Blackjack basic strategy is just the mathematically best way to play every possible hand in the game. This means that computers have done simulations and calculations about the expected value of every possible decision. When you make the decision that has the highest EV in each of those situations, you’re said to be using basic strategy.
I’m a proponent of memorizing basic strategy so well that you’re able to play perfectly without having to think about these decisions. Basic strategy isn’t powerful enough to get you a mathematical edge over the casinos, though. You’ll still be playing at a disadvantage.
But that disadvantage will be as low as it possibly can be, and it will be FAR lower than your mathematical disadvantage (the house edge) on any other game. Lots of people want to learn to beat blackjack. Basic strategy alone won’t do it for you. You’ll have to learn a legitimate advantage gambling technique to flip the odds in your direction. For most people, this means learning how to count cards.
On the other hand, it is fairly easy to suggest a simplified strategy that can help you get started in just about any typical blackjack game. This easy to memorize strategy won’t get you exactly the same odds as a full basic strategy chart, but you won’t be giving much up; the difference in the house edge until typical rules should be.2%.
- To increase your chances of winning at blackjack, first learn the basic strategies of playing your cards wisely and then master a card counting system.
- You need to memorize two things to be successful in blackjack—the rules of the game (including table rules) and the best blackjack strategies for each card you’re dealt. The basic rules of the game are easy to learn. Casinos add their own rules to limit players’ chances of success or to limit their winnings.
- Basic blackjack strategy is fairly simple. Anyone armed with a strategy card and enough motivation to memorize it can effectively apply basic strategy in any situation. But more experienced players know that winning at blackjack on a consistent basis requires digging deeper.
Counting cards, though, won’t get you an edge if you’re not able to implement basic strategy. This post offers some advice on the easiest and fastest way to learn basic strategy.
A Simplified Basic Strategy Is Probably the Best Way to Start
I’ve seen multiple “simplified” versions of basic strategy. Most of these are a fine place to start. I’ve seen online versions of this, but I’ve also seen simplified strategies in books. The simplified strategy I present below is based on Kevin Blackwood’s Play Blackjack Like the Pros, which I highly recommend by the way.
This simplified basic strategy only has 10 rules to follow:
- Always stand on a hard total of 17+.
- Hit a hard 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 versus a dealer 7+. Otherwise, stand.
- Double down on 11 if the dealer has anything but an ace, in which case you should hit.
- Double down on 10 if the dealer has anything but a 10 or an ace, in which case you should hit.
- Double down on 9 if the dealer has a 3, 4, 5, or 6. Otherwise, hit.
- Always hit a hard 8 or less.
- Always split aces or 8s.
- Never split 5s or 10s.
- Always stand on soft 18+.
- Always hit soft 17 or less.
That’s not a lot of memorizing to do, and it’s a great starting point. You can probably memorize this simplified blackjack basic strategy in less than an hour, in fact. The difference between this and using the full version of basic strategy is probably only about 0.2%.
In other words, if you were facing a game where the house edge were 0.5%, and you use this instead of the full basic strategy, you’re still playing a game where the house edge is only 0.7%. That’s better than almost any other game in the casino still.
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It crosses my mind that some of the expressions and phrases used in that short simplified version of blackjack basic strategy might be unfamiliar to some readers. Here are some definitions and explanations:
Expected value is the mathematically projected value of a bet in a specific situation. It’s either positive or negative, and it’s the product of the amount you can win multiplied by the probability of winning, minus the product of the amount you can lose multiplied by the probability of losing.
When discussing basic strategy, expected value is the predicted value of a given decision in a given situation. A bet with a positive expectations is one in which you have a mathematical advantage over your opponent. If a bet has a negative expectation, your opponent has a mathematical edge over you.
To stand in blackjack is to refuse any additional cards and stay with the total you have.
A hard total in blackjack is one in which you can’t count an ace as 1 or 11. This could be because your hand doesn’t have an ace in it, but it could also be because you have a hand where you’re already having to count the ace as 1 to avoid going bust.
To bust in blackjack is to reach a total of 22 or higher. If you bust, you automatically lose immediately.
Doubling down is agreeing to take one (and exactly) one more card from the dealer while simultaneously doubling the size of your bet.
