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Blackjack Strategy - Complete Guide

Basic Blackjack Strategy

Most online casinos provide a Blackjack strategy table at their game sites. The basic Blackjack strategy card was devised according to computer simulations and depends on standard mathematical principles.

This provides maximum benefit to players by reducing house edge to just half a percent.

Such Blackjack strategy tables differ slightly from casino to casino according to game rule variations of each casino. Similarly, some casinos have separate basic strategy tables for single and double-deck Blackjack games.

Blackjack Perfect Strategy: does it exist?

The straight answer to this question is a simple ‘no’. Simply because if there was a Blackjack perfect strategy, then the casinos wouldn’t make any money from the game!

No matter what strategy you employ, the casino always has the house edge on its side.

However, that is not to say that there aren’t any strategies worth using. Even basic strategy is useful for maximising your own odds over the course of a session, and there will be days when you get lucky and make those big wins.

Online Blackjack Strategies

blackjack strategy

We can't magically get you this hand every time, so it's important to know what to do when you don't get so lucky!

Blackjack strategy involves learning when you should be taking what action, whether to hit or stand. There are numerous strategies to learn to increase your odds and your knowledge of the game.

Using a Blackjack strategy card is a great way to start. Once you've got that down, more advanced Blackjack strategies will open up to you, such as card counting and Surrender.

Blackjack is easy to pick up, but it also a game with a great amount of depth and variety. It has maintained high levels of interest from casino patrons over the past centuries for this reason. Try out the basic Blackjack strategy today and see the results for yourself!

Blackjack Strategy Card: Blackjack Hands

blackjack hands

No matter which of these you have, the Blackjack strategy card is able to advise you.

Using a Blackjack strategy card is a very popular method of ensuring that you place your bets wisely when playing Blackjack.

The typical Blackjack strategy table you will find throughout the web will attempt to encompass every possible situation in one unwieldy table, but we do things a little differently here at CasinoGuide.

Below we have divided our Blackjack strategy card into three simple sections for your convenience; basic, splitting, and Ace hands. Each Blackjack strategy table has a brief explanation of when you should use it. Try the strategy card out on our free Blackjack game to see how it works!

HHit (take another card)
SStand (keep the cards you have)
DDouble Down (double your bet and take only one more card)
SpSplit (divide two cards of the same value into two hands)

Basic Blackjack Strategy Table

This is intended for Blackjack hands which do not contain an Ace, and are not pairs (meaning they cannot be split).


Splitting Blackjack Strategy Card

Use this table when you are dealt two cards of the same value.


Blackjack Strategy Card: Ace Hands

And finally, we have a chart showing you exactly what you need to do with each card if you are dealt an Ace along with it. For what to do when dealt two Aces, see the splitting table above.

You may notice that 10 is missing from the player card list - if you are dealt a 10 or a picture card with an Ace, you don't need to do anything as you've already won!


Use a Blackjack chart to develop your Blackjack system

The basic Blackjack strategy table (also known as a Blackjack hand chart) of any online casino teaches you how to play your cards against the dealer's cards. It provides you guidance at every round to understand and play the correct moves.

The Blackjack strategy table may seem odd and incomprehensible initially, but with practice you can understand all game nuances and play the game of Blackjack profitably.

Blackjack Betting Strategy

In case you can’t use the card above, here it is in text form:

Hard Hands

Put simply, a Hard Hand in Blackjack is any hand at all that does not contain an Ace. They are so named because, unless your hand total is below 12, you run the risk of a bust by taking a Hit.

Hands totalling below 12 are still technically Hard Hands, but are rarely considered as such because they can be improved by a Hit without risk.

  • Always hit if your card total is eight or below.
  • Double if your card total is nine and dealer has between three and six, otherwise hit.
  • Double if your card total is ten and dealer has between two and nine, otherwise hit.
  • Double if your card total is 11 and dealer has between two to ten, otherwise hit if dealer has Ace.
  • Hit if your card total is eleven and the dealer has between two to ten, otherwise hit if dealer has an Ace.
  • Hit if your card total is twelve and dealer has two or three, stand if dealer has four to six, otherwise go for a hit.
  • Stand if your card total is from 13 to 16 and dealer has from 2 to 6, otherwise hit.
  • Always stand on your card total of 17 to 21.

