How to Play (and Win) at Blackjack: The Expert’s Guide

Hey, I’m Colin from Blackjack Apprenticeship, and in this video I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about how to play the game of blackjack as well as how it can be beat. (upbeat music) Hey, I’m Colin and I’m here with my good friend David a.k.a. Loudon Ofton. We’re gonna teach you how to play the game of blackjack. We have been professional blackjack players for roughly 15 years. We have played individually, we’ve played as part of teams responsible for beating casinos for roughly $4 million, and we now teach others how to beat blackjack through Blackjack Apprenticeship. In this video, we’re gonna show you how to play blackjack and eventually how it can be beat. Before we can talk about how to play the game of blackjack, we first need to talk about what the goal, or the objective, of the game is, which is to, in its simplest form, beat the dealer. Unlike poker, where you’re playing against other players, in blackjack it’s all about your game against the dealer.

How do you beat the dealer? Basically by getting closer to 21 than the dealer without going over 21. That’s why they call the game 21. How do you lose? There’s a couple ways you can lose. If the dealer gets closer to 21 than you, then you lose. Or if you go over 21, you lose right away. What we have right here is a fourth of one deck of cards. This is two through ace, and in blackjack, the two through 10 are simply gonna be their point value, so a two is gonna be worth two points, and a 10 is gonna be worth 10 points. And then a Jack, Queen and King are also going to be worth 10 points. So 10, Jack, Queen, and King are all 10 value cards and then an ace is unique in that it can be a one or an 11, whichever is going to be the best for the hand. Ace and a two is gonna be a three or a 13, whichever is better for the hand. Let’s talk about how the game is dealt. Both the player and the dealer get two cards, but the dealer only shows one card while the other card is kept face down. At this point, the player always goes first, and they have an option to take more cards, or to stay. They actually have a few other decisions we’ll get to in a minute, but they always go first and decide if they want more cards or to stay, with the goal of getting closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. The player has an 18 is going to stay, and the dealer has a 16, and since he has to hit until he has a 17, he has no choice but to hit. Now he has a 17 and even though the dealer has a worse hand than the player, the dealer has to stay at 17, so the player is going to win. After the round is played, there are three outcomes for payouts. If the player wins, they get paid an equal amount to what they just bet. If they lose, they lose their entire bet. If they push, which is to get the same point value as the dealer, then they don’t win or lose, and the next round begins. But wait, there’s another way that you can win at blackjack automatically, and that’s if you’re dealt a blackjack, or what we call a natural, so it looks like this. If you’re dealt an ace and a 10 value card as your first two cards, we call that a blackjack. As long as a dealer doesn’t also have a blackjack, you win automatically. If you’re dealt a blackjack it gets paid right away, and like it says on this felt, blackjacks pay three to two. David is betting 400 here, it’s going to get paid 600, which is three to two or 150 percent. Beware, because there’s some greedy casinos out there that have started to offer an inferior form of blackjack where it doesn’t pay three to two, it pays six to five, or even paying even money, which would be paying like a normal hand, and you don’t want to play those games ever. Because a big part of you not having a large disadvantage from the casino or if you learn to become a card counter like us, and you want to beat the game, you’re gonna need a three to two blackjack game to even have a chance to beat them. Let’s deal some example rounds and show you how this works. (cards swishing) In this example, the first player is gonna stay. So is the second player, and then the third player is going to hit. Now they would stay. In this situation, the dealer has an 18, the first player has a 17, so he’s gonna lose.

