Becoming a better Blackjack player is all about learning the strategies, and our Blackjack guide can help you do just that. You have come to the right place if you're looking to learn the basic Blackjack strategies. Plus, we have a Blackjack guide chart to help you master the game, which should add to the fun!
You may already know how Blackjack works, but there's so much more to the game than you may even realise. Knowing the best Blackjack betting guide and strategies can even help you lower the house from a player who knows the game to a player who knows the game well.
In our blog today, we will explain what Blackjack is, how the basic rules work, and what the best strategies are. Sometimes just the basic strategy isn't enough; this is why we're about to go in-depth to give you all the tools you need to understand the game better.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games globally and is also referred to as Twenty-One. Why? Because the game's main objective is to beat the dealer's hand, and the top score is 21.
The game uses a deck of 52 cards, and the game starts with both yourself and the dealer being dealt two cards. You will then have several options when it comes to how the other cards are dealt, and that's what our guide to Blackjack will discuss in more detail today.
A degree of strategy is involved in Blackjack, and if you can learn the game, it can minimise the house edge. In comparison, more inexperienced players who don't use strategies give the casino a much higher house edge.
Our ultimate guide to Blackjack can teach you the different strategic moves that you can make to become a more experienced player. So, the next time you try to beat the dealer, you'll have all the knowledge you need; you just need to put it into practice.
The Basic Rules of Blackjack
Our online Blackjack guide is about to explain everything; but, first things first - the basic rules. This is to beat the dealer's hand without going over 21. If you do, you'll immediately go bust, and the dealer wins.
You will place your bets before the cards are dealt, and you will then both receive two cards. It is possible to score 21 with these two cards alone. If you or the dealer are dealt a face card and an ace - that's Blackjack (21). A face card is worth 10 points, and an ace can either be worth 11 or 1 (whichever is more beneficial to your hand).
However, chances are you'll need to make some strategic moves to get to 21 or as close as. Once you have been dealt your cards, you can either Hit or Stand. If you Hit you will be dealt another card; if you Stand you'll keep only your initial two cards.
You can keep hitting until you're satisfied with the value of your cards, but remember, if you go over 21 the dealer wins, regardless of what is in their hands. You can also check out an earlier blog for even more Blackjack tips.
This is why our Blackjack casino guide is about to come in handy. You must know when to Hit or Stand, or to use other strategic moves that we'll explain a bit later on.
As with most casino games, Blackjack has specific terms and jargon that are important to learn to become more experienced. If you haven't learnt the terms before you play, you'll be lowering your edge and giving the dealer an advantage over you.
We have included the most popular terms in our Blackjack basic strategy guide so you can learn them before you head to the tables:
- Blackjack - a card game where you must beat the dealer's hand without scoring over 21.
- Bust - if your hand scores over 21, you lose (known as going bust), and the dealer wins regardless of their hand.
- Double Down/Doubling - You can place an additional bet equal to your original one, and you will receive one extra card. You can only use this move on your first two cards, and you will only receive one extra card, then you have to Stand regardless of your hand.
- Hard/Hard Hand - When your hand does not contain an ace that can count as 11, a 10 and 17 is called a hard 17.
- Hit - When you ask for another card to better your current hand.
- Insurance - Strategically, you should always be very careful if you're considering using insurance. If the dealer has an ace, you can place a side bet worth half your original bet. If the dealer scores 21 you'll be paid 2 to 1; but, if the dealer doesn't, you lose your bet. Using insurance is not recommended.
- Push - You can Push if you and the dealer have the same hand. Effectively, your hand ties with them, and you keep your bet.
- Soft/Soft Hand - If your hand contains an ace, it can be counted as 11, considered a soft hand.
- Split - Splitting one hand to create two new hands.
- Stand/Stay - When you stick with your current hand, this becomes the final value of your hand in an attempt to beat the dealer's hand.
- Surrender - Not all casinos allow this bet, but if they do, it means you can fold your hand before you see what the dealer gets. Meaning you lose half of your bet. If you think you're going to lose, this is the best time to surrender, as you will at least get half of what you staked back.
- Reshuffling - Cards are reshuffled when less than 60 to 75 undrawn cards are left in the deck.
Casino games like Blackjack often come with 'lingo' as different players may refer to the same terms but in different ways, but you'll soon get the hang of it. Of course, you may come across more terms, but the more you play, the more you'll learn. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
Blackjack Strategy Charts
We will now include an important Blackjack guide table that would pay you to memorise or course revisit our page any time you need it. The Blackjack table guide shows you abbreviated symbols, which we will now explain below to make it easier for you to understand:
- H - Hit
- S - Stand
- D - If you're allowed, Double down; if you're not, Hit
- Ds - Double if allowed, otherwise Stand
- N - Don't split a pair
- Y - Split the pair
- Y/N - Split only if 'DAS' is offered
- SUR - Surrender
Depending on how many decks are used, there will be different versions of a Blackjack table guide across the web. However, the abbreviations should be very similar, if not the same.
