The Isle of Wight may be still waiting for its first bricks and mortar casino, but when it comes to one game, at least, you are much better off playing online anyway. That’s because blackjack is the only casino game that you can confidently take on with a strategy and expect to beat the bank more often than not. And if you are playing online, you don’t even have to learn that strategy by heart. You can simply keep a cheat sheet beside you as you play.
What is the basic strategy for blackjack?
Although the cards drawn for any individual hand are random and unpredictable, the chances of any given outcome can be calculated precisely. Blackjack basic strategy draws from the results from millions of computer simulations to advise you what to do in every possible situation, based on the cards you have and the up-turned card of the dealer.
In a standard six-deck game, using basic strategy can reduce the casino edge (their built-in advantage) to as little as 0.5%. To put this in context, European roulette (with one zero) has a house edge of 2.7%, and American roulette (with double zero) has a house edge of 5.4%.
The fewer decks that are used, the better your odds, to the point where if the dealer has to stand on all 17s in a single deck game, the edge actually passes to the player. Just consider that for a moment; by using basic strategy, you can learn how to win at blackjack every time. No other casino game offers you this, and with an online casino, you don’t even have to learn the tables to use the strategy.
Counting the cards
One of the top skills of professional blackjack players is knowing which cards have been dealt and which ones are left in the deck or decks. This is sometimes known as ‘card counting’ and is frowned upon by many land-based casinos. However, when you are playing on your PC at home, there is nothing to stop you from keeping a pad beside you and noting down or ticking off what has been dealt. This will back up your basic strategy technique, as you will know the odds of getting the cards you want from the deck.
Choosing the game
Another advantage of online casinos is the lack of distractions when it comes to picking a table. You won’t be drawn to the friendliest or most attractive dealer, and you won’t be put off by brash or big-headed players. Instead, you can simply choose the table that gives you the best chance of winning.
A table that pays blackjack at 3:2 is better than one that plays 6:5, but there are also many other subtle differences to look out for. For example, if the dealer can hit on a soft 17, the house edge goes up by 0.2%, but if you are allowed to double after splitting, it will drop by 0.13%. Early surrender will cut the house edge by a whopping 0.624%.
Every little advantage helps when margins are so tight, and picking the right casino game can make all the difference. If you can’t find what you want at your chosen online casino, then move on. There will always be other games. You should also avoid the many blackjack gimmick-games that have started to spring up. Most of these may look good, but they will usually increase the house edge.
The final tip for winning at blackjack is to use a smart betting system. The simplest of these is known as the Oscar System that breaks your session into a series of mini-games. You then bet using just a few simple rules. When you win, you increase your next bet by one unit, when you lose you bet the same amount next time, and when you get ahead by at least one, you pocket your winnings and start again.
This system not only stops you from getting carried away and losing big, as you start each new mini session with the same funds you started the game with. It also protects your winnings as you take your profits every time you get at least one up. The Oscar system will not deliver huge wins in one go, but you will be able to build your profits steadily and they will soon mount up.