Soft Hands

A Soft Hand in Blackjack is defined as any two-card hand which contains an Ace. It is so called because the player can take a Hit without risking a bust, owing to the Ace's unique ability to be counted as either 1 or 11.

Regardless of this, it is not always the sensible option to Hit, even when there is no risk involved.

  • Double if your Ace is 2 or 3, and dealer has five or six, otherwise go for a hit.
  • Double if your Ace is 4 or 5, and dealer has between four to six, otherwise hit.
  • Double if you have Ace 6, and dealer has between 3 to 6, otherwise hit.
  • Stand if you have Ace 7 and dealer has two, seven, or eight and double if dealer has between 3 to 6, otherwise hit.
  • Always stand if you have Ace 8 or nine.

Paired Cards

Being dealt a Pair in Blackjack enables you to take advantage of the Blackjack split, a move that you are otherwise unable to make.

Playing a Blackjack split involves separating your pair into two hands, and playing them one at a time. However although tempting, this is not always the smartest course of action.

  • Always split pair of Aces and Eights.
  • Split your pairs of two's and three's if dealer has from 2 to 7, otherwise hit.
  • Split your pair of four's if dealer has from 4 to 5, otherwise hit.
  • Double if you have a pair of fives and dealer has from 2 to 9, otherwise hit.
  • Split your pair of sixes if dealer has between two to six, otherwise hit.
  • Split your pair of sevens if dealer has from 2 to 7, otherwise hit.
  • Split your pair of nines if dealer has from 2 to 6 and 8, or 9. However, stand if dealer has 7, 10, or Ace.

What is Online Blackjack Card Counting?

blackjack card counting the hangover

From 'The Hangover' - Alan counts cards at a Vegas casino.

Card counting or card reading is a strategy used primarily in physical rather than online Blackjack to determine whether the next hand dealt is likely to give an advantage to the player or to the dealer. The name of the game is to decrease the casino house edge by keeping a running tally of all the cards seen by the player throughout the course of the game.

Card counting allows players to bet more with less risk when the count gives an advantage, as well as minimize losses during a poor count. Furthermore, card counting also gives discerning players the opportunity to change their playing decisions based on the remaining cards.

Of course, as easy as this concept may sound to the casual observer, the fact is that card counting takes skill, as well as a great deal of practice, despite what movies such as The Hangover and 21 would appear to demonstrate.

Online Blackjack Card Counting Systems

The truth is that most card counters are not tracking and memorizing cards, but rather assigning a point score to each card which then estimates the value of that same card. What they do keep track of is sum of these values which is also called a ‘running count’.

Indeed, the most common kind of card counting is based on statistical evidence which shows that high cards (especially Aces and tens) are of more benefit to the player than the dealer, while the low cards, (threes, fours, sixes, and especially fives) help the dealer whilst dealing a blow to the player.

Basic Card Counting for Blackjack

In basic card counting, the counter assigns each card with a positive, negative or zero value beforehand. When a card of that value is dealt by the dealer, the count is adjusted by that card’s counting value.

Low cards increase the count as they increase the percentage of high cards in the remaining set of cards, while high cards decrease it for the opposite reason. For instance, the Hi-Lo System subtracts one for each dealt 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace, and adds one for any value from two to six. Cards from 7-9 nine are assigned a value of zero and therefore do not affect the count.

Aces and Tens are the key when card counting in Blackjack

As anyone who plays the game will tell you, a high number of Aces and tens in the deck increases the player's chances of hitting a natural Blackjack which will pay out 3:2 (unless the dealer also has Blackjack).

Low cards are beneficial to the dealer because of the Blackjack rule which states the dealer must hit stiff hands (twelve to sixteen total) while the player has the option to hit or stand.