To hit is to accept an additional card from the dealer. The only limit you have to the number of times you can hit is if you go bust. At that point, you can’t take any more cards because you’ve automatically lose.
To split is to separate a pair of cards on you first hand to create 2 new hands. This requires putting up an additional bet for the new hand. It also requires using each of those cards to be the first card in each of those 2 new hands. Those 2 hands are played out separately as if they were just additional starting hands.
A soft total is a hand that contains an ace which can count as 1 or 11. The thing about soft hands is that they’re harder to bust, because you can always change the value to 1. The total, when describing a soft total, is always counting the ace as 11. Once you have to count the ace as 1 to avoid busting, you have a hard total.
The house edge is the predicted amount of money you’ll lose in the long run of the game, on average, per bet. It’s expressed as a percentage of your action. If I saw that the house edge is 0.5%, this means that in the long run, you’re expected to lose 50 cents for every $100 you bet on the game.
Most casino games have a house edge of over 1%, and in most cases, it’s considerably more than 1%. The house edge in blackjack varies based on how closely you adhere to basic strategy decisions. The closer you get to following basic strategy perfectly, the closer you get to that predicted house edge.
Many players are so bad at basic strategy that they’re giving the casino an edge of 2% to 4%.
The house edge can be used to predict how much money you’ll lose in the long run. You multiply how much action you’ve brought by the house edge to get the expected loss.
Here’s an example:
You’re playing for $25 per hand, and you play for 12 hours per visit to the casino. You’ll probably average 100 hands of blackjack per hour, for $2500 in action per hour. Over 12 hours, that’s $30,000 in action. If the house edge is 0.5%, your expected loss for the trip on blackjack is $150. If you’re using the simplified basic strategy above, the expected loss for the trip on blackjack is $210. That’s a lot of entertainment for your money, especially compared to other games.
Take roulette, for example. The house edge for roulette is 5.26%. Assume you bet $25 per spin of the wheel in roulette and see 50 spins per hour. (Roulette is a slower game than blackjack.) That’s $1250 per hour in action, or $15,000 for the entire trip. Your expected loss on that action, though, is $789. That’s a HUGE difference.
Another factor I like to consider is whether my decisions make any difference when I’m playing a gambling game. I enjoy the challenge of making correct decisions that affect the outcome. There’s no opportunity for that in games like roulette, but in blackjack, there’s a mental factor that I enjoy.
This Simplified Basic Strategy Presented as a Chart or Table
Most presentations of basic strategy are done in the form of a chart or a table. I find it easier to memorize a list of 10 rules, but if you’re a visual learner, you might find the following tables easier to remember:
|16 – 12||S||S||S||S||S||H||H||H||H||H|
*Play any other pair according to its hard total.
S – Stand
H – Hit
D – Double
You can find this information presented in other charts and tables and in other forms. This is NOT the only simplified blackjack basic strategy on the internet.
If your ultimate goal is to keep the house edge as low as possible, you should memorize all of basic strategy. If you want to be a card counter and get an edge over the casino, you need as much help as you can get mathematically. If you just want to milk the casinos for comps, you can do that in blackjack, too, but that’s most effective when you play perfect basic strategy.
And even though we’re only talking about a difference of 0.2% or less, I think you should milk the game for everything it’s worth. To do that, you need to take the next step and master the full basic strategy. The easiest way to do that, to my mind, is to start learning the exceptions to that list of 10 rules in the simplified basic strategy above. Here are those exceptions:
Here are the exceptions to make to basic strategy in some situations involving hard hands:
- With a hard total of 12, you’ll hit if the dealer has a 2 or 3 showing. Otherwise, follow the strategy above.
That’s it. Now you know basic strategy for hard hands, perfectly.
You’ll notice that the simplified strategy only addresses 4 sets of pairs. To really master basic strategy, you need to know how to handle the other pairs, too. The only way to learn this is to memorize them:
- Split 2s, 3s, or 7s if the dealer has a 2 through 7.
- Split 4s if the dealer has a 5 or 6.
- Split 6s if the dealer has a 2 through 6.
- Split 9s of the dealer has a 2 through 6 or an 8 or 9. (Stand if the dealer has a 7, 10, or ace.)
