The dealer has an advantage in that she doesn't have to act until after you. If you bust go over 21 , she wins automatically. Statisticians can play this game wisely by using two sources of information: Basic strategies based on probability will let smart players play almost even against the house without having to pay much attention or learn complicated systems. Methods of taking into account previously dealt cards are collectively called counting cards, and using these methods allows players to have a statistical advantage over the house.
If they decide that you are counting cards, they might ask you to leave that game and play some other game, or they might ban you from the casino entirely. It is their right to do this. Most casinos allow you to split your hand take a pair and split it into two different hands and double down double your bet in exchange for the limitation of receiving just one more card.
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Whether you should stay, take a card, split, or double down depends on the likelihood that you will improve or hurt your hand and the likelihood that the dealer will bust. For example, "" means your two cards total to a 5, 6, 7, or 8. A blank table cell indicates that you should never choose this option, or, in the case of splitting, that it is not even allowed. The remaining four columns present the typical options and what the dealer's card should be for you to choose each option.
As you can see, for most hands there are only a couple of options that make any statistical sense to choose. The table shows the best move, but not all casinos allow you to double-down on just any hand. Most, however, allow you to split any matching pair of cards. The primary strategy, then, is to not risk busting if the dealer is likely to bust.
Conversely, if the dealer is likely to have a nice hand, such as 20, you should try to improve your hand. The recommendations presented here are based on a variety of commonly available tables that have calculated the probabilities of certain outcomes occurring. The statistics have either been generated mathematically or have been produced by simulating millions of blackjack hands with a computer. Here's a simple example of how the probabilities battle each other when the dealer has a 6 showing. The dealer could have a 10 down. This is actually the most likely possibility, since face cards count as If there is a 10 down, great, because if the dealer starts with a 16, she will bust about 62 percent of the time as will you if you hit a Since eight different cards will bust a 16 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King , the calculations look like this:.
Of course, even though the single best guess is that the dealer has a 10 down, there is actually a better chance that the dealer does not have a 10 down. Any card other than an Ace will result in the dealer hitting. And the chances of that next card breaking the dealer depends on the probabilities associated with the starting hand the dealer actually has.
Put it all together and the dealer does not have a 62 percent chance of busting with a 6 showing. The actual frequency with which a dealer busts with a 6 showing is closer to 42 percent, meaning there is a 58 percent chance she will not bust. Now, imagine that you have a 16 against the dealer's down card of 6. Your chance of busting when you take a card is 62 percent. Compare that 62 percent chance of an immediate loss to the dealer's chance of beating a 16, which is 58 percent. Many casinos offer a chance for you to buy insurance if the dealer's up card is an Ace.
Insurance means that you wager up to half your original bet, and if the dealer has a blackjack a 10 or face card as the down card , you win that side bet but lose your original wager unless you, too, have a blackjack, in which case it's a tie and you get your wager back. You will lose your insurance money much more often then you will win it. Unless you are counting cards, never take insurance.
The Basics of the Hi-Lo Card Counting Method
Yes, even if you have a blackjack. The basic strategies described earlier in this hack assume that you have no idea what cards still remain in the deck.
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They assume that the original distribution of cards still remains for a single deck, or six decks, or whatever number of decks is used in a particular game. The moment any cards have been dealt, however, the actual odds change, and, if you know the new odds, you might choose different options for how you play your hand. Elaborate and very sound statistically speaking methods exist for keeping track of cards previously dealt.
If you are serious about learning these techniques and dedicating yourself to the life of a card counter, more power to you. I don't have the space to offer a complete, comprehensive system here, though. For the rest of us, who would like to dabble a bit in ways to increase our odds, there are a few counting procedures that will improve your chances without you having to work particularly hard or memorize many charts and tables. The basic method for improving your chances against the casino is to increase your wager when there is a better chance of winning.
The wager must be placed before you get to see your cards, so you need to know ahead of time when your odds have improved. The following three methods for knowing when to increase your bet are presented in order of complexity. You get even money for all wins, except when you are dealt a blackjack.
You get a 3-to-2 payout e. Consequently, when there is a better-than-average chance of getting a blackjack, you would like to have a larger-than-average wager on the line. This will help drill the values into your memory until they become second nature. The Running Count is the count total that is calculated as cards are played. Once the values are firmly planted in your memory, you can practice counting the same way, with a deck of cards and plenty of practice!
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The True Count is the part of the system that indicates whether you've got an edge or not. Originally, this was calculated by dividing the running count by the number of cards left to be played. Unfortunately, now that casinos are using multiple decks in blackjack games, this doesn't really work anymore. Let's say you're playing a game and nine low cards have been dealt. In a single deck game, this provides a nice advantage. The advantage diminishes if, say, six decks are being used because there are still 5 and a half decks left to be dealt, which include many more low cards.
For instance, you've been playing a six-deck game and estimate, by glancing at the discard pile, that three decks have been dealt so far.
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That means three decks are left in the shoe. With a running count of 12, you would divide it by 3 and get a true count of 4. With a positive true count, now would be time to increase your bets! In Hi-Lo, positive true counts should get bigger bets, while negative true counts mean you should only bet the table minimum. For betting, it's best to consider wagers in units. As the true count increases, you want to bet more units. If it is 0 or negative, stick with betting just one unit. You'll also want to adjust your units depending on the number of decks in play. When playing a two-deck game, you'll be betting between 1 and 6 units.
If you're playing a six- or eight-deck game, you'll bet between 1 and 12 units.
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Here's a table to make it a little clearer:. Betting in this fashion increases your advantage when the true count is high so you can win more money! Just remember that you're betting based on true count and not the running count, especially when playing in multiple-deck games.