Blackjack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular casino games worldwide. It is widely considered to be a game which favours skill more than luck relative to other casino games, such as video slots and roulette. Blackjack dates back hundreds of years and the aim is to collect cards with a value of 21 with as few cards as possible. All the online casinos in the UK have many different variations of blackjack, including modern and classic versions.Compare the best UK online blackjack sites and enjoy playing with these valuable techniques and strategies.
Before you can understand the different strategies and betting systems players use to beat the dealer, it’s important to know the game rules and basic gameplay as well as some blackjack terminology.
To begin, each player and the dealer are dealt 2 cards, which are usually visible to all players. The player’s objective is to reach a card total that is higher than the dealer’s hand, but no higher than 21. If the total is higher than 21 the player is considered “bust” and he loses the round. If the first 2 cards have a value lower than 21, the player can choose to “hit”—be dealt another card randomly—or “stand”—end his turn. Number cards count as their natural value, and all royals are worth 10. Aces are valued at 1 or 11 as per the player’s choice. Once the players have concluded their turn, the dealer must “hit” until their hand is either “bust” or exceeds 17. If the player’s total is closer to 21 than the dealer, the player wins and payouts are usually 1:1.
There are several variations of the game and different casinos use different rules; however, the basic gameplay is the same in all variants. Still, it’s important to check the specific rules at each casino, especially if you plan on card counting, the practice of which can differ greatly depending on the variation being played.
Blackjack Winning Strategies
Blackjack betting strategies help players decide what to do in different situations—whether to “hit” or “stand.” Blackjack betting strategies are proven to lower the house edge and increase the player’s chance of beating the casino.
In a normal game situation, the house always has a statistical advantage, which means you’re almost certain to lose over time. To counteract the house edge, many different strategies have been developed to help players beat the house. However, there are no blackjack betting systems that are foolproof and nothing guarantees you will win. That being said, using a smart betting strategy improves your chances greatly. Below we’ve detailed some basic betting strategies; for even more, check out our article about advanced blackjack strategies.
Blackjack Betting Strategy 1-3-2-6
The 1-3-2-6 doesn't actually affect the house edge, but it does help you keep your discipline and prevents you from losing all your money in just a few rounds. The system is designed to be used for wagers that pay out at 1:1, which is usually the case at a casino blackjack table. First, you need to determine how much a single betting unit should be. To do this, you need to calculate how much you’re willing to lose and set a betting unit which is 5% of that.
For example: If you have $100 to play with which you’re prepared to lose, then set your betting unit at $5. Your betting unit is how much you wager at the beginning of each sequence and a sequence ends each time you lose. If you win, then adjust your bets based on a 1-3-2-6 calculation until the sequence ends. So if your betting unit is $5, then you should bet $15 on your second wager, then $10, then $30. If you complete the system, then restart with $5.
Blackjack Betting Strategy 2-1-2
The 2-1-2 strategy, also known as the Manhattan strategy, helps players avoid losing all their winnings. In this strategy, you set a betting unit as above, and begin a sequence with a 2-unit bet. If you win, decrease that bet to 1 unit for the next round; if you win that run, then increase the subsequent bet to 3 units. Keep this cycle going until the dealer wins, at which point the sequence restarts. The aim of this system is to help players capitalise on their winnings without betting excessively or chasing losses.
Flat Betting System
The flat betting system is an incredibly simple way to place bets at any casino table game. All you do is set a certain betting unit and only bet that amount every time. To set a unit, work out how much you’re willing to risk at a single session, say $100, then only bet 1% ($1 in this example) each time. This means that you’re guaranteed at least 100 rounds of blackjack and you’ll almost certainly not leave the casino empty-handed. However, this system doesn’t affect the house edge and you’re statistically likely to lose overall.
Oscar Betting System
The Oscar betting system, also known as Oscar’s grind, was created by a casino player called Oscar and it’s effective for many different casino games which have a 1:1 payout. Like the previously mentioned strategies, Oscar’s Grind requires you to set a single betting unit. At the start of a sequence, you bet with 1 unit (usually a small percentage, i.e. 2-5% of how much you’re willing to lose) and you keep betting the same amount until you lose. When you lose, the following bet is with 1 unit; however, if you win that bet, the subsequent bet should be with 2 units and the aim is to recoup your loss. The goal is to end the session with 1 betting unit of profit.
The Martingale betting system is perhaps the most famous and alluring of all the casino betting systems. The system is touted as being foolproof, but in truth, it’s an extremely risky strategy which could easily result in huge losses.
The Martingale system is a negative progression system, which means you increase your bets each time you lose. For example, if your betting unit is $10 and you wager and lose it, you should bet $20 on the next round. If you win the subsequent round you should revert back to $10. If you lost the second bet, you should double your unit again and bet $30 on the third round. Keep doubling your bet until you win, at which point you revert back to $10 until you lose again. The aim is to quickly recoup any losses while slowly making positive gains. However, this strategy is obviously very risky and you could lose all your money extremely fast. The strategy relies on the fact that losing streaks aren’t mathematically likely; in fact, streaks of any kind aren’t the statistical norm and “hot” and “cold” streaks are just superstition.
Up and Pull
Up and Pull is a positive betting strategy considered ideal for novice players due to its simplicity. The concept of positive betting is to keep increasing your betting amount each time you win. So, for example, if your betting unit is $5, then you should bet $10 at the start of each sequence. If you win twice in a row, your next bet should be $15 and you should keep increasing by $5 (1 unit) each time until you lose and the sequence restarts.
The aim is to ensure you always bank a profit no matter what, since if your unit is $5 and you bet $10 and win then win $10 a second time, your total profit is $20. If you then bet $15 and lose, you still earned $5 profit. This system is reliable and simple and guarantees you will earn at least a nominal profit in 1 session, provided you don’t hit a losing streak and fail to win 2 games in a row.
All the previously mentioned strategies are effective ways to ensure you keep your discipline while betting, and they are also effective in counteracting the house’s statistical edge. However, none of these strategies actually increases your chances of winning within a single game of blackjack. The only way to do that is by counting cards and estimating which cards are most likely to be dealt. Card counting requires a good memory and the understanding of mathematical principles, especially the Kelly Criterion. Card counting is difficult, but if you master it you certainly have a far greater chance of winning at games like blackjack. Card counting isn’t considered illegal unless you use a device to assist you.
|1-3-2-6||Best to help you keep your discipline|
|2-1-2||Helps you avoid losing all of your winnings|
|Flat||Simple way to place bets at any table|
|Oscar||Aim is to end the session with one betting unit of profit|
|Martingale||Negative progression system|
|Up and Pull||Positive betting strategy ideal for novice players|
|Card Counting||Mathematical strategy, sometimes considered illegal|
While betting strategies and systems don’t guarantee that you will win, they certainly help to ensure you have an enjoyable time at the casino and don’t end up losing huge sums of money in a very short time.
Gavin writes on a wide range of subjects, including articles and reviews about online casinos, slots, bingo, poker, and sportsbooks. He has considerable expertise in the games, customer service, and other aspects of today’s leading gambling and betting portals.