Everyone wants to reduce the house edge and win in the game of blackjack. But how do you win in this game, and what is the most appropriate strategy to use? Well, one of the standard strategies that can be used is to consider first the total value of the hand, without considering the individual cards. This is considered as the traditional approach in playing blackjack and one that’s accepted and played by many.
While this approach to playing the game works, you should keep in mind that you can still improve your chances if you can be ‘more precise’ or if you will also consider the individual cards in hand.
Composition-Dependent Strategy in Blackjack
To help you improve your chances on the blackjack table, we have listed a few basic scenarios and the appropriate composition-dependent play that you can use to improve your chances.
Hand value worth 16 against a dealer’s 10
How would you play in this scenario? If the surrender is offered, your best move is to surrender the two-card hard 16s if you are battling against a dealer’s 10, except 8-8.
The general rule here is for you to stand if the hand features three or more cards. The reason for this is that your hand features one or more small-value cards which are no longer found in the deck of unplayed cards. These are the cards that you will need to boost the hand value.
And since these cards landed in your hand, it means that the odds have shifted to your favour, making it more logical to stand than to hit. This recommendation is also echoed by some experts like Fred Renzey of Blackjack Bluebook II who recommended that you need to stand if you are up against a dealer’s 10 and your 16 has a 4 or 5.
Hand value worth 12 against a dealer’s 4
What if you have collected a hand worth 12 and the dealer’s up-card is 4 in a game with S17? If this is the case, then you should refer first to the composition of the hand. In the traditional strategy where the total value matters, the recommendation is to stand.
But it’s easier said than done since a hand value of 12 may have four different variations, like a 9-3, 10-2, and 8-4. If in case the composition of the hand is a 10-2, then it is for your best interest to hit against a postcard of 4. But if the hand features a 9-3, 8-4 or a 7-5, it’s highly recommended that you stand.
If you are faced with six or fewer decks of playing cards, it’s best that you hit with a hand value of 12 with a 10-2 when playing with a dealer’s 4. but in an eight-deck game, experts recommend that you stand.
Hand value worth 15 against a dealer’s 10
The traditional strategy is to avail of a surrender if you are playing with a casino dealer’s 10 postcards. But you can increase your chances of winning if you identify first the composition of the hand. If you are holding a 15 with an 8-7, then it’s wiser if you can hit instead of surrendering, except a surrender in at least 7 decks.
Hand or Player Interaction Strategy
This is a relatively new strategy in blackjack that as popularized by Fred Renzy, an enthusiast and the author of Blackjack Bluebook II. This topic has been explored as well in other publications and works like the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter.
The hand interaction is another strategy that can be used by players to lower the house edge. This is a strategy that will not work for the silent or timid player since you will need to make a lot of moves and calls that are dependent on the hands of the other player.
It also involves asking the other players on the table to make a bet on your hand. This approach can be executed in different ways. For example, you can take part or all of the player’s lucrative double or giving away a part of your poor split.
You can refer to the examples below to better understand how the strategy works.
Say for example the player seated next to you made a £20 bet and was given a hand with 7-4, with a 10 for the postcard. The most logical approach that can be made here is to double down or to double the wager.
What if the player next to you suddenly decides not to play the double down as expected because he sees the 10 cards as very strong? Say for example the player suddenly decides, but manages to double for less and moves his two red chips, at £5 each. If this is the case, then what you can do is to interact with the hand so you can gain a few advantages as well.
According to Renzey, what you can do is to toss two more red chips to that player and inform him that you will help him pay off to complete the double down. By playing this strategy, you are hoping that the player will take your offer. In many casinos, most players will take this cue.
So what is the reason for doing this? Since the player beside you does not want to take advantage of the offer associated with a double down, then it’s better that you take part in this. If in case it wins, your wager (£10) will get an extra £10 which is clearly a good move even though it was not your turn!
