Table of Contents
- Introduction to Blackjack Basic Strategy
- Insider Tips on How to Use Basic Strategy
- How To Read the Basic Strategy Chart
- Advanced Betting Strategies for Blackjack
- Blackjack Strategy FAQs
Introduction to Blackjack Basic Strategy
Blackjack’s basic strategy is a mathematically derived set of rules that guide players on how to make optimal decisions in every possible blackjack scenario. Basic strategy uses basic knowledge and reasoning in order to make the most informed decisions based on your cards and that of the dealer.
Think of it as a roadmap guiding you on whether to hit, stand, split, or double down. This doesn’t guarantee a win every time, but it definitely bumps up your chances! With each choice, you’re tipping the scales slightly in your favour. So, by sticking to this strategy, you’re playing smarter, not harder. It’s simply a clever approach to playing, and mastering it can truly level up your blackjack game!
Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart
The basic strategy chart below gives an overview of basic strategy rules.
Dealer’s up card
- S – Stand
- H – Hit
- Dh – Double (Hit of double not allowed)
- Ds – Double (Stand if double not allowed)
- SP – Split
- SU – Surrender
Insider Tips on How to Use Basic Strategy
Say you get your starting two cards and are ready to start putting basic strategy to work. Where do you begin? Over time when you’ve used basic strategy to the point where you can recite it while doing a handstand, you won’t need much assistance. However, as a beginner, you probably don’t even know what you should be looking for in the chart. And blackjack basic strategy isn’t foolproof.
For instance, basic strategy says to split 7s against a dealer’s up card showing 2 through 7. Basic strategy also says that your hand total of 14 should stand against a dealer’s 2 through 6. Suppose a dealer’s up card is showing 5, and you have two 7s, totalling 14. Do you split, or do you stand?
The answer is simple. Just follow this order to apply basic strategy:
The surrender option is only available for you to take immediately after you receive your blackjack cards. Since you can’t use this move at any other point in the game, you must consider it first. If your hand is looking really bad against the dealer’s up card, then you may want to surrender. Otherwise, carry on.
This is another option that is only valid after receiving your first two cards. You can only split if your starting cards are identical, e.g., two 7s. You should apply the basic strategy for splitting, before making any other moves.
Where splitting is not possible, the next question you should ask is, “Should I double down?” If basic strategy suggests that you double down based on your card hand, that means you likely stand a good chance of winning.
Hit or Stand
Hit or stand are the most common moves in blackjack, and that’s because you can do these at different points in the game. You can hit or stand after you split or double down. So you should check the basic strategy for hitting or standing only if the previous decisions are not feasible.
Going back to the illustration above, a split should come before a hit or stand. So you should definitely split the 7s.
How To Read the Basic Strategy Chart
Below is a list of phrases explaining the basic strategy rules as given in the chart:
- Surrender 16 if the dealer’s up card is 9 through A
- Surrender 15 if the dealer’s up card is 10
Note that not all tables allow the surrender option. So where surrender isn’t available, you hit
- Always split aces
- Never split tens
- Split 9s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 9, excluding 7; otherwise, stand
- Always split 8s
- Split 7s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7; otherwise, hit
- Split 6s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6; otherwise, hit
- Never split 5s
- Split 4s against a dealer’s up card of 5 or 6; otherwise, hit
- Split 3s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7; otherwise, hit
- Split 2s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7; otherwise, hit
- Always double down on 11 unless the dealer’s up card is an ace; then hit
- Double down on 10 if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 9; otherwise, hit
- Double down on 9 if the dealer’s up card is 3 through 6; otherwise, hit
- Double down on a soft total of 17 (A, 6) if the dealer’s up card is 3 through 6; otherwise, hit
- Double down on soft totals of 15 and 16 if the dealer’s up card is 4 through 6; otherwise, hit
- Double down on soft totals of 13 and 14 if the dealer’s up card is 5 or 6; otherwise, hit
- Double down on a pair of 5s if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 9; otherwise, hit
- Always stand on hard totals of 17 – 20
- Stand on hard totals of 13 – 16 if dealer’s up card is 2 through 6
- Stand on 12 if the dealer’s up card is 4 through 6
- Always stand on soft 19 – 20
- Stand on soft 18 if the dealer’s up card is 2, 7, or 8
- Always stand on a pair of 10s
- Stand on a pair of 9s if the dealer’s up card is 7, 10 or ace
Advanced Betting Strategies for Blackjack
Learning how to play blackjack with basic strategy is good enough for you to hit the tables and start enjoying a good game. However, basic strategy isn’t designed to beat the casino. And with there being different types of blackjack games that come with their own rule variations, basic strategy alone won’t cut it. This is where advanced betting strategies come in.
Unlike basic strategy, advanced betting strategies do not directly affect the house edge. Instead, they focus on helping you cut down losses, while increasing your chances of making a profit.
Here are some of the top betting strategies for blackjack:
Martingale Blackjack Strategy
The Martingale blackjack strategy is a progressive betting system where you double your bet after each loss and return to your original bet after a win. The idea is that eventually, you will win, and your wins will cover your previous losses. However, it’s important to be cautious as this strategy requires a significant bankroll and can lead to substantial losses if you encounter a long losing streak.
Fibonacci Blackjack Strategy
The Fibonacci strategy – based on the Fibonacci sequence – is a mathematical series where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones (e.g., 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.). When playing at blackjack casinos, you can increase your bet following the Fibonacci sequence after each loss and decrease it after a win. The idea is to mitigate losses during losing streaks and potentially make a profit when wins occur.
Paroli Blackjack Strategy
With the Paroli strategy, you would increase your bet after each win. The goal is to capitalise on winning streaks and maximise your profits during favourable runs. After a certain number of consecutive wins, you would return to your original bet. This strategy can be exciting during winning streaks but remember to exercise caution and not get carried away.
D’Alembert Blackjack Strategy
The D’Alembert strategy is a moderate progressive betting system if the Martingale system is too extreme for you. Here, you would increase your bet by one unit whenever you lose and decrease it by one unit after a win. This allows you to balance wins and losses and gradually accumulate profit. While it is a moderately progressive approach, it’s important to be aware that it does not eliminate the house edge.
Oscar’s Grind System
This system aims for a 1 unit profit per series of bets. Oscar’s Grind basically resets after a loss, as it requires you to go back to the original bet whenever you lose. However, after a win, you increase your bet by 1 unit. Oscar’s Grind aims for a slow and steady increase rather than trying to win big all at once. However, your losses can add up should you hit a losing streak.
Card counting is a strategy skilled players use to track the ratio of high to low cards remaining in the deck. It involves assigning a value to each card and adjusting bets based on the count. Card counting can give players an advantage by making more accurate decisions, such as increasing bets when the count is favourable and decreasing bets when it’s not. However, it is generally not welcomed by blackjack casinos. Traditional operators often take countermeasures to prevent card counting.
Blackjack Strategy FAQs
How can I use basic strategy in blackjack?
A basic strategy is a simple set of rules concerning how to play blackjack. You can use a blackjack strategy chart whenever you play this game. We’ve also provided tips on the perfect order in which you can apply basic strategy – surrender, split, double, hit or stand.
Which hand always wins against the dealer?
A perfect blackjack hand (21) is the best hand that always wins in blackjack. However, if the dealer also has a blackjack hand, your bet’s a push, and you get back your original stake.
When should I double down in blackjack?
Doubling down in blackjack is a move you make when the odds are in your favour and you’ve got a significantly better hand than the dealer’s up card. The basic strategy chart reveals all the scenarios where you’re good to double down in blackjack. Remember you only receive one more card, after which you must stand.