Reliable way to break even at blackjack?

I vaguely recall once reading somewhere that there was a method for doing this with certain casino variations. I don’t remember when or where, but I remember thinking it seemed credible at the time. Is there such a method?

This link

shows you how. Its called card counting and will get you barred from every casino you visit (and every nearby one once you start winning big). If you follow the guide the casino will spot what you are doing (they have people watching every table who are trained for this) and sk you to leave. I seen a tv show on this once and the real experts at this deliberately lose some hands to throw the house off the scent. They also quit after winning a small amount so as not to attract attention and then move on to another casino.

AFAIK - it’s ok in some places but not others. I believe it’s barred in Vegas but OK in Atlantic City…I have some vague recollection of courts deciding that casinos couldn’t selectively bar “skilled” players - and that card counting was not cheating, but a skill. Hopefully someone who knows the whole score will post.

But as far as card counting being a reliable win - that depends on what you mean by reliable - it increases your odds to just barely above even, so that over 100s or 1000s of hands you can expect to come out slightly ahead. But the amount of time and money you would have to invest into it before you could reliably expect some small return - assuming perfect playing/counting - is vast, and IMO you’re far far better off keeping your day job - even a minimum wage day job.

I’ve met a couple of people that made a reasonable living off card counting in European casinos. They’d go broke once in a while and get in all kinds of trouble, but the rest of the time they lived pretty good and enjoyed their work (they worked the casinos about four or five nights a week for hours at a time).

They were also full of stories of people that tried to live off Blackjack and failed miserably, sometimes resulting in bodily harm.

— G. Raven

I have a surefire way of breaking even at blackjack:
Don’t play.

I have a surefire way of winning at blackjack:
Be the house. You aren’t going to win on this side of the table.

But for those of us who are gamblers at heart what are the basic tips to remember? i’m going to vegas next week and I really want to play blackjack. I won $75 bucks playing it in Aurora last year, but I don’t remember the ‘tips’.

  • Split eights
  • Sua says always hit on fifteen
    I get mixed up on those middle ones. thirteen, fourteen, fifteen…when do you hit or stick?


If you don’t want to count cards, there are entire tables put together by people running computer simulations of how to behave when faced with certain combinations of cards facing up. Basically a bunch of tips, like jarbabyj said.

Always double down on an eleven(ten as well, I think).
Never split on twenty.
Never hit a twenty (!!).
If the dealer is showing a six, you’re probably better off not taking a hit on that fifteen.

Stuff like that. But all the rules in the world aren’t gonna pull you up to or over .5 if the house is useing more than one or two decks. This is generally why the house uses more than one or two decks. I wish I still had my blackjack strategy bookmarks, but I was too young to gamble when I was interested in that stuff. Still am, in some places.

askol has a form that you can punch in the rules of the particular casino, and it’ll spit a decision chart out at you. It looks to be a solid site, but I haven’t had much of a look at it.
has more stratgy links than you can shake a stick at.


Always split aces and eights – you can only better the hand.

Go to the library and check out one of how to beat the casino at blackjack. The back will have a statistical table. It would be good to memorize the entire thing, alternatively you can just pick up the main points like what to do when the dealer has a 6 showing and you have xx.

askols site provides much of the same info but maybe in a kind of confusing way.

Basic rule of thumb: play your hand as if the dealer’s hole card (the one not showing) is a 10, and the next card in the deck is probably a 10. So if the dealer has a 2-6 showing, assume they’ve got a 12-16–and therefore must hit, and will therefore bust. And since they’re gonna bust, you want to a) get as much money on the table via splits & doubledowns as you can, and b) play conservatively: don’t take a hit if you’ve got a stiff hand (12 or more).

If the dealer is showing a 7 or higher, then you’ve got more trouble. Hit until you have a 17 or higher.

One slight wrinkle to the above–hit a 12 against the dealer’s 2 or 3.

Always split aces.

Always split 8’s.

Never split 10’s. Never split 5’s (double down instead).

Always double down on 11.

Double down on 10, unless the dealer is showing a 10.

Don’t buy insurance (unless you’re counting cards and the true count is +2 or greater).

With the above strategy you’ll reduce the house advantage to well under 1%, and nobody at your table will yell at you for screwing up.

This is mostly horsepuckey, I’m sorry to say. First, as uglybtch (I’m sure you have an internal beauty…) said, card counting merely changes the odds in the extreeemly long run. On a given weekend, anything can happen. Second, I’m lucky to get the attention of a cocktail waitress, much less trained personnel watching my every move. And third, as long as you don’t make wild fluctuations in your range of bets, it’s easy to escape a casino’s attention.

