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Practising Basic Strategy

Your first task is to practice your basic strategy.  Study the basic strategy you plan to learn, paying attention to the patterns.  For example, if the dealer has a 7 or greater, hit hard until you reach hard 17.  If the dealer has less than 7, stand, with the exception of 12 against a dealer 2 or 3.  A basic strategy practice sheet has been included for your convenience.

Once you have studied the strategy, attempt to fill out the practice sheet.  Make copies of the practice sheet and keep trying until you can complete it without error.  A good and inexpensive place to practice your strategy is at an online casino.  Practically all casinos have a practice mode that allows you to play for free.  These same casinos also offer incredible bonuses to get you to play for real money.  If you are considering playing blackjack an online casino have a look at my online blackjack page.  This page will give you complete advice on where to play and how to play. The section offers complete basic strategies for all the major software makers and provides detailed reviews of the best casinos.

Practising Counting

Once you are confident with your basic strategy, you should start practising your counting.  One of the easiest ways to practice counting is by taking a deck of cards and counting through the deck.  If you do not finish the deck with count of zero you have made a mistake.  Once you can count down the deck without error, attempt to increase your speed.  Time yourself and attempt to improve your time.  To add some interest, you can remove a card from the deck at random, and impress your friends by predicting the card you removed.  Using the Uston Advanced Plus/Minus count, you can predict that the card removed was a face card or ace with a count of +1, was between 3 and 7 with a count of -1, and was either a 2, 8 or 9 with a count of 0.

Another practice method is to sit down at a table and deal multiple hands, counting the cards played.  Attempt to simulate casino conditions as close as possible.  Once you have practised a bit, you are ready to try a low stake charity game, if you are fortunate enough to have one nearby.  This last practice method will give you practice with distractions that are similar to a real casino.

Computer simulations and games

If you have access to a computer, blackjack simulations and games are an excellent way to practice and increase your knowledge of the game.  Games allow you to quickly practice playing and betting decisions.  Some games will alert you if you have made a decision that is contrary to basic strategy.  Computer simulations allow you to observe results of playing millions of hands using different rules, playing strategies or betting strategies.    These simulations give you extra insight into the forces of variance and show you the importance of the long run.


Suggested Books

Million Dollar Blackjack by Ken Uston, Secaucus, Carol Publishing Group, 1981
A very interesting book that, in my opinion, teaches you the mindset required to make money at blackjack.  This book jumps back and forth from card counting theory to fascinating stories of how he and his teams won millions.  Please note that in his subsequent book, "Ken Uston on Blackjack", Uston states that the added advantage of keeping a side count of aces is not worth the effort.

Ken Uston on Blackjack by Ken Uston, Secaucus, Lyle Stuart Inc., 1986
An update to his previous book, that contains more current examples of casino conditions and methods of play.  You must read carefully to get grasp his quick statements where he states that recent evidence uncovered revels that - the more complicated count systems which he recommends in his first book are not worth the effort for the average or even above average player.

The Theory of Blackjack by Peter A. Griffin*, Faculty Publishing, Third Edition, 1986
Written by a math professor, this book is an excellent explanation of the theory of blackjack.  I would recommend this book if you have a serious interest in understanding the game, and if you have an above average understanding of math, but not if it is the only book you plan to read.

Professional Blackjack by Stanford Wong, Las Vegas, GBC Press, 1977
Standford Wong is probably the leading authority on the mathematical interpretation of games of chance.  This is an excellent book, but it is a bit dry for the person that is not interested in detailed mathematical theory.  By the way, Standford Wong is not his real name and he isn't even Chinese.

Turning the Tables on Las Vegas by Ian Anderson, New York, Vanguard, 1976

Blackbelt in Blackjack by Arnold Snyder, Berkeley, RGE Publishing

Beat the Dealer by E.O. Thorp, New York, Random House, 1966
The original work that started the ball rolling.  Informative, but it's systems and casino descriptions are out of date.


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