What NOT to do when playing blackjack

You don't have to memorize a complicated algorithms and complex strategies to enjoy blackjack.  Blackjack, also known as "Twenty One" is one of the best online casino games for both beginner and advanced players as well as for both budget gamers and high-rollers.  If you want to get the most out of your game of blackjack, you need to go a bit beyond the simple game rules and look behind the scenes.   

You have to remember which combinations can get you close to 21 without over-reaching, when you should bet big and when it's time to fold and wait for another round.

There are many variations of blackjack but the basic structure is similar in all of them -- you win by getting as close to 21 as possible while aiming to achieve a value higher than the dealer.

If you feel as though your game isn't all it could be, read on. Review some of the red flags, be sure that you know the basic blackjack strategy and practice in the free mode of the online casino so that you'll be ready to compete at a land-based or online table.

Basic Strategy

Knowing basic strategy is important when you play any game but it's even more important in blackjack.  If you don't have the strategy you are playing blind.

The goal of the blackjack strategy is to get your hand of cards as close to 21 points as possible without exceeding 21.  Concurrently, following the strategy aims to keep you in the game when it's likely that the dealer will go bust. In essence, the blackjack strategy is based on knowing the probabilities of which cards will be dealt next and how that will impact your current hand,

You also need to assess the strength of the dealer's hand.  You can do that by looking at the dealer's "up" card.  If the dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 it's obvious that he'll have to take a hit, regardless of what he has in his hidden card.

The goal of this article isn't to review the blackjack basic strategy, but rather to alert you that, if you can't properly read what your next step should be based on the dealer's 'up' card or based on your cards, you need to study the basic strategy.

Doubling Down

If you're not sure when to double down, you should spend a little time reviewing the recommendations.  If you double down properly, you can multiply your winnings fairly easily.  If you don't, the hand is a waste of time and money.

Blackjack advisors say that you should only make this bet when you're confident that all the probabilities are in your favor. This is when:

  1. You’ve been counting cards and, based on what you know about which cards have already been played, believe that the deck is biased toward your desired outcome.
  2. You’re playing in an online game without a shoe or playing with only one deck and can assess that the probabilities are favorable based on the cards you see.

If you're playing online against a gaming machine, you're safer if you assume that the machine is using a simulated multi-deck shoe and play accordingly.  If you're playing live casino online you can proceed as though you're in a land-based game.

Regardless, since you can't count cards online, doubling down online is a bit more chancy.

You know that if your first two cards total 10 or 11 points you may be in a good position to double down. You may also consider an ace and any card from 2 through 6 to be a good prospect for doubling down if the dealer shows either a 5 or a 6.  

Soft 17

Standing on a soft 17 is always a time of uncertainty.  It helps if you remember how many high and low cards have been played since the last shuffle but there's never any 100% clear answer. If you're at 17 based on low value cards and the dealer shows either a 10 point card or a picture card, you need to decide whether asking for another card would put you out of the game.  If the dealer busts, you win.  But if he doesn't, you're still pretty low.

If the dealer has an ace and anything less than a 6, he must take a card so there's still a chance that he'll go bust. But if you haven't been paying attention to the cards already played and you're not sure what's likely to happen, it's probably best for you to stand on the soft 17.


Everyone makes missteps and mistakes but if you keep making the same mistakes over and over, you need to spend some serious time on improving your game. One thing that everyone should do is to look at the points in their hand before they decide whether to try a risky, flashy move. Sometimes, risky is good.  But not always and certainly not if the cards that you're holding don't inspire confidence.

The most important thing to do to improve your game is to recognize and learn from your mistakes.  If necessary, adjust your expectations and don't forget that the practice mode is there for you to get some practice so that you can perform better when you play for real.