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Blackjack Basic Strategy

Blackjack basic strategy is designed to be used against the baseline rules of Blackjack. With Blackjack basic stategy the number of decks used in a game have no bearing on the situation. Each recommended play does not guarantee that you will win, but offers the highest odds of winning with any particular hand. Understanding Blackjack basic strategy can make the difference between winning and losing, and Blackjack is the only casino table game where players can employ skill to affect the outcome of their play against the house.

The foremost important and prevalent decision a player has to make is whether to hit or to stand on their hand. There are a few straightforward rules for both hard and soft hands.

For hard hands, if the player's cards amount to 12 or higher, there are three rules:

  • Hit if the player hand totals 12 through 16 and the dealer has a seven or higher.

  • Stand on any hand totaling 17 or higher.

  • Stand if the player cards total 12 through 16 and the dealer has two through six.

For soft hands there are only two:

  • Always draw to soft 17 or less.

  • Only draw on soft 18 if the dealer has an eight, nine or ten.

Doubling down is the main method by which a player can eliminate the house edge so it is very important to remember when to utilize this option.

For hard hands, there are three basic rules:

  • Double down when the player's cards total 11 and the dealer has a ten or less.

  • Double down when the player's cards total 10 and the dealer has a nine or less.

  • Double down when the player's cards total nine and the dealer has a four, five or six.

For soft hands, there are also three basic rules:

  • Double down with a soft 13 and soft 14 when the dealer has a five or six.

  • Double down with a soft 15 and soft 16 when the dealer has a four, five or six.

  • Double down with a soft 17 and soft 18 when the dealer has three through six.

There are six easy rules that apply to splitting pairs in basic strategy:

  • Always split a pair of aces or eights. A pair of aces totals either two or twelve but when you split them each card is worth eleven. When you split eights you are breaking up 16 which is the worst hand to have.

  • Never split fours, fives or tens.

  • Split twos and threes only when the dealer has four through seven.

  • Split sixes when the dealer has three through six.

  • Split sevens when the dealer has three through seven.

  • Split nines when the dealer has two through six, eight or nine.

The other major Blackjack strategy is known as card counting. In this system, the player keeps track of how many high cards remain in the deck in order to play hands according to the makeup of the cards that remain to be dealt. The theory is that high cards are good for the player, so the counter looks for a higher percentage of aces and 10s. Players who count cards can usually gain a short-term advantage over the casino, but basic strategy is much easier to use and requires only memorization of a few key rules.

Blackjack Rules

Blackjack uses a six deck shoe.

The face cards - jack, queen and king, all have a value of 10, aces count as either 1 or 11, and the remaining cards are worth their face value.

If your hand exceeds 21, you bust and automatically lose the hand. If you have the same card total as the dealer, from 17 and up, no one wins and you get your wager back in a push.

The dealer must stand on 17 and above and draw on 16 and below.

If the dealer's face-up card is an ace, you will be asked if you wish to buy insurance.

You Win at Blackjack!

If you get Blackjack (21), the payout is 3:2. If your hand beats the dealer's hand but does not equal 21, the payout is 1:1.

Hand Who wins?
Dealer busts (hand exceeds 21)Player wins
Player's hand is closest to 21Player wins
Player busts (hand exceeds 21)Dealer wins
Dealer's hand is closest to 21Dealer wins
Hands are equal or a push is achievedNo loss or gain
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