Blackjack Strategy Overview

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games available at any casino – land-based, online or mobile. It is a game of skill where your actions directly influence the outcome of the game. By employing optimal strategy in the game, players are able to significantly reduce the house edge and improve their odds of winning. This, combined with the game’s simple rules, make it popular with amateur and professional players.

Blackjack House Odds

The house odds in a game of blackjack can be as high as 7-8%, although it is more commonly between 2-5%. However, using optimal strategy when playing the game, can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.5%.

Online Blackjack

Choosing your Strategy

There are basic blackjack tips and strategy that every player should follow and then there are blackjack betting systems that some blackjack players use. It is important to be aware of the rules of the specific casino you are playing at as slight variations in the rules (such as if the casino allows doubling down after splitting or not) will impact the strategy you use when you play. Playing single deck blackjack vs. multi deck blackjack will also impact the strategy you use to play.

Blackjack Charts

Using a blackjack strategy card is the best way to begin learning optimal blackjack strategy. The blackjack chart maps out the optimum play on your first two cards, with a table of any two card hand combination compared to the dealer’s up card. The chart lists the optimum play for each combination, including whether you should hit, stand, double down or split. When playing blackjack online you are able to keep the card next to you for quick and easy access. These cards are not difficult to memorise and ideally you should commit the options to memory. The dealer has set house rules that he must play by; however the player remains at a disadvantage by having to play first, without having seen both the dealer’s cards. Using a blackjack chart can help reduce that disadvantage.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

If you do not have access to a blackjack chart, you can easily memorise some basic blackjack strategy that will help to reduce the house edge and improve your chances of winning. Basic blackjack strategy dictates:

  • Hit on a hand value lower than 17 if the dealer’s up-card is 8 or higher.
  • Stand on a hand of 11 or higher if the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5 or 6.
  • Always split two Aces.
  • Never split two fives or two cards valued at ten each (two tens or two face cards).
  • Double down when your hand value is 9 or on a soft 13, 14, 15, 16 or 17 if the dealer’s up card is 4, 5 or 6.

Card Counting

Card counting is a strategy that is used by some people. This practice requires you to keep count of the cards that appear in the game and to adjust subsequent bets according to your count. The aim of card counting is to keep track of the proportion of high cards to low cards remaining in the deck. Different types of card counting methods are used, including the KO count, the Hi-Opt I count, the Hi-Opt II count and the hi-lo count.

Betting Systems

Many players swear by betting systems in blackjack and these can be divided between positive betting systems and negative betting systems. Positive betting systems require you to increase your subsequent bet each time you win a hand. If you lose your bet, you subsequent bet will revert back to the base amount. An example of this is the Paroli betting system. Negative betting systems require that you increase your next bet each time you lose a hand with the expectation that you will win back your losses on a subsequent bet. An example of a negative betting system is the Martingale system and this is a widely used betting system in blackjack.