When playing most online casino games, luck shines its light quite rarely and only on a few people. Blackjack, on the other hand, is one of the only casino games where you as a player have a fair and legitimate shot to win against the house on a permanent basis. This is because blackjack is dependent on strategizing based on probabilities instead of pure, blind luck. To increase your chances of winning at blackjack over the long term, first learn the basic blackjack strategy of playing your cards wisely and then, later on, master a card counting system.
On this page, we discuss useful blackjack strategies and tips to help you improve not only your game but also your winning opportunities by learning and applying the blackjack basic strategy.
Basic Blackjack Strategy Tips
Before jumping headfirst into the strategy, here are a few basic tips to put to use that can help you improve your blackjack play overall. We begin with a couple of basic tips related to general aspects of the game and then move to some more tips on how to play to best increase your winning opportunities when you are dealt certain specific hands.
- Learn the basics of blackjack: You must know the basics of the game before you get down to playing it. Go through our quick-and-easy blackjack guide to learn about the different aspects of getting started playing online blackjack.
- Manage your bankroll: This is a critical skill to master other than knowing the game; managing your bankroll. Make sure that you spread out your bets carefully and only to levels you can afford. Low bets to start are generally the best strategy if you are a beginner player. That enables you to ‘feel’ your way through the game and if you lose the first few hands, you will still have money at hand to carry on and increase your blackjack education and your chances of being a consistent blackjack winner over the long term.
- Learn to quit: This is important skill to master especially if you are at the start or in the middle of a losing streak. Carry on further and you may stand the chance of losing more than you can afford.
Quitting also works well if you are ahead – you get to keep your winnings rather than fritter them away.
- One vital rule to follow: Try not to play blackjack if you are drinking. It can cloud your decision-making abilities, encourage you to make emotional decisions and may potentially result in you losing in a game like blackjack, where the odds are so much more in your favor.
If you have played blackjack before, you will no doubt be aware that some decisions are not particularly easy to make.
Of course, hitting with 11 points is an absolute no brainer, but what should you decide to do with a pair of nines? Stick with 18, or should you split the hand to increase your chance of winning? Does the dealer’s hand impact your decision? It’s clear from this example that you need a strategy where you can always make the best decision to optimize your winnings when playing online blackjack.
Blackjack Strategy Explained
Before even trying to memorize a strategy, you need to know the fundamental rules of the game. In all games of blackjack, the universal objective is to get as close to 21 without going over (“busting”); however, not all blackjack games follow the same process, so make sure you know which blackjack strategy you’re memorizing.
For the sake of this online blackjack strategy guide, we’ll assume that you’ve examined our online blackjack guide and you have slightly more than the basic understanding of the rules of the game.
Remember, players with a solid blackjack strategy are playing with the benefit of pure mathematics assisting them. The moves are then based on making the plays that give you the best odds of winning at blackjack over time. There are no hunches with a perfect blackjack strategy. Over time, the plays become second nature and having your strategy down makes the game easier and more fun to play.
You’ve probably already read that using a blackjack strategy chart will increase your chances of winning at online blackjack over the long term. However, before introducing how to read a blackjack strategy chart, lets begin with 5 simple tips to follow;
- Basic Blackjack Strategy Charts are not enough on their own! Basic black strategy charts cannot overcome the house edge even if you get lucky with it from time to time. There’s no simple answer. You’ll be required to combine your strategy chart with card counting, deviations, true count conversions and betting strategy to actually beat the game of blackjack as you go on and learn different variations of the game. However, let’s keep it easy to begin with.
- Keep it simple – Start with one chart! Begin with the chart you see directly below these 5 simple tips. Don’t confuse yourself by trying to learn tens of different blackjack strategy charts. Take the one below as your best example and;
- Memorize it! Note – it will take commitment and time to learn the chart perfectly and it takes long intentional practice in game play mode to commit the chart to memory. There are no simple solutions. Take the time and learn the chart correctly and you will be rewarded. Remember our above point regarding small wagers only to begin with whilst learning basic blackjack strategy.
- The chart you begin with, may not be the chart you may finish using! You will learn over time and practice. Once you learn the blackjack strategy chart, you will need to learn additional rules and deviations later on that relate to the specific rules of the blackjack games you will be playing. The better you build a foundation to your blackjack play in learning basic strategy early on, the easier it will be to transition to the other rules-specific charts of different blackjack games.
- Learn the chart by heart! Blackjack is a game where you can only ever expect to gain a 1% edge over the house. Learning the strategy chart only 85% is not going to result in long-term winning returns. You need to know the blackjack strategy charts so well, that the decisions you are required to make become second nature and you can almost make them on ‘auto-pilot’.
Blackjack Strategy Chart
How to read a basic blackjack strategy chart & memorizing your strategy
When memorizing a blackjack strategy chart, the first rule is remembering only what you need to know and remembering its simply based on hard science, probability and pure logic in analysing the cards both you and the dealer have been dealt.
