Blackjack Strategy

If you are serious about becoming a solid blackjack player then blackjack strategy is something that you will need to master.  Casino blackjack is a unique game in that there are many decisions involved for the player and unlike most fixed odds games, in blackjack the way that you play does affect the house edge and consequently the amount of money you stand to win or lose.  This article provides a lesson on blackjack strategy and an overview of how to use basic strategy for blackjack to gain a small advantage as a player.  We recommend always using the rules of basic strategy as this is the only proven method to reduce house edge in blackjack.  If you are unfamiliar with blackjack, please see our how to play blackjack page first.

How Blackjack Basic Strategy Works

Basic strategy in blackjack is the best way to play blackjack with optimal betting & good decisions throughout the game.  Basic strategy is essentially a set or rules that dictates how you should play your hand in relation to the dealer's up card once the cards have been dealt for a particular round of play.  Using basic strategy, the player makes certain assumptions and then will decide what to do with their hand (hit, stand, split or double) dependant on the chances of the dealer making a hand.

When looking at blackjack strategy we can classify the hand you could be dealt into one of three different categories, being hard hands, soft hands and pairs.  Each of these hands have different rules on what the player should do dependant on what the dealer possesses in their hand.  Below is a quick overview of the different types of hands and the general recommended decisions according to basic strategy rules.

Hard Hands: A starting hand where your dealt cards do not contain an ace.

  • If player has an 8 or less, they should always hit another card
  • If player has 9, they should double with dealer up card 3 to 6 otherwise hit
  • If player has 10, they should double with dealer up card 2 to 9 otherwise hit
  • If player has 11, they should double with dealer up card 2 to 10, hit if an ace
  • If player has 12, hit on dealer 2 or 3, stand on dealer 4 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has 13 to 16, they should stand with dealer 2 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has 17 to 21, they should always stand on this hand against dealer

Hard Hand Totals

Soft Hands: A starting hand where you receive one card plus an ace on the deal.

  • If player has Ace with 2 or 3, double with dealer 5 or 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has Ace with 4 or 5, double with dealer 4 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has Ace with a 6, double with dealer 3 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has Ace with a 7, stand on dealer 2, 7 or 8, double 3 - 6 otherwise hit
  • If player has Ace with 8 or 9, player should always stand with this hand

Soft Hand Totals

Pair Hands: A starting hand where the player is dealt a pair of cards, ex. Q, Q

  • If player has a pair of Aces or 8's, they should always split the hand
  • If player has a pair of 2's or 3's, split with dealer 2 to 7 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has a pair of 4's, split with dealer 2 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has a pair of 5's, double with dealer card 2 to 9 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has a pair of 6's, split with dealer card 2 to 6 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has a pair of 7's, split with dealer card 2 to 7 otherwise hit hand
  • If player has a pair of 9's, split with dealer 2 to 6 & 8 or 9, stand on 7, 10, Ace
  • If player has a pair of 10's, they should always stand on this blackjack hand

Paired Hand Totals

Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart

Well the above provides a written guide to playing blackjack with perfect strategy, it may be somewhat confusing to always have to read through text in order to find out how to play a particular hand in blackjack.  Thankfully there are what is known as blackjack strategy charts that provide a visual representation of what players should do to play blackjack according to basic strategy.  These strategy charts are permitted by casinos so if you are learning it's always a good idea to print one off and take it to the casino with you.  Below we have provided you with a basic strategy chart that outlines what the player should do in each hand scenario.

Blackjack Strategy

Other Blackjack Strategies

In addition to using basic strategy, there are other blackjack strategies such as card counting which are used by players to increase their chances of winning.  Card counting is a proven method of tracking cards in a game of blackjack with the intent of raising your betting structure when the deck is of optimal value for the player.  For more information on this strategy, we provide a detailed article on how to count cards which can be found below, along with our other blackjack information pages.