Blackjack Basic Strategy

Hit and stand are familiar words you’ve heard if you spend some time around the blackjack table. It is one of the most popular casino games in the world because the house edge is low, with higher odds of winning.

Blackjack is part of a family of card games referred to as Twenty-One that uses decks of 52 cards. Despite the game’s low house edge, it can still be narrowed down to less than 1% when the right strategies are used. What’s even more interesting is that those strategies are relatively easy for beginners to learn and improve.

Basic Strategy Charts - image

Learn the Basic Strategy Charts

A blackjack basic strategy chart explains all the moves a player can take in any situation they find themselves in. It’s quite easy to use, and you can apply it in all blackjack games with different rules. You will also have enough time to memorise the strategy with a chart.

You’ll see the dealer’s upcard listed at the top of the chart, while your cards will be listed at the bottom of the first column towards the left. Go to the left column to find your cards after which you can go across to the column with the dealer’s card to discover what the best possible play will be.

Look for the point of intersection between the dealer’s card and the player’s vertical row and it will provide a hint on what to do according to the basic strategy. So, if the dealer has 7 against your 14, you’ll see “H” at their intersection, which means “Hit”.

Also, assuming the dealer has 5 and the player has 12 may confuse the player, especially beginners, as 12 isn’t a favourite hand. However, the hint provided by the table says “Stand”, because the situation is equally unfavourable for the dealer as well.

Know When to Hit or Stand - image

Know When to Hit or Stand

Deciding whether to hit or stand is another blackjack basic strategy players should get familiar with. Press the hit button to get more cards and your hand’s value. The dealer must also continue to draw cards if their cards’ total is 16 or less and stand the moment it reaches 17.

However, if you surpass 21 when getting more cards, you’ll lose money. Ensure you have a good hand and if it crosses the values of 16/17, you’re willing to risk. This determines whether you win the game or not.

Note: Since you can probably see one of the dealer’s cards, it's safe to assume their cards facing down is a 10. Here is a summarised guide to help you:

  • If the dealer has two or three cards, keep hitting till you reach 13 or above
  • If the dealer has four to six cards, stop hitting when you get to 12 or above
  • If the dealer has seven or more cards, hit till you reach 17 or higher
Understand Your Opponent’s Hand - image

Understand Your Opponent’s Hand

Ensure you analyse the dealer’s hand after taking a stand on your cards. It’s possible to see their first card and understand the value, so when you do, you can assume their full hand.

Casino sites don’t hit if they have a value of 16/17; as such, if you have a hand with a higher value, you have a greater chance of winning.

Hands With an Ace - image

If You Have Hands With an Ace

A starting hand you hold with an ace is referred to as a soft hand. It’s when you’ve got an ace that can either be used as a one or 11. When holding multiple cards, add up the cards that aren’t an ace.

Use this list to make a decision when you’ve got soft hands.

  • Ace ace – You should split a pair of aces as much as possible
  • Ace two or soft 13 – Hit with a soft 13 and double at all times when possible against a five or six
  • Ace three or soft 14 – Hit and double against a five or six when permitted
  • Ace four or soft 15 – Hit a soft 15 and double against four, five, or six when possible
  • Ace five or soft 16 – Hit and double if possible against four, five, and six
  • Ace six or soft 17 – Always double against a three, four, five, six where possible
  • Ace seven or soft 18 – When this hand is present, stand against a two, seven, and eight; hit against a nine, ten, or ace; and double against three, four, five, and six
  • Ace eight or soft 19 – Stand at all times!
  • Ace nine or soft 20 – Stand at all times!
  • Ace 10 – Stand at all times!

However, keep in mind that there are some other strategies for hands without an ace.

Basic Strategy - image

How to Remember Basic Strategy

The best way to memorise the basic strategy is to make use of the chart during the game. The more you play, the more you familiarise yourself with the right play for each hand without having to check the chart. Not to waste money practicing, you can register for free at an online casino and play free versions.

In time, checking the chart will only be for difficult plays as the others will come from your memory. It’s either you practice, or you memorise the chart.

Card Counting - image

Card Counting

You stand the chance of playing with a relatively low house edge if you learn how to count cards. To count cards effectively, you need to familiarise yourself with this basic strategy. Do that, and you’ll no doubt become good at card counting.

If you play at online casinos, counting cards may not be as favourable as playing live in a land-based venue. There won’t be low house edge as software shuffles cards automatically after you’re dealt.

Conclusion

There is more to the blackjack basic strategy mentioned in this post, but even learning what was explained here would increase your chances of winning in blackjack. Memorise and practise how to use the charts properly and you’ll play with low house edges where you can win more playing sessions.

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