Blackjack is favored by casino gamblers in every corner of the world. The game is amiable for most beginners because they have a basic understanding of the game.
Many players are unaware that there’s a mathematically proven way to play every hand based on the dealer’s face-up card. This basic blackjack strategy was formulated based on millions of computer-generated hands of blackjack.
If you’ve never played a hand of blackjack in your life, or even if you play for hours each time you’re at the casino, there are some best practices about this critical approach to the game. Here are nine things you should know about basic blackjack strategy.
1 – Always (Almost Always) Double Down on 10
Whenever you have a total of hard 10, meaning you have an ace, you’re going to want to double down.
Doubling down means that you’ll place an additional wager equal to your initial bet and receive one other card. Regardless of what that card is, you must then stay.
The primary thought behind doubling down on 10 is that you have an increased opportunity to catch a 10, jack, queen, king, or an ace. Thus, giving you a total of 20 or 21 and being in a great position to win the hand.
However, when the dealer shows a value of 10 or 11, you’ll want to merely hit. This emphasizes the importance of having a primary strategy card. What your next move would be after hitting will be clearly defined on this handy tool.
Doubling down is one of the most exciting plays at the blackjack table. This move can also net you some significant wins when the gamble pays off.
2 – When You Have a Hard 11, Double Down
When you have 11, double down. Anytime I have an 11, I begin to salivate on my chips.
Why? Because I know I have a decent chance of catching a 10 and getting to 21. Whenever those 10s come, the worst I can do is push the hand.
The rest of the time, I am doubling my bet. Doubling down is a cornerstone of the edge that using basic strategy wipes away from the casino.
It’s as much about knowing when to win more money than it is winning more hands. Doubling down on eleven gives me more of an adrenaline boost on the casino floor than getting a blackjack.
Suppose you’re playing blackjack for $100 per hand. When you get a blackjack, you win $150 on a standard table paying 3:2.
However, when you double down, you have the potential to win $200. You’ll get $100 for your initial wager and $100 for the double down chance.
Of course, you’re also doubling your potential exposure. Still, it’s a basic premise of basic strategy, and you will have a positive return by employing this strategy.
3 – Splitting Made Easy
Doubling down is relatively straightforward; 11 and 10 are the only totals you’ll almost ever double down on. Splitting is slightly more involved, but there are a few constants you should be aware of before you hit the tables.
For starters, you’ll always split aces. As a pair, aces are basically useless. You either have two or 13, neither of which is any good in blackjack.
However, anytime you’re guaranteed to start a hand with an ace, you are at a terrific starting point.
You’ll also split eights anytime they pop up. Savvy blackjack players know that 16 is about the worst hand in blackjack. So, you’ll be glad to split that nasty eights and take the chance to turn them into a much sexier 18. You might even catch a three and get to 11.
From there, splitting can become murky, but you’ll always want to play on a table where you can double down after splitting.
4 – You Always Hit With Eight or Less
Drawing eight or less is a tough break, but it’ll happen more than you’d like. You’ll almost never win the hand of real money blackjack with eight.
Luckily, you can hit with impunity on eight or less. It’s impossible to bust, and you could end up with 19, which is a decent hand.
There is absolutely no reason to not hit on eight or less. Go chase that 10, and even if you get a four, you’re no worse off than you were before.
5 – Never Double Down With Eight or Less
Sometimes, there is the rare instance when you’ll double down with nine. However, basic blackjack strategy will never have you hitting on eight or less. No matter what the dealer has, there’s no need to put your bankroll at risk by doubling down with less than eight.
You’ll never run into a scenario at the blackjack table where doubling down hoping to get to 19 at best is worth the risk. Save those double downs for the 10s and 11s. You’ll also want to double down with a total of nine on occasion.
If the dealer is showing a three, four, five, or six, you will want to double down on nine and hope for an ace to get you to 20.
6 – Take Your Time With Soft Hands
Soft hands are where doubling down really starts to shine at the blackjack table. That’s because you face zero risks of busting if you have, say, a soft 16.
You’ll always want to hit with a soft 17 or less. When the dealer is showing a six or lower, you’re going to want to double down.
From there, the basic strategy gives varying advice based on what the dealer is showing. However, the advice is always precisely the same under the same scenario.
This brings a level of consistency to players’ games that’s impossible to duplicate, relying on your own prowess and intuition.
7 – Basic Strategy Is Easier Than You May Think
Many players are completely unaware of the basic blackjack strategy. Still, others will shy away because they imagine some complicated system that must be memorized.
There’s nothing at all that must be recorded to memory. In fact, you can find basic strategy cards that clearly chart out the best move in every situation.
These charts can be downloaded from the internet or purchased online. You may be surprised to learn that the casino gift shops often sell the basic strategy cards for only a few bucks.
As far as memorizing any complicated algorithms, there’s zero of that either. Casinos are more than happy to allow players to use their charts at the table.
However, you need to be sure you’re not slowing the game down. Casinos are well-oiled machines, and they can’t afford to have you slowing down their profits.
I recommend playing as much online blackjack for free as you can before your next trip to the casino. This step will help you become familiar with the strategy and prevent any unnecessary mistakes in the casino.
Having said that, you can quickly learn basic strategy if you’re willing to dedicate a few hours a week to the discipline.
8 – The Strategy Only Works When Implemented on Every Hand Dealt
You’re only going to enjoy the maximum benefit of basic strategy by implementing it on every hand.
The basic strategy is carefully constructed to reduce the house edge. If you begin making decisions based on intuition, you’re going to undo a lot of hard work.
Sometimes, basic strategy can come to feel a bit monotonous or sterile. If you catch yourself feeling bored by making the same decisions over and over, maybe you should take a break and do some reflecting.
Gambling is supposed to be fun. And when you stop having fun, it’s time to move on. Maybe basic strategy just isn’t for you.
Not every person that walks into the casino is trying to win or keep as much of their money as possible. I tend to overlook this section of casual gamblers.
There’s nothing wrong with gambling strictly for fun and ignoring practices that will keep more money in your pocket.
9 – Playing Perfect Still Won’t Guarantee a Profit
You shouldn’t walk into the casino with your freshly laminated basic strategy chart and expect to make a significant profit. Using a basic strategy won’t give you an edge over the casino; that’s reserved for card counting.
Basic strategy will merely reduce the edge that the casino holds over the player. So, before you start making wagers that you can’t afford, understand that you’re going to lose more often than not.
Still, the proper implementation of the basic strategy will keep you gambling at the tables longer than ever before. There’s no better way to get the most amount of entertainment from your bankroll than stretching those dollars as far as possible.
I’m sorry to inform you that there’s no such thing as a lock when it comes to casino gambling. However, the nine things you should know about blackjack’s basic strategy will diminish the house edge to under 1%.
Those types of odds are incredibly friendly for the player, but you’ll still lose more than you win. Remember to have fun when you go casino gambling, and you’re sure to be a winner.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …