Blackjack 101

nv232-17943“I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling. I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle.” - Mitch Hedberg

Blackjack is a terrific table game with some great fast-paced action and table camaraderie. It’s you vs. the house (the dealer).  To beat the dealer you must first not bust (go over 21) and second either outscore the dealer or have the dealer bust. I will not go into the details about every single aspect of the game, but I do think it’s important to touch on a few important tips.

Blackjack Tips:

(1) Choose the right table. Find a table with limits that are commiserate with your bankroll. If you only have $200 to spend, don’t sit down at a $25 table. Try to find a $5 or $10 table. Also, look for tables that pay Blackjack at 3:2 (not 6:5). They’re tough to find these days, but they are available. And they lower the house edge by almost half (assuming optimal strategy is played).

(2) Learn basic strategy (see below). Practice a bit before sitting down. Blackjack is a game with a very low house edge, but this is only the case when the player is making the “correct” moves. Playing on intuition is gambling, but playing with basic strategy…well, shit, it’s also gambling. But smarter gambling.

(3) Avoid the carnival games. More and more, you can’t find a basic game of 21 or Blackjack. It always has some carnival game attached to it such as 21+3 (3 card poker), Super 21, Blackjack Switch, etc. If you can help it, avoid side bets and other wagers. Those are available because they have a great house edge.

(4) Be respectful and have fun. Blackjack can be a fickle game. And those not playing the strategy you like may get on your nerves, especially if a poor play “affects” the game. Here’s the thing. In the long run, other players at the table have no effect on your cards. Don’t yell at some drunk 22 year old girl that she shouldn’t hit 14 against a 4. It’s not her fault she’s dumb and hates her money. Or maybe it is. Regardless, relax and have a good time. If those people bug you, switch tables. Don’t let one person alter your enjoyment of the game.



Credit: Wizard of Odds (
Credit: Wizard of Odds (