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An Intro to Basic Blackjack Strategy

I’ve mentioned before that Blackjack is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Now let me explain why. Blackjack is pretty easy to learn – all you’re trying to do is build a hand that totals 21. Pretty simple right? While the basic rules are simple, mastering the game could take years – even a lifetime. Blackjack strategy goes really deep. I could spend the entire day talking about the best Blackjack strategy (and I usually do!) The long path to mastery is what draws me to the game. I love games that are easy to learn, but require time and dedication to get the hang of – and Blackjack is definitely that.

While the road to mastery is pretty darn long, this blog is dedicated to making that journey just a little bit shorter. Today, I’ll be sharing some Blackjack basic strategy. They’re geared, as you might be able to tell, towards beginner players. But experienced players should be able to use the ideas contained in this article as a sort of refresher course.

introduction blackjack strategy

The Definition of Strategy

You’ll hear the term “basic strategy” a lot in this blog post, but it isn’t just a generic term. There is actually a formal definition of basic Blackjack strategy. Black Jack strategy refers to the mathematically sound way of playing the game. The goal of your strategy must be to reduce the casino’s advantage to 0.5%.

To get a grip on strategy, below is a Blackjack strategy chart. This chart will tell you when to hit, stand, double down, split a pair, or surrender. It gives you the correct actions in relation to your and the dealer’s hands.

Obviously, you can bring this chart with you to the table. You will have to memorize this chart if you want to win at Blackjack — there’s no shortcut to this.

basic blackjack strategy

The Blackjack Strategy Chart

Blackjack Strategy Chart

A Few Tips Regarding this Chart

Before you start committing this chart to memory, there are a few things you need to know first:

This is just the tip of the iceberg

Knowing this chart by heart is extremely important, and it’ll go a long way towards improving your game. But it isn’t a magic bullet that will suddenly win you all your game. To achieve that, you will need to use different skills and understand certain concepts, like counting, deviations, true-count conversions, as well as better strategy. But we’ll tackle all those next-level concepts in a future article.

Learn how to “evolve” your chart

As mentioned a while ago, this chart is just a starting tool. And as gain more experience, you will have to learn new rules and deviations. The more experience you have with this chart, the easier it will be to “evolve.”

tips blackjack strategy chart

The Blackjack Algorithm

When dealt a hand in Blackjack, you need to ask yourself a series of questions. The answer to each question will determine whether you move on the next question. I call this the Blackjack algorithm, and it’s a great tool to use. The sequence goes as follows:

1. First, ask yourself if you should surrender

Since you can’t surrender after you’ve gotten hit, you’ll need to decide whether to surrender or not as soon as you get your first two cards. If the answer to this is “no” move on to the next question.

2. Can I split?

Now, ask yourself whether you can or should split. The best time to do this is if you are dealt two 10 cards. If the answer to this is “no” move on to the next question.

3. Can I double?

If you feel like you have a pretty strong hand, you can opt to double down. You may not be able to do this at some casinos, but if you can, it’s a pretty baller move to do. If the answer to this is “no” move on to the next question.

4. Should I hit or stand?

Now it’s time to decide whether you’d like to get an extra card (hit) or stick with your current hand (stand).

Blackjack Algorithm

Decoding the Blackjack Chart

Below are the contents of the charts, in plain text:

Surrenders:

On a total 16, surrender if dealer’s upcard is 9 to Ace.

On a total of 15, surrender if dealer’s upcard is a 10.

Splits:

Two Aces should always be split.

Two 8’s should always be split.

Two 10’s should never be split.

Two 9’s should be split if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 9, except if 7. Otherwise, stand.

Two 7’s sohould be split if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 7. Otherwise, hit.

Two 6’s should be split if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

Two 5’s doubles id dealer’s upcard is 2 to 9. Otherwise, hit.

Two 4’s should be split if dealer’s upcard is 5 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

Two 3’s should be split if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 7. Otherwise, hit.

Twp 2’s should be split if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 7. Otherwise, hit.

Soft Hands:

20 should always stand

19 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 6. Otherwise, stand.

18 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6, and hits against 9 to Ace. Otherwise, stand.

17 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 3 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

16 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 4 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

15 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 4 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

14 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 5 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

13 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 5 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

Hard Hands:

17 always stands.

16 stands if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

15 stands if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

14 stands if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

13 stands if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

12 stands if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

11 doubles.

10 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 2 to 9. Otherwise, hit.

9 doubles if dealer’s upcard is 3 to 6. Otherwise, hit.

8 always hits.

Decoding the Blackjack Chart

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