With its long line of credentials weaving itself through medieval Europe, “Vingt-et-un” (meaning “21”), or as it is more commonly know “Blackjack” is arguably one the oldest and most popular casino and Blackjack online casino games in the world.
It is also the most researched and, given that it is the only casino game with fluctuating odds, the system or science that you employ to help you win can make the difference between “Mustang Sally” playing on your internal casino jukebox or a melancholic ditty with the words “Loser” in them.
So, how do you use science and mathematics to gain advantage over the house so that you can pile on those wagers for a chance at the big time?
Changing the odds
On average, the casino will have an advantage of around 0.5 to 1 per cent, depending on how many decks of cards are in use and rules of play. This will ensure that, in the long term, the casino will make a profit.
In a game where the idea is to be dealt a hand of cards whose values add up to a final score that is higher than that of the dealer’s hand, but lower than 21, the advantage gambler needs to be able to change the odds. The most common way to do so is card counting which can change the advantage to 2 per cent in the players favour.
Honing your strategy
Back in the day, Edward O. Thorp used early computers to see whether keeping track of the cards could lead to an advantage in the game and published his findings in the book Beat the Dealer in 1962.
This had the immediate effect of everyone and their dog making their way to try their luck at the casino armed with Thorp’s “ten-count system”. Starting with two numbers in your head—16 and 36, representing picture cards in the deck and number cards in the deck — you count backwards as the cards come out. Divide your count of remaining “others” by the count of tens remaining to arrive at a “Thorp Ratio” which shows player advantage.
Further blackjack computer simulations were done by Julian Braun of IBM, leading to a second edition of Beat the Dealer being published in 1966. Computers and their advanced processing capacity have meant that even as casinos have changed the game and added more packs etc. Blackjack players are able to do quick card Jiu Jitsu to modifying their counting systems quickly and easily to their advantage. Kia!
The most important thing to remember when adopting a strategy is that mathematical science dictates that there are only a finite number of outcomes for any particular playing decision, and thus, the same predictable outcome after millions of hands of play. Learn the basic rules of when to hit, double or stand.
Hurl the hunch
Therefore, once you have grasped the science of the basic strategy rules for single deck games and for multiple deck shoes, you have to learn to “hurl the hunch”. In other words, ditch your internal perceptions about when you are winning and losing in certain situations. If you think you always win when you split nines or perceive that you will lose because you forgot to touch your right ear lobe, this is NOT the case! Stick to your strategy and it will bring you out on top in the long run. Study the rules of a scientific counting method and practice until you can perform that high kick in your sleep.