Blackjack basic strategy

Gambling Games

There are two types of gambling games:

  1. Those that, even after the game has started, allows the player make decisions.
  2. Those that, after the game has started, doesn’t allow the player any further decisions.

An example of the latter are slot machines – once you put your money in and hit the button, no further decisions from you can influence the outcome. Roulette is like this as well: once the dealer announces “no more bets”, you can only watch and hope that you will win.

An example of the former are games like poker, where even after you start the game, you can decide to draw more cards, bet more money or simply give up and lose whatever you already bet. Blackjack is also an example of a game that lets the player steer the outcome slightly – after you start the game, further actions taken by the player  can cause a win or loss.

Enter Blackjack

I’m not going to give a full treatment of the rules of blackjack (which, at any rate, differ from casino to casino) nor the theory behind it in a tiny blog post. I’m just going to point out that there are some actions that the player should take in certain conditions that provide the best possible chance that the player will win.

As an example, lets say the dealers face-up card is a five, and the players two cards are a pair of aces. In this situation, the best odds for the player are to split the aces. Or if the dealers face-up card is a nine while the player has an ace and an eight, then the best course of action would be for the player to stand.[1]

The rules are simple (although they differ slightly based on what the different casinos allow), but they are horribly difficult to remember, especially when the test involves going to a casino and playing for money! Luckily, your blogging friend has some assistance in this regard. I’ve written a simple online blackjack training program. You play blackjack, and it tells you whenever you make a choice that is sub-optimal.

Unlike other blackjack programs which even do your counting for you, this program tries to make you do all your own work, hence you should be prepared once you hit the casino for real.

Note that it is still slightly incomplete – I need to implement “splitting” – but the advice is given, and the game maintains a bankroll for the player, and the player can hit/stand/double/surrender. As usual, let me know if this is useful to you; it’s hardly worth my time to implement the “splitting” if no one is using this program.

[1]Note that I’m ignoring the issue of insurance. Insurance is a suckers bet, and should be only taken if you have been keeping accurate count of the cards going past. But if you’ve been keeping accurate count of the cards going past, you won’t need the insurance anyway. So don’t take it. Ever.