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8 Advanced Blackjack Strategy Tips for Pro Players

advanced blackjack strategy

If you’re serious about blackjack, then you need to be aware of the different techniques that are used by professional players.

In this article, I’ll discuss some of the most advanced blackjack strategy tips that are used by experts in order to give themselves an edge over the house.

Some of these are the direct opposite of what beginners are taught, and should only be used at specific times. If you’re a novice player, you should probably not attempt any of this until you gain more experience!

But if you’re confident and ready to take your blackjack skills to the next level, these techniques could be a game changer…

Advanced Card Counting

There’s one thing that all pro blackjack players have in common – they know how to count cards.

As you may have seen in my tutorial on the best card counting systems, there are actually several different counting methods you can learn. Each one will give you an edge over the dealer, but some give you a bigger edge than others.

A more advanced system such as the Zen Count or Omega II is likely to give you the biggest advantage, but they are more complex and harder to learn and implement.

I’d recommend that you start with a simpler counting technique first, and then when you’ve mastered that, upgrade to an advanced method. My card counting for dummies tutorial will walk you through the HiLo system which is an excellent starting point.

The basic premise is that ANY recognized card counting system, providing it is properly implemented, is better than none at all. And you’ll need to be able to count cards in order to use the rest of the advanced strategies I’m about to describe.

Varying Your Stake

This advice may seem counter-intuitive if you’ve read about why blackjack betting systems don’t work. But the difference is, those systems advise you to increase stakes based on false logic. A card counter increases their stake when (s)he knows for a fact that the odds are in their favor.

This is determined by the true count.

Once you have a true count that is sufficiently positive, you will want to increase the size of your bets. This should be done proportionally – the higher the count, the bigger the advantage you have over the dealer, and the more money you want on the table.

By the same token, if you have a zero or negative count, then you will want to reduce your exposure. Drop to the table minimum or even skip a few hands if there are other players at the table who can advance the game. Just remember to keep track of the count so you can get back in when it turns positive again.

Playing Multiple Hands

When the true count is high, another way of capitalizing on your advantage over the house is to play multiple hands.

If the seat next to you is empty, you can add chips to that table position as well as your own, and play two or more hands concurrently. It spreads the risk if you are using larger stakes, and is also a good way to overcome any issues with the table maximum bet size if you happen to be approaching that level.

This is a technique that is often used by professional players, as it allows them to increase their profits in a short period of time. Again, the idea is to put more money on the table when the odds are in your favor, and less when they’re not.

Betting on Another Player’s Hand

If the seats next to you are not empty, but you’ve seen that the players occupying them are playing basic strategy correctly, you could consider betting on those players’ hands in addition to your own.

Give the player some of your chips to add to their own bet, then take your share of the winnings after the hand is complete.

When using this technique, you must be sure not to blame the other player if their hand loses, even if they have made what you would consider to be a mistake, by not following basic strategy correctly.

Remember the decision of what to do with your chips is your responsibility, so you must take the consequences, good or bad, with good grace.

Taking Insurance

But David – you told us several times in the past that we should never take insurance!

Yes, I did, and most others would tell you the same.

Again, this strategy is counterintuitive to everything you’ve ever been taught about blackjack strategy. Under normal circumstances you should not take insurance – it’s a bad bet offering poor value.

When the true count is high, however, it indicates that there are proportionally more high-value cards left in the deck, and the most common high-value card is a ten – precisely what you need for the insurance side bet to pay out!

That’s when Insurance, which pays 2/1, suddenly becomes a more appealing option.

To make the bet viable, you are looking for a true count that is significantly positive. Different card counting systems have their own advice for if and when it becomes profitable. Personally, I start to take insurance only when the true count is at +10 or better.

Splitting 10s

Here’s something else that basic strategy tells you never to do – but advanced blackjack strategy says you should, when the time is right. Contrary to conventional wisdom, when the true count is very high it can be a good play to split tens, especially against a 4, 5, or 6.

Yes, you’re destroying a strong hand. But with the abundance of high-value cards left in the deck, you’re also in with a great shout of converting that one strong hand into two. Both of them will then face off against a dealer’s upcard which means they are highly likely to go bust.

Be careful when doing this though, especially if a pit boss is watching. It’s a clear sign that either you have no idea what you’re doing, or that you are counting. So use this technique sparingly.

Shuffle Tracking

Advanced blackjack players also use a technique called shuffle tracking. This involves observing the dealer’s shuffling patterns and keeping track of which cards end up at the top of the deck. By doing this, you can get an idea of what cards are going to be dealt next and adjust your betting accordingly.

Shuffle tracking is hard. It takes a lot of practice to master and is ineffective when the casino uses an automated shuffling machine. But under certain conditions, it can be a very effective way to win at blackjack.

If you’re serious about becoming a professional blackjack player, rather than a successful casual punter, then this is something you might like to learn. But be prepared for a lot of failures before you get it right eventually.

Spotting Dealer Tells

In addition to counting cards and shuffle tracking, professional blackjack players also use their observational skills to spot dealer tells. A tell is anything that the dealer does that gives away information about their hand.

When the dealer peeks at their face-down card, they can sometimes give away a tell. Although they’re trained not to, they are only human and it is sometimes impossible to avoid.

If you can spot a tell then it can certainly give you an extra edge, particularly when considering whether to take insurance when the deck is hot. A small edge maybe, but blackjack is a game of small margins. Over time the small things can add up and make all the difference.

Last Updated on October 13, 2022

David Graham
Posted in Strategy

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