Basic Strategy in Blackjack
When new players jump into the exciting world of blackjack, they often encounter exotic stories involving card counting and advanced blackjack strategies. With names like spooking, ace tracking and the zen count it’s easy to become intimidated and to skip over learning black jack basic strategy. This is a big mistake.
Basic strategy is the single most powerful tool in the blackjack player’s arsenal. It is basic strategy more than any other technique or trick that will sway the odds away from the casino and into your own pocket, making you a successful blackjack player.
Learning black jack betting strategy takes time and effort. It’s possible to use a basic strategy card or betting table to make things easier, but in the long run it’s better to take the time to memorize basic strategy. This will let you play and respond intuitively rather than relying on a chart every time the dealer puts down a new card.
History and variations
The general idea behind basic strategy is really very simple. First you want to get to 21 without going over, but more importantly you want to beat the dealer’s hand.
The first step is to watch for patterns and to learn how to respond to them. As seasoned players know very well, there are certain card variations and combinations that show up regularly during blackjack games. Using strategy charts to learn the best way to respond to these card combinations can help you become a more efficient player.
To help players learn the optimum playing strategy for all the possible game variations, different basic strategy charts have been created. Each one takes into account every aspect of the game and its rules. These charts are designed using statistics and mathematics, so their advice is very accurate and effective.
The differences between, for example, a 2 deck strategy chart and a 6 deck strategy chart are not enormously different, but it is important to note that blackjack is a game of small percentages that add up over time, so even the smallest rule change can make a big difference in the long run. It all adds up, and every little bit helps players earn an advantage over the house.
Patience is key. Professional players know that the best way to make real money in blackjack is to play a lot of games over a long period of time, relying on small advantages over the house to slowly churn out a profit. Big wins can definitely happen, but it is better to take your time and watch your bankroll grow little by little as you play.
Once you have the basics down, you can move on to more intermediate blackjack strategy. This also involves watching for patterns, and learning how to respond to different situations. Do you hit or stand? Do you surrender, double down, or take insurance? Mathematically, there is always an optimal answer for every single hand. Learning the right answer is the key to becoming a blackjack champ.
In general if your hand is below 17 and the dealer’s hand is anything above an 8, the recommended action is to hit, simply because the odds are more likely that the dealer’s hand will bust.
“Soft hands” containing an ace can complicate things. In this situation, it is especially important to consider what cards the dealer is showing and weigh the odds. Typically, is recommended to hit when you have a soft hand with a value between 13-17 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher card.
Take a hit on soft 18 only if the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or ace card.
Stand on any hand above 14 when the dealers card is showing a 4, 5 or 6.
Always stand on 16 when a dealer shows a 10 if the player has 3 or more cards.
When the player’s hand shows a soft 18, stand when the dealer shows a 2, 7, 8 or when there are 3 or more cards.
Always stand on a soft 19 or higher hand. The risk of busting is simply too high.
Never split 5′s or 10′s or face cards.
Always split Aces and 8′s regardless of the dealer’s cards.
Split 2′s or 3′s when the dealers hand shows a 4, 5 or 6.
More splitting variations should be based on the basic strategy chart designed for the blackjack rule variation that you are playing.
Always double down on 11.
Double up when a player’s hand shows a 10 and the dealer’s card is a 9 or lower.
Once again “soft hands” require different tactics. In this case you want to double down if your hand is a soft 13-17 only if the dealer has a 5 or 6.
If your cards are a soft 15-17 you can chose to double down, but only if the dealer is showing a 4.