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How To Play Like a Blackjack Pro

Blackjack is the most popular staple of American casinos for a lot of reasons: its core rules are simple to quickly explain and learn, it's a fast, exciting game with immediate results. Plus, it offers one of the most level, skill-based playing fields of any casino game out there. However, there are two common issues that new players tend to face a lot.

1. Intimidation - New players will often avoid blackjack at first out of fear that their lack of experience will make them look like amateurs at the table.

2. No Strategy - Even experienced players will often lack any real strategy — and their game suffers as a result.

In this article, we'll address both of these issues so that you'll not only be able to get into blackjack with confidence, but also bring your game to the next level and play blackjack like the pros.

First, let's talk etiquette.

You can't go into blackjack just knowing the rules of the game; you have to know the way to play it, too. There are a few basic rules that most casinos encourage just to keep the game flowing and fair. Here are the big ones.

1. Hold your cards with one hand at most and never remove them from the table. Holding your cards with both hands or taking them out of view opens up the risk of cheating. Doing this can hold a game up, and can be a bit embarrassing, so keep your cards on the table.

2. When betting, stack your chips in order of value (with the least valuable on top), and don't touch them after the hand's been dealt. Again, these are just standard practices to avoid potential cheating. If you have your chips stacked incorrectly, the dealer will usually re-stack them before dealing. So, keep the cheapest ones on top to keep the game running smoothly for everyone.

3. Talk with your hands, not your voice. Well, you can (and should!) have casual conversation, but use hand gestures to signal your actions during a hand. Not only does this protect both you and the casino, but it also, again, makes things smoother for everyone. So, learn these basic blackjack hand-signals:

In a face-up game (where the whole table can see your cards), use the following:
  • "Hit" — Tap the table or make a "come here" motion with your hand.
  • "Stand" — Wave your hand over your cards with your palm down.
  • "Double Down" OR "Split" — Place your additional bet next to your original one, and hold up either one finger to Double Down, or two to Split.

In a face-down game (where only you can see your cards), use the following:
  • "Hit" — Scrape the table a bit with your hand of cards.
  • "Stand" — Wedge your cards underneath your bet.
  • "Double Down" OR "Split" — Place both your cards face-up on the table, and place your additional bet next to the original. Again, show one finger to Double Down or two to Split.

4. Treat your dealer right. Your dealer gets paid the same whether you win or lose. This means that, surprisingly, the dealer is usually on your side. Don't get upset with them if you lose, and make sure to give them a tip at the end of the day if you win, especially if you've played a long time. Like in a restaurant, tipping is a very common practice.

Let's talk strategy.

You know how to play like a pro, so now it's time to learn how to win like one. (Note: If you don't know the absolute basics of blackjack, now's the time to learn. This link can help.)

Blackjack is a game with very clear odds for literally any combination of hands on the table. These odds have been painstakingly calculated and adapted into something called the "basic strategy" — the strategy that is, statistically, the most likely to win in any situation. The careful use of this strategy is what separates professionals from rookies at the table. Here are some easy-to-remember basics that anyone can learn with ease:
  • Stand on any hand with a hard-total of 17-20.
  • Stand on any hand with a soft-total of 19-20.
  • Hit with any hand with a hard-total of 5-8.
  • Double Down on almost any hand with a hard-total of 10-11.
  • Always Split pair of Aces, 8's, and (usually) 9's.

These will help you get started, but if you want to truly learn how to play like a pro, you're going to want to learn the entire basic strategy. Thankfully, it's been compiled into some easy-to-read charts. Click here to find them in full.

With these guidelines and tips, you can not only get into a blackjack game knowing how to act, but how to play, too. Once you're confident you've got this down, it's time to test your skills. You can do this anywhere, but your best bet is at a place with actual blackjack tournaments, where you can really test your skills. These are a rarity in Lake Charles, but lucky for you, Isle of Capri Casino Lake Charles hosts them regularly. Click here to check for any upcoming blackjack tournaments where you can put your knowledge into action.

Remember: When it comes to blackjack, keep cool, keep thinking, and you'll keep your money. Not only that, but you'll probably earn some, too. Go out there and make it happen.

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