There are 230 spaces to memorize on the basic blackjack strategy card and four basic plays to make when the cards are dealt: “hit, double, split or surrender”. The whole approach boils down to this 4-line rhyme; “hit, double, split or surrender”.
- Hit – If you want another card from the Dealer to try and get you closer to 21, you ‘Hit’.
- Double – The player has the option to double his initial bet in exchange for receiving one, and only one, more card.
- Split – The player is allowed to split a hand comprised of two cards of equal value into two hands. The player then continues playing the hands separately.
- Surrender – Some games offer the option for the player to surrender as their first action, in the case that the dealers face up card is a 10 or an ace. If the player chooses to surrender, he will get half his wager back. This rule is very uncommon occurrence in online Blackjack.
There are limited possibilities of every play to make, so memorizing each section of the basic blackjack strategy card shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.
Remember! Players shouldn’t jump right in to playing for real money without first testing their memorized blackjack strategy.
Most of the decisions are not surprising in any way – they are the logical choice to make. The most interesting scenarios are those with pairs. As you can see in the strategy chart above, the actions change depending not only on the type of pair you have, but also on the card the dealer has. It could be argued that with a pair of 10’s, and a relatively poor dealer card, it could be most beneficial to split the 10’s, thus providing a possibility to win twice. However, the best and most prudent action would be to stand. This is because split hands will often lead to hands of less than 20 points, and more chance therefore of losing.
Basic Blackjack Strategy’s Order of Decision-Making & Actions:
- Can I or should I Surrender? If you’re playing at an online casino that offers surrender you usually only have the option to surrender on the first two cards you have been dealt. You forfeit your chance to surrender if you have already taken a hit card. Surrender is the first thing you need to think about when playing a blackjack hand. Choose Wisely and if you don’t surrender, then;
- Can I or Should I Split? The second most important decision is whether or not to split your cards, if your first two cards are a pair or you have two ten-valued cards (like a queen and a king). If you don’t split, then;
- Can I or Should I Double? Some casinos restrict doubling on certain hands as these are usually winning hands, so it may not always be possible. Rule it out or not before you move on. If you don’t double, then;
- Should I hit or should I stand? The last decision you need to think about when it comes to basic strategy is whether or not to take another card. If the alternative options above are not appropriate for your hand, then you need to decide to hit, or to stand.
Basic Blackjack Strategy Simplified
The old adage that “practice makes perfect” is not precisely true if you’re practicing incorrectly or inaccurately. As we have established in this online blackjack strategy guide, in blackjack, the only way to make money on a consistent basis is to learn how to play with the correct strategy and memorizing it once you perfect it. Just one mistake could turn a positive and winning hand into a potential losing proposition. However, but by memorizing your next move, the tables turn immensely in your favor.
That being the case, we have broken down the entire blackjack strategy chart into a set of easy-to-follow actions that are simple for online players to commit to memory as follows;
- Your 16 always surrenders against the dealer’s 9 through Ace, otherwise don’t surrender.
- Your 15 always surrenders against the dealer’s 10, otherwise don’t surrender.
- Never split your tens.
- Always split your aces.
- Your pair of 9’s always splits against the dealer’s 2 through to 9, except for 7, otherwise stand.
- Always split your 8’s
- pair of 7’s always splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
- Your pair of 6’s always splits against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Your pair of 5’s always doubles against the dealer’s 2 through 9 otherwise hit.
- Your pair of 4’s always splits against the dealer’s 5 and 6, otherwise hit.
- Your pair of 3’s always splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
- Your pair of 2’s always splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
A soft total is any hand that has an Ace as one of the first two cards, the ace counts as 11 to start.
- A Soft 20 (A,9) always stands
- A Soft 19 (A,8) always doubles against the dealer’s 6, otherwise stand.
- A Soft 18 (A,7) doubles against the dealer’s 2 through 6, and hits against 9 through Ace, otherwise stand.
- A Soft 17 (A,6) always doubles against the dealer 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
- A Soft 16 (A,5) always doubles against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- A Soft 15 (A,4) always doubles against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- A Soft 14 (A,3) always doubles against the dealer’s 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
- A Soft 13 (A,2) always doubles against dealer 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
A hard total is any blackjack hand that does not start with an ace in it, or it has been dealt an ace that can only be counted as a 1, instead of an 11.
- 17 and up always stands.
- 16 stands against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- 15 stands against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- 14 stands against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- 13 stands against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- 12 stands against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- 11 always doubles.
- 10 doubles against the dealer’s 2 through 9 otherwise hit.
- 9 doubles against the dealer’s 3 through 6 otherwise hit.
- 8 always hits.
Learning Online Blackjack Strategy isn’t an easy task, but we hope our guide helps you build the foundations of the skills and decision-making processes you’ll require to win more money playing blackjack over the long term and as result, have more fun playing blackjack.
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Good luck and good gaming!