Basic Strategy Blackjack: Order of Operations
The Blackjack basic strategy was derived from a computer simulation. Someone trained a computer how to play Blackjack and then directed it to play hundreds of millions of hands and keep track of the results.
Since then, a basic strategy evolved, and if you're going into a game of Blackjack with no strategy, you may as well go in with your eyes shut. You're betting your hard-earned cash, so having a basic Blackjack strategy is essential.
Generally, there are a few rules of thumb to follow:
- Stand on soft 20 or 21
- Never split 10's or 5's
- Always split aces
- Always split 8's
- Surrender 16 against 9- Ace and 15 against a 10
- 15 surrenders against dealer 10, otherwise don't surrender (revert to hard totals).
- Double Down against their 6, or Stand with a soft 19
- Double Down against 2-6, Stand against their 7 and 8, hit against 9, 10, and an ace with a hand of soft 18
- Always Double Down on hard 11
- Stand with a hard 17 or higher
- Double against 2-9 with hard 10
- Double against 3-6 with a hard 9
- Hit with a hard hand of 8 and below
Memorising when you need to Hit or Stand is vital, as is knowing when to Double Down, Split, or Surrender. Knowing when to do these will cut the house edge from 1 to 2 per cent to a more favourable 0.5%.
As the game evolved, so have these basic strategies. The Blackjack basic strategy will only get you so far, though; you must also consider a particular Order of Operations before you make your moves, which we're about to show you now.
Can I/should I Surrender?
Unfortunately, not all casinos allow this option, but if the option is there, it is worth considering at your first opportunity.
If you think your hand has less than a 50% chance of beating the dealers, it is time to start thinking about this option. You can only surrender before you hit; the surrender move becomes unavailable once you make the first hit. If, however, your hand has a better chance of winning, you should not use this move and move on to your next decision.
Can I/Should I Split?
You can use this move when your first two cards are a pair or if you have two ten-valued cards. You should decide where or not you want to split and if you don't, or if you can't, you should consider your next move.
Can I/Should I Double?
If you've got to this stage in your decisions, you may have a chance of winning. However, the move may not always be possible when you want to use it. So if you've already decided not to double or you can't double, you can move on to the last Blackjack hand guide step.
Should I Hit or Should I Stand?
The last thing to think about in our Blackjack strategy guide is where to Hit or Stand. If you've exhausted all the moves above, you can now either take another card to better your hand, or if you're happy with your hand, then Stand and wait to see what the dealer has.
What Is the Best Strategy for Blackjack?
Unfortunately, we wish we had all the answers, but when it comes down to it, the ultimate Blackjack strategy guide can never do that because there is no clear strategy to always win.
You can, however, use the best tactic depending on the situation, which will, of course, be different on each. You should access each hand as it is dealt, use the order of operations we have listed above and learn the following, most important moves:
- Always Double Down on a Hard 11 - If you have a hand of 11, there is a good chance that one more card could give you Blackjack. At the very least, you can't go bust! This is why strategically doubling down is a good play and why so many people choose to do it. We also have more information about Blackjack Double Down which may also come in handy.
- Always Split a Pair of 8s and Aces - Regardless of what the dealer has, you should always split if you have a pair of 8s or aces, which will give you two hands, each starting with an 8 or ace. Generally, this is the first rule of a splitting strategy because, in the long run, you will lose less money by splitting against a dealer's 9, 10 or ace than by hitting a hard 16.
- Never Split a Pair of 5s or 10s - This is also known as a hard 10, but you should never split a pair of 5s, regardless of how tempted you may feel. Your hand is much stronger with a value of 10 than it would ever be with two hands with a starting value of 5 each. The same goes for a pair of 10s; having two hands with a starting value of 10 may seem tempting, but your hand of 20 is much stronger.
With all that being said, you can utilise our Blackjack guide sheet along with the best strategies above to give you the maximum chance of beating the dealer's hand.
Play the Best Game for You
Your odds at winning at Blackjack can vary from casino to casino, so it's essential to do your research before jumping into anything. You'll want to play the games that offer the best odds because, ultimately, we all want to win!
An ideal Blackjack game that maximises your chances of winning will allow you to Double, Double After Splitting, Split, and Surrender. However, in reality, you may find it a struggle to find a casino that allows you to do all these. Don't stress if the game doesn't have all of these options; you can still win if you play your cards right.
Our guide to winning Blackjack can now point you in the right direction, but the moves you make are down to you. If you'd like to learn the difference between Poker vs Blackjack, we have a blog that can help you there too.
You can refer to our Blackjack strategy table guide at any point, and as with most games, practice will be your key to becoming a better player.