Posts Tagged ‘Free Blackjack Tips’

Banking on Side Bets in Blackjack

To encourage more players to visit the blackjack tables and also to improve their margins, many casinos have added side bets.

These innocent-sounding gambles usually require a rather small wager (typically a dollar) and generally return better than the customary even-money blackjack payoffs.

It’s a competitive market for side bets. Each year at Global Gaming Expo, the casino industry’s premier trade show (Global Gaming Expo), you will find a countless number of enthusiastic vendors pitching their side bets to casino officials.The reality, however, is many of them never make it to the casino floor, and the few that do die quickly because of lack of player interest.



Blackjack Basics: Always Insure a Good Hand

A FRIEND OF MINE WAS watching me play blackjack in a casino. I was playing heads-up against the dealer in a double-deck game. He didn’t say much to me while I was playing, other than giving me an “atta boy” when I beat the dealer, or offering condolences when the dealer pulled a miracle draw to beat me.
After about 45 minutes of playing we broke for lunch. My friend is a typical, casual blackjack player and he queried me about some of the insurance bets I made. “How come you sometimes insured your 20’s and other times you didn’t? And why in hell did you insure your 7? I always thought you’re supposed to insure your good hands and not your bad hands?”

I proceeded to explain to him the following:


Play Better Blackjack with John G

When it comes to playing correct blackjack strategy, players are faced with alot of decisions. The way you play them can effect your overall win percentage. So, know the number BEFORE you sit down.

Is playing at a multi-deck table that pays 6-5 on blackjack (which is not recommended) the same as playing a single deck table offering the same odds?

Find out what our Casino Guru John Grochowski has to say about it!


Blackjack: Playing Multiple Hands

Sometimes you will see a blackjack player playing two hands instead of one. Other times, you might see a player who has been playing one hand suddenly spread to two hands in the middle of the shoe because he has the misconception that, by “changing the flow of cards,” he will change the luck of the table. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as you are just as likely to keep losing as you are to start winning, so switching to playing two (or more) hands will not guarantee your luck will change.



Casino Knowledge: Q & A with John G.

Q. I play basic strategy blackjack, but I don’t count cards. I’m curious about team play. I heard about the MIT guys playing as a team. How does that work? They can’t help out each other at the table, can they? Where is there any extra advantage in playing as a team? Is it just in pooling their money?


A. Blackjack card-counting teams operate with one player counting cards while making minimum bets. When the count favors the players, the counter signals a big player, who joins the game and makes large bets. When the count turns and favors the house, the card counter gives another signal, and the big player leaves the table, perhaps to go to a different table where another counter has signaled.



Blackjack: Progressive Betting

The intent of a progressive betting system is to vary the size of your bets in a predetermined manner, according to whether or not you won the previous bet. Many recreational players use them when they play blackjack. I’ll focus on one of the most famous and widely used progressive betting systems—the Martingale, or double-up, system.


Using the Martingale betting system, you double your previous bet after every loss until you finally win a hand, at which point you will be ahead by one betting unit. For example, suppose you wager $10 and the results of the next three hands are loss, loss, and win (L-L-W). You would have lost $10 on the first hand, $20 on the second hand, and won $40 on the third hand. You wind up with a net win of $10, which is the goal of the progression, to win an amount equal to your starting wager.


Blackjack: Jump Start Your Winning

The one question I am asked most often is “What can I do to win more when I play blackjack?” What follows are some simple steps you can take to do just that.

Learn the “Wizard’s Simple Strategy”
If you don’t have the time or the energy to memorize the complete basic playing strategy, then learn the “Wizard’s Simple Strategy.” Michael (“Wizard of Odds”) Shackleford developed the strategy, and it appeared in issue No. 116 of my Blackjack Insider Newsletter ( The strategy is easy to learn and increases the house edge by 0.14 percent above the traditional basic playing strategy. It’s an ideal strategy for beginners and casual players, and it sure beats guessing when it come to deciding how to play your hand.


Blackjack: Finding the Edge

The one question I get asked most by recreational blackjack players in the South is, “Which casinos offer the best game?” It would be nearly impossible for me to visit every casino to check out their blackjack games to determine who has the best games. Therefore, I did the next best thing — contacted my friends at and got their permission to use their extensive database of casinos in their Current Blackjack News to determine who offers the best blackjack games. (Note: Current Blackjack News is an electronic newsletter that uses paid reporters to gather playing conditions from virtually all casinos in the country. The information is summarized in the newsletter, updated monthly, and emailed to subscribers around the globe.)


Blackjack: Don’t Make These Mistakes

After a 40-plus career as a blackjack player, I’ve witnessed a plethora of mistakes made by players when they play blackjack. The list is long, but below you’ll find some of the most frequent mistakes.

Increasing their bets because they are due to win
I see players doing this almost every time I play blackjack. The player loses several consecutive hands, so he makes a big bet because “he is due to win.” The fact that you’ve lost several consecutive hands has no bearing on the chance of winning the next hand. Therefore, players should not be using the results of previous hands as an indicator of how much to bet on future hands.


Blackjack: Splitting 10’s…Dumb or Smart?

You sometimes see blackjack players splitting a pair of 10s, especially when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 upcard. They figure, “Why not split the 10s to get more money on the table when the dealer has a good chance of busting with the 5 or 6.” Sounds logical, but is it really the best play? Let’s see.


Blackjack: Answering Your Questions

blackjack-cardsQ: Some blackjack authors say you should always stand on 16 when the dealer’s shows a 10, while others say you should hit. Who is right?

A: They may both be right. If you hold a two-card 16 (such as 10-6 or 9-7), your best strategy is to hit (assuming the surrender option is not available). However, if you hold a 16 that consists of, say, three cards such as 7-5-4, then your best strategy is to stand. The reason you stand with a multi-card 16 is that you are holding small cards that could have helped you achieve a pat hand. Since these small cards are no longer available in the un-played pack of cards (because they are in your hand), this shifts the odds just enough so that standing is the better play rather than hitting.


Blackjack: Myths Debunked

There are three main myths about the game of blackjack that I would like to set the record straight about once and for all. These myths baffle the people who are seasoned to the game. So, if you believe that blackjack is luck or other people’s behaviors cause you to loose, you should read this column and learn the truth.

1. Blackjack is a game of luck.

On any one hand or session, luck plays a major role on whether you win or lose. But during your lifetime, luck will even out when you play blackjack. Sometimes, you will get that picture card to go with your Ace and other times you won’t. But over time, you will have just as many lucky hits as you will unlucky hits. Ditto for the dealer who is, after all, only human. The only factor that remains to impact your result is skill. Since the dealer has no skill, the only person that can use skill to their benefit is you, the player. In other words, by being a skillful blackjack player, meaning knowing when to hit, stand, double down and split, as well as knowing when to bet more, you can significantly impact your result at blackjack above and beyond the luck factor.

But perhaps you are still not convinced blackjack is not all luck. In all the other games of chance that you come across in a casino, the results of the previous coup (be it a spin or dice throw) has no bearing on the result of the next coup. Each spin or dice throw is an independent event that does not influence future spins or dice throws. But blackjack is different. The odds of winning any hand are dependent on what happens in previous hands. Not whether the hands won or lost, but specifically what cards were played in the previous hands.

For example, if I see four Aces dealt in the first round, my odds of getting a blackjack in the next round is zero because I know that there are not anymore Aces left in the deck. Likewise, if you didn’t see any Aces played in the first round, your chance of getting a blackjack in the next round increases, and now would be a good time to bet more money. The point is that blackjack is a game of dependent trials, and because of this, skillful players who know how to play their hands and know what cards appeared in previous rounds can significantly reduce the house edge and can actually gain the edge over the house.

To be a skillful player is not all that difficult. First, you should learn the basic playing strategy. If learning the complete basic strategy is too daunting, try learning the simplified basic strategy that was recently developed by Michael Shackleford (“The Wizard of Odds”). This simple strategy appeared in the November issue on my Blackjack Insider Newsletter.

Secondly, you need a toll that will tell you when the mix of unplayed cards are in your favor so you can bet more chips. There are plenty of simple card-counting systems available that you can learn quick. The three that I would recommend is Speed Book (“Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution”), Ace/Ten Front Count (“Blackjack Bluebook”) and Rookie K-O count (“Knock-Out Blackjack”).

2. Dumb players cause me to lose.

I hear this all time from players who blame their losses on the dimwit third-base player. It is true that when a player misplays his hand, it will affect what cards the dealer will get and the results of the round. But … pay attention to this … you cannot predict whether the misplayed hand will hurt or help you. The fact is that it will all even out in the wash. Unfortunately, blackjack players always remember the times they lose a hand when another player misplays and grumble about it, yet they never seem to heap praise on this same player when his misplay causes the dealer to break and everyone wins. (I call this selective memory, and most blackjack players have it.) The fact of the matter is this: It does not make one bit of difference in the long run how well or poorly your fellow players play their hands.

3. Players entering a game will lead to bad luck.

The table is hot and players are winning like crazy. Along comes a new player who sits down and makes a bet. What is this nerd doing!? He’s going to change the order of the cards, and we are doomed to lose. Don’t laugh because many players believe this nonsense and go berserk when someone enters a game in the middle of a shoe. They honestly believe it will end their hot streak! Many casino managers pacify these misinformed players by posting rules that state a player can’t enter in mid-shoe.

Here are the facts: The cards were shuffled and placed in the shoe in a certain random order. Suppose you ask for a hit and the dealer asks you, “Do you want the next card from the shoe or the following card?” What would you do? Of course it doesn’t make a difference because you don’t know what the next is. So, it is the same when a player enters mid-shoe and changes the order of the cards being dealt in subsequent rounds. Sometimes the next round will continue to be “hot” for the players and sometimes it won’t. But in the long run it is all a wash, and the fact that a player enters in mid-shoe will have no long-term effect on your odds of winning.

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Henry Tamburin is the editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (, lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack Course (, and host of For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to To receive his free Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit

Blackjack: Doubling 11 Against an Ace

I got an interesting question from a blackjack player on the merits of doubling down on 11 against a dealer’s Ace. It read:

“If I’m holding an 11 and the dealer shows an Ace and she peeks and doesn’t have a blackjack, then isn’t doubling down the better play since you have eliminated the possibility that she has a blackjack, and my 11 has to be stronger than her Ace?”

The answer to his question is: It depends on the number of decks of cards and the rules. Let me explain.

Let’s assume you are playing a typical six-deck game where the dealer must stand on soft 17 (s17). In this game, your 11 is not stronger than her Ace. Sure, her Ace counts as 11, which is equal to your hand total of 11, but there is one big difference. If the dealer goes over 21 while drawing cards to her hand, she can count the Ace as a 1. Because of this, her chance of busting with an Ace upcard, assuming she has checked her hole card and doesn’t have blackjack, is relatively low (in fact, she’ll bust only 17 percent of the time). The chart below shows the dealer probabilities for the final hands that she will wind up with when she has an Ace upcard (and doesn’t have a blackjack).

The probabilities below clearly show that the dealer is not vulnerable when she shows an Ace upcard.

Now let’s look at what happens when you double down on your 11. The fact that you are doubling means you get only one draw card. Of course, you are hoping for a 10-value card that will give you 21. But suppose instead you get dealt a small card, like a 3, for a 14. Unfortunately, you are stuck with a 14 because you can’t draw again. And that’s the big advantage that the dealer has: If she has an Ace-3 for 14, she can draw again, and during the process of drawing more cards to her hand she goes over 21, she has another chance to make good because she can count her Ace as 1 and continue to draw. You, on the other hand, have no options if you doubled down and have a 7-4-3. By the rules of the game, you must stand with your 14. And that’s why your 11 is not nearly as strong as her Ace in this game.

So here’s the best strategy for playing an 11 against a dealer’s Ace in a six-deck game with s17: You should hit 11 against a dealer’s Ace upcard until you get to a count of at least 17. This means if you hit and draw a 3 for 14, hit again. If your next draw card is a 2, giving you 16, hit again. Just remember to keep drawing cards until the total of your hand is 17 or more.

Now what happens if you find yourself in a six-deck game where the rules specify that the dealer must hit soft 17 (h17), or you are playing a double-deck game? It turns out the probabilities change just enough to make doubling 11 the better play than standing in some situations. I don’t have the space to go into the math, so I’ll just summarize what the best strategy is.

If you are playing in a six-deck game and dealer must hit soft 17, then you should double down 11 against the Ace (not hit).

If you are playing a double-deck game … hold onto to your hats for this one … the right way to play it depends whether the game is s17 or h17, and sometimes the make-up of the cards in your hand. For example, in a double-deck game with s17 or h17, always double down with this exception: If you hold a 9-2 or 8-3 in an s17 game, you should hit (with 7-4 or 6-5, you should double down).

If you find remembering this strategy change based on the rules and number of decks of cards a little daunting, I’d suggest you bring a set of strategy cards with you when you play blackjack. The ones I recommend are the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Cards by Don Schlesinger, and the Basic Strategy Cards by Ken Smith (they are both in my gambling catalog at Schlesinger’s strategy cards consist of a set of three covering single-, double- and multiple-deck games with s17 and h17 (they also contain the strategy that depends upon the composition of your hand). Smith’s strategy cards consist of a set of six cards that also cover the h17 and s17 games for single-, double- and multiple-deck games (they are smaller cards that easily fit in a shirt pocket or wallet).

If you are planning a trip to a casino and you know, for example, that they offer double-deck as well as six-deck blackjack games but you are not sure of the rules, just bring along the appropriate strategy card with you, and no matter what the rules are when you sit down and play, you’ll have the right strategy card handy to make all the right plays.

Probability of dealer’s final hand when showing an Ace upcard:

17 or More: 83%

18 or More: 65%

19 or More: 46%

20 or More: 27%

21: 8%

Bust: 17%

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Henry Tamburin is the author of “Blackjack Take The Money & Run,” editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter ( and lead instructor for Golden Touch Blackjack Course ( For a FREE three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to To receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit

Blackjack: Playing Soft 17n

We all know that the dealer’s play in blackjack is purely mechanical and quite straightforward: Draw a card on 16 or lower, and stand on 17 through 21. Most players will pick up this simple fact about the game pretty quickly as it remains constant just about anywhere you play. There is, however, one dealer rule that could differ from one casino to another, and even amongst blackjack tables within the same casino, and it is this: The dealer can either stand or hit on soft 17.

A soft hand in blackjack is any hand that contains an ace that is counted as an 11. For example, an ace-6 is a soft 17. So is ace-3-3 and 2-2-ace-2. Casinos decide whether to allow their dealers to hit soft 17 (known as h17), or stand on soft 17 (s17), and let players know by printing it on the felt layout, and usually on a sign located on the table to avoid any confusion or controversy.

You might think that the soft 17 rule seems trivial. I mean, come on, what’s the big deal if the dealer hits or stands on one lousy hand? Well this might shock you, but it is a big deal, and if your local casino hasn’t switched from s17 to h17 yet, it is only a matter of time before it will.

When a casino changes its rule from s17 to h17, guess who gets the short end of the stick? Of course it is going to be the players. The h17 rule increases the house edge by about 0.2 percent (rule dependent). In dollars and cents, it costs a player about 2 cents for every 10 bucks wagered.

Now you are probably thinking that two measly cents a hand is not a big deal. Oh, really? Think again my friend. Over the course of a year you will be donating nearly $200 to the casinos’ bottom line if you are a $10 bettor, or about $500 if you’re a $25 bettor. This is based on a player who averages two four-hour sessions a month … if you play more, you donate more.

It turns out the dealer will bust about 0.3 percent more often when she hits a soft 17, rather than stands (assuming all other rules are equal). So, then, why does the house edge increase by 0.2 percent? Because when she doesn’t bust, the dealer winds up with a total that is greater than 17, which, more often than not, beats the players. The latter more than compensates for the increased bust frequency resulting in the 0.2 percent increase in house edge.

Years ago, all six-deck games were s17. To generate more revenue, casinos gradually began to implement the h17 rule on their tables. But they didn’t make this change all at once because they were concerned that players would revolt. So, over the past several years, you would often find some tables with the s17 rule, and others with h17 in the same casino. It was up to the player to decide which game to play, and unfortunately, many players didn’t understand the difference between s17 and h17, so they often chose the latter (to the delight of the casinos, I might add).

However, if you have no choice and your local casino only offers the h17 six- or eight-deck game, you should make the following changes to the basic playing strategy (assuming you are allowed to double down after pair splitting).

If surrender is available, you should also surrender Hard 15 against dealer ace; Hard 17 against dealer ace; and a pair of 8s against dealer ace.

Unfortunately, the trend is going to h17 games. But if players stop playing the h17 games, and instead play only s17 games, perhaps casino managers will think twice about switching to the less player-friendly h17 games.

A soft hand in blackjack is any hand that contains an ace that is counted as an 11.

Hard 17 Basic Strategy Changes

Double down on 11 against dealer ace.

Double down on ace-7 against dealer 2.

Double down ace-8 against dealer 6.
Henry Tamburin is the author of “Blackjack Take The Money & Run,” editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter ( and lead instructor for Golden Touch Blackjack Course ( For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, visit To receive his free Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit

Blackjack: Side Bets

In an effort to encourage more players to play blackjack, and also to improve their margins, many casinos have added side bets on their tables. These innocent-looking bets usually require a rather small wager (typically only $1) and generally have payoffs greater than the customary even-money blackjack payoffs.