Unlike other casino games, blackjack is based on dependent events. The dealer does not reshuffle after every hand so deck composition changes with each card that hits the felt. The advantage constantly swings either in favour of the house or the player, depending on the cards that remain to be dealt. The good news is blackjack players can cut the house advantage down to a marginal percentage (often less than 0.50%) by using accurate basic strategy.
How to Use Our Blackjack Strategy Calculator
Casino Guardian offers novice players a basic strategy calculator that shows them the correct way to play any hand in blackjack against any possible dealer upcard. As you shall see, using this handy tool is beyond simple. The advanced algorithm enables you to customise some of the rules so that they coincide with those in your chosen blackjack variation.
Blackjack Calculator by Casino Guardian
1. Choose your game settings; 2. By clicking the + over the cards you can choose either dealer's or players' dealt cards; 3. Click "Deal Again" button to start a new draw.
Rule Customisation Options
Make sure you take advantage of the rule customisation options so that the calculator displays the most accurate basic strategy plays. The customisation features are available on the right side of the screen. The first thing you do is select whether or not the game you intend to play most frequently offers surrender or not.
Check the help settings of your chosen blackjack online variation to see whether it supports surrendering. Games with surrender are more beneficial to the player because the availability of this move reduces the long-term house edge by 0.07%. It may not seem like much but it will make a difference over the long haul if you play regularly.
The Casino Guardian strategy calculator also enables users to adjust the standing rules for the dealer, that is whether they must stand or hit soft hands of 17. For the record, a soft hand is one that contains an ace that counts as 11. Soft hands are flexible since their aces can revert to a value of 1, if necessary, as more cards are added to the total. They prevent a potential bust on the next hit.
The standing rules for the dealer are normally written across the middle of the table. It says either “The dealer must hit soft 17” or “The dealer must draw to 16 and stand on all 17”. The exact wording may differ across tables but you get the picture. A dealer who must hit soft totals of 17 puts the player at a greater disadvantage. The H17 rule leads to a 0.22% increase in the house edge, which is why playing S17 games is preferable.
The Calculator Assumes US Rules
Our calculator assumes you are playing under US rules where the dealer takes a hole card. As you will see on the main screen, the strategy dealer shows one exposed card, while their second card is facing down. The hidden card is their hole card. Hole-card games are very common across the United States but you can also find them online.
Some of our suggestions include Microgaming’s versions of Atlantic City Blackjack and Vegas Strip Blackjack, both of which come with very marginal house edges. Anyway, let’s go back on topic. When hole cards are in play, the dealer must also abide by the peek rule.
Whenever their exposed card is an ace or has a value of 10, the dealer would look under their hidden card to see whether they have blackjack or not. If they do, the dealer will immediately expose the hole card and collect players’ losing hands unless they also have a blackjack. In the latter scenario, the two hands will push.
The game continues as usual provided that the dealer does not have a blackjack. Peeking is another rule that benefits the player, reducing the house edge by around 0.11%. It saves you money from unsuccessful doubles and splits that are sure losers against the dealer’s blackjack.
Figuring Out the Correct Plays with Our Strategy Calculator
You will find Casino Guardian’s strategy calculator is pretty straightforward to use even if you are a first-timer. Once you have adjusted the rules, you must select the value of the card your dealer is exposing during the current round. You can do it by clicking the upcard with the plus sign. Afterwards, you must adjust the values of your two starting cards in the same way.
The calculator shows you the correct playing decision, along with your hand type, soft or hard. If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, the software will tell you not to take insurance regardless of your starting total. Provided that drawing multiple cards is the optimal play in a given situation, the software will instruct you to hit again, in which case you must select the value of the third card you have drawn.
The software also takes into account the unavailability of certain moves in some blackjack games. For instance, if table rules disallow resplitting or doubling after a split, the calculator will show you the second-best move, which is to hit. Then you reset the calculator and start each new hand to see what the next correct move is. After you see the optimal play, you can start a new round by clicking the Deal Again button.
Does the Strategy Calculator Guarantee You Beat the Dealer?
Casino Guardian’s strategy calculator can be a very useful tool for novice players who are yet to master blackjack basic strategy. You can use it as a training tool when unsure about the correct plays for trickier hands. Players can also consult with the calculator while playing online. The moves suggested by the calculator are mathematically optimal and can help you achieve three things.
