The game of blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. However, if you want to win consistently when you play blackjack then it’s important to understand how blackjack strategy works. There are a huge number of strategies and blackjack systems that can be used to improve your chances of winning when you play blackjack. From basic strategy to card counting and blackjack betting systems, it is important to understand these systems if you want to win big when playing this popular card game.
- Basic Blackjack Strategy
- Blackjack Card Counting Systems
- Hi-Lo Card Counting System
- Knock Out Blackjack
- Red Seven Card Counting System
- KISS Card Counting System
- Omega II Card Counting System
- Wong Halves Card Counting System
- Blackjack Betting Systems
- Martingale Blackjack Strategy
- Paroli Betting System
- Parlay Betting System
- 1-3-2-6 Betting System
- Must-Read Blackjack Strategy Books
Understanding basic blackjack strategy is a fundamental prerequisite if you want to win at blackjack. Before you even consider learning a blackjack system you should familiarize yourself with basic strategy. Basic strategy is, simply put, knowing when to hit, when to stand, when to split and when to double down based on your own cards as well as the dealer’s upcard.
Basic blackjack strategy can be learned from strategy charts, which are available in strategy books as well as on the web. By studying and learning these charts, players can ensure that they will make the best play in any situation in a game of blackjack. You can practice basic strategy by playing blackjack online for free. Once you are familiar with basic strategy you can move on to learning more complicated blackjack systems to improve your game.
Card counting is an infamous art that has led many blackjack pros to winning big. The idea behind card counting is that players keep track of the ratio of high cards and low cards that remain in the deck as the game progresses. When there are a lot of high cards in the deck (i.e. Aces, Tens and Face Cards) players raise their bets as they have a much better chance of winning with a 20 or 21-point hand.
There are a large number of blackjack card counting systems. They range in simplicity from very easy to learn to quite complicated. The more difficult the system is, the more accurate the count. Following are the most popular card counting systems.
The Hi-Lo strategy is one of the easiest card counting systems to learn. If you are just starting out with card counting and are looking for a strategy to help get your feet wet then Hi-Lo is a good choice.
In the Hi-Lo Card Counting system, a numerical value is assigned to each card value in the deck. Low cards (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) are assigned a value of +1. High cards (10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces) are assigned a value of -1. The middle card values (7, 8 and 9) are assigned a value of 0.
As cards are dealt over the course of the game, the card counter keeps track of the count, adding and subtracting as each card is dealt. The count begins at 0. A positive count means there are more high cards in the deck, as each time a low card is dealt the count will go up one point, while a negative count means there are more low cards in the deck. Players lower and raise their bets accordingly.
The Knock Out, or KO Blackjack Card Counting system is another great blackjack system for beginners. This system is very similar to the Hi-Lo card counting system. High cards (10s, Jacks, Queens Kings and Aces) are assigned a value of -1. Low cards (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) are assigned a value of +1. Knock Out Blackjack also assigns 7s a value of +1. 8s and 9s are assigned a value of 0.
The Knock Out system of card counting differs from the High Low system because it is unbalanced. This means that if you counted out an entire deck you would end up with a final count of +2, rather than 0. For this reason, when the count is higher than +2 it means there are more high cards in the deck and when it is below +2 t means there are more low cards in the deck. Many people start their count out at -2 to make up for the fact that this is an unbalanced system.
The Red Seven counting system is also an unbalanced system of card counting. It is also one of the simplest card counting systems, making it a great choice for beginners.
In this system, low cards (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) have a count of +1. High cards (10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces) have a count of -1. 8s, 9s and Black 7s have a count of 0. Red Sevens have a count of +1. It is this unique feature that gives this system its name.
As with other card counting blackjack systems, as the count gets higher it signifies that there are a higher number of high cards in the deck. This is good for the player, so card counters generally increase their bets when there is a high count.
The KISS Card Counting System is a simplified card counting system. Its name is an acronym meaning “Keep It Short And Simple”. This system simplifies the act of card counting by taking 50% of the cards in the deck out of the count. Because many of the cards are omitted the KISS system does not give as accurate of a count as many more complex card-counting systems. However, it does give players more of an edge than if they didn’t use any card counting system at all.
There are three levels of KISS systems, each giving more of an edge than the previous. Most players choose to master KISS I before moving on to KISS II and then KISS III. These methods are covered in Fred Renzy’s book, Blackjack Bluebook II.
The Omega II Card Counting System is more complicated than the basic systems like Hi-Lo, Knockout Blackjack, Red Seven and KISS. However, it also offers a more accurate count and therefore gives players more of an edge than these other card counting systems.
