Casino Table Games

How to Practice your Blackjack Strategy

blackjack dealer and player pointing at card on blackjack table with chips

If you’re a fan of playing blackjack at an online casino, then you’ll know that, unlike many other online casino games, it isn’t simply about luck. You really have to know what you’re doing before you play this card game, and having a blackjack strategy is one of the best ways to improve your chances of winning.

By improving their gameplay, players can use a blackjack strategy to achieve a theoretical house edge. But this takes more than just a couple of hours of practice – it calls for some dedication. To become a blackjack expert, your skills need to be knocking on the door of perfection, plus you’ll need to manage your bankroll with some discipline.

But don’t lose heart! There’s a lot you can learn by reading up on winning blackjack strategies – either online or in books – and we’re here to help you take your first steps toward improving your game.

Blackjack strategy charts

A basic blackjack “strategy chart” should be your best friend if you want to refine your betting strategy. Readily available online, these charts provide a guideline of what action to take according to the hand that you’re dealt. Remember, there are many types of blackjack out there, so you want to go with a chart that explains all the game variations.

Some people memorize the charts by reciting them a few times every day. The best way to do this is to break it up in bits. For example, you could start with either hits, stands, or splits: always stand on 10s, always stand on 17 and up, always stand on 20, always stand on 9s if the dealer shows an Ace, 7 or 10. This will help you commit the chart to memory, and in no time at all, you’ll know it better than the back of your hand. There are also online tools to help you learn the chart by simply displaying a blank strategy and letting you fill the correct play, one cell at a time. If you find this to be too much work, you can keep your chart next to you as you play.

You can practice by dealing out blackjack hands at home, playing them with friends or family, and checking your decisions against the charts. Or, if you prefer, you can play free blackjack games online to hone your skills.

Jack and Ace card on green table with chips

Betting strategies for blackjack

Online blackjack strategies might seem a little complicated compared to playing blackjack at a casino. But the best strategies work equally well in a live or online casino setting, and the following tips should come in handy whether you’re playing at a casino or in the comfort of your own home. The only thing that won’t work when you play blackjack online is card counting between hands since online casinos use a random number generator to reshuffle the deck after each hand.

A basic strategy might help you up your game, but advanced strategies help you to gain more advantage over the casino. It’s important to keep in mind that some techniques are more complex than others, but these often produce better results. Below are the most popular blackjack strategies, some of which could help your online game too.

  • Hi/Lo: This is the most popular and simplest blackjack strategy; it uses level-one card counts. Here, the player essentially counts cards in increments of +1, 0, or -1. So, high cards are assigned the value of -1, while low cards are assigned +1, and the remaining cards from 7 to 9 have the value of 0. In essence, if the dealer deals a high-value card such as a Jack, you’ll subtract 1; if the next card is a low card you’ll add 1, and so on until the deck is reshuffled. Your running total – and how positive or negative it is – helps to give you an indication of what value cards are left in the pack when it comes to your decision of whether to stand, hit, or split.
  • Omega II: This is more of a balanced strategy, where a 0 is used as a base. A positive count suggests that the deck has more low cards, and a negative count, vice versa.
  • Halves: The “Wong Halves,” or “Halves Strategy,” makes use of fraction values, which adds another level of complexity. The counting method here starts at 0 when the entire deck has been dealt out. This strategy is named after its creator, Stanford Wong.
  • Zen Count: The Zen Count is a multi-level counting strategy, similar to that of Omega II. The difference is that it uses +2 and -2 cards, along with the traditional +1, 0, or -1 cards.

Always keep in mind that although card counting is not illegal, it’s prohibited in some casinos, and you could be fined or banned from their premises if you’re caught counting.

Hands shuffling cards with number 10 revealed

Understanding blackjack rules and gameplay

Blackjack is generally an easy card game to play. The objective of the game is to simply get a hand totaling as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it. The game is played with a standard 52-card pack, and the dealer will deal cards in rotation clockwise once players have placed their bets, with each player (and the dealer) receiving two cards initially. 

