Many blackjack tips apply for any form of gambling, but most of the suggestions I’m going to make today are for the basic starting blackjack player. While it’s advisable to learn basic blackjack strategy and become something close to an optimal player, not all gambling hobbyists are going to attain that level of dedication. The list of tips below is for the casual gambler who doesn’t want to make obvious mistakes. The first two blackjack tips should be heeded by any casino gambler. The rest focus on the best game from a player’s perspective: twenty-one or blackjack.

10 Blackjack Tips for Beginners

Blackjack Tip The Strategy Behind the Tip
Learn Bankroll Management Lock in wins, don’t chase lost bets, and don’t play when fatigued.
Choose the Right Table Different blackjack tables often have subtle rule differences that cost you money.
Use Strategy Charts Play optimally and you’ll enjoy the best odds possible.
Master Classic Blackjack This basic knowledge lets you know which variants are better or worse.
Avoid Insurance Insurance is a sucker bet, except in rare cases for card counters.
Learn Surrender Rules Unlike insurance, surrendering your hand can be a wise strategic move.
Avoid Side Bets Side bets offer bigger payouts but rob you of the low house edge that blackjack players like.
Split Aces & 8s You’ll always split aces and eights, because you want to max out aces and avoid hands of 16.
Double on 10 or 11 Double down because you’ll have a 1-in-3 change of hitting 20 or 21 on the hand.
Play Free Blackjack Learn a blackjack variant by playing in practice mode first. This saves you money.

Have a Bankroll

Learn what a bankroll is and always have a bankroll when you start to gamble. A bankroll is a definite amount of money you have set aside or staked for gambling purposes. This stash of money should be disposable income which you can afford to lose. When I say “afford to lose”, I mean this is money which isn’t allotted for some other purpose: house payment, car payment, electricity bill, credit card debt, your kid’s college fund. Disposable income is the money you have left over to spend on entertainment and hobbies and other whims. Even then, the bankroll probably should only be a percentage of your disposable income for the month.

Choose the Right Table

When you get to the casino, whether it’s a land-based casino or an Internet site, find the right game for you. Not only should you know the rules with the most advantage for you, but you need to sit at a table with the right bet limits for your bankroll. The maximum bet on a table should never be more than 5% of your bankroll. That way, you won’t be betting too much on the outcome of any one hand. Gamblers want the fun to continue as long as possible, so stretch your casino dollar and play all day, all weekend, and all vacation. Just stay within the confines of your bankroll when you do.

Use Strategy Charts

Print off a color-coded printable basic strategy chart for your game of choice and memorize it. This gives you the strategy advice you need to cover every situation which arises in a game. The charts can be held in one hand and studied while you sit on the plane, in the taxi cab, or in your hotel room. If you’re playing online blackjack, print off a blackjack strategy chart and have it next to you during gambling sessions. Playing online from your home brings a whole new level of comfort to your gambling hobby, but it also allows a whole new level of preparation.

Play Classic Blackjack First

Learn and master classic blackjack before you start playing the exotic variants. Basic blackjack tends to have one of the best house edges of all versions of blackjack anyway, which is one of the reasons why it’s the most popular form of twenty-one. Mastering one strategy chart at a time isn’t that hard. Mastering a whole bunch of them all at once is significantly harder. Unless you’re a mathematical prodigy or you have an eidetic memory, start with the basic blackjack game and only take up the others when you’ve mastered the first game.

Avoid Insurance

Unless you’re a card counter and you know those rare cases when insurance is a smart play, never take insurance. The 1:1 insurance may seem like a smart way to hedge your bets in certain situations, but it’s a dummy bet. The option is offered on virtually every online game because the casino knows certain gamblers don’t know any better. Don’t be one of those people.

Learn Surrender Rules

If you play blackjack surrender, get a surrender chart and learn when surrender pays off. Unlike insurance, surrender is sometimes a positive variation tactic. Gamblers tend to surrender too often, so learn the rules before you waste money overusing them.

Avoid Side Bets

Games like perfect pairs and progressive blackjack have interesting side bets, but interesting is not always advisable. Side bets in blackjack almost always have a much higher house edge than the basis game. The games with side bets tend to have much bigger payouts. The perfect pairs top payout is 40x the bet and the progressive jackpot can range much higher, but you pay a price in a lower expected return when you play these games. The reason so many smart gamblers prefer blackjack is skill can increase your payouts and the house edge is small. You forfeit those advantages when you play the side bets.

Split Aces and 8s – Easy Splitting Tip

Splitting pairs is a lot more complicated than just remembering the phrase “aces and eights“, but these are two pairs which should always be split (when allowed). For beginnings, keeping the phrase “aces and eights” in mind is a good way to remember a couple of the most important splitting tips. Avoid splitting cards with a value of 10, which includes the 10-card and the face cards: jack, queen, and king. It’s more to your advantage to keep these cards together, because a “20” is a strong hand.

Doubling on 10 and 11

Always double when you have a hand of 11. If the dealer is showing 9 or lower, it’s also a good idea to double when you have a hand of 10. Remember that nearly 30% of the cards in the deck have a rank of 10, which means you have nearly a one-in-three chance of hitting a “20” or “21” when you hold a 10 or 11. This is the time to double your bet, because you hold an advantage.

Play the Practice Mode

When you’re playing online blackjack, start out learning the software with the free version or practice mode on the site. All online casinos offer freeplay versions of their real money blackjack games. Even if you’re a veteran blackjack gambler, take five minutes to learn the game interface before playing for real money. If you’re brand new to card playing, get a feel for the game before putting real money on the line. Once you’re comfortable, you’ll have your mind focused in winning, instead of learning.