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Basic Blackjack Strategy

Understanding and perfecting your basic blackjack strategy can make all the difference between winning and losing. Other than Poker, Blackjack is the only casino table game that the player can affect the outcome of the game with skillful play.

While you may get slightly better results by card-counting, basic blackjack strategy is much easier learn and can be mastered with just a few key rules. Of course luck still plays a role in the outcome of playing sessions, but over the long term, basic blackjack strategy gives a player the best chance of winning.

Playing situations will vary widely at different casinos. For maximum affect, basic blackjack strategy should be altered for different conditions. Basic blackjack strategy players looking to get the best results should, before sitting down to play, look for situations where they have the best chance.

The single most important variable to watch for is the number of decks being used. For the best odds, players will want games that use as few decks as possible. Single deck games are ideal, but two or four decks can also provide positive experiences. Games that are dealt with six or eight decks are more difficult to beat. Keep in mind that the number of decks used can vary not only from casino to casino, but also from table to table within the same casino.

Rules also vary between jurisdictions, and again, basic blackjack strategy should be altered to account for these differences. The most important rule variation is whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. In some locations the dealers hit a soft 17, while in other locations the dealers stand on all 17s.

Another important restrictions to look out for are on doubling down and splitting pairs. In some casinos, players can only double down on card totals of 10 and 11, this is another rule that adds to the house edge. In some casinos, the player can only double down on an 11, which further reduces a player’s chance of winning. Other casinos restrict the number of times players can split pairs. Since players theoretically only split pairs when they have the advantage to begin with, the casinos that deny additional splits want to limit their exposure. It is for that reason that many casinos also bar players from doubling down after splitting, another option that adds to the players’ advantage.

Players should always look for the most liberal rules available when looking for a positive blackjack situation. The following review of basic blackjack strategy is applicable for any playing situation, but remember that different rules and conditions could affect the outcome.

The most important choice a player has to make in blackjack is whether to hit or to stand on particular hard and soft hands. Fortunately the choices are rather straightforward.


Hitting and Standing

On hard hands:

  • If the dealer’s hand shows a Seven or higher, and the player hand totals 12 through 16, Hit.
  • Stand on any hand totaling 17 or above
  • Stand if the player cards total 12 through 16 and the dealer shows a 2 through 6.


On soft hands, hit and stand as follows:

  • If the dealer has an Eight or less showing, players stand on soft 18 and more. Players always stand on soft 19 and above.
  • Players always draw to soft 17 or less. Players only draw on soft 18 if the dealer shows an Eight, Nine or Ten.

Doubling Down

The advantages of basic blackjack strategy kick in when the player has an opportunity to increase their bet, by doubling down or splitting. It is important to know which double-down situations provide the player with the advantage, because this is the main method through which players reduce the house edge. There are three basic rules govern this play for hard hands.

  • Double down when the player’s cards total 11 and the dealer shows a Ten or less.
  • Double down when the player’s cards total nine and the dealer shows a Four, Five or Six
  • Double down when the player’s cards total 10 and the dealer shows a Nine or less.

For soft hands, three rules also are essential:

  • Players double down with a soft 13 and soft 14 when the dealer shows a Five or Six.
  • Players double down with a soft 15 and soft 16 when the dealer shows a Four, Five, or Six.
  • Players double down with a soft 17 and soft 18 when the dealer shows a Three through Six.

Splitting Pairs

Basic blackjack strategy guidelines for splitting pairs are uncomplicated as there are only six easy-to-remember rules:

  • Always split a pair of Aces or Eights.
  • Split Twos and Threes only when the dealer shows a Four through Seven.
  • Never split Fours, Fives or Tens.
  • Split Sixes when the dealer shows a Three through Six
  • Split Sevens when the dealer shows a Three through Seven
  • Split Nines when the dealer shows Two through Six, Eight or Nine.








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