Blackjack is the casino game with the lowest house edge. Movies like 21 and Rain Man drop the tantalizing hint that with enough brain power, you too could take on the house, and win. And while Hollywood does often overegg this theme of high-IQ nerds winning big on blackjack, there are a few guaranteed ways to boost your odds of winning in the game over the long run. Best of all, you don’t need to study at MIT or learn basic strategy to implement these rules. You just have to avoid these 3 things when playing blackjack.
Never play 6-5 blackjack
Back in the old days of Las Vegas, all blackjack tables offered 3-2 payouts, when a winning hand paid out $15 for every $10 staked. Lately, the biggest names in Sin City have been offering 6-5 payouts. These reduced odds pay out $12 instead of $10, adding another 1.5% to house edge. It might not sound like much, but these lower payouts make blackjack a much less attractive game to play over the long run. Every table has the payout rate marked on it, so if you see the 6-5 text, keep walking until you find a table offering 3-2. One good thing is that online live casinos still all offer 3-2 games… for now, at least.
Never place side bets
Casinos get tired of the low returns of blackjack and have in recent decades tried to spice things up with so-called side bets, targeted at leisure players. Just stay away from these side bets – they are there to add to the house edge, and although they sound tempting, your chances of winning them are much reduced. Typical examples include Perfect Pairs, 21 + 3, and Super Sevens. Some of these increase the potential payouts to 5000:1 and are more attractive to players looking for that big thrill. However, these all come at the expense of greater margins for the casino and should be avoided. If you are looking for big risk bets, opt for roulette instead. The colors are much prettier on roulette.
Never buy insurance
But the biggest side bet of all is the one you really need to avoid… and that is the insurance bet. Insurance bets appeal to the momentarily risk averse blackjack player, who already has some winnings at stake after their hand has been shown, and wants to protect those winnings against a potential ace face up from the dealer. But the house edge on an insurance bet is 7.4% and eats into your overall profits from playing blackjack. A better strategy is to play at lower stakes, avoid insurance, and just focus on the long run.
Blackjack is a simple enough game but applying maths to find an edge can be complicated. And as for the card counting antics that we saw on the film 21, you will need a bigger brain than most to pull that off. But the 3 tips above can be easily applied to any game of blackjack, whether it be at a table in Las Vegas or just as simple session playing blackjack online, and don’t require an expensive education to do so.