A wise man knew a smart young man with a fondness for gambling. He took this young fellow for a stroll around a top Las Vegas casino. He pointed to the fancy art work on the walls, the lush carpeting, the ornate architecture, the high-tech gadgetry, the big-name entertainers, etc. And he asked his young friend, “Do you know where they get the money for all this?” The friend shrugged.

And the wise man told him, “They get it from schmucks like you who think they have a system.”

Do you really think casinos would have blackjack tables if the owners weren’t 100% sure they’d come out ahead, WAY ahead, in the long run?

Blackjack is a dangerous game for gamblers, precisely BECAUSE winning isn’t determined PURELY by dumb luck. The player has a LITTLE control over his fate. And that’s dangerous, because it leads a smart guy to think he can beat the dealer, if he just figures out the right system.
And believe me, casinos LOVE guys with a system!

And bear in mind, the house’s BIGGEST edge lies in the fact that it wins if there’s a tie. In other words, the odds aren’t 50-50, they’re actually in the house’s favor (in the same way, the “00” slot on a roulette wheel means your odds are LESS than 50-50 when you play red or black, odd or even).

No. If you tie (push), neither side wins or loses. The house’s biggest edge lies in the fact that if you bust and the dealer busts, you lose.

Dr. J

I used to be a professional blackjack player, and we’ve had a lot of extremely long threads on this subject in the past. I suggest that you do a search through the archives for ‘blackjack’ and ‘gambling’ and you’ll find a ton of useful info.

Short answer: You can make money at it, but you need a lot of money to start with, and the risk is huge.

Okay, first of all…If you are playing 1 deck pitch, or 2 deck pitch, card counting is possible. Anything beyond that it is IMPOSSIBLE to count cards. A 6 deck shoe is pretty standard at most casinos, and anyone who tells you they can count a 6 deck shoe is deluding themselves.

Money management is the MOST important thing in playing blackjack. I play a 5-10-15-5-25 betting system. This means the first hand I play, I bet 5 dollars…IF I win, I bet 10 on the next one…if I win that one, I bet 15. Win or lose the 15 dollar hand, I go down to 5…but if I win that 5, I go up to 25. If I make it to the 25 dollar hand, I drop back down to 5, and start the cycle all over again. There are other betting systems, but a sensible betting/money management system is the way to go if you want to keep your pile of chips at a decent level. This does not guarantee you will leave a winner. A bad run of cards is a bad run of cards. But the odds are that you WILL increase your money after a while. The hard part is knowing when to get up!!

Oh…forgot a few tips…

If the dealer is showing a 2, and you have a 2, you should hit your hand. They do not call a deuce the dealers ace for nothing. Sure, you might bust, but the odds are in your favor that you will not. Do NOT split 8s against a 10. I dont care what the book says. A pair of 18s is not going to do you any good against a 20. So you are doubling your bet and turning one bad hand into 2 bad hands. Learn not to flinch. Hit that 16 against the dealers 8, 9, or 10.

Another often not known little tip…If the dealer is showing a 7, and you have a 14, 15, or 16, do NOT hit your hand. The dealer will bust out a 7 card more often than he does a deuce or a 3. The dealer has to take a hit on any card but an ace or a 10 under that 7. Odds are better that he does NOT have the 10, so he is going to have to draw out, and hopefully bust. Course, it doesnt always work, but believe someone who knows, it happens more than it doesn’t.

I won 5 grand in a blackjack tourney 2 months ago, and it was not all luck. :slight_smile: Next month its gonna be 50 grand. WooHoo!!

I have an even better idea: Ignore everything “Tornado Siren” just said, unless you want to lose all of your money.


Any real blackjack player, and any book you might read on the subject will tell you to always hit a 12 against the dealers deuce. My advice on the 7s as I said is MY own theory, and if you play for several hours, count how many times the dealer busts a 7 if you doubt it. As for splitting the 8s…why double your money on a losing hand? It makes no sense.

I’ll give you the 12 against a 2. Why double on 18? Because your overall expectation is higher. This isn’t a matter of debate. Blackjack is a deterministic game in which the odds can be determined with great accuracy. If you want to see if splitting 8’s is better than hitting, you can run a simulation of hundreds of millions of hands and find out, with a great deal of accuracy.

You can argue that splitting 8’s against a ten is wrong, but that just makes you ill-informed. There is absolutely no room for personal interpretation, any more than you can argue that 2+2=5.

But your argument against hitting on a dealer’s same is so egregiously bad that following that rule would probably double the house’s overall edge against you. It is far more important to hit a 12-16 against a 7 than against a 10. The reason should be obvious: Because if the dealer has a 10, there are many more cards in the deck that make a hand above 17 which still loses. Against a dealer’s 7, you’ll probably win if you don’t bust.

Again, this is not a matter of debate. If I remember my numbers, standing on a 16 against a 7 will cost you about 14% more than hitting. Standing on a 16 against a 10 only costs about 3% more.