It’s time to take your online blackjack game to the next level. The world’s most popular table game is ready for you 24/7 at Bovada Casino, with over a dozen different blackjack variants to choose from. Each one requires a slightly different approach if you want to maximize your winnings, but if you follow our top 10 blackjack tips, you’ll have something very close to a complete simplified strategy that you can use to win real money.
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1. Always Stand on Hard 17-21 and Soft 19-21
Blackjack is always more fun when you start with a premium hand. If you’re dealt Hard 17-21 (meaning your hole cards don’t include an Ace), go ahead and stand. Your chances of improving these hands without going bust are very small, so don’t stick your neck out. This tip also holds true when you’ve already drawn one or more cards and they all add up to Hard 17-21.
Soft 19-21 hands are also strong enough to stand pat with. But if you do get dealt Soft 17-18 (that’s Ace-Six or Ace-Seven), it’s worth the risk to draw another card and try to improve. Note that you can also have a soft hand after you’ve hit; as with Hard 17-21, keep following this tip wherever you are in the hand. This applies no matter what up-card the dealer is showing.
2. Always Hit on Hard 4-8 and Soft 13-15
The lowest hands in blackjack are also very easy to play. Again, regardless of the dealer’s up-card, you should hit anytime you have Hard 8 or worse; you don’t have to worry about busting out on the next card, since the most you can have at that point is Soft 19.
You should also hit every time you’re dealt Ace-Deuce, Ace-Three or Ace-Four, or you’ve drawn and ended up with Soft 13-15. Maybe you started with 12 points, decided to hit, and received an Ace as your third card. That’s still Soft 13, so follow this tip and hit again.
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3. Always Split Eights and Aces
Splitting is one of the more advanced moves in blackjack – but only because so many new players don’t know it’s a thing. It’s easy to do; if you get dealt a pair, you have the option of splitting those two cards into two separate blackjack hands (doubling your wager in the process).
There are two pairs in particular that you should always split. Hard 16 is normally one of the trickiest hands to play in blackjack, but if it’s a pair of Eights, you want to split them every time. There’s a good chance you’ll get dealt an Ace or 10-value card for each of them, giving you two hands of 18 or 19.
Getting dealt a pair of Aces is even better. Instead of keeping your Soft 2/Soft 12, split those Aces and hope you get two 10-value cards, which will give you the maximum 21 points twice over.
4. Never Split Fours, Fives or 10s
Of the 13 possible pairs you can receive from the standard 52-card deck, these are the ones that you should never, ever split. A pair of Fours equals Hard 8, and a pair of Fives gives you Hard 10 — two hands that are likely to become winners if you receive an Ace or 10-value card.
When we talk about 10s in blackjack, we’re talking about any 10-value card – as opposed to Tens, which are specific to that rank. A pair of Tens, Jacks, Queens or Kings already gives you Hard 20, which will almost always be a winner, so you definitely want to keep that pair together.
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5. Double with Hard 9 or Soft 16-18 when Dealer Shows 2-6
The rest of our top 10 blackjack tips require a bit more sophistication – but not too much. Now you have to base your decision on whether the dealer has a low (2-6) or high (7-A) up-card. This is very important; if the dealer has a Six or lower, you know they’ll be forced to draw at least two more cards, and they’re at risk of busting.
To take advantage, double in this situation whenever you get dealt Hard 9, Ace-Five, Ace-Six or Ace-Seven. When you double down, you’ll multiply your bet by 2X and receive exactly one more card. It’s another one of those moves that many newer blackjack players don’t know about. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
6. Double With Hard 10 or 11 when Dealer Shows Fewer Points
Once you know what doubling down is, Hard 10 and Hard 11 are the obvious hands you want to do it with – but only if the dealer’s up-card is weak. It usually will be if you have Hard 10, any up-card Nine or lower will do the trick, and if you have Hard 11, always double unless the dealer is showing an Ace.
7. If You Can’t Double, Hit Instead
This blackjack tip goes hand-in-hand with No. 5 and No. 6. If you get dealt Hard 9 or Soft 16-18, but the dealer has a high up-card (again, that’s Seven or higher), you should hit instead of doubling. Same goes if you’re dealt Hard 10 or 11 and the dealer is showing at least that many points.
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8. Stand with Hard 12-16 when Dealer is Low; Hit when they’re High
Following this simple rule will automatically put you several steps ahead of the competition. Life isn’t a bowl of cherries when you have 12 to 16 points in your hand, but if the dealer’s up-card is Six or worse, you can once again take advantage of their need to draw two cards by simply standing.
On the flip side, if you have Hard 12-16 and the dealer is showing a Seven or better, you’ll just have to bite the bullet and hit.
9. Split all Remaining Pairs Only when Dealer is Low
We’ve already said that you should always split Eights and Aces (Tip No. 3), and never split Fours, Fives or 10-value cards (Tip No. 4). That leaves five more possible pairs: Deuces, Threes, Sixes, Sevens and Nines.
Working with these particular pairs is simple enough. If the dealer shows a low up-card, split that pair; otherwise, stick with what you’ve got and treat it like a hard hand. That means hitting with Deuces, Threes, Sixes and Sevens, and standing with Nines.
10. Never Take Insurance
Finally, we have the easiest of our top 10 blackjack tips to remember and follow. Insurance is a side bet that you can take whenever the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. The insurance bet is half the size of your current bet, and it pays out at 2-to-1 if the dealer happens to have blackjack.
If you do the math on the insurance bet, you’ll find that it’s never worth taking, no matter which cards you’ve been dealt. There are some players out there who always take insurance when they themselves have blackjack; that way, they’ll always be guaranteed a payout, instead of having to push when the dealer also has 21. This is mathematically incorrect – the cost isn’t worth the benefit.
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There you have it: a 10-step program that will get you very close to optimal play for blackjack. There are some subtle tweaks you’ll have to make if you want to learn the perfect basic strategy, which will allow you to play your chosen variant as optimally as possible; for example, if you’re playing the standard six-deck Blackjack game at Bovada Casino and you get dealt a Soft 19, you should double down if the dealer’s up-card is a Six, and only a Six.
That’s some serious fine-tuning right there. And we haven’t even talked about the “surrender” play yet, or what to do when you’re not allowed to split Aces more than once. But don’t worry about it for now – get these top 10 blackjack tips ingrained first, then start working on the details when you’re ready.
Remember, you can try out all of these tips for free at Bovada Casino by using the Practice Play mode. This will also give you a chance to try all of the different blackjack games, including special variants with special rules like Perfect Pairs and Zappit Blackjack. See which games you like the most, keep working on your blackjack strategy, and we’ll see you on the felt. If you are new to Bovada, then make sure you sign up today. Once signed up you can begin winning real money playing any of our online casino games including Blackjack, Hot Drop Jackpots, online slots and more.