Thus, a dealer holding 12-16 will bust every time if the next card drawn is a ten – this makes this card indispensable when tracking for the purposes of card counting.

Advanced Card Counting

In order for card counting to be effective, values are assigned which roughly correlate to the particular card's ‘Effect of Removal’. This the actual effect of removing a given card from play, and the subsequent impact on the house advantage. The player is tasked with trying to pre-empt the effect of removal for all the cards dealt whilst assessing the current house advantage based on the remaining cards.

As larger ratios between point values are used to create better correlation to actual ‘Effect of Removal’ with the goal of increasing the efficiency of a system, such systems use a variety of different numbers and are broken into classes such as Level One, Level Two, Level Three, and so on - the levels are chosen depending on the ratio between the highest and lowest assigned point values.

Hi-Lo System of Card Counting

The Hi-Lo System is considered to a Level One count for the simple reason that a running count never increase or decreases by more or less than a single, predetermined value. A Multilevel Count, makes more detailed distinctions between card values to gain greater play accuracy. Rather than all cards having a value of +1, 0, or −1, an advanced count might also include card ranks that are counted as +2 and −2, or +0.5 and -0.5.

Advanced players who are old hands at the game may also manage to maintain a side count (separate count) of specific cards to be deal with circumstances where the best count for betting accuracy differs from the best count for playing accuracy. The disadvantage of higher level counts is that keeping track of a lot of information can inevitably take away from one’s ability to play at a fast and accurate pace.

What is Blackjack Surrender?

blackjack surrender

Surrender is an option that most online Blackjack lacks, but when included, adds an interesting new element to the game.

In Blackjack Surrender one has the option of folding their hand in order to receive half their bet back. Due to the fact that one is opting to fold or surrender, the hand is not played out and the player automatically loses the other half of the bet.

Considered by many to be something of an open secret, the Blackjack Surrender strategy is rarely mentioned on any signs at the table, so you’ll generally have to ask the dealer if the table even provides a Surrender option prior to playing.

There are two types of Blackjack Surrender; Late Surrender and Early Surrender:

  • Late Surrender is the most common, and gives you the option to fold your hand after the dealer checks his ‘hole card’. The problem with this is, if the dealer has Blackjack you will automatically lose the hand and your bet without being given the option to surrender.
  • Early Surrender allows you to fold before the dealer even looks at his ‘hole card’ and therefore affords you an extra advantage.

How to Surrender?

In a physical casino, there are three ways that you can indicate that you would like to Surrender your hand:

  1. Use your finger to draw a horizontal line behind your bet, indicating that the bet is being cut off.
  2. Hold up both hands with your palms facing the dealer.
  3. Simply tell the dealer you wish to Surrender the hand

In an online Blackjack casino, you needn’t worry about all this – the Surrender option should be clearly present in the form of a button on your screen, assuming that it is available at that particular table.

Play Blackjack Surrender Online: When Should I Surrender?

Although many people feel that they should Surrender hands where they are more than 50% likely to lose, the reality is that one shouldn’t Surrender a hand unless they are going to lose more than 75% of the time - as winning 25% of the time and losing 75% of the time makes you lose half your bet on average.

For the sake of providing example though, these are the initial hands you should Surrender if (and only if) you are playing a 6-deck game offering Late Surrender:

  • Hard 15 against a dealer 10
  • Hard 16 against a dealer 9
  • Hard 16 against a dealer 10
  • Hard 16 against a dealer Ace

If you are playing at a table where the dealer hits a soft 17, also Surrender on:

  • Surrender hard 15 against a dealer Ace
  • Surrender (8,8) against a dealer Ace
  • Surrender hard 17 against a dealer Ace

Surrendering has the effect of reducing the house edge by anywhere between 0.07% and 0.09% which means that if you bet £10, you should save about 50p an hour over a long sit down.

For a card counter, Surrender is considerably more valuable for several reasons and, if you manage to find a game that offers Early Surrender, you can gain about ten times more.

With Blackjack Strategy, Win Real Money Today!

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