Classic Blackjack is always the best choice if your goal is to win as much money as possible. And if that’s not your goal—why are you even playing blackjack! This is a game of fine margins, a game where the goal of the player is to force as much of a shift in those margins as possible, whether they do that by counting cards or using optimum strategy.
Classic Blackjack is a back-to-basics, no-luxuries blackjack game that doesn’t appeal to casual players, but catches the eye of the hardcore gambler like nothing else can. So, what is it that makes this game so unique and why should you always choose Classic Blackjack over any other variant?
The Rules of Classic Blackjack
The rules of Classic Blackjack actually change a little from casino to casino, but there are a few basics that should not change:
- 1 deck should be used.
- Payout should be 3:2.
- No side bets.
- Splits and doubles allowed.
Once you start adding side bets and decks, while taking away the control that the player has, then you start increasing the house edge. Generally, Classic Blackjack has a very favourable house edge, and many casinos are not happy with this. Ever since blackjack first entered the casino and players discovered strategies to beat it, the casinos have scrambled to find ways to tip the balance in their favour.
One of the most blatant games out there is Spanish 21, which can have a house edge as high as 0.76%, even on online casinos, and has been known to go higher on offline casinos.
The difference between one game of blackjack and another can be quite significant. There are blackjack games out there that have house edges of 1% and more, while games of Classic Blackjack return rates as low as 0.26%. This might not sound like a big deal, but it really makes a difference.
When you play blackjack online at reputable online casinos the differences can be much smaller. Take Microgaming as an example. This is one of the oldest and best developers out there and they have dedicated themselves to offering great payouts since the beginning, yet even they have big differences between their best and worst games.
Vegas Single Deck is their best. It is a Classic Blackjack variant that is played with one deck and has a payout of 99.69%, which equates to a house edge of 0.31%. If you compare this to their lowest edge 8 deck game Atlantic City, it’s 0.04% better. Not much, but what Atlantic City loses through the extra decks it gains by standing on soft 17, and allowing up to 3 splits and a surrender.
Their worst game has 2 decks, but it doesn’t allow any of these features. That game is Premier High Streak Blackjack and has a payout of 99.47%, which is a house edge of 0.53%, some 0.23% worse than their Classic Blackjack variant.
We briefly mentioned the features that a game needs to have great odds, but let’s take a look at this in more detail:
- Decks: The fewer, the better, but this makes a bigger difference offline than it does online.
- Surrender: A game that allows a surrender can improve its payout significantly.
- Side Bets: All are generally unfavourable for the player.
- Splits: The more, the better.
- Doubles: Some allow doubling on all cards; others limit it to a few. More choice is better.
- Double After Split: An option that will help the odds.
How to Beat Classic Blackjack: The Basics
There are a few basic rules to keep in mind if you want to get the better of the casino:
- Welcome Bonuses: It’s always easy to guarantee a profit if you are playing with someone else’s money. Not only can big bonuses ensure bigger wins, but Classic Blackjack is the perfect game to help you dig into those play-through rates.
- Loyalty Bonuses: The more you play, the more points you earn, and the more money you collect. Loyalty bonuses can be used like rebates, picking you up when you’re on a bad run and limiting your losses significantly.
- Patience: Take it easy. If you hit a bad run, reduce your stake, don’t increase it. It’s the opposite of what most gamblers do, but increasing your stake and taking more risks is a sure-fire way to develop a gambling addiction and to lose all of your money.
- One Game at a Time: Don’t get too caught up in what happened before or what might happen next. You can’t start thinking that you’re owed a win, or that you’ve won too many times and are due a loss. Treat each game as it comes.
- Look at the Dealer’s Hand: Casual players always focus on their own hand and often ignore the dealer’s hand. But to really get ahead you need to base your play on what they have, as discussed in more detail below.
- Stay Sober: It is never a good idea to play blackjack for money when you have been drinking. This is true of all gambling, as drinking lowers your inhibitions and can make you take bigger risks. It can also increase your frustration and your impulsivity, leading to huge losses. Don’t try and convince yourself that you play better drunk, there is a reason casinos give out free alcohol.
How to Beat Classic Blackjack: The Strategy
Now that we have the basics out of the way, it’s time to focus on the actual strategy. These tips are taken from optimal blackjack strategies, which are based on probability. Basically, you play the likely outcome each time, taking more risks when there is a higher chance of the dealer beating you, and less risks when there is a higher chance of you beating them.
- Never take insurance.
- Always split when you have aces or 8s.
- If you have 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 and the dealer has between 2 and 6, stand.
- If you have 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 and the dealer has 7 and ace, hit.
- If you have 11 and the dealer has been 2 and 10, double-down.
- Always hit a Soft 17 and stand on a Hard 17.
- Never split 5s or 10s.