And here are the exceptions for soft totals:
- Double on soft 13 or 14 if the dealer has a 5 or 6. (Otherwise, hit.)
- Double on soft 15 or 16 if the dealer has a 4, 5, or 6. (Otherwise, hit.)
- Double on soft 17 if the dealer has a 3, 4, 5, or 6. (Otherwise, hit.)
- Double on soft 18 if the dealer has a
Basic Strategy for Insurance
Insurance is a side bet you can place when the dealer has an ace showing. The bet size is half your original bet, and if you win insurance, you get paid off at 2 to 1 on that bet. You win the insurance bet if the dealer has a 10 in the hole.
Of course, if the dealer has a 10 in the hole, he has a blackjack, so you lose your original bet immediately. Since the insurance bet is half the size of your original bet, and it pays off at 2 to 1, it’s a wash. You’ll win as much on the insurance bet as you’ll lose on your original bet.
The idea behind insurance is that the dealer has a reasonably high probability of having a 10 in the hole. The following cards in the deck are worth 10:
There are 4 of each of these cards, for 16 cards total. 16/52 is close to 1 in 3, but not quite. It’s still a negative expectation bet. But…If you’re counting cards, and if the deck is rich in 10s—in other worse, the count is significantly positive—the insurance bet becomes a positive expectation situation.
If you’re just a basic strategy player, the rule of basic strategy is simple: Never take the insurance bet when it’s offered, no matter how much the dealer or the other players at the table seem to think it’s a good idea.
Blackjack basic strategy is easier to remember if you take it piecemeal. Some situations don’t come up often enough to make a huge difference to your bottom line, and they can be safely ignored to simplify the strategy. For example, if you have a hard 12 versus a 2 or 3, you should hit.
But you don’t lose much in that situation by standing instead. By just treating that 12 like a 13, 14, 15, or 16, you simplify what you need to remember tremendously. For players who are just learning basic strategy, learning the simple strategy first is the way to go. Once you’ve mastered that, you can start learning the rest of the possible situations which will come up.
If your goal is to become an advantage gambler (or a comp wizard), you should invest the time and effort to mastering every aspect of blackjack basic strategy. But if you’re just a recreational gambler, you’re probably just fine using the simplified basic strategy I’ve presented.
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Table Of Contents
Are you looking for the best blackjack strategy to maximise your winning odds when you play online? You'll love these tips.
Finding a way to get higher chances to win at blackjack shouldn't be so hard.
The basic strategy is the best way to play blackjack — and when you combine it with some strategy tips on bankroll management and what to do after you win, you have really reached the maximum you can.
In other words, if you are looking for the best blackjack betting strategy to increase your chances to win, you'll love this guide.
In the parts that follow you will find:
We also put together a collection of the best bonuses to play online. This way, you can use those freebies to test the blackjack basic strategy and all the tips in this article.EXCLUSIVE: Claim Your Bonus and Play!
Register a FREE account and claim your bonus to play online blackjack!
What this guide is NOT
- A collection of tips to win at blackjack
- A list of systems that promise to make blackjack profitable
- The illusion that you can beat the game
Blackjack is a gambling game where the casino has an advantage. It doesn't matter what approach you take or what blackjack strategy you follow. In the long run, the casino always wins.
Why Follow a Blackjack Betting Strategy?
Let's face it - we have all been there. We have all looked for the best and the most effective strategy to win at blackjack after we lost our first hands online.
With the right blackjack strategy it's possible to increase your winning chances, and that's because blackjack isn't a gambling game like roulette, video poker, or slots.
If you follow the basic betting strategy and you learn how to use the information you have at your disposal, you can reach optimal play giving yourself the best chances to win include in the game.
Professional players have worked hard to 'solve' the game of blackjack and find how to play each hand to get the best winning odds.
They analysed how the number of decks in play affects your chances to win and how you can make the best decision based on the cards you see on the table.
- That's what they call the 'blackjack basic strategy. A list of dos and don'ts where you find exactly how you are supposed to play each and every hand you are dealt.
This is the best strategy for blackjack.
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The goal of the blackjack basic strategy isn't to help you win at blackjack every time you play. That's impossible. Instead, it is to help you maximize your winning chances and to minimize your losses.
