Blackjack Strategy - How to Play like a Blackjack Pro
From a player's perspective, blackjack is one of the best casino games around. If you follow the basic blackjack strategy, you're able to reduce the house edge to somewhere around 0.5 %.
Someone who plays recklessly, on the other hand, is a huge underdog with a two-digit house advantage.
Blackjack is not like slots or roulette. In blackjack, your decisions really matter.
Unlike most online casino games found in the large and endless ocean of online casinos, Blackjack is one which incorporates both rules and strategy. And I think most of us can agree that it’s Blackjack strategy which makes the game infinitely more interesting than the rest of the Slots games and table games put together.
Now I can make a bet that if you’re new to the game of both chance and strategy or you’ve only played the casino game a mere few times, you’re probably asking yourself two or more questions; 1) ‘What’s the best way to play Blackjack?’ and 2) ‘What type of strategy should I employ?’ Right, aren’t I? Pretty sure I am. I’ve asked those questions myself when I was a mere newbie at playing the casino game. The sad news is that when I initially started to play the casino game I literally had no material and nobody to teach me how to play the game properly by using strategy. However, you do. You’ve got us experts at CasinoToplists to aid you in your quest to play the casino game in the best way to better your chances of beating the dealer at his own game.
Basic Blackjack Strategy was devised to make the lives of players easier when attempting to play the casino game and win the pot. Fundamentally, it is regarded as the optimal way to play the game without risking too much of your bankroll.
The Aim of Using this Strategy
The overall aim of using Basic Blackjack Strategy is to win as often as possible by making the dealer go bust and minimizing the potentiality of losses.
Wondering How & Why it Originated? Here's a spot of Blackjack Strategy History!
Since the 1950’s, many avid Blackjack players have tried to come up with a way to beat the dealer at his own game whilst playing the classic table game. And it’s perhaps thanks to four men who took a profound interest in the game and sought to figure out a Blackjack strategy to use whilst playing the casino game that we lucky blackjack players have a basic Blackjack strategy to follow today. These men were US soldier Roger Baldwin, army sergeant Wilbert Cantey, James McDermott a master’s degree holder from Columbia and Herbert Maisel a professor at Georgetown University. Together the four Blackjack enthusiasts spent about a year and a half making their calculations and came up with basic strategy to go with the game. A few years later, computer simulations were made to test out if their calculations were indeed correct. Since then, this strategy has been simulated thousands upon thousands of times, refined and made better.
Blackjack Strategy Card
The beloved table game, Blackjack, is one which is fundamentally based on probability. That said, whilst playing the game you can be dealt any one of the 340 different hand situations and there’s absolutely no way to control which one you get. Scary, right?
Now although you can’t play god whilst playing this card game to influence which cards are dealt, one of the things you can indeed do is follow our Basic Blackjack strategy chart to help you in determining which moves to make when you’re dealt certain hand situations.
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. Here’s how to read our strategy card below:
H = Hit (take another card)
S = Stand (stay with what you have)
D = Double (double your bet and get only one more card)
S = Split (separate a pair into two individual hands)
If you're unsure of what these options mean, please start with reading our Blackjack rules page. Then you can come back, learn the basic strategy and test your skills online.
The basic strategy chart found above is for blackjack games which have 3 or more decks. Typically, the dealer stands on soft 17. You’re allowed to double on any 2 cards and after splits and a blackjack pays 3:2.
Understanding the difference between a Soft hand & a Hard Hand
When you’re playing Blackjack online, figuring out whether you’ve got a soft hand or a hard hand can help you in determining what move to make. Have a look below to be able to find out the differences:
What's a Hard Hand in Blackjack?
Hard Hand - A ‘Hard Hand’ is one which is made up of two cards one of which is a 10, Ace, King, Jack or Queen and another card that has a value equivalent to 8 or higher.
