What Is The Best Strategy For Blackjack?

The ultimate goal in every game is to win and to win big! But this wouldn’t be possible without knowing the rules, and a good strategy.

Blackjack is no exception!

Let’s face it, every blackjack player has countlessly looked for the best and most effective strategies for blackjack.

With experience, you’ll find out losing and winning are possible in any game even when you’ve applied strategy.

With this said, we’ve come up with this Blackjack Strategy Guide to help you maximize winnings, and minimize losses. At the end of the day, we just want you to bring home as much money as possible!

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is also known as twenty-one and pontoon. It’s a gambling card game popular in casinos around the world and online gaming.

In gambling, luck shines on only a few people. But in blackjack, players actually have a fair shot against the house edge, especially for single-deck games.

Blackjack is highly dependent on a strategy based on probability, instead of pure luck. It’s highly advised you master at least the basic blackjack strategy, know the rules, and get a lot of training and practice.

The Goal

Blackjack, in a nutshell, requires you to get a hand value closer to a total 21 outcome, than that of your dealer, without getting over.

You don’t need to worry about what the other players hold. All you have to do is beat the dealer with the best possibility you can get and hope the dealer goes bust.

The Game

You are initially dealt two cards: one face down, and one face up. You decide at that point by counting the amount of the value of the card if you would like another card to get as close to 21.

You either decide to stand or stay.

The next player has the same option and it goes around the table until the dealer’s turn comes up. The dealer has the same option.

All numbered cards are at their face value, an ace at 1 point or 11 points, and face cards at 10 points.

When dealt an ace, you can determine how you would like the value to be used either 1 or 11 by the combination of points from other cards you already hold.

If for example you’re dealt a 6 then turn over an ace, you can use the ace as an 11 point card to make a soft 17, or as a 1 point card to make 7 and have the option to hit again. Just make sure not to bust.

Blackjack Terminology

  1. Blackjack or Natural – when you are dealt a two-card hand consisting of an ace and any 10 point card value.
  2. Hit – to receive another card. You may hit for as long as you have not gone over 21.
  3. Stand – to not take any further cards, end a turn and pass to the next player.
  4. Double Down – to double your bet after seeing your initial cards, with the requirement to draw one more card to end a turn.
  5. Split – the option to bet your original amount again and split a pair of two equal value cards into two separate hands. You’ll get one more card for each, and hit or stand on each hand.
  6. Surrender – the option to forfeit half your bet if you think you can’t beat the dealer.
  7. Soft Hand – a hand containing an ace valued at 11, meaning another card may be taken.
  8. Hard Hand – a hand that does not start with an ace in it, or it has an ace but can only be valued at 1.
  9. Push – when you and the dealer have the same totals. You neither win nor lose your bet.
  10. Take Insurance – a bet offered only when the dealer has an ace. It’s paid when odds are 2 to 1 if the dealer gets a blackjack.
  11. Bust – when you go over 21 and lose. Even the dealer can get busted.

Basic Blackjack Strategies

The basic strategy for blackjack was developed based on a computer simulation.

Through the computer’s several millions of hands played, and through trial and error, it figured out which decisions are best for the player.

These are played either on a single deck or on multiple decks to create the basic strategy. The best decisions for the players are the ones that lose the least amount of money to the casino over time.

If you are familiar with casino games, you will know that the casino has a house advantage which is how they make a profit.

Blackjack is no exemption, but it’s one of the lowest house edge games. This makes it a great game for players to learn, especially on a single deck.

The blackjack basic strategy however does not overcome the totality of the casino’s house edge until we master card counting. But first, here is your blackjack basic strategy:

When to Surrender

If your casino or game offers surrenders, do note this option is only available on the first two cards you’re dealt with.

You won’t be able to surrender if you’ve taken a hit. Basic strategy is to think about a surrender first thing when playing your hand.

If a player’s hand totals 16 and the dealer’s upcard is a 9, 10, or an ace, or if the player holds a 15 while the dealer’s upcard is 10, it is recommended that a player surrenders. If this is not the case, revert to hard totals.

Don’t worry too much about finding a game with the option to surrender. The difference between it and hitting the hands above instead of surrendering is minimal.

