Blackjack Basic Strategy

Blackjack is one of the great casino games and can be dated way back to the 17th century. It has seemingly forever been a part of the gambling world and therefore it is no surprise that a strategy chart has been developed to aid players in trying to out-wit the house.

The basic strategy chart in Blackjack gives an advice on what the player should do for each total they land on, with reference to the dealer's up card (the visible card of the dealer). It is based on statistical calculations about the odds for winning in various combinations of player's total and dealer's upcard. This means that by following it you can improve your odds of winning by working out the best tactic when confronted with each situation during the game.

The different rules variations have an impact on the way the game is played and therefore on the strategy chart. So it is advisable to make note on the variation you required before using the chart.

Here is the complete chart.

Basic Strategy Chart

  Dealer Upcard
Player
Hand
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
5 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
6 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
7 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
8 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
9 HT DD DD DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
10 DD DD DD DD DD DD DD DD HT HT
11 DD DD DD DD DD DD DD DD DD HT
12 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
13 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
14 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
15 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT SU HT
16 HT HT HT HT HT HT HT SU SU SU
17 & up HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,2 HT HT HT DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,3 HT HT HT DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,4 HT HT DD DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,5 HT HT DD DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,6 HT DD DD DD DD HT HT HT HT HT
Ace,7 ST DD DD DD DD ST ST HT HT HT
Ace,8 ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST
Ace,9 ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST
2,2 SP SP SP SP SP SP HT HT HT HT
3,3 SP SP SP SP SP SP HT HT HT HT
4,4 HT HT HT SP SP HT HT HT HT HT
5,5 DD DD DD DD DD DD DD DD HT HT
6,6 SP SP SP SP SP HT HT HT HT HT
7,7 SP SP SP SP SP SP HT HT HT HT
8,8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9,9 SP SP SP SP SP ST SP SP ST ST
10,10 ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST ST
Ace,Ace SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP

HTHit  STStand  DDDouble  SPSplit  SUSurrender

House rules: 4-8 decks; Dealer stands on soft 17; May Double on any initial cards; Double after split allowed; Late Surrender allowed; dealer's Blackjack does not affect Split/Double bets.

About the Basic Strategy

As the chart shows, decisions in Blackjack are not as consistent as you may think. Here are a few examples of the charts recommended moves. As you will see, some of the recommendations are more intuitive, while others may prove to be a little less obvious.

It is generally accepted that no matter what the dealer's up card is you hit if you have 8 or lower. If you have a 9, 10 or 11 in total then it is worth doubling if allowed. If not then it is worth hitting again. If you have anything between 12 and 17 then it is recommended to split. Unless the dealer's up card is a 7 to an Ace. In that case, hitting is probably the best option.

It starts to get a bit inconsistent from here on with a number of options available depending on your total and the dealer's up card. There are a range of choices from hitting, splitting and standing. In some cases it is worth doubling if you have cards such as 5, 5.

The general rule is that if you have a 16 or under then hit.

If you dealer's up card is 7 or higher then hitting until 17 is advised. However, if the dealer's up card is only 6 or lower then hitting until 12 is recommended.

Another handy piece of advice is to split 8s and Aces. You will then be able to play each card as an individual hand. These two cards are the best cards to do this with because 8s are a middle card and Aces can offer a hard or soft hand as they represent a 1 or an 11.


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