Strategy for Blackjack

Strategy for Blackjack Table of Contents

Most casino games require only luck which is the thing that makes gambling such a risky activity. What sets blackjack apart from the rest of the casino games, is the fact that it requires both skills and luck. If players implement a reliable plan, they can significantly improve their chances of winning. Following a strategy is a must, if they want to become consistent winners in the long term and retain their profit.

Throughout the years, a number of efficient strategies have been created thanks to which it is possible to decrease the house edge greatly. Most of them suggest the best move in a certain situation, depending on the cards in the players’ hand. Nowadays, many proficient players apply the basic strategy in an attempt to change the odds in their favor.

Basic Strategy Overview

Basic Strategy OverviewOne of the most popular strategies in blackjack is the basic strategy. It is used by a number of players as it has proven to be highly effective. It serves as a guide as it suggests the most efficient move in a particular situation, taking into account the up card of the dealer and the total of the players’ hand. In order to manage to apply the basic strategy correctly, it is essential to be familiar with the fundamental rules of the game. Many players lack important knowledge about basic terms such as soft and hard hands which deprives them of the chance to understand the game properly.

The basic strategy is invented by the computer expert Julian Braun which is the reason why it is so accurate and efficient. Thanks to it, it is possible to decrease the house edge and gain advantage over the casino. It provides valuable information about some of the most difficult situations and how to cope with them. The basic strategy is the perfect solution for players who wish to improve their game and take their skills to the next level.

If they often find themselves puzzled whether they should hit, stand, split or double down, then it is time to have a look at the basic strategy chart. It has many different variations, each one attempting to provide the most accurate solution for a certain hand. In order to apply it correctly, players should stick to it throughout the game as otherwise, they won’t achieve the desired result.

The basic strategy provides players with valuable information about the best possible move in a certain situation and therefore, in order to be able to apply it correctly, they should get familiar with the hands that occur the most. By doing so, they will be prepared in advance and will be able to successfully handle them when needed. Blackjack is a card game that is usually played with 6 or 8 decks and thus, tons of combinations can be formed. This is the reason why it is best to learn them beforehand in order to be able to act adequately.

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It should be noted that the basic strategy aims at helping players decrease the house edge, meaning that with it, they won’t inevitably win all of the time.

When to Split Pairs

Getting two matching cards is a situation that will inevitably occur at some point during the game. In such cases, many players often act impulsively as they adhere to the popular belief that pairs should be always split, regardless of the cards, composing them. However, this is not always the case as there are some situations in which it is better to avoid this move and keep the pair whole instead. Moreover, if players don’t follow a reliable strategy, they are bound to lose money in the long term no matter what they do. Let’s have a look at all of the possible pairs that can be dealt and determine the best move for them, taking into account the players’ hand and the dealer’s up car.

Blackjack Player Move Splitting

Let’s start with the situation when players have a pair of 8’s as this is the only combination that requires splitting in any case, regardless of the up card of the dealer. The reason why is that 8 is considered to be a strong value for forming a new hand as it has moderately good chances of making a decent total. In contrast to a pair of 8’s, when players have a pair of 5’s, it is recommended to never split it, no matter what the dealer shows as an up card. Instead, it is best to double down when the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7 and hit in case he has 8 through Ace. The same goes for a pair of 10’s, players should avoid splitting as it is best to stand instead, regardless of the up card of the dealer. The reason why is that any other move would most likely place them in a more unfavourable situation.

If players have a pair of Aces and the up card of the dealer is 2 through 8, they should split. In case they have a pair of 2’s, 3’s or 7’s, it is advisable to split when the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7. When it comes to a pair of 4’s, players should perform this move only if the dealer has a 5 or 6. If they have a pair of 6’s, they should split if the dealer’s up card is 2 through 6. If the dealer’s up card is any different than the above-mentioned examples, players should hit. If they have a pair of 9’s, it is best to always split, unless the dealer has a 7, 10 or an Ace.

