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Basic blackjack strategy

Winning at blackjack depends on luck as much as on applying a correct and effective basic blackjack strategy. Basic blackjack strategy is actually the mathematically calculated combination of all possible players' decisions during the game depending on the total value of the player's hand and on the dealer's face-up (visible) card. It means that basic blackjack strategy is total-dependent, compared to the composition-dependent strategy that deals with the composition of each hand. While you have learnt the basic blackjack strategy and ready to play This would be a good choice to start with.

Strategy charts

It is most convenient to learn basic blackjack strategy through using a simple blackjack strategy chart. These charts are composed to define every possible step of the player during the game, regarding the player's current hand value and the dealer's face-up card. There are different strategy charts for different hand combinations:

  • Soft Totals strategy charts define basic blackjack strategy for Soft hands - hands that contain an Ace that is counted 11. This makes it much less likely to bust with a Soft hand, as you are able to count an Ace as 1. But as soon as the hand combination requires that an Ace should be counted 1, the hand becomes hard and is played according to the Hard Hand strategy.
  • Hard Totals strategy charts help players make decisions when they get Hard hands - hands that do not contain an Ace or where an Ace is counted as 1. There are favorable Hard hands, like the ones that give an opportunity to go Double - Hard 9, Hard 10 and hard 11, and unfavorable ones, like "stiff hands" - Hard 12 to Hard 16. Stiff hands cannot potentially win and are more likely to go bust.
  • Strategy charts for Split pairs offer possible decisions for hands composed of two cards of the same denomination, like two Aces or two sevens. Due to the Split Pairs strategy, the player is able to decide when to split the pair into two new hands and when to withhold. For example, it is useless to split tens as this pair makes a favorable total hand value of 20. Fives are also best left whole and played as Hard 10. On the contrary, it is always good to split Aces and eights.

Composition-based strategy

As it was already mentioned, basic blackjack strategy is total-dependent, as it deals mainly with the current player's total and the dealer's face-up card. This strategy can be improved by relying on the composition of the hand. This may bring slight changes to the basic blackjack strategy.

For example, the player who has 12 is supposed to stand when the dealer's card is 4. But to consider the composition of the hand, if 12 is made of a 2 and a 10-valued card (10 or any of the Pictures) the player is able to hit, as it is less likely that the hand busts with a 10 in it. One should note though that this strategy is most effective with single-deck blackjack, as the smaller number of decks reduces the house edge.

Single- and double-deck blackjack

Players may face slight differences in playing single-and double-deck blackjack games. First of all, single-deck games offer considerable reduction of house advantage compared to that in the double-deck blackjack. Besides, it is much easier for card-counters to apply their techniques with a single deck in play. For this reason casinos have introduced certain rule variations in order to secure their profits from advantage players. For instance, some blackjack tables offer different payout - 6 to 5 instead of the traditional 3 to 2, which increases the house edge by nearly 1.5%.

Applying appropriate basic blackjack strategy doesn't necessarily mean that you win the game, but it really increases your odds of winning and gaining profit through considerable reduction of house edge.