Blackjack for Beginners: Finding the Right Game

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Blackjack is one of the best casino games for the player. The game has a low house edge, which can be diminished even further by correctly playing the game.

Before you stride into the casino and sit down at a random table, check out this blackjack for beginners guide to finding the right table.

Advanced Scouting Goes a Long Way

Taking a few minutes to survey the blackjack landscape can dramatically impact how your gambling session plays out.

While the gameplay is standard across the world, many small factors further slide the advantage in the casino’s favor. Ultimately, having an adverse effect on your bottom line.

Casinos vary the number of decks used to disguise this edge cleverly, but sometimes, the methods are more obvious. One table rule that casinos blatantly execute is paying 6:5 for a blackjack instead of the traditional 3:2. Savvy players know to look out for the things that can make a great game bad. Still, there is a tremendous population of uninformed and beginner level casino gamblers that aren’t prepared to spot these differences.

In fact, many of them couldn’t tell you why one game is any better or worse than the next. Learning to spot the good games and avoiding the bad will significantly increase your enjoyment of the game.

Make scouting the blackjack tables a part of your casino gambling routine. Before you know it, you’ll be finding bigger returns. Obviously, to find the best blackjack tables, you’ll have to know exactly what you’re looking for first.

Key Factors for Success

There are several key factors in choosing the proper blackjack table—these range from the number of decks used to how the casino shuffles the cards.

These factors can greatly diminish your odds.

Fortunately, when spotted, they can be easily avoided.

Avoiding the following blackjack pitfalls will greatly take away from the house’s edge. You’ll soon be playing at the tables longer and watching your casino gambling bankroll growing more quickly.

The number of decks used in a game can have a serious effect on how well you do in a game. By increasing the number of decks used, the house pads its edge.

Advantage players like card counters will have a much more difficult time keeping an accurate count on a game with eight decks as opposed to two decks. So, you’ll rarely see card counters even attempt to play games with a high number of decks.

The true target of the casino’s ploy is the basic strategy players. Playing basic strategy for casino blackjack can diminish the house edge to under 1%. However, by increasing the number of decks in play, the casino increases the variables in play, thus, increasing their edge and sending you home sooner.

Please Note:
Savvy blackjack players can usually spot the number of decks in play without much trouble. If you are unsure, you can ask the dealer. It amazes me how often the table minimum and maximum bets are overlooked. I regularly see players sit down and buy into a game, place their bet, and be informed by the dealer that they haven’t met the table minimum.

The process takes minutes, which slows down the game, frustrates other players, and ultimately leaves the player embarrassed. Typically, the player will grab their chips and scurry off to another table without saying a word.

I have seen more than a few players buy in at a higher stakes table and stubbornly play their chips stack away instead of walking away to begin. Know the table limits before you sit down; the placard at the table will have these clearly defined.

Playing by the Rules

Once you have established the table limits, and whether or not the number of decks in play is acceptable, it’s time to start looking at the other table rules.

The table rules dictate your chances of leaving with the casino’s money. Some of the favorable rules include allowing the player to double down after splitting and the dealer standing on a soft 17.

Surrender can be a good rule for the player, but only in certain situations. I consider surrender to be a complete sucker bet. Still, if you have a sloppy dealer and can effectively hole card, then surrender can be extremely advantageous when you know the dealer has a blackjack.

Possibly the most important rule you will look for is how blackjacks are paid. For years, the 3:2 payout on blackjack has been the industry standard. Unfortunately, I have seen the troubling trend of 6:5 payout sweeping casinos around the globe. When a casino only pays 6:5, it dramatically reduces your winnings—winnings that you need to keep your bankroll afloat through a long table session.

The problem is that many players don’t do the math. They see 6:5 and either doesn’t know what it means or think it’s great because six is greater than three. If you’re playing 6:5 blackjack for $50 per hand, you get $60 for blackjack. On a 3:2 table, you would be getting $75.

You’ll be missing an extra 25% for every blackjack that you hit on a 6:5 table. Successful blackjack players won’t even slow down for a 6:5 table.

In fact, you’re better off playing another game like baccarat or craps if the casino doesn’t offer 3:2 for blackjack. I’ve actually left casinos in favor of another to catch the better table rules, and you should, too.

Tips to Take to the Table

Now that you have a base knowledge of what to look for and what to avoid, I want you to have some additional items to keep in mind for the tables. I’ve already covered the importance of not playing blackjack on tables that pay worse than 3:2 for blackjack.

What if I told you that you might find casinos offering a 2:1 payout for blackjack? Not to throw you a curveball, but online casinos will offer 2:1 blackjack as a promotion in rare instances. Typically, it’s for a specific and brief period of time. So, if you spot any casino, whether physical or online, paying 2:1, get in as soon as possible!

Playing 2:1 blackjack actually gives a positive expectation to the player when a basic strategy is used. Basic blackjack strategy is one of the finest ways to diminish the house edge in the casino. Basic strategy players understand that while the guesswork has been taken out of the game for them, the thrill of winning far outweighs the short-lived thrill before a loss. The basic blackjack strategy is based on millions of computer simulations. It gives players the best possible play for any hand based on the dealer’s up card. Thankfully, you won’t be expected to memorize whether to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender for every possible combination.

Basic blackjack strategy charts can be found online or even in casino gift shops. You can use the handy index card right there at the table, assuming you aren’t slowing downplay.

So, why doesn’t every player in the casino sit down at the tables with a basic strategy chart in hand? Because most players have no idea that basic strategy exists, the casinos certainly aren’t going to promote something that shreds away at their profits. Many players assume they know the rules well enough to “outguess” the casino.

Start playing basic blackjack strategy on every single hand and watch your casino gambling bankroll grow to unprecedented heights.

Grab a Seat

Now that you know what to avoid and understand some fundamental factors for your success, it’s time to grab your seat and play.

Blackjack is on a very short list of my favorite casino games. The low house edge and leisurely pace are perfect for extending your casino gambling bankroll for hours on end. Be sure to do your scouting beforehand; this won’t eat up hours of your casino time. However, it may allow you to spend many additional hours on the casino floor.

Please Note:
If at all possible, try finding a table with as many players as possible. Playing blackjack at a full table is a fantastic way to extend your bankroll because you’ll be playing far fewer hands than at a light table.

Remember that every playing rule is giving an advantage to either the player or the casino. Look for the tables where the advantage goes to the player. Most importantly, have fun. Casino gambling is meant to be entertaining and fun.

Don’t lose sight of that fun factor in your quest to become rich in one lucky run. The math is against you, and all the money you lose will be for nothing.

Conclusion

Blackjack for beginners can’t be broken down as easily as finding the right game. Still, finding the right game is paramount to your potential success in the casino.

Newbie blackjack players will often be intimidated at the sea of tables; they all look the same.

By knowing what to look for and how to spot the differences, you’ll be in a better position than most gamblers that stroll into a casino.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.