Basic Blackjack Strategy

One of the reasons why Blackjack is so popular and is considered to be one of the most exciting casino games is the fact that the decisions that the player makes can influence the outcome of the game. Sure, it takes luck, but Blackjack isn’t all about luck. If you play smart and make decisions based on strategic calculations, you can increase your chances of winning significantly, in fact, with certain strategies the players are even able to turn the odds in their favour.

Why We Need a Basic Strategy

The point of a Blackjack strategy is to tell players what decision they should make in which situation and under which circumstances. A good strategy, if memorised and applied properly can tell you what should be your next move in each and every situation, thus improving your chances of winning. No strategy can guarantee a win in every situation, that’s simply not possible, because there are other factors.

The most important thing when applying a strategy is to stick to it, regardless whether your gut feeling tells otherwise. There’s no room for intuitions, gut feelings, your decision-making must be based on the strategy, i.e. on statistics and maths. So, if your strategy tells you to hit at a given situation, you should always hit, even if that situation happened 5 times in the last 10 hands and you lost five times. You should always follow the strategy, because the strategy gives you the best statistical chance of winning. You might still lose, of course.

How Basic Strategy Works

The basic strategy is the strategy that would work in most cases, but it should be noted that a strategy can be adjusted depending on the rules. If we assume a standard six-deck game where doubling down is allowed and so is doubling after splitting pairs and the dealer stands on soft 17, then the strategy should be the following.

You should always stand on soft 20 and soft 19, regardless what the dealer has. For other ‘soft combinations’ it depends on what the dealer has. You should hit when the dealer has a 9, a 10 or an ace, regardless whether you have a soft 18 or a soft 13. If the dealer has a 5 or a 6, and you have any combination between soft 13 and soft 18 you should always double down, whenever it is possible, but you should stand on soft 18 when doubling down isn’t possible.

The soft combinations may be the trickiest, but there are also rules regarding ‘hard pairs’. You should always stand on 13, 14, 15 and 16 when the dealer has 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and always hit in all other occasions, i.e. when s/he has 7, 8, 9, 10 or an ace. You should always stand on 17 and always hit on 8 or lower.

Memorising the Basic Strategy

For some players it is easier to memorise the basic strategy as a chart, whereas others find it simpler to memorise a set of written rules. Either way, it is always easier to memories general rules like ‘always stand on 17’, so try learning those first, before going on to the more complex ones.