Basic Blackjack Strategy

Also known as 21. The game has simple rules, exciting gameplay, and significant strategy potential. In truth, the experienced player who mathematically plays a perfect game and can count cards has a chance to win.

The casino odds are less for the casual player who plays a decent game, making Blackjack one of the most appealing casino games for the player. While the popularity of Blackjack extends back to WWI, its origins in France stretch back to the 1760s (French for 21). Blackjack is becoming the most popular card game in American casinos. It has slightly modified rules as a popular home game. The casino’s house is the dealer (a “permanent bank”). In a casino, the dealer stands and the players sit. The dealer is in charge of everything from shuffling and dealing cards to taking all bets. In the home game, any player might be the dealer (a “changing bank”).


The usual 52-card pack is utilised, however most casinos mix several decks. The most common is six-deck (312 cards). A blank plastic card is also used by the dealer to signal when the cards need to be reshuffled. Four or more decks are dealt from a shoe (a box that allows the dealer to remove cards one at a time, face down, without actually holding one or more packs).


Each player tries to beat the dealer by reaching as near to 21 as possible without exceeding it.


Each player decides whether an ace is worth 1 or 11. The face cards are 10 and the rest are pip.


Each participant places a chip bet in the allocated spot before the deal begins. The betting limits range from $2 to $500.


The dealer meticulously shuffles the pack until all cards are jumbled. As a result of this, the dealer chooses one player to cut, and the last 60 to 75 cards are discarded. (Not dealing to the bottom of all cards makes professional card counters work harder.)


After everyone has placed their wagers, the dealer deals one card face up to each player in turn, then one to themselves. The players are dealt another round of cards face up, while the dealer gets two cards face down. So, each player gets two cards face up, except the dealer, who gets one face up and one face down. (In certain games with only one deck, the players get to keep their cards. Today, almost all Blackjack games deal players’ cards face up, with no touching allowed.)


A natural or “blackjack” is when a player’s first two cards are an ace and a “ten-card” (a picture card or 10). If a player has a natural and the dealer does not, the dealer pays that player 1.5 times their bet. If the dealer has a natural, all other players’ wagers are collected (but no additional amount). If the dealer and another player both have naturals, the player’s stake is a tie and he loses his chips.

If the dealer’s up card is a ten or an ace, they check their down card for a natural. They don’t look at the face-down card unless the dealer is playing.


It is up to the left player to “stand” (not ask for another card) or “hit” (ask for another card in an attempt to get closer to a count of 21, or even hit 21 exactly). A player may either stand on the two cards originally dealt, or ask the dealer for more cards one at a time, until they decide to stand on the total (if under 21), or go “bust” (if it is over 21). In this situation, the player loses and the dealer wins. The dealer then serves the person to their left.

A soft hand is one in which the player can count the ace as a 1 or 11 and choose whether or not to draw cards. A “soft 17” (an ace and a 6) totals 7 or 17. A count of 17 is a solid hand, but the player may want to draw for more. Assuming the draw yields a bust hand by counting the ace as an 11, the player simply stands or “hits” the ace (asking the dealer for additional cards, one at a time).


After serving each player, the dealer’s face-down card is revealed. If the total is 17, it stands. They must take a card if the total is 16. The dealer must keep taking cards until the total reaches 17 or greater. As long as the dealer possesses an ace, calculating it as 11 will boost the total to 17 or higher (but not above 21). The dealer’s actions are thus predetermined, whereas the player can always choose to take one or more cards.


“Hit” or “Come here!” are common ways for players to signal for a card when it is their turn. The player can stand by moving their hand sideways, palm down, and just above the table.


If a player’s first two cards of the same value, such as two jacks or two sixes, they can treat them as two independent hands. The original wager goes on one card, and an equal amount goes on the other. The player initially plays their left hand by standing or hitting once, then plays their right hand. The dealer then settles each hand on its own merits. A player who has two aces gets one card for each ace and cannot draw again. Also, if one of these aces gets a ten-card, the payout is the stake (not one and one-half to one, as with a blackjack at any other time).


The player can also double their bet if the first two cards dealt total 9, 10, or 11. It is the player’s turn to wager. The dealer delivers the player one card, which is kept face down until the bets are settled. Players can split a pair, double down, or play the hand as usual with two fives. The dealer cannot split or double down.


An ace is dealt to the dealer, and any player may wager up to half of the original bet that the dealer’s face-down card is a 10, meaning the house has blackjack. The dealer then examines the hole card. If it’s a ten, the insurance bet wins and pays out twice the value of the half-bet. Assuming the dealer has blackjack, the hand is ended and the players’ primary bets are collected. Insurance is never a wise idea for the player unless they are certain that there are an unusually large number of ten-cards remaining.


Payed-and-collected bets are non The dealer benefits from the player going first. Even if the dealer also goes bust, the player loses their bet. If the dealer goes over 21, he compensates each player who has stood their wager. If the dealer has a total of 21 or less, he pays the bets of players with higher totals and collects the bets of players with lower totals. If a player has the same total as the dealer, no chips are handed out.


On winning, the dealer collects each player’s cards and sets them face up on a clear plastic L-shaped shield. The dealer keeps dealing from the shoe until he reaches the plastic insert card, signalling a reshuffle. After that, the dealer shuffles the cards, prepares them for the cut, and puts them in the shoe.


Winning Blackjack strategies always consider the dealer’s upcard when playing each hand. When the dealer’s upcard is a good 7, 8, 9, 10-card, or ace, the player should keep drawing until the total reaches 17. When the dealer’s upcard is a 4, 5, or 6, the player should cease drawing when he reaches 12. The technique is to never take a card if you’re going bankrupt. The goal is to let the dealer hit and perhaps go above 21. Finally, if the dealer’s up card is 2 or 3, the player should hit 13 or higher.

With a delicate hand, keep striking until you reach 18. With an ace and a six (7 or 17), the player would hit.

The basic strategy is as follows: With 11, always double down. Unless the dealer shows a ten-card or an ace, he should double down. If the dealer’s card is fair or terrible, the player should double down (2 through 6).

Identical ten-cards should not be divided, nor should a pair of 5s, as two 5s add up to 10, which can be used more efficiently in doubling down. A pair of 4s should also not be split, as 8 is a nice number to draw. Unless the dealer has an 8, 9, 10, or ace, 2s, 3s, or 7s can be split. Finally, only split 6s if the dealer’s card is bad (2 through 6).