Tips from the top on how to beat the house at blackjack

Tips from the top on how to beat the house at blackjack

Could you match Mayweather’s blackjack record?

As the weeks turn into months, it seems increasingly certain that Floyd Mayweather’s third retirement really was his last. Of course, the rumor mill keeps spinning, with Manny Pacquiao, Khabib Nurmagomedov and most recently Conor McGregor being touted as possible adversaries.

Realistically, though, it’s been almost three years since his last bout. Following a succession of personal tragedies this year, Mayweather has even lost interest in teasing the public and media with his famous leading and misleading social media posts.

Betting on success at the blackjack table

That’s not to say that Mayweather will disappear from the public eye. He is nicknamed Money for a reason, and after fighting, his preferred way of getting it is through gambling. While he loves sports betting, that has more often ended in disaster than success. But Mayweather is also a devotee of blackjack.

This is a game where winning or losing is all about mathematics and strategy. There’s a useful guide at that delves into the details of how and where you can play online. But here, we will cover two of the key strategies that have helped Mayweather and others to cut the house edge to less than one percent.

Beat the dealer

The first tip is all about mindset. Most people think the objective of blackjack is to “get as close as possible to 21.” That’s not true, as to win, you simply need to either get a better score than the dealer, or to remain in the game when the dealer busts.

That means the dealer’s upcard is just as important as yours, and it dictates whether you should hit of stand. As a basic rule, if the dealer is showing a high upcard of Ace or 7+, you should hit on anything up to 16. If the dealer has 4,5 or 6, you should stand if you have 13 or more. If it’s a 2 or 3, stand on 14 or more.

If you were simply trying to get “close to 21” there’s no way you would stand on 13. But sometimes, that’s the right strategic call.

Know when to split

Any blackjack dealer will tell you he can quickly spot novice blackjack players from the haphazard way they split, or don’t split, pairs. Again, there’s a strategy to this that is based in mathematics and statistical probabilities, and the dealer’s upcard forms an important part of the decision making.

The rules are easy to remember and come in three parts:

Always split Aces and 8s
Never split 4s, 5s or 10s
For the rest, which are 2s, 3s, 6s, 7s, 9s, only split them if the dealer is showing 7 or lower.

Never stop learning

The best thing about blackjack is that you can keep improving your strategy. Just following the two simple rules above will slash the house edge. But people like Floyd Mayweather have taken these rules and refined them for even more success. For example, composition-dependent strategy considers how, let’s say, a 16 made up of 4,4,3,5 would be treated differently to 10,6. Once you are comfortable with the basics, you need never stop learning – and that means improving your strategy and winning even more.

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