

Basic strategy is the best statistical plays for every hand in blackjack. So not only do you have to just to what the chart says to do, you also have the knowledge that this is the best possible play for you.

That’s what basic strategy does—give you the best possible play for your hand. Over time, just by following the chart—you can lower the house edge to 0.05%. Just by doing what the chart says—no fancy calculating or math. Just hitting when it says to hit and stand when it says to stand.

And basic strategy is legal to use in casinos. There is no fear of being thrown out or barred from using basic strategy. You can bring the chart with you to the table, sit right down and play with it.

Now when you think about it, what casino game offers such an easy way to play with such awesome benefits? Any blackjack player can have that chart and not only have an easy way to play, but have the ability to lower the house edge and not be breaking casino rules.

Seminoles Making a Deal?

It looks like the state of Florida and the Seminoles just might be reaching a deal that everyone can live with. Maybe.

This deal comes down to compromise.

From the looks of it the Seminoles would get to keep their exclusivity to blackjack and Vegas-style slots. But the pari-mutuels would get extended hours of operation, increased buy-ins at their poker tables and bingo style betting machines; there’s also the possibility that in the future pari-mutuels might get video lottery terminals as well.

Hopefully this would make everyone happy since the Seminoles would be getting their exclusivity. Having exclusivity is important to the Seminoles because the profits from their casinos are a very large chunk of the tribe’s livelihood.

The only hand up seems to be the video lottery terminals. The Seminoles want exclusive rights to those as well. But the pari-mutuels want them so that they have the feeling that they could compete with the Seminoles in terms of drawing a gambling crowd.

But a deal is going to have to be reached. The pari-mutuels are getting restless and the Seminoles are getting more and more irritated—both mostly from the three years it’s taken to even come close to a deal. And the state of Florida needs the income.

If this deal is agreed upon by the state and the Seminoles, it would put $450 million into the state’s budget. The money comes from licensing fees mostly. But Florida needs that money. Especially since the Seminoles’ contribution is allotted for education—and the money is badly needed for the state’s education programs and teachers’ salaries.

At this point we need to sit back, cross our fingers and hope that exclusivity to blackjack and slots is going to be enough for the Seminoles to agree.

Blackjack Logic

I’ve been thinking about this since I wrote my post this morning on what do to with a hard 16. By the end of that post I was working up to something I was referring to as blackjack logic. Unfortunately—or fortunately depending on how you look at it—I wasn’t writing a post about blackjack logic, but about hard 16. So I rewrote the end.

But now I pick up with that. Yes, I saved it for just a post such as this.

Basically blackjack logic is looking at the cards in your hand and looking at the cards the other blackjack players at the table have. Then you assess all these cards to try to form an idea of what sort of play you should make.

This by no means replaces basic strategy. In fact, I will say stick with basic strategy in almost all instances.

But for those hard hands that are so hard to play because you stand a high chance of busting if you hit and losing if you stand, this blackjack logic might make you feel a bit better.

This is worth trying if you’re a blackjack player who plays with basic strategy but doesn’t card count.

Look at those cards I told you to. Think about those cards and what they’re telling you.

If you and your fellow players mostly have high cards it stands to reason that right now the deck is feeling the high cards. If you have one of those stiff hands that you don’t feel all that great in following what basic strategy says to do, seeing and recognizing that there are more high cards out there means that you have a better chance of hitting and getting a high card. And that means busting.

But if there are more low cards on the table it stands to reason that if you hit you’re more likely to get a low card yourself.

This is blackjack logic. It’s simply looking at the cards that are on the blackjack table in the round and reasoning the best play to make for those tricky hands we’re dealt. Just because you’re not using card counting doesn’t mean that basic strategy is the only skill up your sleeve. Logic is easy to apply to blackjack. You just have to pay attention to the game.

Now this logic does not by any means replace basic strategy. This logic can be used when you have hands like a hard 16 or 15 that are tough to play because you know you’re probably going to lose the round. Half the time basic strategy tells you to hit those two hands; and the other half it tells you to stand.

While you really should follow basic strategy, if you just can’t bring yourself to do what it tells you to, analyze the cards around you and then decide which play to make.

