The Basic Rules of Blackjack Strategy
Whether you’re playing blackjack at a real table in Las Vegas or in an online casino, the rules are the same. Blackjack hands are scored by point total, and the highest hand wins as long as their total isn’t over 21. Any total over 21 points is called a bust.
Cards 2 through 10 are face value for points, while the jack, queen, and king are worth 10 points a piece. The ace is worth 11, unless the player is about to go over 21 points, then it becomes just 1 point. You may hear the term soft hand, which refers to a player’s hand that has an ace worth 11 points. Soft hands cannot be busted when the player draws another card.
Basic Rules Continued
The ultimate goal is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a higher hand that doesn’t bust. The player loses if they bust, even if the dealer also busts, because the dealer is always favored. When both the blackjack player and dealer have the same point value, it’s called a push, and neither wins. Each player at the blackjack table plays an independent game with the dealer too.
The dealer will use a number of decks to draw cards from during the round. After the initial bet is placed, the dealer will hand out 2 cards to each player, including themselves. Players’ cards will all be face down, but the dealer will have one card face up. Basic play is as follows; if the dealer has blackjack and the player doesn’t, the dealer wins, and vice versa. It’s a push if both have blackjack. If neither has 21 points, they play out their separate hands one at a time. Once the dealer finishes their hand, the game is over.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
Now that you understand the rules of blackjack, it’s time to learn basic blackjack strategy. Learning how and when to hit, stand, split, and double down your hand is a must when learning basic strategy.
When Should You Hit In A Blackjack Game?
A hit when you play blackjack is when you take another card. That’s easy enough, but when is it a good time to hit? You should consider a hit when your cards add up to 11 points or less. At that point, no card will get you to 21, meaning there’s no risk in taking another card.
When the dealer shows seven points or higher, consider hitting as well. You can really continue to hit until you have 17 points or more. Having 17 points in your hand with an ace that’s worth 11 points is called a soft 17. A soft 17 in your hand is always a time when you should continue to hit because that Ace can’t be busted — this is also most often a casino’s hit total, meaning the dealer stands on soft 17 too.
When Should You Stand In A Blackjack Game?
Standing is an important aspect of basic blackjack strategy. A good time to stand is if your hand is 17 points or more. It’s unlikely you’ll draw the small card you need. Even if the dealer is showing a face or ace card, the odds are best for you to stand.
You should also stand when you have 12 or higher, and the dealer is showing a five or six. Six is the worst card for a dealer as it makes it easiest for them to bust if the dealer hits.
However, it’s important that a player never stands on soft 17. As mentioned previously, that Ace can’t be busted, so standing on a soft 17 is just a poor blackjack strategy.
What Is Splitting In Basic Blackjack Strategy?
This is an option you’ll have when the cards in your hand are a pair, such as two fives or two nines. When you split, it means you turn each card into their own separate hand, and you’ll need to place a second bet equal to the original bet on that new hand. You’ll then play both these hands until you bust or win. The best rule to live by for splitting is “always split aces and eights.”
When Should You Double Down In Blackjack Games?
When you double down in the game of blackjack, it doubles your initial bet on the two original cards in your hand. You then receive only one more card; if you win blackjack, you win twice the original bet.
You should consider this when your two cards equal 10 or 11; that way, if the next card is a face or 10, your total will become 20 0r 21. If the dealer is showing a card like a 6, it’s also in your favor to double down in case they bust.
What Is An Insurance Bet?
Basic betting strategy shows one thing for sure when you play blackjack; you shouldn’t take an insurance bet. This insurance bet is essentially an additional bet that the dealer has blackjack. You’ll end up paying more to pay the insurance back than you’ll win from the bet. If you’re concerned about winning, the house edge in Las Vegas is .50, making it some of the best table odds for players.
Blackjack Strategy Charts
When you’re looking for extra help in perfecting your blackjack strategies, a basic blackjack strategy chart can be found online and printed, or you may be able to find them in casino gift shops. Basic strategy charts are often split into the best blackjack strategies for soft hands, hard hands, for splitting pairs, and for both a single-deck game or multi-deck game.
A basic strategy chart is going to show the different combinations a player’s hand can hold, and the dealer’s up card. Where these two cross on the chart, it will mark to hit, stand, split, or double down. Some people will memorize these charts, but it’s actually legal to print out this “cheat sheet” and bring it right to the blackjack table with you, which will help greatly.
Strategy To Play Blackjack With Multiple Decks
This game is one based on mathematics, and having a good understanding of blackjack strategies along with statistical probabilities can help you be successful and make more money the next time you play blackjack.
Changes to a multiple deck game versus a single deck game are very minimal, and for most players, the same blackjack strategy will be used. A single deck game is more favorable for the player, whereas a multiple deck game gives the house advantage. There are typically only a few hands you should play differently in a multi deck game, and essentially, it’s the same game.
In a Hard 11 vs Ace situation, you’ll want to hit instead of doubling down. Hard 9 versus a 2, you’ll want to hit. A hard 8 against a 5 or 6, you’ll want to hit in multi deck games. The exception is 4-4, where you’ll want to split, but otherwise, hit with multiple decks.
Other Blackjack Strategies
Blackjack charts can be helpful for those just learning or getting started in blackjack. But the perfect blackjack strategy will help you win more money.
Card Counting Strategy
While this strategy seems like it should be illegal, counting cards is perfectly legal as long as no outside card counters are used. Casinos don’t like card counters because they beat the system.
However, this blackjack strategy helps the player to improve their odds as it can be used to determine if the player or dealer has the advantage in the next draw. Players who count cards will keep a running total of the high and low value cards that have been dealt.
This will be a more complicated strategy to use in a double deck game as compared to a single deck game, as there are more cards to keep up with. Counting cards will take lots of practice, but once perfected can help you beat the house edge at the blackjack tables.