5 Rookie Blackjack Mistakes – A Blackjack Guide for Beginners
When you’re new to the game, you may be looking to learn a blackjack winning strategy or two. After all, many people know that the only way to minimize the house edge is to play optimally. This means making the right decisions at each moment in the game when it comes to hitting, standing, doubling down, splitting, and more.
A “house edge” tells you the expected return for players over long-term play, expressed as a percentage. Because you want your returns to be as high as possible, it’s worth brushing up on blackjack tips for new players. That way, you can avoid common rookie mistakes when playing, and build a smart (and profitable) online blackjack strategy.
These tips generally apply to each Cafe Casino blackjack game variation. Our basic blackjack game is available in classic and updated formats, and you can play variations like Single Deck Blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, European Blackjack, Perfect Pairs (which offers side bets on pairs of cards being dealt), and Zappit Blackjack (which lets you replace cards that put you to hard totals of 15, 16 or 17).
Let’s stick to basics to start out. What are some mistakes every rookie makes? Well, the biggest one is taking insurance.
Rookie Blackjack Mistake #1: Taking Insurance
When a dealer shows an ace, what are you worried about? That’s right – a blackjack! The dealer might be hiding a ten-value card face down, which means they could be sitting on a blackjack. To give players a risk management tool, online casinos offer insurance. This is a side bet for players that pays out 2:1 if the dealer in fact has a blackjack.
Well, in a single deck game, there’s 52 cards in the deck, and 16 of them have a value of ten. So the chance a dealer has a face down ten card is about 31%. This means that you win this bet 31% of the time. Not a great expected return, there, and that’s why buying insurance is not a part of a blackjack winning strategy you’ll score big with.
A special kind of insurance is called “even money,” and it’s offered to players who start out with their own blackjack when the dealer is showing an ace. If the dealer also has a blackjack, the hand will be a push and your bet will be returned to you. To protect some of the value of your blackjack, you can buy even money insurance and get a 1:1 payout on your blackjack, no matter what the dealer has. Again, the odds here don’t favor purchasing even money insurance, and so our blackjack tips list says to avoid it.
Rookie Blackjack Mistake #2: Splitting Tens When the Dealer Shows a 6
Okay, so your dealer sends you two cards and you get two ten-value cards. Things are looking good! You’ve got 20. Only a 21 could beat that. It’s time to stand, right? That’s what a winning strategy would have you do, surely…
But what about splitting?
When you have a pair, you can split the cards into two separate blackjack hands. Don’t you want to split your tens and try for two twenties? If one is good, two has to be better! The thing is – it’s not.
You win about 64% of the time when you split your tens and the dealer has a weaker card like a 6. If you stand on your 20, on the other hand, the math says that you’ll win about 85% of the time because it’s a pretty hard hand to beat. Unless you can count cards (which is less crucial when online decks usually shuffle after each hand), it’s really worth keeping those tens together forever.
Rookie Blackjack Mistake #3: Standing on 16 When the Dealer Shows an Ace
There’s no doubt about it, figuring out how to play a 16 is a challenge. You really won’t feel like hitting it. It’s high enough that you’ll be tempted to stand. But when the dealer has an ace, it’s often worth it to take a hit.Why?
Well, according to the probabilities, the dealer is usually going to wind up with a total between 17 and 21 somewhere around 74% to 83% of the time. This means that you should be planning to beat that total more often than not. And that’s why your online blackjack strategy should have you taking a hit when you have a 16 and the dealer’s got an ace up.
Rookie Blackjack Mistake #4: Standing on Soft 18 When Dealer Shows a 6
We know that soft 18 (ace and a seven, if you have it with your first two cards) looks pretty solid. But if the dealer is showing a 6 or another low card, a better strategy would have you double down, not stand.
Standing is an ok decision, with an expected value of about .28. This means that, when you bet $100, you expect to earn an average of $28 by making this decision in the long run. But doubling down has an expected value of $38. We won’t dig into the math behind it, but this is what statistical analysis shows. That’s why our best blackjack tips have players doubling down in this situation.
Rookie Blackjack Mistake #5: Standing on Soft 18 When the Dealer Shows a 9
It sounds crazy, but in this case, you take a hit. You may already know the reason, but in case you don’t, the dealer is going to make 19 or better a lot of the time when showing a 9 up. For that reason, your 18 is not going to be good enough often enough. You need to take a shot at improving it, even with the risk of drawing a breaking hand, because it’s the best move once you calculate probabilities and expected returns.
The blackjack tables are ready and waiting for the next winner. Use your Cafe Casino login to try out what you’ve learned now.