When to Split

The second most important basic blackjack strategy is to know what to always split, and in other cases, when to decide whether to split or not.

You only get this option when your first two cards are a pair, or if you have two 10 valued cards, like a jack and a king for example. You can also find blackjack charts helpful for when to split.

Always split

  1. Aces – if you don’t split your aces, it necessitates that one is given a value of 1 and the other 11. This means only a 9 can take you to 21 on your next card. Meanwhile, drawing a 10-valued card would bring you down to 12.
  2. Eights – always split your pair of eights to leave you much wriggle room. If you don’t split them, anything above 5 will bust you.

Never split

  1. Tens – it’s tough for a dealer to beat a strong hand of 20. If you split, you’ll usually end up with less than 20 on both hands.
  2. Fours – you won’t get bust with your next hit with a pair of 4’s. The most decent total you can get is a 19. If you split, only a 5, 6, or 7 can make your hands better than your original pair.
  3. Fives – a pair of 5’s is a great hand and is a good time to double down unless your dealer has a 9, 10, or ace. Splitting will only leave you with a lower value hand, or an increased chance of busting.

Depending on dealer’s up-card

  1. If you have a pair of 2’s, 3’s or 7’s against a dealer’s upcard of 2 to 7, you must split them. This trio of blackjack hands are considered stinkers. Probability dictates splitting will improve your lot.
  2. If you have a pair of 9’s while the dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6, 8 or 9, splitting is a percentage call. Hitting on 18 is tricky yet beatable. Standing isn’t an amazing position either.
  3. If you have a pair of 6’s and the dealer’s upcard is 2 to 6, probability says you are more likely to defeat the dealer with an upcard of this range. Splitting your 6’s would put you in a good position if you could get a ten, against a dealer who could be close to a bust.

When to Double

Double down when your hand is worth 10 or 11, including a hand of 5-5. This basic strategy is worth doubling down in most cases.

Doubling down involves matching your initial bet by placing the chip beside your first bet, in exchange for one additional card.

If you have an ace matched with either a 5, 6, or 7, while the dealer shows a card from 2 to 6, this is a great time to double your bet. A soft 16, soft 17, or soft 18 at this point is a good high hand.

When to Hit or Stand

The basic strategy on hitting and standing in blackjack highly depends on the dealer’s upcard.

You only need to take a hit when you need to improve your hand. You take a stand if you believe your total will beat the dealer’s, or if you believe the dealer will bust.

  1. You should always hit a hard hand of 8 or less. If you get a total of 9 or 10, against the dealer with 3 to 6, and 2 to 9 respectively, make a double. Otherwise, hit.
  2. Stand if you get a hard total of 12 against the dealer with 4 to 6; or if you get a total of 13 to 16 against the dealer with 2 to 6. Otherwise, hit.
  3. In the case of soft totals, always stand if you get a soft 20. Double for a soft 19 against dealer with 6. Double for a soft 18 against the dealer with 2 through 6, hit against 9 through ace. Otherwise, stand.
  4. For a soft 17, double against the dealer with 3 to 6; soft 15 and 16, double against the dealer with 4 to 6; and soft 13 and 14, double against the dealer with 5 to 6. Otherwise, always hit soft 17 or less.
  5. It is also an advisable basic strategy to consider a stand on totals of 17 or more, like a soft 17 (A, 6) and greater. This is because, at this point, there are far too many cards that will bust a 17.

What is a Blackjack Strategy Chart?

Blackjack basic strategy charts are the most popular and effective way to learn basic strategy.

The chart contains rules, guides, and permutations you can use for both online and offline blackjack gaming. If you religiously memorize and follow the basic strategy in the chart, you are applying a mathematically proven system.

This knowledge gives you the benefit to increase your favorable odds and avoid mistakes.

Do take note there are 2 variations of blackjack strategy charts based on rules. These are based on a dealer hitting a soft 17 (Soft 17 Rule), known as an “H17 game” or standing on a soft 17 (General Rule), known as an “S17 game.”

What is the Soft 17 Rule?

Before you start playing, always find out the table’s game rules. Different casinos or blackjack games feature different rules.

Many games also use multiple decks over single deck games in order to discourage card counting. Thus, decreasing your ability to calculate your odds of winning.

