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Top-10 ways to make blackjack more fun and "profitable"

10 May 2010

By Aaron Todd

Just like in every other casino game, a player at a blackjack table is battling the house edge, so unless you're an expert card counter, you're going to end up on the short end in the long run. But there are ways to make sure that you give yourself the best chance to hold onto your bankroll, and if the cards roll your way, maybe even increase it at the blackjack table. Here are 10 rules to follow that will make your stay at the blackjack table more fun, and maybe even more "profitable."

10. Find a table where the stakes are comfortable
This can be hard for people with small bankrolls, but you can research casinos ahead of time to find out what their minimum stakes are. Some casinos in Las Vegas spread $5 blackjack tables during off-peak hours. Do some research online and call casinos to find out what table stakes they spread and at what times in order to ensure that you can find the right game for you.

9. Always split Aces and Eights
Good basic strategy dictates that you split your hand whenever you have two aces or two eights. While it may seem like the wrong move to break up those eights when facing a dealer's face card in the window, it's still the right move to make.

8. Look for tables where the dealer stands on Soft 17
It may seem like a small change (how often do you run across a dealer with an ace-six, really?), but it can have a big impact on your bankroll. Playing on a table where the dealer stands on a Soft 17 will cut the house edge by about a third on most standard tables, from .66 percent to .44 percent.

7. Stand with any hand that could bust against a dealer's up card of four, five or six
Yes, your 10-2 is a weak hand, and 70 percent of the time you'll improve your hand. But there's also that nasty 30 percent of the time you'll bust, giving yourself no chance of winning, and you'll still only improve to 17 or better less than 40 percent of the time, leaving yourself in a position to stand. Give the dealer a chance to bust here, and if he catches cards, lick your wounds and try again.

6. Tip your dealer
Yes, this will drain your bankroll to some degree, but keeping the dealer happy is important. While the most important way you can sustain your bankroll is to know basic strategy yourself, the dealers are there to help you and if you don't know what to do, they're probably going to give you better advice than anyone else at the table — unless of course, you've been stingy with your tips.

5. Play on a table where you can double down with any two cards
This is another rule that can save you almost 0.2 percent on the house edge. While you can only double down with 10 or 11 on some blackjack tables, others will let you double down on any two cards you like. Played correctly, those extra double downs will allow you to put more money on the table when you have a strategic edge and shave the already miniscule house edge of blackjack even more.

4. Double down with any ace (except A-9) against a dealer's six
The best time to take advantage of those extra double downs is when you have an ace and the dealer is showing a six. You should double down in this situation every time, with the exception of when you have a soft 20 (don't get greedy — you already have a great hand!). You should also double against the dealer's five except when you have a soft 19 or 20.

3. Play with friends — and let the biggest winner buy dinner
Playing blackjack with a group of friends is always more fun. The camaraderie at the table lightens the atmosphere and makes the sting of losing a little easier to take. And if your group agrees that anyone who posts a big win will pay for dinner, drinks, a cab, or any other shared expense you may incur, it allows anyone who suffered a loss to recover a bit before you head back to the tables.

2. Bring a strategy card — and play by the book!
If you don't know basic strategy like the back of your hand, tape a card with the strategy to the back of your hand. Casinos will allow you to reference the card at the table, and looking at it will reinforce the correct play and keep you from making mistakes as you play.

1. Never play at a table where blackjack pays 6/5
The standard payout for blackjack at most tables is 3/2, so $10 bet will win $15 when a player hits blackjack. At a table where blackjack pays 6/5 (typically a table played with a single-deck), the same $10 will net just $12 on a blackjack payout. Even when every other rule is set in the player's favor, the house edge on 6/5 tables is still over one percent, almost twice as large as it is at most standard six-deck tables. Avoid these tables at all costs and your bankroll will thank you.
Top-10 ways to make blackjack more fun and "profitable" is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.