Never Split Tens, and Other Blackjack Tips

While everyone agrees that blackjack, like all other casino games, is a form of entertainment, most players cannot decide if it is a game of luck or skill.

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While everyone agrees that blackjack, like all other casino games, is a form of entertainment, most players cannot decide if it is a game of luck or skill. The truth is, it’s a mixture of both, and those who recognize the skill part of the game will be in with a much better chance of winning some cash.

There is a luck element in blackjack because the cards are shuffled, and there is no definitive knowledge of what the next card might be. But the game can be made more skillful when you apply the laws of probability and some simple tips.

Before we get to the probability aspect, let’s look at one specific tip that novice players fail to notice time and again. Never split tens. You might get some advice from other players at the table about this when you are playing in a live venue, but you won’t have that luxury when you are playing at one of the many online sites that offer blackjack.

You can see why it’s tempting to split tens. When your first two cards are tens, and the dealer’s card doesn’t look promising, it seems like a good idea to double your stake, split the tens, and play them as two hands.

But you should not do this. Think about it this way – you almost certainly have the winning hand already, so why risk not only losing your winning position but also losing twice as much? Remember, blackjack is a numbers game, and the clever mathematicians will tell you that splitting tens is a losing proposition in the long run.

Talking of losing propositions in blackjack, another tip to follow, if money is your prime motive for playing, is that you should never put wagers on any of the available side bets in blackjack. They will eat into your stack before you know it. And on the same theme, don’t ever take insurance if it’s offered to you when the dealer is showing an ace.

Unlike sports tips, which have so many variables to consider, making predictions much harder, these blackjack tips really do work in the long run.

Using Probability to Your Advantage

Now, perhaps the biggest tip you can have when playing blackjack is to accept that it’s a game of probability as well as chance. By that, we mean the fact that 16 cards out of every 52-card deck are valued at ten. With all those tens, jacks, queens, and kings waiting to be dealt, you can always assume that the next card will most likely be a ten.

How does this help? The key thing to understand is that you must assume that the dealer’s downcard is ten. So, whatever his upcard is, add ten and assume this is the total you must beat.If the dealer is strong, perhaps his upcard is eight, nine, or ten, then assume you must be aggressive with your own hand to try and nudge yourself towards the magical figure of 21. There’s little point in sticking on 17 as you’ll likely be beaten. Any ace, two, three, or four – so 16 potential cards in theory – can improve your hand.

Conversely, if the dealer is showing a weak hand, you don’t need to be aggressive. In fact, you can stand on anything over 11 if you wish since there is no risk in taking another card on 11 or below.

Let’s say the dealer has a four, five, or six. With your assumption that his downcard is a ten, he has a total of 14, 15, or 16, in which case he must draw another card. And we know what the value of his drawn card is most likely to be, don’t we? Correct. Another 10, or maybe a nine or an eight – either way, it’s likely he will bust.

With that scenario understood, you can happily stand on as low as 12. It might look like a weak play to those who don’t understand the game’s nuances, but it is the best thing you can do. If you play at a live dealer table online, like those supplied by Evolution Gaming, you can observe the better players following this strategy.

Of course, there will be times when your assumptions are wrong; we’re talking about probability here, not a certainty. But over time, your decisions will greatly increase your chances of making a profit over any particular blackjack session.

Using the power of probability and the other tips we give in this article will reduce the house edge in blackjack. The game has a natural house edge for the casino of around 2%, but by applying a basic blackjack strategy, you can bring this down to around 0.5%.

That’s hardly anything at all, meaning you are expected to lose only 50 cents from every $100 that you bet. You won’t find a better house edge anywhere in the casino. If you are playing live at a venue like MGM Grand in Las Vegas, you can enjoy free cocktails on the house while hardly putting too much of a dent in your bankroll.

And that really does make for an entertaining evening.

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