In an ideal world we would be playing blackjack with a single deck, the dealer would stand on soft 17 and doubling would be allowed on any first two cards. We would also see the Beatles banging out I Want to Hold Your Hand and some bleak northern film about rugby players getting their girlfriends up the junction would be the talk of the town… for this ideal world would be the Sixties.
Nowadays, we are used to playing with two decks (house advantage increases by 0.3%), four decks (increases to 0.5%) and even six decks (another 0.6%). If we then consider that doubling down is restricted to 9, 10 and 11, the house has gained another 0.1%. As a dealer’s blackjack beats yours, we’re now down a further 0.1%. Add no re-splitting and you’ve lost another 0.1% advantage to the house. Hardly seems worth playing?
Well, yes and no. If you play tight and follow a few golden rules you should be able to level up the game. But remember – quit while you are winning or you’ll plough it all back in.
Learn the rules and proper strategy first, as this is one of the few casino games where rules can vary between casinos. Check our website for our blackjack masterclass.
Number of decks
The more decks that are used, the greater the house advantage. Look for low-deck games.
You have an edge when the dealer stands with a soft 17 (for example an Ace with a 6), which is common in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
Limitations on what combinations a player can double-down on increase the house advantage. In some games players can only double-down on a 10 or 11, or they aren’t allowed to double-down after splitting.
In some games players are not allowed to re-split cards (splitting after a split) or re-split Aces.
In most US games the dealer will check for blackjack when the upcard is an Ace or a 10 that is to your advantage. ‘No peek’ rules are advantageous to the house because a player may lose more than his original bet (through splitting or doubling down) against a dealer’s blackjack.
However, back here in the UK it’s usually different, with the dealer neither checking for a blackjack when the upcard is a 10 nor when it’s an Ace which acts against you.
Avoid the blackjack insurance bet (where, with an Ace showing, you can bet the dealer will hit a blackjack at 2/1) like those nice comfortable slipper boots in the back of the Sunday papers as there is a house advantage of 5-8%.