Intermediate Blackjack Strategy GAMBLERS September 29, 2015 Home At this point, let’s assume you’ve been playing Blackjack for a while. You understand the basic rules to Blackjack and know rudimentary strategy. Now, we can proceed with several intermediate concepts that will help you advance your overall skills as a savvy Blackjack player. We are going to talk about two strategic aspects – doubling down and splitting pairs. Plus, we are going to discuss bankroll management (betting systems) and gambling psychology (maintaining a cool head in the heat of battle). By now, you’ve probably memorized the basic A to Z guide on Blackjack, which you can find illustrated in those wallet-sized laminated charts they sell in souvenir shops at the Las Vegas airport. However, you’ll never want to embarrass yourself by pulling out one of those cards at the actual table in a swanky casino like The Cosmopolitan. The good news is that it’s not difficult to learn how to play optimal Blackjack. All you have to do is memorize a few simple rules. When it comes down to advanced Blackjack strategy, you want to focus on two fundamentals: Doubling Down and Splitting Pairs. While both of these terms should be familiar to you if you’ve read the rules of Blackjack, sometimes it can get tricky to remember when you should double down and which pairs to avoid splitting. Most of your decision is determined by what card the dealer is showing. Generally speaking, the rules and strategy of blackjack can be applied to single deck and multi-deck Blackjack. DOUBLING DOWN Follow these simple rules about doubling down when you have a 9, 10, or 11… SPLITTING PAIRS My grandmother used to sing me a song: “Always split / Aces n’ eights.” She knew her advanced Blackjack strategy! Always splits 8-8 and A-A, but never-ever split 4-4, 5-5, and 10-10. It’s pretty obvious why! If you do get 5-5, revert back to the DOUBLING DOWN rules above. Follow these simple rules about splitting pairs… MARTINGALE and REVERSE-MARTINGALE Once you memorized charts for splitting pairs and doubling down, it’s time to move onto the next advanced topic: proper bet sizing. While you are making the leap from beginner to intermediate player, you should avoid intricate systems that might draw your focus away from playing the actual cards. One of the most interesting and controversial systems is called Martingale Betting System. It is one of the oldest systems of wagering that initially catered to roulette strategy. Martingale originated around roulette tables in 18th Century France. It follows a simple method: whenever you lose, keep doubling down until you break even. In theory you will eventually recoup your loses by doubling your wager. In reality, a massive bankroll is required to pull it off. If you’re a casual punter with a limited roll, than avoid the Martingale unless you will end up like a down-trodden character in a Dostoevsky novel. Consider using the Anti-Martingale or the Reverse Martingale. The basics to the Reverse Martingale are increasing your wager after a win, but reducing wagers after a loss. It’s fairly simple, but it works. It limits how much you lose during a cold streak but it helps you maximize your hot streaks. Also, betting a consistent set amount is also a solid, but underrated strategy. You really can’t ever go wrong maintaining a consistent betting amount throughout an entire session. Sometimes you might get obsessed with short-term results instead of looking at the bigger picture. If you play optimal Blackjack strategy and bet the same amount, then you will have a better chance of seeing positive long term results instead of freaking out about what happened over a four-hand sample. COOL HAND LUKE One of the last topics I want to mention is keeping your cool. The most successful gamblers are always the coolest-headed ones at the table. Big wins and big losses don’t faze them because they can handle the swings by staying in the moment and focusing on the hand in front of them. You do not have to be a Zen Master in order to be a sharp gambler; however, you really need to keep your emotions in check at the table. It’s easy to stay calm when you’re riding a winning streak. But everything tends to go to pieces when you start losing. It’s at those pressure points when you’re prone to make less than optimal decisions. Poker players in Las Vegas will refer to that as “tilt” and you never want to be playing Blackjack when you’re on tilt. Keep a cool head at all times. If you’re steaming from a bad beat, then it’s time to take a break and a take a walk. You can play like a robot, but there’s no fun to that. However, you should remain disciplined and keep the ego in check, but never forget the main reason you’re playing Blackjack is to have fun. If you don’t feel like memorizing those Splitting Pairs and Doubling Down charts, well you can always play an easier game like Go Fish or Old Maid. However, putting in the effort is worth the time. Now that you know the basic rules to Blackjack, and you have some advanced strategy down after memorizing all of your double down and split pair situations, it’s time to sit down at a table and see which betting strategy works for you.