Best Blackjack Strategy
Which Blackjack Tactics to Choose?There are literally hundreds of blackjack strategies available on the internet, each with its faithful proponents who swear it’s the best tactic ever. Whether their thoughts are based on their own experience or someone else’s, blackjack players tend to have strong opinions about blackjack strategies. What we think is that you shouldn’t trust anything unless it’s backed with real evidence. In the case of blackjack strategies, the evidence lies in mathematics. That said, the best blackjack strategy is the one that gives you the best mathematical odds of walking away with decent winnings. Still, even the best blackjack strategy will get you nowhere unless you know how to play this game. The first step on the road to blackjack riches is to learn the basic rules of the game.
General Blackjack Knowledge
Blackjack might be one of the easiest card games, with some very simple rules. However, this doesn’t mean that you should not take some time to master the rules of blackjack before playing it for real money.
The best thing you can do to become an expert is to go through our guide on how to play blackjack. That page contains all the info you need to get your blackjack adventure off to a flying start.
However, if you’d like to save some time, we got an alternative for you. Here’s a digested version of some basic blackjack rules:
Basic Blackjack Strategy
Although it’s not as simple as the no-bust strategy, this tactic brings you a much better chance of walking away with the money. The basic blackjack strategy has been around for decades, possibly dating back to the times when this game was in its infancy. The reason why it’s been around for so long? Because it actually works!
Here are some basic blackjack rules that make up this strategy. Follow them and you will stand a good chance against the dealer, regardless of whether you play blackjack online or in a real casino.
Know When to Split
If your initial hand has two cards of the same value, you might have an option to Split it. By choosing this option, you turn one hand into two separate ones. You then get to draw two more cards, one for each of the hands. The question is should you do it? The bad news is that there isn’t an absolute answer to this question. The good news is that the basic blackjack strategy tells you exactly when you ought to do it. Always Split Aces & 8’s – this is the main rule to remember. When it comes to the cards you should never Split, those are 10s and 5s. For other pairs, it’s not that simple as it also depends on the card the dealer has. For instance, it’s a general consensus that you should Split 2s, 3s, and 7s if the dealer has any card from 2 to 7. You should also split 4s against 5 and 6, as well as 6s on 2 through 6. If you’re dealt a pair of 9s against any card from 2 to 9 apart from 7, you should Split.
If you get an awful hand, a smart decision would be to Surrender and get half of your bet back. This way, you can at least get some money instead of losing everything. The question is how can you know if your hand is really bad? Your decision needs to be based not only on the cards you have but also what the dealer has. You can only guess what the dealer has because only one of their cards is facing up. However, if that card is a high one, you should Surrender. If the dealer has an Ace and the sum of your cards is 16, you should go with a Surrender. On the other hand, if your hand is 17, and the dealer’s up-card is 9 or 10, you should not Surrender. That’s basically it – by sticking to the main principles of the basic blackjack strategy, you can improve your chances of winning by a serious margin.
In blackjack terminology, the term Soft Hand refers to a hand with an Ace in it. Therefore, such a hand has two potential values. Because an Ace can be worth either 1 or 11, a Soft Hand protects you from busting after a Hit. This, however, does not mean that you should Hit every time you get a Soft Hand. A scenario in which you ought to Stand is when your Soft Hand contains a 9 in addition to an Ace. The same goes for the case when you have an 8 in your Soft Hand. For most other scenarios, you are advised to Hit, regardless of what card the dealer has facing upward. And what if you get a face card in your Soft Hand? If that is the case, you’ve hit the blackjack. The total value of a Soft Hand that has a face card or a 10 in it is 21. Face cards are valued 10, while the Ace counts as 11 in this case.
By Hard Hands, blackjack players mean those hands which have a fixed value. There are two scenarios in which you are dealt with a Hard Hand. The first one is when there’s no Ace in the hand. For example, a Hard Hand would be Q-7. The second case is when the Ace counts as 1. This happens in order to prevent the total value of the hand from going over 21. An example of this is when the A-9-8 hand, which has a total value of 18. If the Ace, in this case, was counted as 11, the total would’ve been 28. Obviously, Hard Hands are not as good as the Soft ones, but you still get to choose whether to Hit or Stand. So, what should you do according to the basic blackjack strategy? You should always stand if your Hard Hand is 17 or higher. Hard 8 or below is the one hand you should always Hit. And if you get a Hard 11, you should Double Down.