Take the hand displayed on the left for example. It consists of two high ranking cards; an Ace and a 10. This hand is quite a strong hand (it's quite close to 21). So, you've got a good chance of winning the game.
What's a Soft Hand in Blackjack?
Soft Hand - A ‘Soft Hand’ is a hand that’s made up of two cards one of which is an ace and the other that has a value of 7 or less.
Take the hand displayed on the left for example. This soft hand consists of an Ace and a 4 leaving the player with a score of 14. This hand is quite low and according to Blackjack basic strategy you should hit it in hopes of catching a card which would tally the score to closer to 21.
If you happen to be a newbie at the game of Blackjack or simply don’t have time to memorize our Blackjack strategy card, we urge you to take a look at our Blackjack Strategy Starter Kit below and at least remember these important tips before you head to an online casino in our list and give real money gambling a shot.
1. Stand Pat at 12 provided the dealer’s face up cards is 6, 5 or 4
Provided that you’re playing a Blackjack and you’ve acquired a hand adding up to a total of 12 and your dealer’s face up card are 6, 5 or 4, you should stand pat. When the dealer’s face card is 4/5/6, he’s got a 40% chance of busting. And you’ve got a 60% chance of losing, if you stand. However, assuming you decide to hit instead, you’ll them have a 58% chance of losing and if you do win you’ll win less than you would have with your 12.
2. Only split a pair of 7s provided that the dealer shows a 7 or lower
If the dealer’s face up card is a 7 or less, split your pair to give you a better opportunity to get another count. However, provided that the dealer’s face up card is higher than 8, you should choose to hit instead. If you do so, you might bust but it will also give you the opportunity to increase your overall score for each hand.
3. Avoid taking insurance or even money
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.
4. Split Aces and Eights
Many blackjack veterans will always tell you to split aces and eights, when dealt a pair of each respectively. Here’s why:
Whilst a pair of aces gives a player a starting soft hand of 2 or 12 ( both hand counts are problematic in this case), you’ll always be better off splitting your pair of aces to give yourself the opportunity to hit 21.
When you’re dealt a pair of eights, the overall score of 16 is thought to quite problematic. In fact, many blackjack players will agree that it’s one of the worst hands to have when playing the game. Let’s say your hand consisted of a total score of 16 and your hand was composed of two cards that were a pair of 8s, such as a hard hand made up of a 6 and a 10 card. Which move would you make? It’s rather tricky, right? The move you’d make in this case would be entirely based on the score belonging to the dealer’s face up card. If the dealer’s face up card is lower than 6, you’d stand according to basic Blackjack strategy. Yet, if the dealer’s face up card shows anything above 7, you’d hit instead. With a pair of 8s and a score of 16, your decision is rather easy. All you need to do is split to give you a better chance at acquiring a score of 21 for each hand.
5. Don’t split 10s
If your hand consists of a pair of 10s, you might instinctively opt to split them just because you can. Yet, the question here is should you? Well, our blackjack experts at CasinoToplists recommend that you don’t split 10s. This is due to the fact that a score of 20 is quite a strong hand and your odds of making the dealer go bust are quite high.
6. Hit until 17 or bust, if the dealer shows a 7 or higher
In most cases when playing blackjack, you should hit provided that you’ve acquired a total score of 16 or under. However, if you get a score of 17 when you’re first dealt a pair or after having receiving more than two cards, you should stand. This is simply due to the fact that provided that you’ll probably go bust if you choose to hit rather than stand.
To gain the upper hand in Blackjack, it’s best to know when the odds are against you along with when the odds are in your favor. Luckily for all you Blackjack aficionados out there, Blackjack odds have been studied extensively by the casino game’s veterans. Have a look at the odds below to find out how probable it is to acquire a Blackjack along with the probabilities of winning at hand against the dealer.
Did You know?
Many gamblers who enjoy playing casino games both online as well as offline typically opt to play Blackjack out of all the other casino games because of its favorable house edge. The house edge in Blackjack is approximately 5%. Yet, it can be lowered to 0.5% provided that the player follows basic blackjack strategy.
