Category: Blackjack Tips

Card Counting in Online Blackjack

Card Counting in Online Blackjack

Card counting is one of the popular strategies of blackjack. This strategy has been highly dramatized in movies. Take, for example, Rain Man, where the character portrayed by Dustin Hoffman was able to literally count the cards in a blackjack game. The most recent movie about blackjack, 21, features card counting as an advanced mathematical operation.

In fact, card counting is based on a very simple principle. You don’t actually count cards; you only apply certain values to certain cards. The goal is to know the ratio between high valued cards and low valued cards.

The more high valued cards there are in the deck, the greater your chances of winning. This is because you can get close to 21 much more easily, while the dealer will have higher chances of being busted. The opposite is also true: the more lower-valued cards are in the deck, the riskier every bet you make would be.

Let us take the Hi/Lo card counting strategy as an example. In the Hi/Lo strategy, cards 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are given a value of +1. 7, 8, and 9 are given a neutral value of 0. All the face cards, 10s, and Aces are given a value of -1. A player using the Hi/Lo strategy would add the values of the cards that are dealt.

So for example, a 2 is dealt. The running count should now be +1. After which, an 8 is dealt. The running count would still be +1 (+1 + 0 = +1). If a Jack arrives on the table, the running count would be back to 0. (+1 + 0 + -1 = 0)

Using the Hi/Lo system, you can easily bet larger and double down more often when the value reaches high positives, and bet smaller or even leave the table when the running count comes to high negatives.

More complicated card counting strategies have come up to counter the casino’s action of adding decks. Some of these employ values other than +1 and -1, some even have side-counts, where you’ll need to keep track of another number other than the running count.

Card counting can actually give you an advantage over the house. Following the basic blackjack strategy coupled with the most basic card counting techniques can give you up to more than 2% advantage!

However, do take note that card counting is more difficult in online blackjack. Since most online casinos do not disclose how many decks they are using, you would find it difficult to adjust your counting strategies. The more decks a casino uses, the harder it is to count.

Also, since most online casinos employ some sort of automatic shuffling similar to Continuous Shuffling Machines of land-based casinos, it is virtually impossible to use card counting to your advantage.

The best way to win in online blackjack, therefore, would still be to follow basic blackjack strategy.

Learn Basic Blackjack Strategy

Learn Basic Blackjack Strategy

Online blackjack is one of the most profitable gambling games. When you employ even the most basic blackjack strategy, you would be able to reduce the house edge to at least 2%, without the need to increase your bets. If you master this strategy, you could even reduce it to less than 0.5%!

Other online casino games do not offer this opportunity. For example, to reduce the house edge of online slots, you would need to increase your bet to gain access to multi-line options. Blackjack also gives you a large enough space for control.

Basic blackjack strategy is all about comparing your hand to the dealer’s hand. Which actions of blackjack to perform according to the table’s present situation could be easily summarized. We offer these in the following tables.

The good thing about online blackjack is that you can easily look at this web page while playing. That means you don’t need to memorize at all!

When to Hit and to Stand

The most basic rule is to always look at the situation of the whole table and not just at your own hand. The dealer’s cards may be closer to busting than yours, but sometimes, standing at this point would be disadvantageous to you. Here are guides to help you decide when to hit and when to stand.

  1. For a Hard Hand

A hard hand is one that does not contain an Ace. Taking hits with this hand is generally riskier.

Hit or Stand Probabilities for Hard Hands

  1. For a Soft Hand

A soft hand is one that contains an Ace. Since the Ace could be valued either as 1 or 11, this makes taking hits somewhat easier.

Hit or Stand Probabilities for Soft Hands

When to Double Down

Doubling down increases your profit, but sometimes even seemingly strong hands are more prone to losses than they look. The following tables illustrate situations when you should double down and when you should not. Remember that different online casinos may have different rules on doubling down, as some limit it to hands of a certain value.

When to Split Pairs

Generally, splitting pairs increases your chances of winning, since you’re literally given two hands. As a general strategy, you should split all Aces and 8s, and you should retain pairs of 10s and 5s. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the online casino regarding splitting pairs — some online casinos only allow certain pairs to be split up. The following table illustrates which pairs to split and at what situation.

Y = Split, N = Don’t Split

A Note about Insurance Bets and Surrendering

It is against basic strategy and logic to place an insurance bet. All insurance bets will always be to your disadvantage: there are only sixteen cards with a value of 10 existing in a deck of 52 cards. That’s only a 31% chance of winning back your initial bet! You won’t even gain any profit if you win. Furthermore, the chances that the dealer would be gaining a blackjack would lessen once other cards with a value of 10 appear. This would be the same reason why surrendering (as rare as this option may be) is never advantageous to a player. By giving up the chance to beat the dealer, you are also giving up your money — you could have profited instead of lost.

The Rules of Online Blackjack

The Rules of Online Blackjack

In general, blackjack is played with varying quantities of deck of cards. It used to be just one deck, but since genius gamblers like Edward O. Thorp created systems that would surely beat the dealer (i.e., card counting), casinos have upped the stakes. Now, blackjack is played with two, four, sometimes even up to eight decks!

But don’t let this fact hinder you from playing. The number of decks used would only affect your strategy if you’re counting cards. Otherwise, you would be fine with following the basic blackjack strategy.

Before we go into the nitty-gritty of blackjack strategy, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of online blackjack.

Blackjack Card Values

Suits have no value in blackjack, and do not affect the game in any way. Cards 2 to 10 are taken at face value. All face cards are considered to have a value of 10. The Ace could be considered as having a value of 11 or 1, depending on the situation.

So, for example, a Jack and a 4 would equal 14. An Ace and a 4 would be equivalent to either 5 or 15. If the cards are Ace, 4, and 7, the value of Ace would be 1 by default, because if it were to be 11, the hand would bust (11+4+7=22). If the Ace were paired up with any card that has a value of 10, it would automatically be valued 11, giving the player a blackjack.

Blackjack Game Procedure

The game procedure in blackjack is identical in both its online and offline versions. Players first place their bet before being dealt anything. Players are dealt two cards face-up. The dealer is given one face up card and one face down card (called the ‘hole’ card). After all the cards are dealt, the players then act in turn. In games where there are multiple players, the one to the left of the dealer acts first.

Blackjack Actions and Terms

Hit: To hit means you want to be dealt another card. To execute the hit action in online blackjack, you’ll usually simply click the ‘hit’ button.

Stand: If you are satisfied with your first two cards or your cards after you’ve hit, you can click on the ‘stand’ button. This will signify that you don’t want to be dealt any more cards.

Double Down: When a player doubles down, they are allowed to double their bet after being dealt their initial two cards. The player would then be dealt a last additional card. The conditions for doubling down vary according to which online casino you are playing in. For example, some casinos only allow doubling down to cards that total eleven.

Split: When a player is dealt two cards of the same rank (e.g. two Jacks), they can choose to split the cards into two different hands. After which, the player must make a bet equivalent to their initial bet. A second card would then be dealt to your first split hand. You can now act on your hand. Once you choose to stand, the dealer would then repeat the process on your second split card.

Insurance: The dealer would offer insurance if their upcard is an Ace. An insurance bet is a side bet — you are betting that the dealer’s hole card is a 10. To make this wager, you put in half of your total bet on the side. If the dealer’s hole card is a 10, you are paid 2:1. If you win the insurance bet, you’ll just be receiving your lost bet.

Surrender: A few online casinos would offer you the option of surrendering your hand, with the effect of retaining half your initial bet when the dealer checks for a blackjack.