Winning Strategies for Online Blackjack
Blackjack can be the winningest online casino game, if you follow a few strategies. Let’s look at which games to play, which to avoid, and ways you can boost your edge.
Blackjack is, hands down, the best game to play at a casino if you want the best chance to win. This isn’t just for land-based casinos. Online blackjack games are programmed to replicate the same house-edge and player odds as their offline counterparts.
Let’s look at the most powerful winning strategies for online blackjack games, available at popular online casinos like Unibet. But before we dig into the details, it’s important to dispel some myths about “winning strategies” in online casino games like blackjack.
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What to Expect from a Blackjack Strategy
Blackjack is good for players because it has the lowest house edge of all gambling games. Unlike roulette or craps, it doesn’t rely entirely on chance. Most variants of blackjack have a house edge under 1%. In comparison, slots have a house edge anywhere between 2% to 8% or more.
But with the right strategy, an experienced player can lower the house odds on blackjack to just 0.4% (an RTP of 99.6%).
So, what exactly does that mean, and how do you do it?
First, a winning strategy does not guarantee that you’ll win all your blackjack rounds against the house. But it can certainly help increase your chances of winning many rounds. At the very least, it can significantly reduce your odds of losing games and money.
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Step 1. Pick the Right Blackjack Game
Online casinos like Unibet offer players dozens of different blackjack games. They have names like single-deck blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, Vegas Blackjack, and more. You can also play real live blackjack against a human dealer. These are called Live Dealer games.
Look for a blackjack game with these features:
- It uses a single deck, or the lowest possible number of decks (out of 2, 4, 6, or 8).
- The rules state that the dealer stands on soft 17.
- The player (you) can double down on any two cards.
- The player can split up to three times on the following cards – 10, J, Q, or K
- Late surrender is available.
- You get paid 3:2 on blackjack (a very important rule)
If the game has these rules, and you use the best winning strategies without making a mistake, you can bring the house advantage down to just 0.13%. That means that on a long enough stretch of playing, you stand a chance to win back $99.87 on every $100 wagered.
In stark contrast, avoid a casino blackjack game that has these two features:
- More than 4 decks
- It pays 6:5 on blackjack (when you’re dealt an Ace and a Court card—K, Q, or J)
Why focus on these two features? Because they drastically increase the house advantage against the player. With a higher number of decks, you want the maximum payout when you’re dealt a blackjack hand. If you wager $100 on a game with 3:2, you get $150 as your winnings. But on a 6:5 payout, you only get $120.
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Step 2. Learn to Read Blackjack Strategy Tables
A strategy table is like a cheat sheet—it lays out all the possible card situations you can face in blackjack, with separate tables for variants with additional decks and other rules.
The table has boxes with letters like H, S, Dh, Ds—you get the picture. These stand for what to do when you and the dealer get the cards specified on the top and side header of the table.
The winning strategy is simple and not-so-simple—you need to learn all these tables! They’re based on pure math—created in the 1950s by four geniuses at an Army base in Maryland. The basic strategy, created using primitive calculators, was later verified using modern computers at MIT.
Surrender, Split, Double, Hit/Stand
The outcome in each round is heavily influenced by your decision to surrender, hit, stand or split. Here’s how the thought process should work in your mind, based on the suggestion from the table for each hand:
- Surrender. This option is only available in some games, and only on the first two cards you get. If you cannot or should not surrender according to the table, move on to the next option.
- Split. You only have this option when you get two cards of the same value (a pair of 8s, Aces, and so on). There are some situations where you should never split—two face cards, and others where it’s always beneficial to split—a pair of Aces. A few are situational, meaning you must decide based on the dealer’s cards.
- Double. This move is almost always a good omen if it shows up as an option for your hand on the basic strategy table. It indicates that you have a pretty decent chance of winning. For the same reason, many casinos don’t allow doubling on certain hands. Check the rules of the game before playing online blackjack.
- Hit/Stand. If none of the above options are available, request another card (hit), or hold your total and end the turn (stand). As you can see from the tables, your decision to stand is heavily dependent on whether your hand is “hard” or “soft.”
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Step 3. Practice Basic Blackjack Strategy
If you’re playing at a Vegas casino, you have to memorize the tables; only a few casinos allow players to bring in printouts of the strategy to blackjack tables. But you don’t have this limitation in online blackjack!
Initially, you can keep a printout of the table (or keep this page open in another window) and make decisions using the charts. It may seem a little boring at first, but you can mix it up by playing practice rounds with no cash wagers.
Use the demo mode, available at most online casinos, to play using free virtual coins at zero risk. Avoid live dealer games as a beginner; they don’t allow demo mode or too many bonus options, and you have to wager money, which can be risky.
Once you’re more proficient in the strategies, you can move on to real cash bets on blackjack games found in the Table Games category. Use deposit bonuses to increase your bankroll, and place the lowest value bets available. This way, you can extend your blackjack sessions and improve your decision-making skills.
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Card-Counting in Online Blackjack?
Basic strategy doesn’t come with a guarantee that you’ll win in blackjack. But many gamblers have achieved it using advanced card-counting tricks, along with the basic strategy. You may have seen this in movies like “Rain Man” or “21.”
Even though online blackjack is a largely faithful simulation of the real-world game, card-counting isn’t worth attempting here. The main reason is low “penetration.” In card games like blackjack, penetration indicates how deep the dealers deal into a deck before it’s shuffled.
Low penetration means that decks are shuffled often, after every 2-3 rounds, giving players less chance of making accurate predictions on the cards remaining in a deck. In a casino, they usually have 80% to 90% penetration, while at online casinos the penetration is around 50% for an 8-deck game.
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