Blackjack Strategy

As one of the few games where the player has the opportunity to take advantage of a weak house edge (0.5% with wise play), it is important to develop a solid strategy to fully exploit your opportunity. There are several factors that influence whether or not you hit or stand, split or double down.

These include whether you have a hard or soft hand and what card the dealer has face up. With such a strategy, only the single face down card held by the dealer will provide any mystery to your decision making and strategy.

To Hit or Stand in Blackjack

One of the first considerations of blackjack is the card that is face up and on control of the dealer. So, although you should consider the cards that you have in your hand, you must also consider the dealer’s card before making the decision to hit or stand. For example, you might not always hit on a low hand if you suspect that the dealer has a weak hand. In general, the following rules apply:

Dealer’s Card                        Player’s Hand                       Decision

2-10                                        17-21                                     Stand

Ace                                         17-21                                     Stand

2-6                                          13-16                                     Stand

7-Ace                                     13-16                                     Hit

2-3 and 7-Ace                      12                                           Hit

4-6                                           12                                         Stand

2-Ace                                     4-11                                        Hit

Hit or Stand – Soft Hands

If you have a hand that includes an Ace, you have what is referred to as a soft hand, an important consideration when making a decision on whether to hit or stand. This is because an Ace can count as either a 1 or 11, depending on which is most beneficial.

Dealer’s Card                        Player’s Hand                       Decision

2-Ace                                     Ace, 8-10                               Stand

2-8                                          Ace, 7                                     Stand

9-Ace                                     Ace, 7                                     Hit

2-Ace                                     Ace, 2-6                                 Hit

Deciding When to Double Down – HARD

One of the few ways in which you can completely eliminate the house advantage is by placing an additional wager (equal to the first) on a strong hand that you are dealt. Remember that some casinos place rules on which hands can be subject to a double down. Assuming that there are no such rules, the following applies:

Dealer’s Card                        Player’s Hand                       Decision

2-Ace                                     12                                           No

2-10                                        11                                           Yes

Ace                                         11                                           Yes

2-9                                          10                                           Yes

10-Ace                                   10                                           No

2, 7-Ace                                 9                                              No

3-6                                          9                                              Yes

2-Ace                                     8                                              No

Deciding When to Double Down – SOFT

If you have an Ace in your hand, your strategy on doubling down must change in order for you to make the correct decision. In general, the following applies:

Dealer’s Card                        Player’s Hand                       Decision

2-Ace                                     Ace, 8-9                                 No

2, 7-Ace                                 Ace, 6-7                                 No

3-6                                          Ace, 6-7                                 Yes

2-3, 7-Ace                             Ace, 4-5                                 No

4-6                                          Ace, 4-5                                 Yes

2-4, 7-Ace                             Ace, 2-3                                 No

5-6                                          Ace, 2-3                                 Yes

Deciding When to Split in Blackjack

You have the opportunity to split your hand into two hands if it contains a pair. Most professionals recommend splitting as often as appropriate because it is the best strategy to come away from the game with an edge. If you have a difficult time remembering every situation and whether or not to split, simply remember to not split two fives or two tens and split Aces and eights every time.

Dealer’s Card                        Player’s Hand                       Decision

2-Ace                                     Aces                                       Yes

2-Ace                                     Tens                                       No

2-6, 8-9                                  Nines                                      Yes

7, 10-Ace                               Nines                                      No

2-Ace                                     Eights                                     Yes

2-7                                          Sevens                                   Yes

8-Ace                                     Sevens                                   No

2-6                                          Sixes                                       Yes

7-Ace                                     Sixes                                       No

2-Ace                                     Fives                                       No

2-4, 7-Ace                             Fours                                      No

5-6                                          Fours                                      Yes

2-7                                          Threes                                    Yes

8-Ace                                     Threes                                    No

2-7                                          Twos                                      Yes

8-Ace                                     Twos                                      No