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Home » online casinos » blackjack » strategy
Peter Addison
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Please bear in mind that no matter how far you go to perfect your blackjack strategy, the casino will still retain its edge over you. However, by finding a blackjack optimal strategy, you can shave that edge down and heighten the chances of you hitting a winning streak and coming out on top.

How to Play Blackjack

This is our blackjack strategy guide. If you are new to the game, check out our guide on how to play blackjack.

Why You Should Consider an Advanced Blackjack Strategy

When it all boils down to it, blackjack is another casino game of mathematics. It’s the probability of your hand being the winning hand, dependent upon what the dealer is showing. People with calculators (or abacuses) worked out those probabilities long ago, and have worked out what to do in every eventuality (you’ll find our blackjack strategy card available later on, on this page) dependent on the numbers.

So, if you want to adopt a blackjack best strategy, doing so will give you the best chance of winning each hand. You will not win every hand of course, but by following an advanced blackjack strategy you won’t end up losing hands (and therefore money) that you should not have done so.

An Advanced Strategy for Blackjack: 5 Quick Tips

If you not the kind of person who likes perusing 'hit or stand' charts then don't worry. You can up your blackjack game if you take heed of these five advanced strategy for blackjack tips.

  1. Never Take Insurance

    Insurance is a side bet available when the dealer’s up card is an ace. The payout on (usually) half your bet is (usually) 2/1. A quick bit of math will tell you this is a bad deal. Even if you’ve not been dealt a card worth ten, this means there are 16 cards left in a deck of 49 unseen cards that would give the dealer blackjack. That’s odds of 3/1, and you only get paid 2/1 (and on half your bet, so basically Evens) so even if you’re right, you’re not going to get paid in line with the odds.
  2. Six Is Your Lucky Number

    Aside from being dealt Blackjack, the next best position in blackjack is the dealer’s up card being a six. This is the worst position for the dealer, and the best position for you no matter the value of your own hand. If the dealer is showing a six, you should only hit if the total of your current hand is less than nine. Just sit back and watch the dealer bust.
  3. Double, Double, Toil And (No) Trouble

    ALWAYS double on eleven unless the dealer is showing an ace. Don’t even think about it. The same (almost) with ten – always double unless the dealer is showing an ace or any card worth ten. Also (if you can remember) double on nine (if you can) if the dealer is showing three, four, five or six.
  4. The Less Decks The Better

    Casinos are sneaky. They shuffle together a number of decks and shove them into a shoe. The more decks in that shoe, the greater the casino edge – it’s a hard and fast rule. It’s just the same no matter if you play at online casinos or not. Try and find a blackjack variant with as few decks as possible, ideally, one.
  5. Know When To Split

    When you are dealt a pair, the tendency is to always want to split. Two hands are better than one, surely? Well, that’s not exactly a hard and fast rule. For example you should never split 10s or face cards. You should double down on a pair of fives unless the dealer is showing a ten or an ace. You should split most other pairs most of the time, but you should always split aces and eights.

Blackjack Strategy Table

Here is our blackjack basic strategy table. It will serve you well as a blackjack strategy card for most forms of blackjack. You will be able to find detailed winning blackjack strategy cards for precise versions of blackjack elsewhere, but this blackjack strategy table will work for any variant.

Your Hand Dealer’s Hand
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
5 to 8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D D
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H Su H
16 S S S S S H H Su Su Su
17+ S S S S S S S S S S
A, 2 H H H D D H H H H H
A, 3 H H H 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 DS DS DS DS S S H H H
A, 8+ S S S S D S S S S S
2, 2 SpD SpD Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H
3, 3 SpD SpD Sp Sp Sp Sp H H H H
4, 4 H H H SpD SpD H H H H H
5, 5 D D D D D D D D H H
6, 6 SpD 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
A, A Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp Sp

KEY

H – Hit; S – Stand; Sp – Split; D – Double Down (if not possible, hit); DS – Double Down (if not possible, stand); SpD – Split if double down after split allowed, else hit; Su – Surrender if possible, else hit.

How to Play Hard Hands

A hard hand is any hand that has only one value. For example, 89 can only have a value of 17; A4J only have a value of 15 (if the cards were dealt in that order). If you don’t want to memorise the blackjack basic strategy table above, then instead remember these sure hard hand rules:

  • Always hit to eleven unless you can double
  • Hit 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 if the dealer’s up card is 7 or higher. Stand if the dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 unless your total is 12 in which case only hit if the dealer’s up card is a 2 or 3.
  • Always stand on anything 17 or over, no matter the dealer’s up card.
  • Double (if you can) on 9 or 10 if the dealer’s up card is 4, 5 or 6. Always double on 11.

