Blackjack Basic Strategy Guide

Both online and traditional blackjack players have to follow one simple rule, adhere to basic blackjack strategy. In case you are new to that game and desire playing for real cash, you’d better read that guide first. It’s not difficult to learn basic rules, techniques and strategies for playing successfully. For beating the house, your strategy should be perfect. And it especially concerns online blackjack.

You can actually predict how the dealer acts and estimate the best possible play in any of the situations. When you play the best possible, you can shorten the house edge up to 0,5% or less under the best conditions.

How to Play Blackjack

The most spread casino game within lots of centuries supposes you to win over the dealer by creating a hand with a value, higher than dealer’s. Along with that, you can’t go over 21; in that case you simply go bust and fail the game.

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Blackjack Rules

Modern game of blackjack is to be played in single, double, 4, 6 or 8 decks. Online casinos offer many other decks variations.

After the dealer shuffles the cards, a random player is to be selected to take the cut card. The dealer moves the cards above that card. After that, the cut card is back to the stack.

The cards 2-10 are worth face value; all the face cards including Jack, Queen, King…are also worth 10. An ace can be worth 1 or 11. Thus, a hand containing ace is a “soft” hand and is worth 11, and for, example a five along with an ace is a “soft 16”. Therefore, a “hard” hand is the one containing an ace worth 1.

The lowest and highest bets vary at different casinos; usually the ratio is from 40 to 100.

So, the main rules are:

  • Players make bets.
  • The dealer deals 2 cards to gamblers and 2 cards for himself (the 1st card faceup, the 2nd facedown).
  • Players decide if they stand, hit, double down, surrender or split.
  • The dealer is to act last and is to hit on 16 or less, stand on 17 to 21.
  • A player wins in case his total hand is above the hand of the dealer, or in case he has 21 and the dealer busts.

Casino Etiquette

You should wait for the dealer to conclude the hand being in progress. After that, buy chips, it means place currency on the table and push it towards dealer with the words “change, please”.

You can’t leave cash in the betting box. The casinos mostly do not accept cash bets.

After making your bet, keep hands off the chips till the moment the hand is over. If your chips are of different denominations, start stacking with the smallest ones on top. Otherwise, the dealer will have to rearrange them.

In case you play a multiple-deck game, you should give hand signals. If you bust or want to split or double down, put your cards face up.

Are you a newcomer? Then avoid the last seat, which is called “third base”.

Ask the dealer to mark your seat in case you want to go to out and come back to the same seat. Your betting box will contain a plastic disk to show your seat is occupied.

Blackjack Variations

There are different blackjack variations offered by different casinos. Here is the short description of some of them:

  • Classic Blackjack or “21” is the most common variation of the game of blackjack. The aim is to get the closest possible to 21 without busting. The dealer hits soft 17, house advantage – 0.56%.
  • European Blackjack is played with 2 cards decks. The dealer stands on soft 17 and the house advantage – 0.39%.
  • Match Play 21 is pretty different from classic blackjack, when 10s are to be removed from the deck. It is similar to Spanish 21. The dealer hits on soft 17, the house advantage might be from 0.76% to 0.81%.
  • Pontoon is also similar to Spanish 21, the dealer starts with both cards facedown. The dealer hits on soft 17, the house advantage – 0.38%.
  • Super 21 offers some special payouts for different hands. The dealer hits on oft 17 and the house advantage varies from 1.16% to 1.20%.
  • Multi Hand Blackjack entitles to play more than one hand at the same time. The dealer stands on soft 17 and the house advantage – 0.63%.
  • Spanish 21 is similar to Pontoon card game. All the 10 cards are to be removed from the deck. At most casinos the dealer stands on soft 17. The house advantage may vary from 0.38% to 0.78%.
  • Blackjack Switch is a pretty interesting game when you are dealt 2 hands and are provided a chance to trade the 2nd card dealt in each of the hands. The dealer hits on soft 17, the house advantage may vary from 0.16% to 0.58%.

Blackjack Basic Strategy

You should remember that Blackjack is the game of your decisions. Each of your decisions might result in how a hand plays and affect your wins or losses. There is a simple math strategy giving you the best advantages in play.

Your perfect strategy must allow you to cut the casino’s edge up to 0.5%, so you could gain your edge with the help of card counting.

Card counting isn’t possible at standard games, but still is at live dealer games.

Using basic blackjack strategy means knowing exactly when to hit or stand, take insurance, split, surrender and double down.

Beginner Blackjack Tips

  • Know exactly when to hit or stand!
    In case you were dealt a total of 4-8, the dealer isn’t showing any cards, always choose to Hit! In case you were dealt 12-16 and the up card of the dealer is low, you better Stand! You should let the dealer bust if he has to. The worst cards for him are 2-6. The dealer’s up card influences your decisions. In case you have 12-16, and he has 7-ace, you should hit and get the closest possible to 21.
  • Do not take insurance! In case you’re dealt a blackjack and your dealer is showing an ace, don’t take insurance.
  • It’s good to always double down on 10 or 11. After getting your first 2 cards you have a right to double down. It’s good to do this especially when the dealer is showing 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, because he is will probably go bust.
  • Forget about card counting! There is almost no way to do it at online blackjack. Besides, it’s considered to be an illegal strategy.
  • Understand the House Edge. The more decks there are, the higher is the house edge. So, do your own research before playing blackjack online!

Blackjack Betting Chart

The betting progression is very important. A smart knows exactly when to increase and when to cut his bets. Besides, it helps you to manage your bankroll. It also allows counting and seeing whether this deck is more favorable for you or for the casino. There are some professional blackjack betting systems, such as Oscars Grind, Parlay, Paroli, Fibonacci and some others which would help you make bets properly.

Blackjack Surrender Strategy

The surrender play allows cutting your prospective loss in 50% after the deal. It’s helpful when you have a poor hand and the dealer has an ace or 10 value cards. Here you surrender 50% of your bet. There is an early and a late surrender, that depends on particular casino. The proper time to consider surrender is when you have 15 or 17 points and the dealer’s is a hard 17 and more. But in case the dealer shows soft 17 or less, don’t choose to surrender.

How to Practice Blackjack Strategy

Skills come with practice. However, it’s better to practice in free online blackjack offered by lots of modern online casinos.