Live Blackjack: Intermediate Tips and Strategy

In my last post, I gave an introduction to playing blackjack at the casino, with some basic tips on how to avoid being ego driven and focus on making the best decisions for your bankroll. It’s one thing to read an article about blackjack strategy and memorize a chart, but when you step into a brick and mortar casino with bright lights and real cash on the table, it can be a little intimidating.

Today, I’ll go a little deeper into what you’ll actually see at the blackjack table and how to maximize your edge. I’ll assume you’ve identified the minimum and maximum bets at your table, bought an appropriate amount of chips and learned how to physically place your bets, hit and stand.

Find Out How Many Decks are Being Used

Optimal blackjack strategy changes based on the number of decks that are in play at the table; this means that you should try to figure this out right away. Most often, the cards will be shuffled and dealt out of a shoe, but there might be four, six or eight decks. The higher the number, the higher the casino edge will be. If you’re extremely lucky, you might find a casino with single-deck blackjack, which can actually put the odds in your favor with the right combination of additional rules.

Casinos will rarely announce any of this, and instead make it seem as though all the tables are exactly the same. Since you know better, be sure to be attentive so you can maximize your chances for success.

Figure Out What the Rules Are

A blackjack game at the casino can have many rule variations, and this is another thing you should find out before you start playing hands, since it will affect your strategy. In addition to having fewer decks in play, there are other factors that can lower the house edge. These special rules include double down after a split, double down on any sum, surrender, re-splitting of aces and hitting on split aces.

If you don’t understand the rules or if they aren’t clearly posted at the table, don’t hesitate to ask the dealer. Some players might feel embarrassed to ask a basic question, but it’s much better to ask a question than to continue to play when you’re likely hurting your bankroll with poor play.

Avoid the Sucker Bets

You will usually find an option to take “insurance” when the dealer shows an ace. The casino might even try to push this bet on you, making it seem like it is a good way to protect against a potential blackjack. In reality, this is a bad bet that you should never take as long as you are playing basic strategy. (If you happened to count cards, there would be certain times where it would be advantageous.) Keep things simple and forget about this proposition, it will only harm your chances.

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