Why High Cards work for Blackjack Players
No other casino game comes close to blackjack in terms of the need for skill and strategic game play. In fact, blackjack requires two vital strategic elements that no other game does. The first factor is discretion. As a player you need to use your discretion as part of the in-game decision making process to determine when to hit, stand, double or split the cards you are dealt.
The second element is elimination and ultimately comes down to playing the cards you are dealt. Once particular cards are dealt, they are eliminated for the rest of the shoe. Due to this fact, your chances of being dealt blackjack on your next hand range from 1 in 16 to 1 in 26, depending on the remaining cards.
Discretion and elimination are the two factors that make blackjack a game wherein the player can beat the house.
The fact is however, that most blackjack players do attempt to exercise discretion when playing their hands, but often do so incorrectly. Elimination however, is the factor that most people miss completely.
In a game of blackjack, high value cards work to the player's advantage, while low value cards favour the dealer. Regardless of the cards left in a shoe, both the player and dealer will have the same odds of receiving any particular card, the difference is that the player has the potential to earn considerably more money than the dealer can.
Let's say for argument's sake that the remaining cards in a particular shoe were all aces and tens, this would mean that the hands that followed would result in a number of twenty value and blackjack hands. If you wager $50 and are dealt cards with a total value of twenty, you'll lose the $50 you bet. However if you draw blackjack you will win $75 and if you and the dealer keep drawing blackjack it will be just a matter of time before you empty his/her chips.
This is not the only manner in which high cards help players. Let's suppose that you are dealt two Aces instead of twenty or blackjack. You will be permitted to split them into two 11's and the shoe is still loaded with high cards which can make for great totals. The dealer on the other hand, with the same pair of Aces is only permitted to hit the soft 12 and being dealt more Aces or ten value cards will not help that hand much.
Interestingly, the inverse is true for dealers. The card that is most valuable to the house in blackjack is the five. This is because a five will transform the dealer's stiff hand (hands with a value of 12 to 16) into a made hand. While players have the option of standing on stiff hands if they choose to, a dealer is required by the rules of the game to hit on all of them, even if they could beat a player with their existing 15 value hand.
This is where the five comes in and bails out the dealer when he/she has a bad hand. In addition, when many low value cards remain in the shoe, the players doubling down moves usually fail horribly.
What can you do about all this as a player? Learn basic blackjack strategy for each hand then train yourself to be aware of the number of high and low value cards being used and eliminated in each shoe.
You don't have to learn to card count, and if you're playing blackjack at online casinos that's pointless anyway, but try to keep an eye out for clusters of high and low cards or if you're playing with a group at a table and everyone has high value cards, the next round will not likely be a good one for the players, so then lower your wagers or refrain from betting.
Likewise, if everyone at the table is drawing two or more hits per hand and the dealer holds a five card 21 then increase your wagers until you've seen the high value cards being dealt.