Optimal Blackjack Strategy
It's very important that you have knowledge about the basic strategies before you start playing. You’ll get that here.
We also provide you with a blackjack strategy chart that tells you what the perfect move is in every possible situation.
Beware of Simple Strategies
You sometimes hear (less competent) blackjack players give advice like: “You should never hit when there’s a risk of going bust” or “I always assume that the dealer has a ten in the hole.”
These simple strategies always raise the house edge.
Say that you follow “the never-hit-when-you-can-go-bust strategy,” then you automatically make a lot of bad decisions.
If you, for instance, have 13 on the first two cards, you should sometimes stand and sometimes hit. It all depends on what the dealer is showing.
If the dealer shows 2 to 6, it’s mathematically correct to stand and give the dealer a chance to exceed 21. But on the other hand, if he shows 7 to Ace, you should hit even though your hand could be cracked right away. Chances are that the dealer will end up between 17 and 21 and you need to improve your hand.
There’s quite a few of these amateurish strategies around.
The only thing you need to remember is: When they go against the basic blackjack strategy, they just do you harm.
What’s The Return on Blackjack?
One factor that has a big effect on your expected value is how much the casino pays for blackjack (when you get an ace and a “10” on the first two cards).
Usually, this pays 3:2, which means that if you bet $10 you’ll get $15 in return.
However, a lot of brick-and-mortar casinos, and even some online casinos, have started paying just 6:5 for blackjack – something that has a huge impact on your winning rate, or perhaps losing rate.
The Las Vegas Sun has an excellent article on the subject in which gambling expert and UNLV professor Bill Thompson gives his opinion on the matter:
"Everybody knows blackjacks pay 3-2. Unless they're giving out free bottles of whiskey to everyone who sits down at the table, I don't know why anybody would play this game."
So before you sit down at a blackjack table, make sure it says “Blackjack pays 3 to 2” on the table layout. If not, choose another game.
Never Take Insurance
We already went through this in the article covering the blackjack rules, but it’s an important rule so here we go again.
When the dealer shows an ace, players have the opportunity to make an insurance side bet. The insurance is half the size of the original wager, and if the dealer has blackjack, it’s paid 2:1.
In consequence, players break even when the dealer gets blackjack.
But as we said, this is a bad deal and you should never consider taking insurance. It’s just bad business. That’s all you need to know.
Can You Count Cards Online?
As all of you probably know, players can get positive expected value in blackjack. If they count cards – and are able to quickly process and use the information about previous cards – they can expect to beat the casino in the long run.
But can you do this in online casinos?
Unfortunately you can’t.
Online, the blackjack deck is “shuffled” between each hand, so there are no previous cards to count. Every deal is an independent event.
And when you think about it, if it was possible to beat the blackjack games online, it would be pretty simple to create a robot that counted the cards and only played when there was positive value in the remaining deck.
Although blackjack has a comparatively low house advantage, casinos don’t offer games where they are expected to lose in the long haul. That’s not the kind of business they run.
Improve the Odds with a Blackjack Bonus
A well proven method for successful online play is to use the basic strategy combined with a blackjack bonus.
When you sign up at a casino and play online you always get a bonus on your first deposit. You might get, say, $100 in bonus when you make a $100 deposit.
This bonus is then released into your real-money account when you’ve reached the required number of played hands.
So for every real-money hand you play you actually work towards the bonus; every hand you play earns you a fraction of the pending bonus.
As a result of this, the house advantage goes down if you play with a blackjack bonus, which you always should when playing online.
Blackjack Strategy Chart
Now to the most important part of this article: How to play perfect blackjack.
In the chart below you’ll find information about what to do and how to play in every situation. Just compare what you have to what the dealer shows and you’ll instantly have the answer whether to stand, hit, split or double down.
Use this and you won’t give the house an unfair advantage.
How to Read the Strategy Chart
H = Hit (take another card)
S = Stand (stay with what you have)
D = Double-down (double your bet and get only one mor card)
P = Split (separate a pair into two individual hands)
If you're unsure of what these options mean, please start with reading the rules of blackjack. Then you can come back, learn the basic strategy and test your skills online.