Most casino players know that the objective of blackjack is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without busting. While it’s imperative to know this rule before playing a hand, it will only get you so far once the cards are being dealt. What you really need in this circumstance is a solid USA blackjack strategy.
What is Basic Strategy?
A basic strategy chart looks at all the possible card combinations and hand totals available to a player, and it then offers a course of action depending on the dealer’s up card. Following this strategy won’t guarantee a win every time, but it will improve your chances in the long run.
Basic Strategy for Traditional Blackjack
While space is limited, I wanted to at least do one full example of basic strategy for the most common version of blackjack. This works whether the dealer is using four, six, or eight decks, although the player must be allowed to double down after splitting. If the latter is not the case, you’ll need to use a whole different chart.
The cards in the player’s hand—or hand total—are listed first, followed by the recommended action against specific dealer up cards.
– A/2 – Double if the dealer is showing a 5 or 6. Otherwise, you should hit.
– A/3 – Double on a 5 or 6 and hit on anything else.
– A/4 or A/5 – Hit unless the dealer shows a 4 to 6. In that case, always double.
– A/6 – Double on a 3 to 6 and hit on anything else.
– A/7 – Hit if the dealer is showing a 9, 10, or Ace. Stand on a 2, 7, or 8, and double on a 3 to 6.
– A/8 through A/10 – The player should always stand with these hands.
– A/A – You should always split a pair of aces, regardless of what the dealer is showing.
– 2/2 and 3/3 – Split if the dealer has a 2 through 7. Otherwise, you should hit.
– 4/4 – Hit unless the dealer has a 5 or 6. In that case, you should hit.
– 5/5 – Hit on a 10 or A, and double on a 2 through 9. Never split with a pair of 5s.
– 6/6 – Split on a 2 through 6, and hit with any other dealer card.
– 7/7 – Split if the dealer has a 2 through 7. In any other circumstance, be sure to hit.
– 8/8 – Split, regardless of the dealer’s card.
– 9/9 – Stand on a dealer 7, 10, or Ace. You should split on a 2 through 6 or 8 to 9.
– 10/10 – Always stand with this card combination.
– If your hand total is 5 to 8, you should always hit.
– Hit when your cards total 9. The only exception is when the dealer hole card is from 3 to 6. In this case, always double.
– For a player hand totaling 10, hit on a dealer 10 or Ace. Double if the dealer is showing a 2 through 9.
– When your total is 11, hit on an Ace and double on a 2 through 10.
– On a player total of 12, stand on a 4 through 6. Hit on anything else.
– When the player’s total equals 13 through 16, stand on a 2 through 6. Hit on anything else.
– If your hand equals 17 through 20, always be sure to stand.
Other Blackjack Strategies
You can find USA blackjack strategy lists all over the Internet, and learning these methods is vital to your long-term success at the game. Once you’ve absorbed the basic methods listed above, you might also want to learn the strategy for the following blackjack variants:
21st-Century Blackjack – Found in California, this game offers liberal rules that allow a busted player to push if the dealer also busts. With perfect strategy, the house edge comes to 0.44%.
Blackjack Switch – The player is allowed to switch cards between two hands. The game carries a 0.58% house edge under standard rules when using optimal strategy.
Double Exposure Blackjack – Both dealer cards are exposed to the player.
Double Attack Blackjack – Popular in Atlantic City, this game includes a number of rule variations such as the player being able to double their wager after the dealer’s up card is dealt. The game has a house edge of 0.62% when basic strategy is employed.