Best Blackjack Tips, Tricks & Strategies July 2024

Blackjack is one of the best casino games that you can play. Not only is the house advantage much smaller compared to other games, but blackjack is also a fun and challenging game that you can play with others, which requires a lot of strategy and even more luck. You can play the game with your friends or even meet new ones at the blackjack table.

But in order to keep that house edge small, you have to learn some blackjack tips and tricks that will improve your game. And, when paired with ongoing casino bonuses, promotions, or free play offers, you can improve your chances at coming out on top.

How to Play Blackjack

The cards hitting a "blackjack" in the game of blackjack
Getty Images

Learning how to play blackjack is a straightforward process. In the game, the goal is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without exceeding it. The dealer will hit until they have at least 17 in their hand. The players and the dealer initially receive two cards each, with one of the dealer's cards being turned up, indicating what they might have.

All cards are worth their face value, with jacks, queens, and kings worth 10 apiece. There is a bit of difficulty with the ace, which can be worth either 1 or 11.

We have to act first, though, which is a significant disadvantage. Generally, if the dealer has a 7 or higher card turned up, we will need to get to at least 17 in our hand. But of course that means we may go over 21 and bust out.

If the dealer has anything from 2 through 6, we want to get to at least 12 and then let the dealer bust out. Some 12s will need to be hit against a 2 or a 3, as they still leave the dealer a lot of wiggle room to pull out a winning hand.

Some additional rules muddy the water a bit. You'll have the option to double-down on your initial hand, meaning that if you have a 10 or 11 against a weaker dealer upcard, you can double down on your bet and receive just one card.

Splitting is also allowed when you have two cards of the same value. For instance, two 8s can be split by doubling your initial bet, where you will then play two separate hands with your respective 8s.

Blackjack occurs either when you or the dealer get an ace and a face drawn for your first two cards. If the dealer gets a blackjack, they win, and play ends. If the player gets blackjack, they are paid 3-to-2, and it is an automatic winner. Do NOT play at games that only pay you 6-to-5 on blackjack.

Best Blackjack Tips

Blackjack, as you've no doubt heard, is a winnable game. The reason for this is that the odds against you don't stay the same because cards are exhausted from the shoe, and the cards remaining may end up being in the player's favor.

More high-value cards being left helps the player, while more lower cards can help the dealer make hands favoring the house.

But the way you should play your hand is based on the initial cards in the shoe. This is called basic strategy, or sometimes "the book," as in, the book says you should hit on that.

Blackjack basic strategy is math and was developed by running millions of hands through a computer. Deviating from basic strategy, unless you are card counting, will cost you money lost to the house edge.

Understand the Basics of Blackjack

All of the decisions you need to make on your hand compared to what the dealer has turned up are summarized in a blackjack table, which you will often find printed on a small card about the size of a playing card.

This card will cover all things basic blackjack strategy, which you can use at the table. Always play the exact basic strategy at the blackjack table.

We will discuss other tips and tricks below, but we can't stress enough that blackjack is always about the math. If you don't use the correct blackjack strategy, you will find yourself playing at a two—or three-percent house edge, or even higher.

Pick the proper game and use the appropriate strategy, and you can play at a 0.2% house advantage.

Prepare A Bankroll

One of the great things about knowing the house advantage in blackjack is that we can model our risk of ruin. You can find "Risk of Ruin" calculators online with a quick Google search.

But, it is suffice to say that if you are playing four hours on a 6-deck blackjack game with decent rules, the chance of you losing 25 units (average bets) is about 1-in-4.

If you have 250 units and play 100 hours, your risk of ruin is less than 2%, while if your bankroll is only 100 units, your risk of losing it all is 41%.

We suggest a 25-unit session bankroll and at least a 250-unit total bankroll. Remember, you should only bet with money you can afford to lose, and you should always stick to your session budgets as well as your overall bankroll.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even though you can use your basic strategy card on the table, it always helps to practice mastering basic strategy.

If you are not in a state that allows legal online blackjack games, you can still register with an online casino and play their games in demo mode. This will let you practice your basic strategy and play around with various betting plans without risking any of your bankroll until you are entirely comfortable.

You can also practice the various blackjack variations this way as well. If you are lucky enough to live in or visit a state with legal online gaming, you can find very low minimum bets and build your bankroll with bonuses and promotions.

Scout the Best Games

If we know we are going to play using perfect blackjack strategy, then the next thing that we can improve is the rules of the game.

If you can find double-deck blackjack games on a brick-and-mortar casino floor, the odds are only .22% against you. If you find a 6-deck game, those odds increase to .42% against you. If the dealer hits a soft 17 instead of standing, the odds against you go to .64%.

Now we know what you are thinking - is .2% such a big deal? Well, going from the double-deck game to the six-deck shoe means we are going to lose twice as fast, and going from the stand-on soft 17 rule to the hit on soft 17 rule on a six-deck game means you will lose, on average, 50% more than you would otherwise.

Again, you can find blackjack house advantage calculators easily online, but in general, you'll want to find or follow these six things:

  • a smaller number of decks
  • to stand on soft 17
  • always double any first two cards
  • always double after a split
  • split up to four hands
  • a late surrender—if you can find it

Finally, it is our recommendation to steer clear of continuous shuffle machines. A natural blackjack game should ALWAYS pay 3-to-2.

