Blackjack Strategy

The rules of are fairly simple however there are small variations that can make a big difference to your wallet. Make sure you check out the rules before you start playing at a Casino or in the real world. I once played on a {Ferry~Cruise} and it was only after a few hands that I realised that the won if I drew on 17-21. This give the house a massive 8.38 % extra advantage. I quickly left the table with my remaining money in tact.

I have outline the to get you started, for a complete set of rules please refer to the online Casino you intend to on as rules can vary between casinos.

Basic Rules

The most important thing to know about blackjack is the basic . This is simply the best way to play every possible situation, without any knowledge of the distribution of the rest of the cards in the deck. Below is the basic for four of more decks when the dealer hits on soft 17, which is the most common .

{If you only memorize one table I would suggest this one. It can be played effectively under any rules.~If you can’t memorize the table then you can buy a cheat sheet at casino resorts in Las Vegas.}

To use the basic strategy look up your hand along the left vertical edge and the dealer’s up card along the top. In both cases an A stands for ace. From top to bottom are the hard totals, soft totals, and splittable hands. Rule variations can have an effect on some borderline situations. The most flexible rules are the number of decks, whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17, and whether doubling is allowed after splitting. These additional variations only account for 0.03% of house edge.

Yellow= Stay
Blue= Double if allowed, if not Hit (except stay on soft 18 vs 3,4,5,6)
Orange= Surrender if allowed, if not Hit
Pink=  Split if allowed to double after split, if not hit

Universal Blackjack Strategy

Universal Blackjack Strategy

This Matrix was put together with help from Stanford Wongs site


Do not take insurance, even if you have a blackjack. Card counters can get away with making smart insurance bets when the deck is rich in tens but the non-counting player should always decline it. The following table shows the house edge on the insurance bet depending on the number of decks used.

House Edge on Insurance
of Decks
1 5.882%
2 6.796%
4 7.246%
6 7.395%
8 7.470%


Sometimes in a 6 or 8 deck game the player has the option to surrender. To be specific the player may forfeit half their bet to be excused from playing out their hand. Obviously this option should only be taken in the worst hands when the net return is less than 50%. In late surrender (the only kind I have ever seen) the player may only opt to surrender after the dealer checks for a blackjack. The following table is a basic guide for when to surrender (Y=yes, N=no).

Basic Surrender Strategy
Dealer’s Card
9 10 A
15 N Y N
16 Y Y Y

Bad Strategies

Three popular bad strategies encountered at the blackjack table are never bust, mimic the dealer, and always assume the dealer has a ten in the hole. All three of these are very bad strategies. Following are my specific comments on each of them, including the house edge under Atlantic City rules (dealer stands on soft 17, split up to 4 hands, double after split, double any two cards) of 0.43%.

Never bust: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would never hit a hard 12 or more and based all other decisions on maximizing expected value under this assumption. This results in a house edge of 3.91%.

Mimic the dealer: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would always hit 16 or less and on 17 or more. The player as well as dealer stood on soft 17. The player never doubled or split, since the dealer is not allowed to do so. This results in a house edge of 5.48%.

Assume ten in the hole: For this strategy I first figured out the optimal basic strategy under this assumption. If the dealer had an ace up I reverted to the proper basic strategy assumption of assuming the dealer did not have a ten. Then I went back and used this strategy under regular playing conditions. This results in a house edge of 10.03%.

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