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The second player has a 19 which beats the dealer’s 18, so he’s going to win. The third player has an 18, which is the same as the dealer’s hand, so that would be a push, they don’t win or lose. In the second example, here this first player has a 12 against a seven. If they were to hit, they have 22. They went over 21, he’s gonna lose right away regardless of what the dealer ends up getting. He loses. The 19, he’s gonna stay. The dealer has a 13, so the dealer has to hit. The dealer also went over 21. This 19 is gonna win, but again, this is really important, because the player always plays first, they lose, if both the player and the dealer bust, the player loses. That’s a big part of how the casino gets the advantage at blackjack. Third example, the player is dealt, boom, the blackjack, and with the blackjack, as long as the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, the player wins right away. Not only do they win right way, but they get paid just like this says, blackjacks pay three to two, the player is going to get paid three chips to his two, or 150%, and that doesn’t matter if you’re betting five dollars or $5000, you get paid 150% of your bet when you get a blackjack. That’s really important because that’s part of how the player can try to regain the advantage against the casino. The player needs that extra 50% on blackjacks to even have a fighting chance against the casino. Let’s talk about playing decisions. There are four main playing decisions that you as a player can make at the blackjack table. There’s hitting, standing, splitting, and doubling down. We’re gonna break down each one of those for you. But just so you know there’s actually a chart, and we’ll put a link to it in the description below, that will tell you the proper playing decision for every hand of blackjack. It’s called basic strategy and it was created by mathematicians, and it is the best way to play every possible hand in the game. David, how long would you say it takes to memorize basic strategy? – A couple of hours a day for a couple weeks. – Yeah. Couple hours a day for a couple of weeks to know how to play perfect blackjack. That’s not going to give you the advantage over the casino, you need card counting for that, but, with proper basic strategy, you’re playing every hand properly, and it’s going to cut the casino’s edge to a very small margin, roughly half of 1%. First let’s talk about hitting. Why would a player hit? – [David] To get a better hand. – Yeah, yeah, to take another card. So let’s show you what that looks like. In this situation we have an eight against a seven, so the player’s gonna wanna hit. You’re going to do that by tapping or scraping or some form of tapping the table, and then the dealer will give you another card. Then your next option would be standing, and that’s if you don’t want another card. Now you have an 18 against the dealer’s seven, you’re gonna want to stand, so you’re gonna just wave that hand off, then your hand is over. Our next playing decision would be to stand, when would you stand? – When you have a good hand or you don’t want to bust. – The third option would be doubling down, and that’s only available on your first two cards or sometimes after you split your hand. We’ll show you that in a minute. When you double down, you’re going to place an equal bet to your original bet. You can bet up to your original bet, a little pro-tip, you would never double down for anything less than the full amount and you would always double down when basic strategy says to double down. Let me show you what that looks like. With doubling down, each of these hands are actually technically a hand you should double down, so this first one’s a nine. what you’re gonna do is put an equal bet next to it and place one finger out. The dealer’s gonna give you one card sideways, to signify that you can’t hit that hand, that hand is over. Here’s an 11, an 11 is always going to double down against a six. Then again on this last hand, it’s a soft 18 so this is an eight or 18 and the correct decision would be to double down. At that point all three of these hands are done and you have to just hope that the dealer’s gonna bust. Boom! Then you get paid out on all those bets. Another thing to be aware of, as far as proper basic strategy at blackjack, doubling down situations are all situations where you have an advantageous hand. While you might feel scared to put another bet out there to match your original bet, it is the proper way to play it, and if you don’t double down when you’re supposed to, you’re really just costing yourself money over the long run. Splitting as an option when you have two cards that are of equal value to each other. If you have a pair of twos or a pair of sevens or even a pair of tens, you have the option to split those cards. Here we have a pair of eights and to split those you’re gonna put a second equal bet out and split your fingers like saying two hands. Then you’re gonna get dealt. Here you have another eight, so you can actually split that again. So you’re gonna do the exact same thing. Then you’re gonna get dealt into three separate hands. Here you’re gonna stand on each of these. Then over here we have a pair of aces, which is always going to split. Again, you put two fingers out to say two hands. With a pair of aces, you only get dealt one card to those. The