You can boost your profits from favourable hands, cut down your losses when in a tight spot against the dealer, or improve your winning odds when starting with a bad hand like 8-8 versus a ten. The bottom line is the calculator can teach you how to play smartly and help you reduce the house advantage to a marginal level. Do not expect immediate results, though. Basic strategy starts to pay off over the long run.
With that said, basic strategy alone will not suffice for you to eliminate the house edge and gain an advantage over the casino. This is because the strategy relies on limited information. It suggests playing decisions based on your two-card total and the value of the dealer’s exposed card. The only viable way to gain a real edge in blackjack is to learn how to count cards but before you get there, you must still master basic strategy to the tee.
Blackjack Basic Strategy in Brief
For the uninitiated, basic strategy is a set of mathematically correct playing decisions based on the dealer’s exposed card and the player’s starting two-card hand. It usually comes in the form of a chart that contains the optimal ways to play each hand, assuming you do not count cards and have no information about the dealer’s hidden card.
In other words, basic strategy tells you the optimal move for a blackjack hand on the very first round of play, immediately after the dealer has reshuffled the deck or shoe. Table rules have a pronounced impact on the correct plays in blackjack because they can take away from or add to the house edge.
When choosing a strategy chart players must consider several aspects, including deck number, doubling and splitting rules, the dealer’s standing rules, and the availability of the surrender option. Whether or not the peek rule is in place also matters. The more liberal the rules are, the lower the house edge and the better results basic strategy yields.
Glossary of Blackjack Player Actions
Blackjack players have significantly more flexibility compared to the dealer, who must stick to the rules the house has set for him or her. The dealer has a choice from two moves only. They must draw until they either reach their standing total or bust, or stand provided their cards add up to said standing total.
Most blackjack dealers must draw cards until they reach a total of 17 or higher. The house requires dealers at some tables to hit soft 17s but we shall tackle soft totals in further detail later on. For those who are new to blackjack, we briefly describe each possible action blackjack players can take at the table.
- Hit is when the player requests more cards from the dealer in an attempt to improve their current hand total. The player can take as many hits as they like as long as they do not bust, i.e. go over 21. Busted player hands are automatic losers no matter what total the dealer shows afterwards. When you bust, the dealer will immediately collect your chips and remove your cards from the felt.
- Stand is when you are satisfied with your current hand value and decline drawing additional cards. Whether or not the player stops at their current total depends on the strength of the dealer’s upcard in most cases.
- Double down is recommended with solid starting totals like 9, 10, or 11 against dealers who expose weak upcards like 4, 5, or 6, for example. Players can make this move only on two-card hands before they take any hits. When you make this play, you must also double your initial bet. So if you have originally staked £10, you will have to put up another £10 for a total of £20 in action. In exchange, you get only one more card from the dealer and cannot take any more hits.
- Pair splitting is a viable option in two situations according to basic strategy. You split when the dealer starts off weak and you want to extract more profits from a favourable situation as is the case with player A-A versus dealer 6. You also make this play when your starting total is bad (like 8-8 versus a dealer 10), and you seek to potentially improve your situation.You obviously can only split pairs of numerically identical cards like 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, etc. The dealer will split your pair into two separate hands and deal an extra card on each one. Like doubling, splitting requires you to make an extra bet to cover your second hand. Many blackjack tables allow you to resplit to up to four hands as well as to double down after a split.
- Surrender is available in some blackjack games, allowing you to forfeit very bad starting hands against strong dealer upcards. One very good example is when you hold a hard 16 (but not 8-8) against a dealer with 9, 10, or ace in multiple-deck games.Please note this move is a viable option only at the beginning of a round before you hit, split, or double down. The dealer will remove the surrendered hand from the table, collect half of your original stake, and give you back the other half.
- Taking insurance is only possible when the dealer starts their hand with an ace. By taking insurance, you are betting the dealer has a ten-value card in the hole for a blackjack. If you accept insurance, you must place an additional wager equal to half of your original stake. The dealer will then check their hole card and pay you at odds of 2 to 1 if they indeed have a blackjack.If not, you lose the insurance bet and play out your hand as normal, in line with basic strategy. As you will see from Casino Guardian’s calculator, basic strategy never recommends buying insurance. If there is one uniform rule that applies to all blackjack variations, this is it. Insurance is a proposition bet that carries a house edge of 7.40% in multi-deck games. It is of no use for basic strategy players and has no impact on their odds of winning or losing a hand.