If you’re dealt an Ace and a 10, you’ve hit a “natural” or “blackjack” (because Aces can count for 1 or 11, so here you’d have 11 + 10, which is exactly 21), and your hand automatically wins. If none of the players nor the dealer has a natural, the player to the left of the dealer must decide whether to “stand” or “hit” once their “hole” cards have been dealt to them. To “hit” simply means asking for another card, while to “stand” means you don’t want to be dealt an additional card. You “bust” and lose your bet if your hand goes over 21.

In some blackjack games, you’ll have an option to “split” if you receive a pair. You can also choose to “double down,” which is essentially doubling your initial bet if you have an advantageous hand, or “surrender” if you are at risk of losing – this will give you 50% of your initial stake. Blackjack insurance, on the other hand, is a special side bet that lets you stake half of your initial wager against the dealer hitting a natural. This bet can only be made when the dealer shows an Ace as their up card. If the dealer does reveal a 21, the insurance bet will pay out 2 to 1.

Practicing with a deck of cards

Practicing blackjack with your own deck of cards is best if you want to play blackjack at a brick-and-mortar casino or at home with family and friends. To get started, you’ll need to deal an imaginary player two face-up cards on the table and two for yourself (as the dealer). Thereafter, you’ll need to decide your move and check the strategy chart to see if you have everything right. Then you’ll want to repeat the process by dealing two additional cards until you have run out of cards in the deck. See how you do!

You can follow the same method to try out a few different strategies for blackjack.

Hand holding cards and tablet device on blackjack table

Use a blackjack trainer app

Another really useful tool to consider when trying to practice your blackjack strategy for online games is a blackjack trainer app. There are a whole host of trainer apps online, so do your research, but once you’ve decided on the one you want you can simply download it to your computer, mobile device or even access it online. 

A trainer app has free blackjack games along with a tutorial that can guide you on making the best choices for various hands that crop up in the game. However, don’t use the app on its own, as it will be more beneficial to use it alongside your strategy charts.

These trainer apps offer the perfect, risk-free opportunity to learn and use your blackjack strategy on a host of game variations. When you access the different games, you’ll play a hand, and from there, you’ll be guided through every step. Some of the apps will actually supply you with a list of options and then let you know if the correct choice has been made. They’ll also explain why the option was the best or worst choice you could have made.

Apps are super-useful in helping you to learn and memorize your strategy charts and prepare you for some real blackjack action. This, combined with free play, makes a training app one of the most effective ways to practice your blackjack strategy.

Try different variants

All the best online blackjack sites will offer a variety of different blackjack variants for you to choose from. As with most online games, there are different strokes for different folks, and you might love one version of blackjack and really not enjoy another. You won’t know which blackjack version you prefer if you don’t try them all out.

Of course, classic blackjack is a favorite with beginners, and this comes as no surprise. More experienced players are fans of this version too; it’s simple, straightforward, and gives great opportunities to easily practice your strategies. It’s important, however, that you also try your hand at other types of blackjack, such as multi-hand blackjack, progressive blackjack, live dealer blackjack, and much more.

Practice blackjack online

If you’re going to play blackjack on the internet, it makes sense to practice online. The best online casinos will offer practice tables that work just like real money blackjack tables. In fact, practicing your strategy is advisable for most casino table games. We recommend choosing to play at an online casino rather than a free download game, as it’s difficult to guarantee a fair game when playing a free game. However, it’s also important to choose a licensed and reputable casino site, such as Borgata Online, to ensure that you have access to the best casino games with fair play.

There are also blackjack training programs and tools that you can try on the internet. Just be sure to use safe and reliable ones. Blackjack trainers, like the apps we mentioned earlier, usually operate using a basic strategy and give you feedback on whether you’re making a mistake or carrying out the right actions.

Once you have practiced enough and are ready to commit to playing for real money, you can simply fund your casino account and play blackjack for as little as $1.

Play free and real money blackjack at Borgata Online

At Borgata Online, players are spoilt for choice when it comes to our casino games, which are accessible either via your browser or our app. We offer free and real money blackjack games, many other classics, including baccarat, video poker, and roulette, as well as some thrilling live dealer games at our live casino online! If table games are not your thing, you could always explore a host of exciting slots and progressive jackpots. To play the best casino games on a screen near you, register at Borgata Online.