The most common question everyone asks when starting to play casino games is how to become a winning blackjack player.

One of the advantages to working for an online casino is the access we have to raw data. Every online casino keeps track of every detail of game played on their servers. While this data is kept primarily to ensure quality control it can also give us an interesting insight into the habit of winning and losing blackjack players.

We took a sample of our top 100 most winning players and compared their playing stats and details to the top 100 most losing players on the site. By taking a close look at the data we can begin to see where the losers are losing and most importantly: how the losers are able to become winners.

Play Blackjack: Just Blackjack

Just about every online casino offers Blackjack and Blackjack variations. These can include games like: Perfect Pairs, Super 21, Pontoon, European Blackjack and Face-Up 21. While all this variety can be appealing, you need to ask yourself why you would opt out of playing the original game, with the best odds.

Just about every other variation of Blackjack will reduce your odds, reducing the amount of money you can win in the long run.

Win vs. Loss vs. Push Rate*

Game Win Lose Push
Blackjack 46% 46.4% 7.6%
European Blackjack 44.4% 47.6% 8%
Perfect Pairs 45.4% 46.9% 7.7%
Super 21 45% 46.7% 8.3%

* Figures taken from thousands of actual real-money hands

When comparing the game selection of winners to losers we see that losing players play these other variations of Blackjack for a bit over 20% of all games played. The percentage of winning players playing other games comes in a full 6 points lower.

The winners are sticking to the standard version of the game, so should you.

Perfect Pairs are for Suckers

A big part of becoming a winning Blackjack player is staying far away from any sucker bets, Perfect Pair type bets being the most common.

Now I’m sure my bosses won’t be too happy about this section, but I just can’t help myself. Betting on the Perfect Pair bets (or the same bet by any other name) is one of the worst bets you can take. In fact only 7% of all Perfect Pair bets collect any money.

The winning players are clearly aware of this, with only 11% of all winning players playing the perfect pair tables opting to make the bet. Contrast this to the losers, with a whopping 57% opt-in rate, and you can start to see just how much of a leak this is.

Insurance is for Suckers

According to our statistics, when the dealer is showing an ace they will have blackjack around 31% of the time. Since that means 69% of the time they will have anything else, insurance is a waste of your money.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just do some math. To make it easy we’ll say we’re betting $10 a hand and paying max insurance of $5.

So out of 100 hands 69 times the dealer doesn’t have Blackjack. We keep our bet (in play) and lose the insurance ($5 x 69 = -$345).

The other 31 hands are a wash. Each hand we lose our bet ($10) but get 2 to 1 on the Insurance, grossing $10.

We’ve lost $345 strictly on insurance when up against an ace.

Now if we never bought insurance we pay $10 every hand. On 69 of those hands we’re ok, on 31 we’re not and we lose our bet ($10 x 31 = -$310).

By not paying for insurance we’ve lost $310.

In other words: not buying insurance saved me a total of $35.

Double Down… a Lot

Blackjack is a game with nearly 50/50 odds. If you want to make money you need to get as many bets in as possible when you have the edge. The easiest way to do this is to double down every time you’re ahead in the numbers.

If you have less than 12 and the dealer is showing a 6 or less, chances are you want to double. Most people will tell you to double down every time you have 11, regardless of what the dealer is showing.

Rather have some stats instead of advice? No problem

  Winners Losers
% of Hands Doubled Down 8.4% 6.9%
Win 56.4% 55.1%
Lose 37.6% 38%
Push 6% 6.9%

As you can see the winners are doubling down significantly more often than the losers. You’ll also notice the winners win rate is more than a full percentage higher than losers. This implies the losing players are occasionally doubling down in a poor situation, such as doubling down A8 against a dealer showing a 9.

When we narrow down the double down range to doubling down while you hold less than 12 against a dealer showing a 6 or less the winner’s win rate climbs up to a massive 59.6%

When it comes to doubling down on 11 (regardless of what the dealer is holding) the winning players are doing this more than 71% of the time (compared to the 59% of losers). The win rate for both losers and winners on this is right around 60%.

When looking at the numbers for players who hit on 11 (instead of doubling down) with the dealer showing anything but a 10 we see the players win rate drop as low as 26%.

So double down, a lot.

You Heard me, SPLIT! (You Damn Dirty Eights)

As previously mentioned, the goal in blackjack is to get as many bets in play as possible when you have the edge. Aside from doubling down the only other way to change your bet mid-hand is to split.

To be a successful player you need to know when and how to split. Some rules to live by: Never, under any circumstance, split two 10-point cards. A 20 is nearly a guaranteed win, take it.

One of the most important splitting hands is when you’re dealt a couple of 8’s. If the dealer is showing anything less than a 9 you should be splitting. You have 16; neither hitting nor staying at this value is a particularly good idea.

You’re more likely to be dealt a 10 point card than any other card in the deck. This makes two hands worth 18 the most likely outcome from splitting. If 18 is likely good enough to push or win (dealer showing 8 or less) then you should be splitting.

What if the dealer’s showing a 6?

If the dealer has a 6 (or a 5) and you have anything you can split (other than two 10’s) you should be splitting. When the dealer is showing a 6 you want to get as much money onto the table as possible. If you can, split and then double down on any hand worth less than 12.