Commandment #1: Thou shalt not use intuition, feeling, sentiment or blind faith to make decisions about when to stand, hit, double-down or insure. Use sound strategy, or risk wasting away your money on the full force of the house’s already sizable advantage.

Commandment #2: Thou shalt know the difference between a soft and a hard hand, paying careful attention to the rules of each table. Remember, each table tends to have different variations of play. These variations are crucial, because they affect the many minutiae of potentially game-breaking and game-making decisions.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt be prudent about hitting on an up-card value of more than 12. Ten-value cards are the single most common card value in blackjack (tens and all face-cards). Receiving a 10-value card on a 12 is a bust. It’s not always wrong to hit on 12, particularly if the dealer has high value up-card. But be wary, because once you bust it’s over, no matter what card the dealer ends up by having.

Commandment #4: Thou shalt pay particular attention to the table rules regarding the splitting and re-splitting of aces. Aces are extremely valuable cards in a game of blackjack, which is why many blackjack tables are careful to specify a limit on how many times these ‘golden’ cards can be split.

Commandment #5: Thou shalt never hit on any total of 17 or more. The high statistical probability of busting beyond a 17 far outweighs any potential advantage you might derive from beating the dealer’s own total. The only exception to this might be when you have a soft 18 and the dealer has a 10.

Commandment #6: Thou shalt double-down when the hand calls for it. Doubling-down is always risky. But the key is risk management: risking a higher wager when that risk is called for is good strategy. Double your 10 against a dealer total of 9 or less.

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Commandment #7: Thou shalt always pre-determine the bankroll before laying down a single bet. Everyone tends to have a bad gambling run at some point in their casino careers. Don’t compound the loss by stretching yourself further than what’s comfortable. This is a decision that needs to be made before play. Respect your own limits.

Commandment #8: Thou shalt never stop other players from making boneheaded plays. It’s these same boneheaded players that help the casino pay tidy sums for your winnings. Thanks to the careful application of various strategies, you can ensure that the house’s natural advantage is reduced by a few percentage points.

Commandment #9: Thou shall maintain a “poker face” if using careful card-counting techniques. Casino pit bosses can often identify card counters by their stern and somewhat constipated expression. Act natural.

Commandment #10: Thou shalt vary the bets according to the movement of the game. Sometimes it’s useful to wager high. Other times, it’s wise to tone down the $200 chips and play safer. If you’re keeping a running count of the table and the casino has yet reshuffled the deck, you’ll know when the time is right.

Want to master the blackjack table? Have a look at our blackjack bible for beginners.


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