Basic Blackjack Strategy


The concept of basic blackjack strategy is to use the mathematics of probability to reduce the house edge to a minimum. If you employ basic blackjack strategy the house edge will be about one-half of a percent. Using basic blackjack strategy should always limit the house’s advantage but it’s effectiveness may vary depending on rule variations and the number of decks used. For example, you will have a greater advantage in a casino that allows you to double down after a split than one that does not. The more decks used the higher the casino’s advantage.

This course explains the basic blackjack strategy based on four or more decks being used where the house stands on a soft 17. The strategy is broken down into three different sections; hard totals, soft totals, and pairs. The basic strategy will sometimes depend on the rule variations at your table. See our Blackjack Cheat Sheet for a graphical representation of this course.

Basic Blackjack Strategy For Hard Totals

If you have a hard total of 8 or less:
Always hit.

If you have a hard total of 9:
Hit if the dealer has an up card of 2,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 3,4,5 or 6 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have a hard total of 10:
Hit if the dealer has a 10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have a hard total of 11:
Hit if the dealer has an Ace.
If the dealer has a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 or 10 the double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have a hard total of 12:
Hit if the dealer has a 2,3,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
Stand if the dealer has a 4,5 or 6.

If you have a hard total of 13 or 14:
Stand if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5 or 6.
Hit if the dealer has a 7,8,9,10 or Ace.

If you have a hard total of 15:
Stand if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5 or 6.
Hit if the dealer has a 7,8,9 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 10 then surrender if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have a hard total of 16:
Stand if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5 or 6.
Hit if the dealer has a 7 or 8.
If the dealer has a 9,10 or Ace then surrender if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have a hard total of 17 or higher:
Always stand.

Basic Blackjack Strategy For Soft Totals

If you have an Ace 2 or Ace 3 soft total:
Hit if the dealer has an up card of 2,3,4,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 5 or 6 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have an Ace 4 or Ace 5 soft total:
Hit if the dealer has a 2,3,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 4,5 or 6 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have an Ace 6 soft total:
Hit if the dealer has a 2,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 3,4,5 or 6 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise hit.

If you have an Ace 7 soft total:
Stand if the dealer has a 2,7 or 8.
Hit if the dealer has a 9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 3,4,5 or 6 then double down if you are allowed to do so, otherwise stand.

If you have an Ace 8, Ace 9 or Ace 10 soft total:
Always stand.

Basic Blackjack Strategy for Pairs (Splitting)

If you have a pair of 2s or pair of 3s:
If the dealer has an up card of 2 or 3 then split if you are allowed to double down after a split, otherwise hit.
Split if the dealer has a 4,5,6 or 7.
Hit if the dealer has an 8,9,10 or Ace.

If you have a pair of 4s:
Hit if the dealer has a 2,3,4,7,8,9,10 or Ace.
If the dealer has a 5 or 6 then split if you are allowed to double down after a split, otherwise hit.

If you have a pair of 5s:
Double down if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9.
Hit if the dealer has a 10 or Ace.

If you have a pair of 6s:
If the dealer has a 2 then split if you are allowed to double down after a split, otherwise hit.
Split if the dealer has a 3,4,5 or 6.
Hit if the dealer has a 7,8,9,10 or Ace.

If you have a pair of 7s:
Split if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5,6 or 7.
Hit if the dealer has an 8,9,10 or Ace.

If you have a pair of 8s:
Always split.

If you have a pair of 9s:
Split if the dealer has a 2,3,4,5,6,8 or 9.
Stand if the dealer has a 7,10 or Ace.

If you have a pair of 10s:
Always stand.

If you have a pair of Aces:
Always split.

Blackjack Strategy for Early Surrender Games

“Surrender” is a lesser-known play option in blackjack, which is not offered in every game. Surrender allows a player to fold their hand at the cost of half the original bet. If you originally bet $10, a surrender would cost you $5 out of that $10. The decision to surrender must be made prior to any other action. Once you draw, split or double down then surrender is no longer available as an option. There are two types of surrender, early and late. The difference between the types is only in the way that a dealer blackjack is handled.

In an early surrender, a player may choose to surrender before the dealer checks his hand for a blackjack. The early surrender is rarely offered because is can give the player a nice advantage. In the late surrender, the dealer first checks for blackjack. Surrender is only then available if the dealer does not have a blackjack. Learning to use the surrender option can be very valuable in the right situation.

Why should you surrender when you know you’ll lose fifty percent of your bet? Based on the your cards and the dealer’s cards, sometimes your expected return is below fifty cents on the dollar. These are the situation where it is in your best interest to surrender. In a six-deck game where the dealer stands on soft 17 there are 8 major combinations where surrendering has a better expected return than playing the hand. On the average, these situations will occur about once every 26 hands.

The following table lists these 8 combinations. These combinations may vary depending on the number of decks and 17 rule at your table.

Your cards Dealer up-card
10-6 10
9-7 10
10-5 10
9-6 10
10-6 9
9-7 9
10-6 Ace
9-7 Ace

Blackjack Strategies to Avoid

These are a few popular bad strategies commonly encountered at the blackjack table; Never Bust, Mimic The Dealer, and Always Assume Ten In The Hole. If you’ve ever used or thought about using one of these strategies you should think again. The resulting house edge is based on Atlantic City rules, dealer stands on soft 17, split up to 4 hands, double after split, double any two cards. Using Basic Blackjack Strategy the house edge is 0.43%

Never Bust

This strategy assumes the player never hits a hard 12 or more. The concept is that the player’s hand will never bust, however this approach results in a house edge of 3.91%.

Mimic The Dealer

This strategy assumes the player will always hit 16 or less and stand on 17 or more including soft 17, the player follows dealer rules. This results in a house edge of 5.48%.

Assume Ten In The Hole

This strategy alters the basic blackjack strategy to assume that the down card is always a Ten, the player as assumes the dealer is hiding a Ten. This results in a house edge of 10.03%.

Sure, luck still blackjack plays a major part in but why not stack the odds of probability in your favor? It’s possible you could win with one of the above strategies, but you’ve got a much better chance sticking to the basic blackjack strategy. There are player’s out there winning time and time again, you could be one of them.