What to do with That Hard 16

In blackjack we always hate when we’ve been dealt a hard 16. And the dealer is showing a 10. It’s a tough hand to play, especially because we already know we have a greater chance of losing no matter what play we make. How great is that chance of losing? It’s 80%.

So even though we’re going into this hand knowing we’re probably going to lose, we should go down fighting. Granted, this is only a game of blackjack, not a life-and-death situation. But that doesn’t mean you sigh and sit back and make your play with your sad face already on.

At this point you’ve got two blackjack plays that you can try: hit or stand.

Basic strategy says to hit. And in most cases this is the best way to go. If you’re a novice player and don’t know a lot of the finer points of blackjack yet, this is what you do—hit.

But there are other clues to look at to determine the best play of make. If you’ve been card counting you know how the deck is running, and that will help you to determine which play to make.

But if you’re a novice or even an experienced player who doesn’t know how to card count, there are other clues that you can look at to determine which blackjack play to make.

First, look at the cards in your hand. Were you dealt a hard 16 or did you have a lower total and hit up to hard 16? What cards make up your hard sixteen?

Next, look at the cards of the other players. What are their hands made up of—high cards or low?

To show you how this works, I’m going to say that I had a smaller total and hit up to 16. So I’ve got a hard 16 made up of a bunch of low cards. The cards of the other players are more low than high or neutral.

So we can deduce that there are more low cards in play than high. We can reason that there are high cards still to come. In this instance, we would stand on our hard 16 against a dealer’s 10.

The reason for this, and this is where we start using blackjack logic, is that if we’ve reasoned that more high cards are coming and we already have a total of 16 with no Ace to reduce, we have a higher chance of getting a high card and busting.

So you aren’t always stuck with having to hit your hard 16. Look at the cards on the blackjack table around you and determine from those cards which better—hit or stand.

Side Bets in Blackjack—Perfect Pairs

Side bets are never a good idea in blackjack. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing online or in a casino. Side bets are an easy way to lose more of your money, and lose it faster.

Sure the side bets sound like fun. Maybe they’re a way to heighten the gambling thrill. But in reality, if you stop and think about how a side bet works, you’ll see that it’s not a great idea to play with them.

For example, let’s take a look at Blackjack Perfect Pairs.

Perfect Pairs is played like any other game of blackjack. It’s usually played with six decks and has the same house rules as a standard game of blackjack. So regular game play has the same odds as a normal game. You can use basic strategy in the game and lower the house edge on the portion of Perfect Pairs that is played like regular blackjack.

Now for the Perfect Pairs part. In this blackjack variation, players can make a side bet on whether the first two cards they’re dealt will be a pair.

Yes, that is the side bet and key to this variation of blackjack. You are merely wagering your money on whether you’ll be dealt a pair in your first two cards. And, unlike regular blackjack, there is nothing a player can do to alter the house odds for the side bet portion; there is no way to increase your chances of being dealt a pair.

It seems like a silly thing to wager on.

In Perfect Pairs there are three ways to win the side bet in Perfect Pairs:

– A perfect pair is made up of two cards that are identical; payout is 25
– A colored pair is made up of two cards of the same rank and color, just different suits; payout is 12
– A red/black pair is made up two cards of the same rank; payout is 6

Without one of those types of pairs you will lose your side bet.

Now let’s look at the house edge on Perfect Pairs versus the house edge on a standard version of blackjack:

– Perfect Pairs: 4.10%
– Standard Blackjack pre-basic strategy: 2-5%
– Standard Blackjack with basic strategy: 0.05%

Would you rather play against a house edge of 4.10% in which you can’t lower the odds? Or just stick to standard blackjack that you can influence?

Suing for Blackjack Losses

Normally I’m on the players’ side when it comes to issues between casinos and blackjack players. However, when I read this, there was no way I could side with the players.

Attorney Michael Trentalange is suing on behalf of two of his clients for losses at Seminole casinos–$15,000 in losses.

Trentalange believes the Seminoles to be in violation of state law because of their blackjack tables. The Seminole compact with Governor Charlie Crist was ruled to be invalid by the Florida Supreme Court. But the Department of Interior, which has say on Indian gambling, has said that the compact is legal. So the Seminoles say that they’re operating legally and that their blackjack tables are fine.