While participating in a blackjack game, the player to your right wagered £25 and was given blackjack, and the dealer’s postcard is an Ace. Under this circumstances, the player has the right to request for an ‘even money’, which means that he can receive even money for the blackjack, regardless of the total value of the dealer’s hand.
Gambling in even money is not considered a great move unless you are counting the cards that go out of the deck. But for many players, resorting to even money is a better deal since there is an assurance that they will get something.
For Renzy, the best move in this scenario is to say that you don’t think that the dealer has a blackjack, and you are willing to buy the player’s hand for even money. After stating this, you can toss your seatmate the chips equal to the amount he wagered. The other player will be happy knowing that he got his wager back and another amount as profit for the blackjack.
In this scenario, you now have the hand, and you can be paid 1.5 times the wager from the dealer if he’s not holding a blackjack, or lose it all if there’s a blackjack. This may seem like an off move, but in the long run, this will end up as a lucrative move since you will be rewarded at 3-2 odds.
In short, it can help your cause if you can mix your basic strategies with had interaction. This can help you gain the advantage and reduce the house edge.
Use of Casino Comps
Did you know that you can also reduce the house edge if you can get rated in the casino and ask for comps? In casino parlance, ‘comps’ is a shorthand for complimentary, and these serve as the perks given to frequent players of the casino.
So what are comps and how can these perks help you when are a member of the casino? Well, the collected comps points in the casino can be used to enjoy a buffet, accommodation in a hotel room or cover an airfare. And if you play blackjack, your chances of earning more comps points increases, and these collected points can be used to lower the house edge.
Interested to learn more about this strategy? Read on, and find out how you can take advantage of the casino comps.
You should be rated first by the casino
To start collecting points and get acknowledged, it’s important that you sign up first for a Player’s Card. You can do this by visiting the Player’s Club. In most casinos, the application for membership can be completed online. This is free of charge, and this is available to anyone who wants to take advantage of the offer.
When you first play a casino game like blackjack, you will need to slide the card to the dealer. After receiving the card, the dealer will then record your player information in the record book or by updating your information online. Once you start your play, the casino supervisor or the person in charge will continuously check your behaviour on the table, paying attention to the number of bets that you make.
It is the job of the person in charge to take note of your betting history, the number of bets you make and the time spent on the blackjack table. The number of points that you will earn will depend on their observations.
As a matter of practice, it’s best that you ask the supervisor about your comps points after you have completed your play. When you ask, make sure you ask in a nice and friendly manner. You should not expect to dine in a fine dining restaurant if your bets are just a few £5 chips on the table.
How are the comps points computed?
The number of points that the casino will give to you will depend on the value you bring to the casino. In short, it is the job of the casino to compute for your worth, based on the number of bets that you bring and the time you spend in the blackjack table.
Say for example your standard bet is £100 (you’re an experienced VIP) and you are going to play for five hours, and let’s assume that you are given 100 hands per hour. This means that the total amount that you will bet on your visit to the casino is:
100 hands x £100 bet per hand x 5 hours = £50,000
Using their hypothetical amount, an average casino will compute for your points using the following formula:
Action x house advantage = Theoretical loss of the player
Since it’s impossible for the casino supervisors and managers to observe your play on a regular basis, the management will assume a 2 per cent advantage over the players who choose to play the game. This also assumes that the majority of the players who play blackjack are not that experienced, at least regarding using the most complex strategies in the game. So using the formula that’s given above:
£50,000 in action x 2 percent in-house advantage= £1,000 theoretical loss for the player
Using the formula above, the casino will learn that your worth for them is around £1,000. Now, many casinos will offer a rebate that often ranges from 20 per cent to 40 per cent. Assuming that the casino will offer a 20 per cent rebate then:
£1,000 theoretical loss for the player x 20 percent rebate= £200
This means that the casino can offer up to £200 in rebates or comp points. In short, you can take advantage of this friendly offer of the casino, and they even assumed that you would lose as much as 2 per cent in action. Now, if you are an experienced player and knows how to play the game, surely you can take advantage of the offers and win more.
