Blackjack Rules Variations and Odds.
Blackjack rules may vary from casino to casino. Here are some rules variations you may encounter:
  Dealer stands on soft 17.
  Player may double down on split pairs.
  Player may double down on any first two cards.
  Player may double down on any number of cards.
  Player may "surrender" his hand after the first two cards and lose half his bet.

How different rules variations influence the odds:
Rules in the favor of players:
  Doubling down on split pairs +0.13%
  "Surrender" option +0.06%
  Double split on Aces +0.14%
  Doubling down on any number of cards +0.20%

Rules in the favor of casinos:
  Double decks (instead of one)  - 0.35%
  Four decks -0.48%
  Five decks -0.54%
  Six decks -0.58%
  Dealer do NOT stands on soft 17 -0.20%

Basic Blackjack strategy
This basic strategy is based on statistical computer simulations and helps the player make decisions about when to hit and when to stand. By playing this basic strategy, the player can play on nearly even terms with the house. This basic strategy is the starting point for more-advanced card-counting strategies professional blackjack players use to gain an advantage on the house.

Below is the basic blackjack strategy for the typical rules found at online casinos. While you can't beat the house in the long term using this strategy alone, it does reduce the house's advantage considerably. You may want to print a copy of the strategy and try it out on free online games (require registration of a casino acct.).

Your Hand          Dealer's Up Card
             2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 A
5,6,7,8      H  H  H  H  H  H  H  H  H  H
9            H  D  D  D  D  H  H  H  H  H
10           D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  H  H
11           D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  H
12           H  H  S  S  S  H  H  H  H  H
13,14        S  S  S  S  S  H  H  H  H  H
15,16        S  S  S  S  S  H  H  H  H  H
17,18,19,20  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S

Soft 13,14   H  H  H  D  D  H  H  H  H  H
Soft 15,16   H  H  D  D  D  H  H  H  H  H
Soft 17      H  D  D  D  D  H  H  H  H  H
Soft 18      S  D  D  D  D  S  S  H  H  H
Soft 19,20   S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S

2-2,3-3      SP SP SP SP SP SP H  H  H  H
4-4          H  H  H  SP SP H  H  H  H  H
5-5          D  D  D  D  D  D  D  D  H  H
6-6          SP SP SP SP SP H  H  H  H  H
7-7          SP SP SP SP SP SP H  H  H  H
8-8          SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9-9          SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP S  S
10-10        S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S  S

H=Hit, S=Stand, D=Double down, SP=Split

Card counting systems
Card-counting systems are based on the principle that the make-up of a deck of cards changes as cards are played. Analysis has shown that a deck is in the player's favor when it has more ten-count cards in it. The reason the deck favors the player is because the player has a better chance of getting blackjack which pays 3 to 2, more money than an average win.

By assigning a simple value such as +1 for high cards and -1 for low cards, a card counter can roughly determine the ratio of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck at anytime during play. When the deck contains more high cards and the odds are in his favor, he increases the amount he bets so he can win more. When the deck isn't favorable, he bets the minimum so he loses less. The count also affects his decisions on when to hit, stand, double and split.

To Beat the house
Successful card counting in blackjack is one of the few ways to gain an edge over the casino. Because most casinos use multiple decks (up to six), only those who are extremely skilled at counting cards can achieve this. Moreover, the second variable one should look for is penetration (the number of cards dealt before the deck is reshuffled). A counter cannot assess the probability of certain cards being dealt until the majority of cards have already been shown.

Online casinos, unlike real-world casinos, have the option of shuffling the deck after every hand, and they do. Thus, in fact, there is no way to take advantage of any card counting system because not enough cards are shown.

The only scenario in which card counting can be effective is a multi-player single-deck game in which everyone can see all the cards that are dealt. It's hard to find an online casino that offer such a game.

So, we would advise sticking with perfect strategy and find the casino that offers the best odds for blackjack. However, note that you would hardly turn the odds in your favor on the long run without substantial gaming experience.

See also online blackjack software reviews (with over 12 different online casino blackjack version-specific rules and strategy cards for Atlantic City Blackjack, European, Spanish 21, Multi-Hand Blackjack, Double Exposure, Triple Sevens, Vegas Strip and Vegas Downtown Blackjack games). We would also recommend you reading featured blackjack strategy articles - find here also online blackjack news and tournaments, as well as reviews of new blackjack games.

Basic blackjack rules and strategy can also be seen here. If you have already studied the strategies and you are ready to win some blackjack jackpots, you may check out current pot values (scores) here and find the ones with the best odds.

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