Naturally Trentalange is going with the story that the compact isn’t legal and that the Seminoles having blackjack is a violation of law. He’s found a statute that allows gamblers and their families to sure to recover gambling losses if the gambling was in violation of the law.

So Trentalange is saying that because the Seminole compact isn’t legal neither are the blackjack tables. And since his clients lost their $15,000 playing blackjack at a Seminole casino and the gambling was illegal due to an invalid compact, his clients can sue.

My thoughts: 1. Trentalange, if he wins, which I’m going to be he won’t, he’ll make a nice chunk of that $15,000, 2. I’m going to bet his clients weren’t using basic strategy if they lost $15,000, 3. If you’re going to gamble you go in to it knowing that you’re probably going to lose money—stop being a sissy about it, suck up the fact that you lost and move on.

But Trentalange isn’t even taking on the Seminoles! Even though he says that they’re the ones in the wrong because their blackjack tables are illegal, he’s suing Clear Channel Outdoor for their billboards promoting blackjack at the Seminole casinos, Bally Technology for tracking players’ wins and losses, and Chipco International for making the playing chips.

That’s the part that makes me laugh. Trentalange isn’t even suing the Seminole whose blackjack tables, according to him, are illegal. The Seminoles would have been the ones to collect on the players’ losses so logically you would think that Trentalange would go after the Seminoles to get his clients’ illegally obtained losses back.

Oh, no! He goes after an advertising firm for advertising what they were paid to advertise (I do believe that the point of an advertising firm is to advertise what their customers pay to have advertised); a tracking company for tracking players’ wins and losses just like in every casino, including the legal ones; and a chip company because their chips were used in these blackjack games.

It’s hilarious! This lawyer is suing everyone around the Seminoles that didn’t take his clients’ money rather than attempt to go after the Seminoles. And the reason he’s not suing the Seminoles is because he knows he can’t call their blackjack table illegal, sue them and win. He knows it.

It’s laughable that this lawyer is trying to get his clients’ money back from places it didn’t go; and it’s laughable that these clients are having a hissy fit because they gambled and lost. It’s blackjack! It’s gambling! You are going to lose some money—especially if you play without a strategy.

The Good in Online Blackjack

While nothing can quite compare to the actual casino experience, online blackjack definitely offers players more convenience.

For one thing you don’t have to leave your house. You can sit at home in your PJs and your hair a mess and turn a few hands of blackjack. You can play whenever you want without having to make travel plans and worry about accommodations or when you have to leave to return home. All you do is sit down and sign on to your favorite online casino.

Casino environment aside you aren’t missing anything. I repeat, you are not missing anything. Blackjack is a game in which it is you versus the dealer. It’s not like poker. A downside to online poker is that you can’t see who you’re playing against—you can’t see if they’re bluffing. Thankfully blackjack is not the type of game in which you have to worry about the other players. So you can easily play blackjack online without fear that you’re at a disadvantage.

Another advantage is that you can play for free. Yes, for free. And while playing for free won’t make you any money, it does allow you to practice without the fear of losing any money.

See, if you were to practice in a casino you would probably be playing in a low-stakes game. But you can still lose money there. And the point of practice is to get better at your blackjack skills, not lose money. Online casinos have play-for-free versions of their software that you can use to improve your blackjack skills.

It’s also easier to use basic strategy. There is no pressure to ‘hurry up’ with whatever play you’re going to make. You can look over the chart without everyone staring at you, waiting and making jabs at you to move it. Blackjack online allows you to play at your own pace.

Blackjack being available online is a boon to players because of the easy access and improved playing conditions—not to mention being able to play for free when you need to.

Enough with Third Base!

I’m not sure where this superstition came from. But wherever it issued from—actually whoever it issued from—needs to be punished.

I have never seen blackjack players get so worked up over something that is really meaningless. And it’s more annoying to try to sit at a table and play with these ignorant players constantly judging the plays that the person sitting at third base makes.

Because, yes, that’s exactly what those ignorant players are doing. They seem to think that there is something special about third base when it comes to blackjack.

See, some blackjack players firmly believe that third base can make or break the dealer’s hand based on whether they take the dealer’s bust card.

The problem with this misconception is that if the dealer wins, then these ignorant blackjack players accuse the third base player with not sacrificing their hand by taking the dealer’s bust card.