Strategy for Splitting Pairs in Blackjack
Pairs in Player’s Hand The up card of the dealer
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
A-A SP SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H
2-2 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
3-3 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
4-4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D H H H H
6-6 SP SP SP SP SP H H H H H
7-7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
8-8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9-9 SP SP SP SP SP S SP SP S S
10-10 S S S S S S S S S S

When to Double Down

In general, it is recommended to always double down if the dealer is in an unfavorable position as this is the time when players have the highest chances of winning. This way, they will increase their initial bet twice as much and compensate for their previous losses. Doubling down can be very beneficial, however only on the condition that this move is used properly. It is worth mentioning that in some casinos, it is possible to bet less than the original wager when doubling down. However, such a move is considered to be unfavorable for the players and therefore, it is best to avoid it. Let’s have a look at some of the situations in which it is best to double down:

  • If players’ hand is either 8 or A-2 and the dealer’s up card is 5 or 6
  • If players have 9, A-6 or A-7 and the up card of the dealer is 3 through 6
  • If players’ hand totals 10 and the dealer’s up card is 2 through 7
  • If players’ hand is 11 and the up card of the dealer is 2 through 8
  • If players have A-2 and the dealer shows 5 or 6
  • If players’ hand is A-3, A-4 or A-5 and the up card of the dealer is 4, 5 or 6

The reason why it’s best to double down in the above-mentioned cases, is that the dealer is in a weak position and thus, players should make the most of these situations. When it comes to the rest of the available combinations in these cases, players should hit. The only exception is when the player’s hand is A-7 as in these situations it is best to stand if the dealer has a 2 or 7 through Ace.

Strategy for doubling down in Blackjack
Player’s Total The up card of the dealer
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D H H H H
11 D D D D D D D H H H
A-2 H H H D D H H H H H
A-3 H H D D D H H H H H
A-4 H H D D D H H H H H
A-5 H H D D D H H H H H
A-6 H D D D D H H H H H
A-7 S D D D D S S H H H

When to Surrender

This move can be extremely beneficial only on the condition that players know when to use it. In general, it is best to surrender if they are certain that they will lose. For instance, if players have a hand that totals 16 and the dealer shows a King, their chances of winning are very low and therefore, surrender is their best option. This way, they will retain half of their bet which they were bound to lose otherwise. This move is often disliked by many players as it deprives them of the chance to play their hand. However, the odds they have in certain situations are fixed and they cannot do much to improve them. It is worth noting that many casinos don’t offer this move as it has proven to be very beneficial for the players and this is the reason why it is best to double check in advance whether it is available or not.

Blackjack Player Move Surrender

Another Popular Blackjack Strategy

Another extremely widespread strategy is the card counting one. This strategy is considered to be more advanced and this is the reason why it is used predominantly by seasoned players who already know the basic strategy backwards and forwards. Card counting gives gamblers the opportunity to keep track of the cards on the table and this way determine the ratio between the high value and low value ones. If applied along with the basic strategy, card counting can be extremely accurate and beneficial as thanks to it, it is possible to predict to a huge extent the upcoming cards.

Thanks to the card counting systems, players can make better betting choices and moves as they will have a general idea about the remaining cards in the deck. Throughout the years, many card counting systems have been developed in an attempt to help players increase their chance of winning. All of them operate on the same principle – they assign particular point values of the cards which makes the card counting process efficient. Some of the most famous card counting systems are Hi-Lo System, Wong Halves System, Zen Count System, Omega II System and others.

Valuable Tips

Blackjack Table and ChipsIn order to become consistent winners and manage to fully enjoy blackjack, players need to learn a reliable strategy. The basic strategy, combined with a card counting system can really work wonders and reduce the house edge significantly. The average winning hand in blackjack is 18.5 which means that players have real chances of winning even if they don’t reach 21. They compete against the dealer and therefore, they should always take into account his up card. All of their decisions should be based on the total value of their hand as well as the dealer’s up card. If players take their time to learn the basic strategy, they will be able to make better betting choices and win more.

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Besides a basic strategy, it is also essential to have money management skills and discipline as without them it is not possible to retain any winnings.

Conclusion

Blackjack is a game of skills and luck which gives players the chance to improve their game by implementing an efficient plan. Such a valuable opportunity is not to be wasted as not many other casino games offer it. The basic strategy doesn’t guarantee that players will win every single hand, however it gives them much better chances of doing so. Thanks to it, they can make wiser choices for their hand and improve their game greatly. This strategy is used by hundreds of players worldwide which is a clear indicator that it is worthwhile.