Omega II assigns a wider variety of values to the cards in the deck. Cards numbered 2, 3 and 7 are assigned a value of +1. 4, 5 and 6 are assigned a value of +2. 9s are assigned a value of -1. 10-point cards (10s, Jacks, Queens and Kings) are assigned a value of -2. 8s and Aces are assigned a value of 0. To get used to the values you can practice counting through an entire deck of cards. As the system is balanced, you should end up with a count of 0 if you count through the entire deck without making any mistakes.
The Omega II system takes more time and practice to learn than the simpler card counting systems. However, it is far more accurate and so it is worthwhile to learn it if you have already mastered the simpler systems.
The Wong Halves system is even more complex than the Omega II card counting system. Developed by Stanford Wong, this method is not recommended for beginning card counters. However, if you can manage to learn it you can enjoy one of the most accurate counts possible.
What makes Wong Halves so complicated is that the count includes halved numbers. 10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces are worth -1; 2s and 7s are worth +Â½; 3s, 4s and 6s are worth +1; 5s are worth +1 Â½; 8s are worth 0; and 9s are worth -Â½. Some counters find that the count can be made easier if the values are doubled.
Many blackjack players also choose to implement betting systems in order to increase their winnings. There are a variety of betting systems, each with unique rules about when to raise and lower bets and by how much. The following are some of the most popular blackjack betting systems.
The Martingale system is one of the most popular types of betting systems. The Martingale system is a negative progression system that raises and lowers bets based upon wins and losses. Players start out betting one unit (for instance, $15 a hand at a $15 minimum blackjack table). If the player wins then they start again on the next hand, betting $15. However, if the player loses they double their bet. Each time a player incurs a loss they double their bet. However, as soon as the player wins a hand then return to betting one unit.
The logic behind this system is that the player is guaranteed a profit of one unit when they finally win a bet. However, it is important to start out with a large enough bankroll that you can weather the losses and afford to keep raising your bet if you incur multiple losses in a row.
The Paroli Betting System is the opposite of the Martingale System. It is a positive progression system. This means that players start out betting one unit and increase their bet if they win a hand. As your bankroll increases as a result of your wins, you increase your bets.
The Parlay betting system, also known as “Let It Ride” is also a positive progression betting strategy, similar to the Paroli system. The Parlay System is a pyramid system. When you win a hand you place a bet the size of your original bet plus some or all of your profits. Each time that you win you increase your bet, and thus increase your profits.
In this system, betting is planned out in a 1-3-2-6 pattern. Players bet 1 unit on the first blackjack hand, 3 units on the second, 2 on the third and 6 on the fourth. This system can be exciting when you are playing blackjack for fun. However, a player has to win four hands in a row in order to complete an entire 1-3-2-6 cycle and return a profit.
If you are looking to become a master of blackjack strategy then one of the best ways is by reading books about blackjack strategy. There are a number of blackjack pros and experts that have written excellent books. The following are some of the best, must-read books on blackjack strategy.
Stanford Wong’s Professional Blackjack is the bible of professional blackjack. In this book Stanford Wong, one of the most respected sources in the world of blackjack, discusses the inner complexities of the game of blackjack. He covers everything from the rules of different blackjack variations to odds, to card counting, risk management and more. There isn’t a professional blackjack player out there that doesn’t own a copy of this book.
Another great book for players that are serious about blackjack is Blackbelt in Blackjack: Playing 21 as a Martial Art by Arnold Snyder. This book is great because it is split up into three sections that can be defined as beginning, intermediate and advanced. In the “Earning Your White Belt” section Snyder discusses basic strategy and simple card counting; In “Earning Your Green Belt” he discusses more complicated card counting methods; and in the “Earning Your Black Belt” section he goes on to discuss shuffle tracking, team play and more advanced techniques.
The Theory of Blackjack by Peter A. Griffin is also a must-read book for serious blackjack players. This book, like Wong’s Professional Blackjack, is considered a bible for many serious blackjack players. Griffin goes into depth in his discussion of everything from basic strategy to card counting, strategy tables, the effect of rule changes, probabilities, multi-deck strategy and more. After you’ve read this book you will understand the game of blackjack like never before and will be ready for anything.
If you are new to card counting then you should read Knock-Out Blackjack: The Easiest Card-Counting System Ever Devised. Written by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs, this book tells you everything you need to know about the Knock-Out Blackjack strategy of card counting.
Finally, if you are looking for a book that will start you out with the basics and then continue into more complex blackjack strategy then check out Edward O. Thorp’s Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One. In Beat the Dealer Thorp starts out with an overview of the rules of blackjack as well as basic strategy and then progresses into card counting and more advanced strategies.
These five books are a great start for any player looking to build their collection of must-read blackjack strategy books.