Always Check the Dealer First

A blackjack player checks his cards
Getty Images

Remember, everything is dependent on the dealer's upcard. Playing blackjack perfectly comes down to looking at that upcard and deciding the best course of action.

But since it is math, we always know the answer. Once you've seen what the dealer shows, you should know what to do with your own hand.

Don't Wager on Side Bets

When playing the game of blackjack, you should always stay away from all the "Top 3" and "Pair" plus side bets. Most of these side bets have a more than 10% house advantage. No hunches and no amount of luck makes something that bad worth even a dollar bet.

Also, stay away from the insurance bet, especially if an even money bet is offered. The house advantage on insurance bets is around 6%. You worked real hard to get that blackjack. Why should you take even money when nine cards under there will get your original bet paid 3-to-2, and only four cards will get you a push?

Keep Your Head Clear

You're here at the casino to have fun, relax, and maybe enjoy an adult beverage. But if you're too busy talking to notice what the dealer shows (or worse: too drunk to know what cards you've been dealt) then you'd be better off just calling it a night.

Overindulging could mess with your betting strategy and even impede your basic blackjack plans, which will surely cost you.

Do Not Pressure Yourself

Do not let the stress ruin your good time! If you are on a losing streak or your head is elsewhere, walk away.

The casino will always be there. You can play again when you're ready. You should never feel like you need to push it at the casino if you are too tired or just not in the mood.

Be Flexible With Bet Sizes

Bet sizes, especially in brick-and-mortar casinos, are always a problem. If you are fortunate enough to play online, you can get great games with the best odds at a fraction of what you will need to bet at a land-based casino.

Your usual betting units might be $10, but you can't get to the casino outside of a Saturday night, where there aren't any $10 games available. You'll have no choice but to look at the $15 minimum or even the $25 minimum tables. Just stick to your session bankroll, or cut your estimated playing time in half.

Another tricky deal is that the higher minimum games, often $100 or higher, have the best odds and the smallest number of decks. Single-deck games that pay 3-to-2 blackjack went extinct long ago. But if you are willing to bet with a $100 hand, you should be able to find a double-deck game with almost all of the good rules.

Enjoy the Wins, Learn From Losses

While you may take credit for all your wins and blame the dealer or the other players for all your losses, the math is pretty clear.

Short of learning how to count cards, you will lose. But, if you are playing basic strategy with good rule sets, you should lose very slowly. And if you play at a casino that rewards your play with comps and free bets, you may not "lose" at all.

Regardless of what you do or how perfectly you play, there will be some stinging losses you can't believe, as well as some runs of luck that will convince you you're the next Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee. It's important that we realize these for what they are: just normal standard deviations.

Final Blackjack Tips & Takeaways

We hope we have convinced you to use your handy dandy blackjack chart. You can get the right one for the exact rule set you will be playing against, and, hopefully, cut your blackjack mistakes to zero.

But in the meantime, we've put together our top seven blackjack tips that you should not forget:

  1. Do not split 5s or 10s.
  2. Conversely, always split aces and 8s.
  3. Never, ever take insurance.
  4. Always hit a 12 or 13 against a dealer 12.
  5. Always double 11 against a 10 or lower.
  6. Hit your soft 18 against a dealer, 9, 10, or ace.
  7. Split 7s if the dealer upcard is 2 through 7.

When playing blackjack in the future, please take your time and find a game with good rules and decent deck penetration.

Stick to your bankroll, don't over bet your funds, and only bet what you've decided you can lose. Remember to use online casino games in demo mode to practice, and print out a copy of the correct blackjack strategy chart.

With these blackjack tips now under your belt, we hope you can find success at the table for years to come.

Blackjack FAQs

Below we've covered some of the most common questions surrounding blackjack tips and basic blackjack strategy.

How do you play blackjack?

The goal is to have a card total that exceeds the dealer's total without going over 21. You may split your initial two cards if they are of the same value, or you may double your bet and take only one card if you wish to double down.

If either you or the dealer get an ace and a face card, that is a blackjack, and you or they are an automatic winner.

Is there a trick to winning at blackjack?

You should first learn basic strategy, only play games with good rules, and use online bonuses and promotions to help erode the house edge.

You can also learn the basics of counting cards with the "Hi-Lo" count and apply this to your basic game with the intention of gaining a slight player edge. If you spread your bet too aggressively, or make plays only card counters usually make, then you may find yourself banned.

What's the best blackjack strategy?

Blackjack is a solved game, so there are betting strategies to use. We know the exact play we should make depending on the rule set, what our cards are, and what the dealer is showing.

The best blackjack strategy is to play exactly that way, while minimizing other reasons for house advantage, while also maximizing out promotions and free play opportunities.

What is the 17 rule in blackjack?

Some casinos have their dealers hit soft 17, while others do not. Some casinos might even have tables in one area that do and others, perhaps in high limit rooms, that do not.

You should always play on tables that do not hit soft 17 if your bankroll and the minimum bet allow it. If you can search casinos that don't hit it, it will be worth the effort in the long run.

While the difference is only about .22%, that can double your house edge in some games, and will amount to at least a 50% increase in house edge over most common rule sets.

Is basic blackjack strategy smart to follow?

Yes. Using the basic blackjack strategy is the best and smartest thing you can do to improve your game. Depending on your play, you may cut your hourly loss rate by 80% to 90% by playing every hand perfectly. And since all casinos allow you to use the blackjack strategy chart, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't.