Card Values in Blackjack
One of the things that make blackjack so popular is its simplicity. Getting the hang of the rules is something you can do in literally a couple of moments. Actually, the fact that you’ve reached this section of the page means that you probably know a thing or two about this game. Still, you are not ready to play this game until you know everything about the blackjack cards. Luckily, in blackjack, you have nothing to worry about the suit of the cards or their color. Instead, the only thing you should be concerned about is the value of the cards. Number cards 2-10 are pretty straightforward – their value corresponds to the number they represent. All the face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) count as 10. Then, there’s the Ace, which can be worth either 1 or 11, depending on what works best for you. To understand how this blackjack rule works, let us show you an example. Let’s say your starting hand is A-7 (Ace and 7), which has the value of either 8 or 18. If you decide to draw another card and get a 3, the value of the Ace will be 11, so that your total would be 21. On the other hand, if you draw a higher card like 10, the value of the Ace is going to be 1. In this case, your total card value equals 18.
No-Bust Blackjack Strategy
One blackjack strategy that’s been discussed a lot in the online gaming circles is the no-bust blackjack strategy. What makes this tactic stand out from others is that it’s very simple. How it works is that even if you have an awful hand, you’re supposed to Stand and hope that the dealer would Bust (go over 21).
Its proponents swear by it, promising big returns in the long run. Sure, at first glance, the strategy does seem logical. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you’re going to lose. However, your chances are not 50-50. Instead, math-heads have calculated that you’re 4x more likely to lose if you follow this tactic than if you go with the basic blackjack strategy.
Blackjack Bankroll Management Strategies
The basic blackjack strategy and no-bust strategy are based on the cards you (and the dealer) are dealt with. Most other blackjack strategies are centered around your bets. You can think of them as tactics for blackjack bankroll management. Whether you Hit, Stand, Split, or Double Down does not matter with these strategies.
Hi-lo Card Counting Strategy
The Hi-lo blackjack card counting strategy is the simplest of its kind. Nevertheless, it does take some time to master it. You should start by “tagging” all the cards dealt face-up. The values you can assign to those cards can be -1, 1, or 0.
Using Hi-Lo Card Counting to Calculate Your Chances
By using the Hi-lo blackjack card counting system, you can see how good your chance is to win the hand. For example, if two of the three face-up cards have the tag -1, while one is tagged 0, your chance of winning is not very good.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should surrender straight away. Your decision needs to be based on other factors as well, including the sum of your hand, as well as the face-up card that the dealer has.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best blackjack strategy is the one that gives you the best probability of walking away with the money. According to mathematicians, that strategy is the basic blackjack strategy, which has been used by players for literally decades in casinos around the world.
With the no-bust blackjack strategy, you’re supposed to stand on 16 no matter which card the dealer has facing upwards. The basic blackjack strategy, however, suggests making your decision based on the dealer’s card. If it’s a large card, you should hit it. On the other hand, if it’s a small hand, your best shot is to stand.
Although the basic blackjack strategy says you should split 9s almost always, it’s best not to do it if the dealer has a 7. The reason is that there’s a very good chance that their second card is a 10-value card. Knowing that the dealer must stand at 17, your 18 hand (two 9s) is going to win.
Card counting gives the player an edge over the house of at least 1%. What this means is that with this method, the players are the ones more likely to win money. If there’s something that casinos hate, it’s losing money. To prevent that, some Las Vegas casinos have decided to close their doors to the players labeled as card-readers.
Yes, you can do card counting in online blackjack, which would increase your chances of winning. Your best shot is to do Hi-lo card counting in live-dealer blackjack, where there are several players playing against the dealer. Usually, blackjack tables allow up to seven players. You can tag their cards too in order to figure out what to do with your hand.