Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack players face the house, not each other. Psychology and game theory do not come into play with blackjack unlike poker; instead it is all about mathematics. Computer simulations have been run to determine the optimal strategy to use in blackjack, and this is commonly referred to as Basic Strategy. The Basic Strategy chart for a single deck game is slightly different than the Basic Strategy chart for a multi-deck game. A good blackjack player knows the Basic Strategy charts like the back of his hand. It is not enough to casually memorize the Basic Strategy charts. One needs to know the charts backwards and forwards so that the right decision is made even when there are distractions. The best decision should be made automatically. If a player does not follow Basic Strategy, he is hurting his own chances of winning in the long term. The laws of probability cannot be ignored. Blackjack, when played perfectly, only offers a very slight advantage to the house. These house advantages only increase with any slight deviations from Basic Strategy. Play free online blackjack until you are comfortable with the game and ready to move on to real money.

Memorize the Basic Strategy Chart!

Good Blackjack Rules

When choosing a casino or table to play blackjack, certain rules are better for the player. Most casinos force the dealer to hit a soft 17 which is bad for the player in the long run. Look for casinos where the dealer is forced to stand on soft 17.

The surrender rule is also very beneficial to the player. The surrender rule allows a player to surrender his hand, prior to any action, and sacrifice half the bet. For example, if the player holds a 10 and a 6 then this 16 should be surrendered when the dealer shows 9, 10 or Ace, allowing the player to take back half his bet.

Being allowed to double down after splitting is probably the most beneficial rule for the player, and fortunately, most casinos allow a player to double down after splitting. For example, if the dealer is showing a 6, and the player has 7, 7 then the right play is to split. If the first 7 then gets hit a 4, then the correct play is to double down on this 11.

Finally, another good rule for the player is the allowance of resplitting Aces. Although this may be used rarely, I have personally resplit aces 4 times. For example, your are dealt A A, and split those aces. You are then hit another ace. With this rule, you can split again. Without this rule, you are stuck with 12 and must move on to the next hand.

Summary of Good Blackjack Rules:

  • Dealer Stands on Soft 17
  • Surrender
  • Double Down Allowed After Split
  • Resplitting Aces

Bad Blackjack Rules

In a brick and mortar casino, good players, in addition to utilizing Basic Strategy, also count cards and then take advantage of situations late in the deck(s), making intelligent modifications to Basic Strategy based on the situation. Many casinos, including online casinos, have countered the ability to count cards by implementing continuous shufflers. What this means is that as soon as you play a hand, those cards are immediately introduced back into the deck or shoe and reshuffled, so you could get those exact two cards on the very next hand. Obviously, this is very bad for the card counter.

Some casinos do not allow you to double down a soft hand. A hand like Ace, 6 is a soft 17. This hand should be doubled down when the dealer shows a 6, but some casinos do not allow this play. Thankfully, most casinos do allow you to double down a soft hand – which is a very important rule for the player.

Summary of Bad Blackjack Rules

  • Continuous Shuffle
  • No Soft Double Downs
  • No Re-splits