Generally, casino rules specify that dealers must draw on “16 or less” and stand on “17 and more”. When the dealer’s 17 contains an ace that is counted as 11, this is known as a soft 17. In some casinos, the rules specify that the dealer hits soft 17 rather than stand.

When the dealer must hit soft 17, he will bust slightly more often compared to standing on 17. He also increases his probability of ending up with totals higher than 17. The net result is an increased house edge of 0.2%.

Your best bet is to not play blackjack in casinos that have the soft 17 rule especially when six decks of cards are used.

If you have no choice, then you should modify your basic strategy and keep a good memory of a strategy chart tailored to the soft 17 rule.

What is House Edge?

The house edge of a standard blackjack game stands around 0.5% using blackjack strategies. No matter the tactics used in playing blackjack, the house edge changes between variants depending on the following:                   

  • The number of decks used
  • Whether the dealers hit soft 17 or stand
  • The presence or lack of the surrender rule
  • If players can double after a split or re-split of hands
  • The rates of blackjack and insurance bet payouts

In summary, a single deck, a dealer standing on a soft 17, available surrender rule, and allowable doubling after splitting increases the possibility of wins.

Advanced Strategies in Blackjack

After basic strategy, it makes sense to level up by learning advanced strategies to increase the chances of winning.

Hi-Low Card Counting System

When you count cards under the Hi-Lo strategy, you tag each card with a value. Cards 2 to 6 are worth 1 point.

Cards 7 to 9 are worth 0 points. The 10 card, face cards, and the aces are worth -1 point each. Keep the total value of all cards on display. The more a face card is left on the deck game, the more likely you make a blackjack while the dealer busts more.

Legality of Card Counting

Card counting is not cheating unless counting devices are used in the game.

Many casinos attempted to question and take legal action against this blackjack strategy. This is mainly because they want to decrease the chances of game winnings for the gambling company to increase profits.

In spite of many efforts, even in Las Vegas, the card counting strategy is still legal.

Insurance Bet

The dealer gives you the option to buy protection in case he (dealer) has a blackjack. Don’t take insurance bets when the dealer upcard is an ace. Yes, even when you are dealt a good hand.

The reason is that the payoff for the insurance bet is less than the odds than that the dealer will have a blackjack. The house edge of insurance is 7.4%. Same goes for the dealer’s side bets that can increase house edge up to 20%!

Betting Systems

A typical card counter-strategy is to place a minimum bet against the table when the deck is still fresh. As the running count increases, like a +4 or higher, the player uses this blackjack strategy by doubling down aggressively.

The higher the running count, you can expect a larger bet placed. When the count drops to less than a zero or the dealer shuffles the deck, it’s a good strategy to go back to minimum bets.

The Martingale Strategy

The Martingale betting strategy is a negative progression. The idea of this strategy comes from the theory that it is impossible to get a negative result indefinitely.

The Martingale strategy states that in the instance of loss, the player must raise the bet, and lower the bet in case of winnings.

There is one very important thing to keep in mind when using this strategy. Don’t go beyond your bankroll account. The common mistake is for players to get greedy especially after a streak of success.

1-3-2-6 Betting Strategy

It’s a positive progression strategy based on the betting pattern 1, 3, 2, then 6 units. This type of blackjack betting strategy is based on the premise that you can win four times in a row. The approach is to increase the betting amount every round you win and cut it when you lose.

With this strategy, you risk a small amount to win a much larger amount, if you complete the betting cycle. You can lose 6 times at the worst level and even on the second bet, and in spite of that, completely cover yourself by winning all 4 bets of the cycle one time.


Blackjack is one of the best gambling games. If you want to take it seriously and win good money, it’s important to learn basic strategy and to know the rules.

With a lot of cards in a deck, the best strategy is to master when to hit, stand, double down, or split. You could easily get started by memorizing basic strategy charts.

If you want to take it to the next level, learn the advanced strategy of counting cards. Knowing when, and how much to bet is also something to be keen on. Like in everything in life, keep things in moderation.

We hope this article containing blackjack rules and basic strategy increased your confidence in playing the game. If you have questions in mind, feel free to leave us a comment below!

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