Basic Strategy of Playing Blackjack

The basic strategy of Blackjack prescribes the optimal way of playing any hand against any dealer up-card to minimize the expected long-term loss of the player.

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Basic strategy is also considered the mathematically correct way to play every hand. Over time, it will minimize your losses and maximize the amount of money you will win.

The first step to becoming a skillful player is to learn the basic strategy and the rules of the game.

Importance of Basic Strategy of Blackjack

It is crucial as a blackjack player to learn this basic strategy because you will eliminate the standard 5% advantage that the casino has over unskilled players by using it.

With basic strategy, usually, the house advantage is only about 0.5%, which is less than a 1% disadvantage to the player. This only goes to show why Blackjack can be one of the most profitable games to play in any casino.

Variants of Basic Strategy

Basic strategy varies according to the playing conditions you are exposed to; how many decks are in the shoe you are playing.

The two types of decks include;

  • Single deck games
  • Multiple deck shoes

The basic strategy of Blackjack

Every blackjack game has a basic strategy, which tells you the best way to play every hand dealt with to minimize the long-term house advantage.

The simple basic strategy for Blackjack is as follows.

Stand on:

  • 13 or more cards vs. 2, 3
  • 12 cards or more vs. 4, 5, 6
  • 17 cards or more vs. Ace,10, 9, 8, or 7,
  • If you've got an Ace, keep taking cards and only stop when you have 19 vs. the dealers, Ace, 10 or 9, 18 for any other card. When your Ace counts as a 1, check the steps above.
  • Double 11 and 10 against anything less
  • Always split 8,8 and A,A
  • Never split 10's 5's or 4's

If you follow these basic rules in mind, you can expect to lose some cash between $5- $10 per hour, if you stake $5 on every hand.

As much as this strategy will not grant you a win, you may have little to nothing to lose if the casino offers you some free drinks.

Some other rules include

  • Double 9 against 3, 4, 5 OR 6
  • Double 2 3 4 5 6 7 Ace against 5 or 6. 5 and 6 are regarded as the dealer's "the weakest link"
  • Split 9,9 7,7 6,6 3,3 2,2 vs 5 and 6
  • Don't split 4,4 as it's a good hand of 8, and 5,6 is 11 and 5,5 is 10; double both hands

Always flat-bet the table minimum, and use this as your winning strategy the next time you play online.

Most rule variations require changes in a few situations when using basic strategy in all Blackjack games.

However, regardless of the specific rule variations, taking insurance is never the correct play under the basic strategy.

Things to note

  • The house edge estimates quoted by gaming regulators and casinos for blackjack games are mostly founded on assuming that a player follows the basic strategy without systematically changing their bet size
  • Casino promotions, e.g., blackjack payouts or matchplay vouchers, allow players to acquire an upper hand without straying from basic strategy
  • Blackjack games are among the cheapest casino table games from the player's perspective due to their house edge of between 0.5% and 1%