In short, if these players don’t like the outcome of the round because of the dealer’s hand, they will blame it on the third base blackjack player.

In reality the third base player has no influence what so ever on the dealer. There is no way of knowing if the card the player takes is any worse or better for the dealer. They could stand and the dealer hit for the next card, the card that the player would have gotten if he had hit.

But which is better—the card that the player passed on or the next card in the deck?

There is no way to tell. There is no way for the blackjack player sitting at third base to influence the dealer. And it would be best if these ignorant judgmental blackjack players left the player at third base alone.

Blackjack is a player versus dealer game. It is not the whole table versus the dealer. So really if one of these judgmental players wants to base their loss on the third base player, they should turn an eye to their own hand. Did they play according to basic strategy? If not, they need to work on their own blackjack strategy first before slinging mud at other players. And if they did, they need to remember that they aren’t going to win every round.

The point though is that no one can make or break the dealer. And those that believe that third base does influence the dealer need a healthy dose of reality and logic.

That Soft 17

Want to know about a bad house rule?

Here’s one: the dealer can hit on soft 17.

Generally speaking, dealers have to stand on 17s. This would also include a soft 17.

However, there are some casinos out there—and some online versions of blackjack as well—that will allow a dealer to hi a soft 17. This gives the house an additional two tenths of a percent to their edge.

We all know that playing perfect basic strategy can lower the house edge to around 0.5%. We know that the casinos know this too. They’re very aware of basic strategy and what it can do. So it’s not all that surprising that they would try to make a low blow to increase their edge even if only a little bit.

This is what hitting on a soft 17 does for them.

Like for blackjack players, hitting on a soft hand can give it a second chance at becoming a strong hand. When the cards are running thick with low cards, the dealer is in a prime position to hit that soft 17 and potentially make a stronger hand.

It’s not enough that the house has the edge, even with basic strategy. Oh, no, they’re going to try to increase their edge in any way that they can. Hence a dealer hitting on a soft 17.

Hitting a soft 17 is a low blow because, while hitting a soft 17 isn’t a huge increase, it’s enough to be annoying—like a light slap in the face. It’s like that guy in a debate who doesn’t have any good points to argue against you with so he calls you a name instead.

A dealer hitting a soft 17 is one of those new rules that casinos are using to “freshen up” a strong classic casino game. Blackjack doesn’t need any freshening up, and that’s a sorry excuse to try to fool players into allowing the house more of an edge.

Only play in blackjack games in which the dealer must stand on all 17s.

How to Learn Blackjack

Every now and then I’m treated to ‘new’ ways to learn blackjack.

This morning I heard tell of a site where someone new to blackjack and looking for a place to learn can go. All this particular educational site has on it is videos. So all a novice blackjack player does is sit down, watch all the videos and then, wa-la, he knows how to play blackjack.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Blackjack is a game of skill. And, like any skill worth learning, it takes effort to learn. Sitting down and just watching a video series is not enough. Blackjack must be practiced. This applies to both online blackjack and casino blackjack.

Sure, you could read everything that I have written on this site, and while you will have an abundance of information about blackjack and information about how to play blackjack, it doesn’t mean that you have ‘gotten’ the game.

Blackjack must be practiced.

Think of it as like learning to ride a bike. You could watch videos and videos about it. You could read books about it. But it doesn’t mean that you’ll be perfect when you climb on a bike the first time.

So how do you practice blackjack?

You can go to a casino and play in low stakes games. Make sure you take a basic strategy chart with you though since it’ll help you hang onto your bankroll while you’re learning.

Or you can go to an online casino and practice blackjack in the practice modes of their casino software. Reputable online casinos have two versions of their software, the version in which you play with real money that you’ve deposited to your account, and a practice version in which you play with pretend money.

Practicing at an online casino doesn’t cost anything. The player account is free. And if you want to download the casino software it’s free too. Or you can practice in the instant play version of their software. The point is that an online casino doesn’t cost you money until you choose to deposit money there.

So go on, read about blackjack. Watch videos about blackjack. But then make sure you practice so that you understand the plays you’re making, and become comfortable with basic strategy. Practicing any skill will only improve your ability to use that skill over time.

In other words, the more you practice, the better at blackjack you will be.