Blackjack can best be described as a game that is based half on chance, and the other half on the confidence of the player. Whilst the aim is to get as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it (on pain of going ‘bust’ and losing the game) the cards are shuffled and come in a completely random order, and to make it more of a game of chance, the dealer has to deal a hand that must also be beaten (bearing in mind the dealer has to deal to at least 16, and stop on 17!) This two pronged approach means that players have to calculate the odds of the dealer beating them, whilst being careful not to deal too many cards and exceed 21.
Despite a large element of the game being up to chance, there are still strategies that one can utilise to maximise their chances of both beating the dealer, whilst at the same time not exceeding that magic ’21’ marker.
The first is to make full use of the ability to split cards. On certain tables, when the two cards initially dealt to the player are of the same value (for instance two cards of ‘7’) the player can throw down another bet and turn those two cards into separate hands. If the player has two cards totalling 18 or 20, there really is not much point, but with a low scoring hand such as 14 or 16, splitting that maximises the chances of drawing some higher scoring hands.
Secondly, the importance of anticipating the dealer’s cards needs to be recognised. Whilst they are a purely ‘neutral’ player, they do continually deal to a high amount. Therefore, if the dealer has dealt up to 14 or 15, it may be worth sitting with your lower numbered cards; you may only have a hand of 12 or 13, but the dealer is liable to go bust with their next card.
This is a game of chance, but some common sense moves can definitely lower the risk of unnecessarily losing it all.