Do you know that in 5 minutes from now, you will be able to play blackjack almost like a pro? No, we are not kidding! In this guide, you will learn the blackjack basic strategy which is proved the most efficient way to play blackjack minimizing at the same time the casino’s house edge. As we mentioned before, blackjack is not just a game of luck.
The player’s ability to make the right decisions in all possible scenarios is very crucial. But is it possible to remember everything? Well, like all things in life, to be good at something needs a lot of practice. However, if you are playing online blackjack this will not be a problem whatsoever. The reason is simple. You can have access to the right decisions at any time, even at the same time you are playing a hand, just by checking the blackjack basic strategy chart!
Blackjack Strategy Explained
The reason blackjack is so popular is because a rookie with reading skills, and a professional player are able to play at the same high-level. To be more specific, there is a blackjack cheat sheet, or a blackjack chart if you will, which dictates what you should do in any possible hand scenario, based absolutely on mathematical probabilities. And when maths are involved, every decision you make is either right or wrong.
17 you always stand.
16 you stand if the dealer has 2-6, otherwise you hit.
15 you stand if the dealer has 2-6, otherwise you hit.
14 you stand if the dealer has 2-6, otherwise you hit.
13 you stand if the dealer has 2-6, otherwise you hit.
12 you stand if the dealer has 4-6, otherwise you hit.
11 you double. (or draw if the dealer has 10 or Α).
10 you double if the dealer has 2-9, otherwise you hit.
9 you double if the dealer has 3-6, otherwise you hit.
20 (A, 9) you always stand.
19 (A, 8) double if the dealer has 6, otherwise you stand.
18 (Α, 7) double if the dealer has 2-6 otherwise you stand.
17 (A, 6) double if the dealer has 3-6, otherwise you hit.
16 (A, 5) double if the dealer has 4-6, otherwise you hit.
15 (Α, 4) double if the dealer has 4-6, otherwise you hit.
14 (A, 3) double if the dealer has 5-6, otherwise you hit.
13 (A, 2) double if the dealer has 5-6, otherwise you hit.
When you split a pair
Always split Aces.
Never split 10’s..
Split 9’s if the dealer has 2-6 and 8-9, otherwise you stand.
Always split 8’s.
Split 7’s if the dealer has 2-7, otherwise you hit.
Split 6’s if the dealer has 2-6, otherwise you hit.
Never split 5’s. Double if the dealer has 2-9 otherwise you hit.
Never split 4’s.
Split 3’s if the dealer has 2-7, otherwise you hit.
Split 2’s if the dealer has 2-7, otherwise you hit.
Does blackjack strategy work?
Let’s make one thing very clear: This is not just a blackjack strategy for beginners. This is how every player should play no matter how experienced he is. With that being said, it is very important to understand why the above chart should be unquestionable.
In the game of blackjack, any second, any hand, is surrounded by statistics which change per second. The good thing is that we are able to calculate the odds that determine which is the best move in any given situation. Even better, when there is a chart already made for us!
However, never forget that casinos have the house edge in all their games, and even if blackjack is practically very low, still, you will play having a small disadvantage. The conclusion is that by implementing the perfect game, you will get a maximum of 49.5% to end up a winner after a session. Not bad, believe me.
A deeper look into blackjack hands
The above blackjack chart is ideal for those who want to follow the basic blackjack strategy. However, instead of betting blindly, you should understand the reasons behind any decision you make. In the following paragraph, we are going to examine the most interesting hand scenarios in order to understand the concept of betting in each case.
Playing Aces in blackjack
As we have mentioned, you should always split Aces. The reason is very simple. When you have two separate hands of 11 is much better than having one hand of 12. Statistically, if you split the aces you will have a 49% chance of winning and less than 43% chances of losing.
On the other hand, if you decide to play the hand as 12, you will win 43% of your hands, and you will lose more than 45% of the time. Conclusion: Always split the Aces! That’s the winning strategy for blackjack.
When to hit or double down on 10
The big question when you are dealt a 10 is in which cases you should double down and when you just hit. The answer in online blackjack betting strategy is determined by the dealer’s hand here. If the dealer’s upcard is 2-9, hitting has a positive return, meaning that in the long run you are going to win most of the time, so it is even better to double down. However, if the dealer has a 10 or an Ace the return is negative, meaning you are going to lose in the long run most of the time. So, you better just hit.
When to hit or double down on 11
Sometimes when players implement the standard blackjack strategy, they have doubts whether their decision is right or wrong. One of these cases is when they have 11 and the dealer’s upcard is a 10. However, this should not be an issue. The reason is simple. When you have a 11 against a 10, based on pure maths you have more chances of winning. So if you double, in the long run your profits will be greater than your losses. In general, when you hold an 11, you should always double, except the case where the dealer’s upcard is an Ace where you just hit.
When to hit on 12 and 13
How many times you are dealt a 12 and you have no idea how to play it? Well, the best blackjack strategy here is actually very clear and depends on the dealer’s upcard. If the dealer has 4, 5, or 6 you should stand. The logic behind this is very simple. When the dealer gets these upcards the odds of busting are very high, 39,6-42,3%. When the dealer gets any other card you have to hit from 12.
When you are dealt a 13 you should stand more often. More specifically, you should stand if the dealer’s upcard is 2-6. In all other cases you should hit, as the odds he has of making a better hand are higher. In general:
Do you hit or stand on 14-15-16?
Again your decision here is based on the dealer’s upcard. When the dealer has 2-6 you should definitely stand as in the long run he will bust most of the time. In any other case you will have to hit for the exact opposite reasons. When you have 14-15-16 is a difficult situation no matter what, and the return is always negative, however, you have to minimize the odds which are already against you to the point you can, by making the right decisions.
When to hit on 17?
Basically, you never hit on hard 17. Never ever. However, when you have a soft 17 the exact opposite happens. In general, when you have 17, you don’t feel very comfortable. That’s because 17 is not a good hand! However, hitting from 17 is not an option. Soft 17 though, is like someone is giving us another chance to make a better hand. To be honest, if we get an 8 or a 9, and our hand gets worse, it doesn’t matter. 17 can only give us a push. In all other cases, 17 has the same dynamics with 12. So, the best move is to double down when the dealer’s upcard is 3-6 (2-6 in single-deck games) and hit in all other upcards (double on dealer’s 2 in single-deck games).
If you still have doubts about hitting on soft 17 remember one thing: Some blackjack tables dictate the dealer to hit on soft 17, which gives them a mathematical advantage. These tables do not favor the players and should be avoided. This is because hitting on soft 17 is always the best move!