Seven years ago, I went to Las Vegas for the first time as an adult of legal gambling age. I wasn’t there long, and I was fresh out of college, so I certainly didn’t have a ton of extra money for
But I wanted to be able to really experience Las Vegas. So, I spent the weekend playing penny slots, losing, and getting frustrated that there was no strategy that I could use to increase my odds
After talking with some friends that are a bit savvier than me when it comes to gambling, I realized that if I wanted to be able to use strategy, I need to play a table game instead of a slot
Because I didn’t want to waste all of my hard-earned money on just learning, I decided that I needed to practice and play a few times before visiting Vegas again. I got online, did some research,
and signed up for an online casino account.
I quickly got overwhelmed because of all of the options of games that I could play. I have a basic understanding of blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em, but what the heck is baccarat?
Eventually, I decided that blackjack was the best game to start with. I already knew the basic concept of the game, and I have several friends who know the game and who could help me along the
But through my experience, I have learned that there are a few reasons that blackjack is the best game for any beginner gambler to learn.
Reason #1: Minimal Options
For experienced bettors, more options mean more opportunities for bigger payouts. But for us beginners, all of those options are just confusing. Blackjack is easy to learn because there are only
a few options.
In terms of basic play, your only two options are to hit or stand. If you decide to hit, you will be dealt another card. If you stand, your hand will remain as it is for the rest of the game.
These are some pretty easy decisions to make, even if you feel like you need to decide quickly.
Some specific situations allow you to change your bet after the cards have been dealt, but there are also so few options that it is easy to learn.
For example, if you get dealt two cards of the same value, you can split your hand by offering an additional stake. But even if you do split your hand, you are still just playing the primary game
with an extra hand.
The only times that your bet will change in a hand of blackjack is if you choose insurance, to surrender, to double down, or to split. Each of these options only applies to specific situations.
Keep in mind that these situations can change based on the variant of blackjack that you are playing, but in general, they are pretty straightforward. For example, if the dealer’s hand shows an
ace, you can get insurance that pays 2:1 if the dealer does have a blackjack.
Blackjack also offers straightforward betting options. There is usually a minimum and maximum bet for each table, but as long as your stake is within that range, you can bet however much you
want. That is similar to most casino games, but the simplicity of blackjack is that your bet only has a few options to change
throughout the game.
Other casino games, like craps and roulette, are complicated because there are several different types of bets you can make.
I recommend blackjack as the best game for beginners because it is one of the simplest table games to learn. Its minimal options allow you to learn betting and game strategy without making things
Reason #2: Play Against the Dealer
One of the things that makes table games exciting, but also overwhelming for beginners, is the opportunity to play against other players.
The concepts of bluffing, reading each other’s tells, and taking calculated risks are all good ways to take advantage of other players. However, when you are just starting out, it is much more
likely that the other players will take advantage of you, especially if you are playing a live game.
Blackjack takes away the risk of being taken advantage of by other players. Each hand of blackjack is you against the dealer, not you against the other players.
The dealer is restricted to the rules of play, so he has no way of strategically skewing the game, either.
Before I decided to focus my efforts on blackjack, I went to a neighborhood poker night with one of my friends. It only took one round for the other players to recognize my tells and begin
controlling the game to my detriment.
My losses that night were more than enough to convince me that I needed to learn some things before I played against other players.
Some people might consider this a double-edged sword. They point out that other players can’t strategize against me, but I also can’t learn about how to use strategy on them.
I disagree, because even though the players aren’t playing against me, I can watch them as they play against the dealer. By watching other players as they consider their moves, I can begin to
recognize patterns and habits that can help me once I start playing other games.
If you are a beginner, my suggestion to you is to learn how to play the game against the dealer before you
take on the nuances of playing with other players.
Once you are comfortable with the basics of the game, carefully observe the other players as they play against the dealer, while paying attention to their hands and how much risk they are taking.
Reason #3: Easy to Learn Strategy
The last reason that blackjack is the best game for beginners is that it is easy to learn the strategy of the game. One of the reasons why blackjack is so popular is because you can use strategy
to lower your chances of losing, while most other casino games are based purely on luck.
Blackjack strategy pretty much boils down to probability. The idea is basically to calculate whether hitting or standing gives you the best chance of beating the dealer.
Sometimes, these calculations are obvious, like knowing that you should pretty much always stand if you have a 20 in your hand. But other situations are a lot more complicated, like what to do if
you have 13 and the dealer is showing a 6.
Very few of us can accurately make these kinds of probability calculations with the speed required to keep the game moving.
The good news is that brilliant people have created handy strategy charts for blackjack, which essentially tell you exactly which move to make in every situation. Keep in mind that these charts
will guide you in the best move to make to lower your odds of losing, but they do not guarantee a win.
It is unlikely that you carry a strategy chart around with you, and if you haven’t memorized every possible blackjack situation, you will have to use some common sense.
Here is my recommendation. Forget about the comfortable hands where you definitely know what to do and start by trying to remember a few of the more complicated hands. As you master those
situations, learn some new ones, until you can confidently master the strategy of blackjack.
Some experienced blackjack players will swear by some other strategies, like mimicking the dealer or never busting. These approaches tend to be popular, but mathematically, they just don’t make
For example, “assuming a ten” is a strategy where you automatically assume that the next card and the dealer’s unexposed card are both a ten. Face cards make up about 30% of a deck of cards, so
there is a 70% chance that both of those cards are not tens.
My first few games of blackjack were definitely mediocre in terms of strategy. But I quickly began to realize that the never-bust approach was making me miss valuable opportunities. I found the
above strategy guide and began implementing a few techniques at a time.
I have played several games online using these techniques, and I am now confident that I will be able to use them during my trip to Vegas in a few months.
Blackjack may not be the simplest table game to win, but I think it is the simplest one to learn. The straightforward rules with minimal options that only apply in certain situations make it easy
to get the basics down quickly.
Playing against the dealer gives you an opportunity to learn without the pressures of fooling other players. Using basic
mathematical probability is the best strategy for decreasing your chances of losing, and that makes it simple to learn the best move in specific situations.
If you are a beginner gambler like myself, I hope that this article has helped you realize that blackjack is the best game to start learning.
Use this uncomplicated game as a stepping stone to learning the basics of gambling before you jump into more complex options. If you happen to visit Vegas at the same time as me, I will see you
at the blackjack tables!