Hit or Stand: How to Learn Blackjack without Touching a Card – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

Hit or Stand: How to Learn Blackjack without Touching a Card


Like poker, blackjack might be considered a game of observation, in which the things you’ve seen before can help you overcome fresh scenarios. However, it’s almost unfair to place these two card games in the same category, as poker can be won or lost based on nebulous things like the player’s personality. Blackjack, on the other hand, is entirely luck-based and there’s nothing anybody can do about that.

House Edge

Blackjack is a game of unchanging rules so it’s possible to learn enough about the game that the casino’s permanent advantage against you, i.e. the house edge, is lowered to a minimum. This is not the same as changing the game’s outcome but it can prevent you from losing quite as often. Put another way, by making use of the blackjack basic strategy, you’re making the strongest moves all the time.

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Obviously, it’s best to have all the equipment to hand when you start learning something new but the basic strategy can be mastered without touching a card at all. How? The rules are usually represented in charts so blackjack becomes more of a game of memory than simple guessing. This might sound boring at first but, once the benefits become clear, it stands as one of the more rewarding ways to play blackjack. 


Let’s boil it down to its essential parts. There are only a few moves that you can make in blackjack. These are hit, stand, double-down, and split. Depending on the game version, you may also be able to surrender or take the insurance side bet. This latter move is ill-advised. To quote blackjack expert Michael Shackleford, “absolutely never” take insurance because of the high house edge involved.

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The first thing you should learn is what all these moves do. Of course, most people will already have a grasp on this particular part of blackjack by the time they discover the game’s basic strategy. In brief, you can get a second card (hit), give up (stand), increase your bet (double-down), or chop a set of pairs up into two hands (split). That’s about as complex as blackjack gets, which is largely why it’s one of the most popular games out there. 

Splitting Pairs

The basic strategy simply tells you when to make each one of these moves. For example, as far as hitting is concerned, you should only try to get another card if it’s unlikely to tip your hand over a value of 21. Conversely, a high hand means that it’s unwise to do anything but stand. As for splitting, Shackleford notes that this is a more complex decision. Split with a weak card but only if not splitting seems like a bad idea. 

As a final piece of advice, you can forget about blackjack betting systems, like the one based on the Fibonacci sequence, as these are distinct from the basic strategy. A betting system is a way of placing wagers that are designed to either enhance the amount you win or reduce the money you stand to lose. This might sound like a useful thing to have in your toolbox but they often fall down when winning or losing streaks arise, making them unreliable.

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