That's also the goal of this guide. We don't list all the strategies for blackjack out there. Instead, we focus only on the best blackjack strategies that are known to work and should help you get better results when you play.
Starting from the tips and tricks included in our cheat-sheet.
READ ALSO: How to play online blackjack with friends.
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What Is the Blackjack Basic Strategy?
Knowing how to manage your money is as important in blackjack as it is in all gambling games. A correct 'bankroll management' is essential when you play — regardless of the blackjack strategies you apply to your games.
Knowing how to bet (and how much) and how to select the right game when you play online blackjack for real money is extremely important.
Once you have those basics covered, you can move into the basic blackjack strategy and learn how you are supposed to invest your money once the dealer gives you the initial two cards.
As soon as the cards reach you and the dealer opens one of their cards, you have to make your first choice. In a game of blackjack, that means you need to pick one of these options:
Do you know why the basic blackjack strategy is also considered to be the best way to discover how to win at blackjack? Because it uses basic logic.
Would you hit if your first two cards gave you 20 points? Of course not.
Would you stand if your starting hand was worth five points? Not a chance.
While these choices are very simple on hands like the ones I use in my example, things get (a lot) more complicated with different cards on the table.
Let me give you a few examples.
- How do you play soft 17 in blackjack?
- When do you hit on a 16?
- What to do with 15 in blackjack?
This is where the basic blackjack strategy comes in to help you get the best chances to win.
This collection of tips shows you the optimal play for every blackjack hands, calculating your winning odds in combination with the dealer's open card.
The basic strategy to win at blackjack has nothing to do with concepts like card counting or any of those tricks some 'clever' players adopt to beat the house.
This is a simple-to-use guideline that shows you exactly how you are supposed to play every possible hand of blackjack. Use it to know when it is recommended to hit, to stand, or to do something else.
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
S = Stand
H = Hit
Dh = Double (if not allowed, then hit)
Ds = Double (if not allowed, then stand)
SP = Split
SU = Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)
A Blackjack Cheat Sheet
To make things even easier for you and help you follow the best betting strategy whenever you play blackjack, we created a quick cheat-sheet with the basic strategy explained in full.
Download the blackjack cheat-sheet (it's free) and print it or save it on your mobile phone to keep it always with you when you play.
The blackjack basic strategy cheat-sheet is 100% legal and you can use it both when you play online and at a brick-and-mortar casino.
A Conservative Blackjack Strategy
Easy Way To Win Blackjack
Don't play high-stakes games unless you feel ready for them and you have enough money to spend on online games.
If you are reading this blackjack strategy guide and you are a beginner, you should be afraid of high-stakes games.
When you spend too much money on your games, you risk getting the opposite of what you want. You play to have fun and to find out how to get more chances to win at blackjack - and you end broke and frustrated.
The best way to play blackjack is to start with what I call a conservative approach. Because finding the right way top handle betting in blackjack is key to long-term fun.
Like many blackjack strategies suggest, you should increase the stakes only when things go well and any potential losses are compensated by the money you have already won, not the one you might win if you get lucky.
In other words, raise your bet every time you win.
Many players believe wins and losses come in streaks. They think you might lose five or six times in a row — but when you win…you are not going to do it just once.
Obviously, that's not true.
Blackjack is a gambling game and there are no patterns for you to exploit or streaks that you can use to win more money every time you play.
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There are, however, smart betting strategies like the basic blackjack strategy that can help you increase the chances of a victory.
With that in mind, a conservative blackjack strategy works like this:
- Start from the lowest bet (e.g. $1)
- Increase your bet by 1 unit only after you win
- Go back to the original bet after you lose
When you use this blackjack strategy, you need to go back to the original bet as soon as you lose one hand. This is the best way to be in control of your money and end a gaming session in the black.
All you need to do is to make the right choices (use the basic strategy) and raise your stakes little by little - but only when you win.
READ ALSO: Bets sites to play live dealer blackjack online.
An Aggressive Approach to Blackjack: the Martingale Strategy
The Martingale betting strategy sits at the opposite side of the spectrum. This is the perfect blackjack strategy for those players who:
- Play blackjack to win a lot of money
- Can afford to lose a lot of money
- Don't fear the swing of big losses
In other words, this is the perfect blackjack strategy for big spenders but isn't one that you should try if you are still a beginner who is looking for ways to learn how to play blackjack.