Here’s how you can collect more comps from the casino
The availability of comps for players is a great offer that can boost the bankroll. But you can boost your chances by paying attention to the following tips below:
- The casino will assume that an average player will play 100 hands per hour. This doesn’t mean that you will play at this pace. If you want to take advantage of the offers, it’s best that you take it slow, and simply enjoy your time at the casino.
Instead of playing in tables with a few players, it’s highly recommended that you play in busy and crowded blackjack tables. It is also important that you don’t rush your decisions when playing the game. If you are playing in a cool casino resort, do n’t spend all your time at the casino table.
If possible, take a few breaks before returning to the table. The point here is to take the game slow and instead of playing 100 hands an hour, try 50 to 60 hands. If you reduce the number of hands you play, you can reduce your expected losses.
- As a matter of practice, the casino supervisor will take note of the first bet that you will make on the table. Since the eyes are on your first bet, it’s to your advantage to betting a higher amount, say £30 instead of the usual £10. This will be recorded in your favour, and it will boost your value in the eyes of the casino.
- After you have completed your game at the table, it’s best that you confer with the casino supervisor to know your rating based on the average bet that you made. If the supervisor tells you that your average bet is £10, you can say that your bets varied, from £10 to £40 or whatever your highest bet was.
As a matter of policy, supervisors and managers don’t want to offend players so they will surely make that necessary adjustment to increase the recorded average. If your betting average has been increased, this will also increase your value which in turn boost the comps.
Use of Casino Coupons
The casinos are also known to offer casino coupons, and these can be used to play the game even for just one bet. There are different types of casino coupons, and some of the most popular ones are discussed below:
Instead of a coupon, players may be rewarded with a promotional chip. This chip is given for different reasons, often given to players who frequently play at the casino. As a marketing tool, the promo chip can be used to play the game instead of the usual casino chip or token.
After pushing the chip in place, the dealer will take note of the bet and will remove the chip from the table. If the player wins on this round, the dealer will pay off the winnings using the regular casino chips.
Now, if the hand of the player loses, the promo chip is taken off the table, and the player ends up with nothing. In case of a tie, the player will normally retain ownership of the promo chip, and this can be used to play another round. Now, if the player wants to double or split the hand, then he should use the regular chips or tokens used in the casino.
Players can also receive matchplay coupons from the casino. This is a wager made by the casino for the player. For example, you put a £10 chip on the table together with the matchplay coupon. If you managed to win with the hand, you are paid double- £10 for the casino chip and another £10 for the use of matchplay coupon. If you lose, you will only part ways with the £10 from your own money.
The matchplay coupon can only be used once except for ties which allows you to play the coupon for the second time. Once the coupon has been used up, the coupon will be removed from the table. Keep in mind that when you want to split the hand or double down, you can only do it using your bet.
Also, the value of the coupon is 46.2 per cent of the face value. So if you have a £100 worth of coupon, its value is equal to £46.20.
Take Advantage of Loss Rebates
This strategy calls for a negotiation with the casino so you can collect a portion of your losses and in the process, reduce the house edge. This approach is primarily practised by the VIPs and regular players since it involves large amounts, and casino operators are more accommodating with players who are of value to them.
This is a strategy that is best used by the VIPs and may not work for the average players or beginners. If you think that you have played a lot in the casino and you are now ‘valuable’ to them, perhaps you can explore this option to reduce the house edge.
- The traditional blackjack strategy requires players to know the total value of the hand
- Although this strategy works, you can still boost your chances by being precise in your judgment calls
- One specific strategy is to know the composition of the hand
- Hand interaction is another tested strategy that can be used to reduce the house edge
- The hand interaction approach will not work for the timid player since it requires collaboration with other players on the table
- Casino comps can also work in your favour in reducing the casino edge
- Collected points in the casino can also be used to enjoy free tickets and airfare
- Casino coupons and chips are casino perks that can be used to play on the table
- Coupons and chips can be used once, and can’t be used when doubling down or splitting