40 years ago, a few MIT and Harvard students set out on a mission to hijack the House. Not any House though… A very rich one preying on the addiction of the many and operating in specific locations across the US, like Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
40 years ago, a few MIT and Harvard students take on the House on its own turf and decided to beat it at its own game. Little did they know, decades later, history will speak about them, with many still trying to follow their footsteps.
Those students let the world know casinos aka the House is far from being perfect and its games can actually be beaten. It’s no wonder they chose blackjack as their proving ground. Modern technology and countless computer simulations showed the House edge - omnipresent in all casino games - is the most vulnerable in blackjack.
If you are unsure about blackjack’s basic rules, you should check our special How To Play page and learn to play blackjack. This is actually the very first step every member of the notorious MIT blackjack team made, from the 80s to the beginning of the 21st century.
Indeed, this special MIT project came to an end in the early 2000s as interest faded away and live casinos perfected their strategies to retaliate against the profitable blackjack players.
Luckily, at around the same time, a new online industry emerged, one that disrupted all gambling industry. Anyone could learn to play blackjack and actually enjoy the game from the comfort of his or her home without any danger of being thrown out from the tables.
As the online gambling niche evolved, more and more operators offered their clients the live casino option, for even more fun and transparency. BetBTC offers you Live Casino Games, broadcasting in real-time the thrill of live blackjack hands, dealt by professional dealers.
Since there are many blackjack games to choose from - virtual and live - you should choose the tables that offer you the best chances to actually win, first and foremost.
For starters, look at the blackjack payout. The standard and the best one for you, as a player, is 3-to-2. In other words, you get an extra $1.5 for every $1 bet on a pure 21 (Ace plus face card or 10). In your online adventure, you will see blackjack games offering you different odds like 6-to-5 or $1.2 of pure profit for every $1 bet. The $0.3 difference may not seem much, but, in the long, the House edge is increased by 1.4% compared to the standard 3-to-2 odds. The even money (1-to-1) is more of the same, with the House edge being up around 2.3%, according to some estimates.
Another variable you should be on the lookout for is the number of decks involved in the game. The fewer the decks, the better your chances to win. Usually, in live blackjack, there are 6 to 8 decks, but you can find games with just 4 decks. Be on the lookout for the single-deck mirage. The odds in a single-deck blackjack - if you find such games online - are usually heavily stacked against you, with additional rule changes (like even money for blackjack) meant to turn the table in favor of the House.
Besides these two, there are many other rule variations out there, but most have a small impact on the games and your odds against the House. For example, no double after a split increases the house edge by 0.12%. In ‘no hole card’ blackjack - the dealer only draws one card in the initial drawing round - the House edge is increased by 0.11%.
Now that you found the proper game, you need to know some basic rules and actually learn to play blackjack. All of that will help you increase your winning chances, in the long run.
The most basic and obvious is always draw or hit a hard 11 or less, no matter what the dealer has. Hard means there is no Ace in the hand that can be valued as 1 or 11, depending on the circumstances. Another obvious one: always stand on hard 17 or more.
If you have an Ace in the hand, always hit if the value is 7/17 or less. If you hold a soft 19 or more - A8, for example, is a soft 19 - always stand.
Only surrender when you hold a hard 16 and the dealer has a 9, 10 or A. You may also surrender when you hold a hard 15 and the dealer has a 10.
Always split Aces and 10s, if the game rules allow you to do so and never split 5s and 10s.
Below, you will find all the decisions you can and may make at a blackjack table, to maximize your chances. The hand chart is based on countless simulations and choosing the best possible outcome (source: Wikipedia).
The following rules apply:
For the dealer, blackjack is played pretty straight forward. Whether he or she has one card or two with the possibility of verifying a potential blackjack, the dealer will always draw last if there are players left in the game.
The only true variation involves the dealer’s decision on a soft 17, where an Ace is included. The above basic blackjack strategy is based on the following rule: dealer will always hit or draw a card on a soft 17.
What about the case when the House stands on soft 17? You can use the same strategy as presented above, except in these situations:
Before hitting the blackjack tables and applying the basic strategy presented above, be sure to remember this: just using this strategy won’t guarantee you anything. In fact, the House will still have a slight edge against you - usually under 0.5% if you apply the blackjack basic strategy correctly. That means, in the long run, you will still lose money.
To turn the tables and print money, the MIT blackjack team used more advanced techniques like card counting or shuffle tracking. But that’s a whole different discussion worth covering in a future blog post. In the meantime, be sure to practice your skills and apply the basic strategy, each and every time. Only after perfecting this stage, you will be ready for the next step.
Best of luck at the tables!