Probability of Acquiring a Blackjack
Number of Decks
The Probability of Winning in Blackjack with your hand
|20 vs. 8||8:1||88.9|
|20 vs. 6||11:2||84.6|
|19 vs. 7||4:1||80.0|
|16 vs. 10||17:5||77.3|
|16 vs. Ace||16:5||76.2|
|16 vs. 9||15.5:5||75.6|
|15 vs. 10||15.5:5||75.6|
|Ace/7 vs. 10||7:5||55.6|
|18 vs. 2||4:3||55.6|
|Ace/7 vs. 9||5:4||54.5|
|18 vs. 8||6:5||54.5|
|11 vs. 10||6:5||54.5|
|19 vs. 10||7:6||53.8|
|Ace/3 vs. 5||8:7||53.3|
|Ace/2 vs. 5||8:7||53.3|
|Ace/6 vs. 7||10:9||52.6|
|17 vs. 5||11:10||52.4|
Two of the most common questions Blackjack players often ask themselves before playing the game are ‘How much should I bet?’ and ‘How much should my bankroll ideally be when playing the table game?’ Well, to be honest there are no definite answers to this. Of course, you might argue that this game is heavily dependent on strategy. Yet, how much you win is also dependent on luck as well as how long you can last in the game.
Deciding on the Size of Your Blackjack Bankroll
As a rule of thumb when playing any casino game, be it online or offline, the larger your bankroll is the better the possibility of you lasting longer throughout your game of choice and the greater the chance of winning. Now whilst we can’t give you a set-in-stone amount to dedicate to your bankroll, we always endorse that you buy-in using 50 times the minimum bet overall. So, keep in mind that your bankroll should ideally be 50 times the amount of the table’s minimum bet.
For example, let’s say that you decide to play at Blackjack game with a minimum bet of $50. Under our recommendations, you should aim to have a bankroll 50 times its size. Thus, you’ll have to times the minimum bet by 50, like so:
$50 x 50 = $2500
So, in total in this case you should aim to have $2,500 to bet freely with.
On the other hand, if you decide to choose a game with a lower minimum stake like say $20 and times the amount you’re willing to bet by 50, like below:
$20 x 50 = $1000
You’ll just need a bankroll of $1,000.
Obviously, the lower the minimum bet is the lower your total bankroll needs to be and you can always deviate away from our recommendation if you think it’s best for you.
Deciding How Much to Bet
For many gamblers such as yourself, deciding how much to bet is sometimes a complicated decision. Yet, it really needn’t be, especially if you stick to these tips:
3 Tips on Betting in Blackjack
1. Decipher how good or bad your hand is;
2. Consider the odds of busting the dealer;
3. Figure out how much you can afford to lose during a round of a game (we recommend betting about 2%-5% of your bankroll on a single hand).
Now that you've read all about Blackjack strategy, the best thing we can recommend doing is to practice playing before you dive in head first into a real money Blackjack game!
So, head on down to our Free Blackjack game page and start practicing hitting, splitting, standing and doubling in our classic variant of the famous table game. If you're looking for further assistance before you get in on the action at a real money online casino, try out our Blackjack Trainer at CasinoToplists and our Blackjack card counting guide to give help you learn how to get that extra edge over the dealer. Our trainer will guide you into making the right moves when sitting at the Blackjack table. So, you've got nothing to lose, but loads to gain.
Use Blackjack Strategy When Playing for Real Money!
If Blackjack is your game of choice both online as well as at land-based casinos, a little bit of strategy can go a long way. Whilst we will always recommend learning basic blackjack strategy if you’re a newbie, we also recommend learning advanced Blackjack strategy too which can help you better your game in more complex hand situations. Provided that you’d like to play casino games, head to one of the online casinos in our list to get the best blackjack bonus available!