You mastered the basic blackjack strategy, but what’s next? Here’s a short introduction to the strategy needed to step up your game.
Starting to get into blackjack? If so, a word of advice: winning is a lot easier if you have a blackjack strategy in place.
Now, this doesn’t mean that implementing a strategy will give you an edge over the house. That said, it does improve your chances. By following a simple set of rules, you can reduce the house edge from 4% to about 0.5-1%.
Pretty decent odds, right? Here’s how to make them work in your favor.
First, let’s go over what a basic blackjack strategy entails. In simple terms, this refers to the mathematically correct way to play each hand.
The good news is that blackjack doesn’t have that much variety. You can get the following hands: nine pairs, seven “soft” hands, and nine “hard” hands. The key is to learn how to play these hands against the dealer’s ten possible up-cards.
If you get a pair, you can decide to split it. The rules for splitting are simple: always split aces and eights, and never split fours, fives, and tens. If the dealer has a 2-6 up-card, split any other pairs.
In blackjack, hard hands are hands with no aces or hands where aces need to count as one to avoid busting. Here’s how to play specific totals.
• Always stand if your hard total is 17 or more.
• Always hit if your hard total is 8 is less.
• Always double down if your hard total is 10 or 11.
• If your hard total is 9, double down if the dealer has a 2-6 up-card. Otherwise, you should hit.
• If your hard total is between 12 and 16, stand if the dealer has a 2-6 up-card. Otherwise, you should hit.
Soft hands are any hands where the ace can count as both one and 11. In general, a soft hand allows you to play more aggressively.
• Always hit if your soft total is 15 or less.
• Always stand if your soft total is 19 or more.
• If your soft total is 17 or 18, double down if the dealer has a 2-6 up-card. If the dealer shows a 7 or higher, you should hit.
Other than knowing how to play your hands, there are few other considerations to keep in mind. These include side bets, insurance, and surrenders.
Blackjack side bets are a good way to make some extra profit. They involve predicting which cards you or the dealer will receive. They’re usually based on chance rather than skill, though there are ways to increase your odds.
Insurance is a type of side bet that protects you from a dealer blackjack. If you’re using the basic strategy described above, you’ll never need insurance.
Finally, keep in mind that blackjack allows you to surrender. This means you’ll give up half of your bet and keep the other half. The only time you should surrender is if you have a hard total of 16 when the dealer has a 10 showing.
More on Blackjack Strategy
As you can see, blackjack strategy is all about memorizing patterns. With the above guidelines, you’ll know the correct play in every situation. The rest is up to you and your willingness to get better at the game.
Want to know more about the game of blackjack? Interested in the benefits of getting acquainted with how games work? Take a look at our “Game Learning” section!