The Martingale blackjack strategy is expensive. This is a blackjack system that will help you win often - but only when I have a lot of money to invest on your games.
If you can't spend at least $500 on your games - the Martingale is not the best blackjack strategy for you.
But if you do — continue reading to discover how to use this betting strategy to increase your chances to win.
The Martingale strategy is the exact opposite of the conservative approach to betting in blackjack we have just seen.
When you follow this strategy, you need to double your bet every time you lose. Which, in case of a losing streak, can become very expensive very quickly.
The rationale of this audacious blackjack betting strategy is that you will need only one win to go back to square one and recoup all your losses in one hand.
The caveat is: your bankroll needs to be deep enough for you to play and play until that one win comes.
Again, this isn't a betting strategy for beginners. If you decide to try it, make sure your bankroll covers at least 10 consecutive losses from the hand #1.
1-3-2-6 Blackjack Betting System
The 1-3-2-6 blackjack betting strategy is not as exciting as the Martingale strategy, and that's a good thing. This betting strategy doesn't require a huge bankroll and is a lot more suitable for players looking for a way to have better chances to win at blackjack without investing a fortune in the game.
The numbers in the strategy's name indicate the way you should bet after you win a hand of blackjack.
You first winning is the trigger that starts the sequence while your first losing hand is the one that ends everything.
This blackjack betting strategy is built to get the most value out of winning streaks. If you are lucky enough to use it at the beginning of a four-hand winning streak, you are in for a treat.
READ ALSO: How to play blackjack for beginners.
How to Win More Often at Blackjack: A Few Important Tips
We all want to win at blackjack every time we play, but we also know that's impossible.
What is possible, however, is to maximise your chances to win and get better winning odds when you play blackjack online. All it takes a few simple tips.
Follow them carefully, as these blackjack tips are as important as the best blackjack betting strategy.
- Don't spend money on the 'insurance'. The insurance bet is a money-draining option created to confuse beginners. All the best blackjack strategies fail to mention is for one simple reason: no real blackjack player will ever spend their money on it.
Think about the house edge. Like we said when we went through some of the game's best betting strategies, you can't expect to win at blackjack every time you play.
Like all other casino games, the house edge is what makes sure that the casino has an advantage over the players in the long run. With that in mind, the next of our blackjack tips is one that can make a great difference for you.
Set a budget and abide to that. Experienced blackjack players know that you need to set a losing and a winning limit before the first hand is dealt.
Stop playing as soon as you hit one of them. If you lose and hit your lower limit, take a break and end your session.
If you win and you hit your highest limit, collects your winnings and leave the table. You can continue to play if you want, but you'll need to set a new bankroll and establish new limits first.
Don't miss the rules sheet. Trust me, there are more blackjack variations that you will ever play. All of them are based on the same core gameplay — but adopt rules that could break you if you aren't ready for them
One of the best parts of playing online is that the rules are always available at the table. If you are not sure you know everything about the game you want to play, click on the 'info' icon and read the rules.
Choose 3:2 over 6:5 payout. Different casinos have different payout policies - and not all of them are great for you.
Make sure you read the payout table before you begin to play a hand of real money blackjack and always choose the games with the 'regular' 3:2 payout. These are a much smarter choice compared to the 6:5 payout blackjack games you find at some online casino sites.
Use Bonuses to Find Your Favourite Blackjack Strategy
Now that you know what are the best blackjack strategies, there is only one thing left: play a few games online to find out which one works best for you.
Here's what you should fo to get the best results:
- Base all your decisions on the basic blackjack strategy
- Pick the betting strategy that suits your bankroll
- Follow all the blackjack strategy tips above to maximise your chances to win
To help you find the right games and the right betting strategy, we created a list of the best blackjack bonuses on the market.
All the sites you find in the list are licensed, pay winnings fast, and offer lots of blackjack games. Pick the ones with the best offers, register an account (it's always free), and sit at the blackjack table to start an epic battle with the dealer!The promotion presented on this page was available at the time of writing. With some Casino promotions changing on daily basis, we suggest you to check on the site if it still available. Also, please do not forget to read the terms and conditions in full before you accept a bonus.