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Casino School

Blackjack Strategy

Each blackjack game has a basic strategy, which is playing a hand of any total value against any dealer’s up-card, which loses the least money to the house in the long term.

An example of basic strategy is shown in the table below, and includes the following parameters:

  • Four to eight decks
  • The dealer stands on a soft 17
  • A double is allowed after a split
  • Only original bets are lost on dealer blackjack
Your hand Dealer’s face-up card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
Hard totals (excluding pairs)
17–20 S S S S S S S S S S
16 S S S S S H H SU SU SU
15 S S S S S H H H SU H
13–14 S S S S S H H H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
11 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H
10 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
9 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
5–8 H H H H H H H H H H
Soft totals
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
A,8–A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
A,7 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H H
A,6 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
A,4–A,5 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
A,2–A,3 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
Pairs
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
A,A SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
10,10 S S S S S S S S S S
9,9 SP SP SP SP SP S SP SP S S
8,8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
7,7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
6,6 SP SP SP SP SP H H H H H
5,5 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
4,4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
2,2–3,3 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H

Key:
S = Stand
H = Hit
Dh = Double (if not allowed, then hit)
Ds = Double (if not allowed, then stand)
SP = Split
SU =  Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)

The bulk of basic strategy is common to all blackjack games, with most rule variations calling for changes in only a few situations. Estimates of the house edge for blackjack games quoted by casinos and gaming regulators are generally based on the assumption that the players follow basic strategy and do not systematically change their bet size. Most blackjack games have a house edge of between 0.5% and 1%, placing blackjack among the cheapest casino table games. Casino promotions such as 2:1 blackjack pay-outs allow the player to acquire an advantage without deviating from basic strategy.

All things being equal, using More decks increases the house edge. This mainly reflects an increased likelihood of player blackjack, since if the players draws a ten on their first card, the subsequent probability of drawing an ace is higher with fewer decks. Hence always look for Blackjack with using the fewest number of decks when in a casino hall.

Number of decks House advantage
Single deck 0.17%
Double deck 0.46%
Four decks 0.60%
Six decks 0.64%
Eight decks 0.65%
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