Blackjack Strategy Guide: How to Use and Memorise Blackjack Charts
Ever since the first casinos opened their doors, players have not only been looking for ways to level the playing field but also gain an advantage over the house to earn consistent wins, and blackjack is a game primed for strategy.
As such we’ve compiled an extensive blackjack guide to teach you everything you’ll need to know when you take a seat at the tables, whether online or at a land-based casino. So, if you’re keen to learn more, be sure to continue reading!
What Will Our Blackjack Guide Teach You?
Throughout this page, we aim to provide you with all of the information you’ll need to perfect your blackjack strategy so you’ll always be making the correct decision in any given situation.
We’ll start by introducing the fundamentals of blackjack basic strategy and then move on to answering some of the more complex questions such as what are blackjack charts and how to memorise them. So, by the end of this article, you’ll hopefully understand how to implement everything you’ve learned and start to see more consistent returns at the tables.
Blackjack Guide: Terms You Should Know
As with any casino game, there’s certain terminology you’ll need to be familiar with before you start playing. Below you’ll find a concise outline of all of the key terms you’ll encounter when playing blackjack.
- Double Down – This is where you place an additional bet equal to your original wager and only receive one additional card. You can only take this action after receiving your first two cards.
- Hit – Hitting is asking the dealer for another card.
- Insurance – If the dealer’s face-up card shows an ace, you can place a side bet of up to half your initial bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2:1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the insurance bet loses.
- Push – Whenever the hand results in a tie between yourself and the dealer you will keep your original bet. For example, when both hands have a value of 19 the hand will push.
- Soft Hand – A soft hand is any hand that includes an ace valued at 11 as opposed to 1. For instance, an ace and a four is a soft 15.
- Split – If you are dealt two equal cards, you have the option to split them into two separate hands by placing another bet equal to your initial wager. For example, if you bet £5 and are dealt two 9s, you can place an additional £5 bet to split them into two hands, each with a 9.
- Stand – Standing is when you are satisfied with the value of your hand and ask for no more cards.
- Surrender – In certain blackjack variants, you can surrender your hand before the dealer resolves the round. If you surrender, you abandon your hand to recoup half of your initial bet.
Ultimate Guide to Blackjack Basic Strategy
In order to perfect your blackjack game and minimise the house’s edge, there’s quite a lot of information you’ll need to remember.
While some players advocate learning to count cards, if you can learn the basic rules of blackjack strategy and memorise a blackjack guide chart, you’ll be well ahead of the novice player.
It’s important to remember, though, that just because you’ve made the optimal decision it doesn’t mean the outcome will necessarily be in your favour.
However, as long as you stick to basic strategy you should minimise your losses and maximise your returns in the long run.
Basic Blackjack Strategy Order of Operations
Blackjack is a game of decision, and making the correct choice at the right time is key to winning. As such, you should consider each of the following questions upon being dealt your first two cards:
- Should I Surrender? – With certain variants, you can surrender the first two cards you’re dealt if you feel the dealer is likely to win. If you wish to continue, you should move on to the next question.
- Should I Split? – This is only an option if either your first two cards are paired or you have two picture cards. You should make this decision based on the dealer’s face-up card and if the answer is no, move on to the next step.
- Should I Double? – When basic strategy calls for doubling, you should always do so to maximise your potential returns. If it doesn’t, consider the next question.
- Should I Hit? – If the above options don’t apply to your hand, you should consider taking another card depending on your current total and the dealer’s up-card.
- Should I Stand? – Finally, if blackjack strategy calls for none of these actions, you should stand.
Blackjack Basic Chart Explained
If you prefer a text-based explanation detailing what you should do in any given situation, as opposed to constantly referring to a visual guide, we recommend checking out the rules we’ve outlined below.
When to Surrender?
The option to surrender is only available when playing specific blackjack variants. However, if that’s your go-to, follow these rules to minimise your losses:
- 16 surrenders against a dealer’s face-up card worth 9 through ace. Otherwise, don’t surrender.
- 15 surrenders against any dealer’s 10. Otherwise, don’t surrender.
When to Split?
Splitting can be a great way to increase your potential payout but according to any basic strategy blackjack betting guide, you should only do it in specific situations. As long as you consider the following rules, you’ll put yourself in the best position to maximise your returns.
- Always split aces.
- Never split tens.
- A pair of 9s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 9. Otherwise, you should stand.
- Always split 8s.
- A pair of 7s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7. Otherwise, you should hit.
- A pair of 6s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 6. Otherwise, you should hit.
- A pair of 5s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 9. Otherwise, you should hit.
- A pair of 4s splits against the dealer’s 5 or 6. Otherwise, you should hit.
- A pair of 3s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7. Otherwise, you should hit.
- A pair of 2s splits against the dealer’s 2 through 7. Otherwise, you should hit.
What to Do When You Have a Soft Total?
A soft total is any hand that includes an ace as one of your first two cards, where the ace is valued at 11 to begin.
- Soft 20 (A,9) – Always stand.
- Soft 19 (A,8) – Double against a dealer’s 6, otherwise stand.
- Soft 18 (A,7) – Double against the dealer’s 2 through 6. Hit against 9 through ace, otherwise stand.
- