Playing Blackjack is card game that involves both skill and luck. However, the degree of how you apply the two depends on the type of blackjack game you play. Unlike other casino games like slots and bingo where pure luck is at play, blackjack card games involve a significant amount of skill.
Skilled players use arithmetic, organizational, and strategic skills to create and implement proper strategy. You must be able to use the dealer’s hand to determine your next move. However, card counting is the ultimate skill you can master in blackjack.
The factors that influence your success vary from land-based to online casinos. For example, the computer-controlled shuffling and dealing in online Blackjack removes some player edge. Therefore, you cannot settle for a definite opinion. The answer depends on your mode of play.
Is Blackjack a game of skill?
Blackjack is a card game where players compete against each other and the dealer to get closest to a card total of 21. The dealers issue random cards to the players who can choose among four different plays to beat the dealer to 21. Additionally, you place bets on each play and win a considerable sum of gambling money, depending on the result.
The most effective skill in Blackjack is Card Counting. You will come across many stories of players who use this skill to win lump sums in prize money. However, the devastation to casino profits following effective execution of this skill prompts operators to employ elite surveillance teams to monitor gameplay.
Furthermore, some gambling authorities now outlaw card counting in their operator licensing regulations. For example, Nevada State Law considers it cheating, which can attract a fine of up to $10k or a maximum of six years in prison and a felony record.
Best Blackjack Skill – How to Count Cards
Counting cards is perhaps the most effective and optimal strategy for blackjack. So if you are ready to plunge into the world of professional card counting, here is how to count cards:
1) First, assign three tracking categories to the cards
Below are the standard three types of cards when it comes to card-counting:
- Favorable cards – These are those that can get you closer to 21 quickly—for example, Aces and Tens.
- Unfavorable cards – These are the low-value cards, mainly cards2 to 6. They are unfavorable because the highest total you can achieve will only be in the lower teens. For example, drawing a ten in your next round only gets you to sixteen. Therefore, always bet low with such a hand since it is likely that you will lose this round.
- Neutral cards – These cards have a minimal effect on your hand’s total. Therefore, you have more leeway with your plays without risking any unfavorable outcomes. Expert card counters consider cards 7 to 9 as neutral cards.
2) Next, assign a value to each card category
Again, the easiest way for you to pull this off is by using this method.
- Favorable cards have a value of minus one.
- Unfavorable cards have a positive one.
- Neutral cards have a zero value.
Adding the values of the 52 cards should get you a card value total of Zero.
3) Start your count from Zero.
Then, you can now start your card counting from zero after the first deal. Moreover, you will either subtract or add to it depending on the cards dealt for each round.
Remember, the value after each deal will determine how you play the next round. For example, a negative count means you are at a high risk of losing since fewer favorable cards remain for subsequent deals.
Basic Blackjack Moves
These are your options with two cards when the dealer you:
- Always double down on cards 2 to 7 if a dealer’s up-card is 6 or 5
- Also, double down your hard 11 against a dealer’s Ace.
- Similarly, double down your 8 against the dealer’s up-cards of 5 or 6
- Hit on soft 18 ( Ace + 7) against the dealer’s up-cards of 9, 10 and Aces.
- Additionally, hit on hard 12 against your dealer’s up-card of 2 or 3.
- Whenever you have two 8s or Aces, the wise thing is to split your hands.
- However, you should never split your double 5s because you can safely take one more deal without any disastrous consequences.
- Furthermore, never split your double 10s either. Your chances of a favorable outcome with a hand-total of 20 are better than with individual hands of 10.
- A pair of 9s will win you more money if you stand against a dealer’s 7 upcard because the number of 10s in the deck is four times the other ranks. Therefore, even if the dealer draws a 10, your 18 wins since it is closer to 21.
- Also, you should stand your hard 16 against your dealer’s up card of 10. However, this only applies if your 16 is from multiple cards; say a seven, five and a four.
- Finally, you are better off surrendering against a dealer’s upcards of 9, 10 and Aces, when your hand total is 15 or 16. Since you are at a considerable disadvantage and surrendering will minimize your future betting losses in subsequent rounds.
- Note: The above strategies are only guides to improve your chances of winning at Blackjack. However, your use of them is dependent on the Blackjack variation you are playing. Therefore, ensure you are fully aware of the game’s rules before employing this skill.
- By the above, Blackjack is a game of skill. You need to be intelligent in mathematical and observational skills if you want to win big at blackjack. Furthermore, you need to have the restraint to remain discreet enough to avoid the casino’s security team noticing your actions.
Is Blackjack a luck game?
Also, you can categorize Blackjack as a game of luck. Despite massive numbers denying this opinion, there is evidence validating this claim. Here are the arguments that support Blackjack as a game of luck:
- Artificial Intelligence controls the dealer’s in-game activities – Online casinos use proprietary casino software to provide you with simulated versions of casino games, including Blackjack. Here, artificial intelligence (AI) controls the dealer’s function meaning each round is random, and the results are purely luck-based. Furthermore, casino software vendors are under strict regulation by gambling authorities to ensure the randomness and fairness of their games.
- Different Casino Blackjack Rules – Gambling authorities allow operators to customize casino games provided they are within the current operating guidelines. As such, you will find games where the dealer uses more than a single deck of cards. Therefore, card counting can be tough to execute, as there are more cards to count depending on the number of card packs in play.
You can apply these arguments to both land-based and online casinos. Since land-based casinos also offer virtual casino play as part of their gambling service offerings. So, without a doubt, Blackjack is also a game of luck as it is a skill game.