Blackjack Strategy Chart Hard Hands

How to Play Soft Hands

A soft hand is one that contains an ace, and so can be one of two values. For example, A5 can be six or sixteen. You should always stand on a soft 18 or more unless the dealer is showing any card worth 9, 10 or an ace, but decision-making otherwise depends on a number of factors as listed below:

  • Hit on soft 13/14 unless the dealer is showing a 5 or 6.
  • Hit on soft 15/16 unless the dealer is showing a 4, 5 or 6.
  • Hit on soft 17 unless the dealer is showing a 3, 4, 5 or 6
  • Hit on soft 18 if the dealer shows 9, any 10 or an ace.

Blackjack Strategy Chart Soft Hands

When to Double Down

Knowing when to double down is a key part of any winning blackjack strategy. You already have a great advantage if you are in a position to double down, and you can double your bet too! Here is when you should double down:

  • Always double down on 11
  • Double down on 10 if the dealer is showing 2 to 9
  • Double down on 9 if the dealer is showing 3, 4, 5 or  6
  • Double down on soft 13/14 if the dealer is showing 5 or 6
  • Double down on soft 15/16 if the dealer is showing 4, 5 or 6
  • Double down on soft 17/18 if the dealer is showing 3, 4, 5 or 6
  • Double down on soft 19 if the dealer is showing a 6

When to Split – How to Play Pairs

Knowing when to split is another key aspect of playing blackjack. Fortunately it is not hard to remember when you should split, and when you should not. Never split totals of twenty. Always split aces and 8s. Never split 5s – double down unless the dealer is showing a 10 card or an ace. For the rest of the splitting rules, consult the blackjack strategy table above.

Blackjack Strategy Chart Pairs

When to Surrender

Not all blackjack variants have the surrender option, but if you are playing a version that does, make sure you take advantage of it. There are many bad hands in blackjack, so if you are dealt one (and the dealer has a good up card) you can cut your losses and get back half your stake instead of losing all it.

Here is when to surrender:

On a hard 15, surrender if the dealer’s up card is worth 10.

  • On a hard 16, surrender if the dealer’s up card is worth 10 or is an ace.
  • On a pair of sevens, surrender against the dealer’s ace.

Does the Perfect Blackjack Strategy Exist?

In short, yes it does. Blackjack is a game of fixed probabilities. Your hand has a value (no matter how many cards it has) and the dealer’s hand will have a value (even though only one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face up). Mathematical bods have worked out the best play for all situations, no matter the rules that are in force.

However, there is one aspect of blackjack play that you should remember:

Even with blackjack perfect strategy, the house still retains the edge over you.

Casinos would not offer blackjack if it was easily defeated, after all. Playing blackjack optimal strategy simply lowers the casino’s edge until it is small as it can possibly be.

Counting Cards in Blackjack

The only surefire way of winning at blackjack is to count cards. This is where you monitor a multideck shoe to see how many tens and aces are being dealt. Obviously, if the shoe has a spell of dealing cards under ten then more cards over ten are likely to come in the near future (and vice versa), so you can adjust your bet size and strategy accordingly to take advantage of this.

How to play blackjack - a guide to the rules

Now … here’s the bad news – you cannot card count when playing blackjack at online casinos. With RNG blackjack, the cards dealt are purely random on each and every deal. It’s almost as if, after every hand, the entire deck or shoe is reshuffled. Because of this, card counting does not work.

As for live casino play, card counting doesn’t work either. This is because during each deal, a few cards are dealt unseen and are discarded. As you cannot monitor the ‘heat’ of a deck because of this, card counting at online casinos simply does not work.

FAQs

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Peter Addison

A vastly experienced sports betting specialist, Peter joined SafeBettingSites in 2021 as a sports editor. Peter has been focusing on the iGaming realm since 2013, and had written millions of words on all aspects of online casino play and sports betting since then. His articles have been featured in numerous high-profile online publications. When not writing, Peter can be found playing his electric guitar. He is such a talented guitarist that his next-door neighbours often join in, adding percussion by banging loudly on the walls.

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