dealer’s gonna put them sideways to signify that you can’t hit, and those hands are over. The dealer’s gonna play out their hand. Again, if you want to know how to play proper basic strategy there’s a link below in the description so you can learn the proper way to play every hand of blackjack. – Which doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna win, it just gives you the best chance. – There’s one other option for the player when the dealer has an ace up, and that’s to buy insurance. How that works is that if you want to insure your hand against the dealer’s blackjack, they’re gonna let you, they’re gonna do this and say insurance, and let you buy insurance. To do that, you would put half of your bet into the insurance line right here. At that point if the dealer does have a blackjack, you would lose your hand because you have a 14 and they have a blackjack but then insurance is going to pay two to one so that would mean basically you’re gonna break even. If you’re just following basic strategy, you should never buy insurance, but that’s how that playing decision works. Unless you’re a card counter don’t ever buy insurance. David, do you agree? – Well, basic strategy says, it’s not a smart play. – When you’re at the casino there’s gonna be other players or dealers that are gonna say oh, will you shouldn’t insure if you have a good hand, or don’t insure a bad hand, that’s all just casino mumbo-jumbo. It’s not based on math or logic. Unless you’re learning how to count cards like David and I, just don’t ever buy insurance. There’s one other playing decision that we didn’t talk about yet, which is called surrendering. It’s only offered at maybe 10% of casinos, but if the casino does offer it, it actually is valuable to the player if you know how to play it properly. If you’re at a casino that offers surrender, if it’s a hand that you want to surrender, what you’re gonna do is slide your finger across the table, make a line, and you’ll probably wanna say, surrender, just so the casino knows that that’s clearly what you want to do, and how it works is, you forfeit your hand right away and only lose half your bet. You would lose five of the 10 dollars right there, before the hand is ever played out. The hand is over. Mathematically if it’s a hand where the casino has a better than 50% advantage over you, you would just surrender half your bet and move on to the next round. At this point you might be thinking, this sounds great, all I have to do is follow basic strategy and beat the dealer. Is it that simple David? – You do have to use your brain a little bit. – What if I just am a lucky blackjack player. – That’s great but that’s not going to guarantee profits over time. – That’s right. Casinos are no dummies, they’ve designed the game in a way where they have the advantage over the player. There are really two reasons for that. The first reason is that very few players actually follow basic strategy. How often do you find a perfect basic strategy player at the blackjack tables? – Less than 5% of the time. – Yeah. It’s really rare. Even though basic strategy won’t give you a winning game, it cuts the casino’s advantage to about half a percent. Whereas the average gambler at a blackjack table is probably playing with about a 2% disadvantage which is really about the same or not much better than the slot machines. You want to just play slot machines? – [David] No. – The second reason why people don’t have the advantage is because how the game is designed. I showed you before, if both the player and the dealer bust, who loses? – If the player busts before the dealer, the player loses. – That’s right. Since a player always goes first, even if they both bust, the player loses. Even though blackjacks help the player, double downs help the player, those aren’t enough to gain the advantage over the casino. You need something more, which is card counting. In the short run, anyone can get lucky on a given day or night. But over time the odds are going to work out and even if you’re playing perfect basic strategy, the casino’s gonna end up with your money over the long haul. You can gain the advantage but it takes more. What’s the first step to getting the advantage over the casino? – Basic strategy, getting that perfect. – Perfect basic strategy and the second step is? – Counting cards. – That’s right. That’s illegal, right? – No, it’s using your brain. – [Colin] I thought using your brain was illegal in casinos. – No, it’s legal to use your brain, the casinos have invited you to play a game, use your brain, beat it. – This is what David and I have done for 15 years. We have played as professional card counters. We between the two of us have won over $1.5 million. We’ve been a part of teams. One of the more notorious ones was called the church team. Which beat casinos for $3.2 million legally through card counting. What card counting does is tells you how to bet and when to change your playing decisions in a way that gives you the advantage over casinos. I’m going to be honest with you though, casinos don’t like people that can beat them, so they have a right to refuse service to whoever they want. If you want to learn how to beat casinos, that’s what we’re all about. You can learn more by subscribing below, you can watch our videos on card counting, or you can check out blackjackapprenticeship.com.

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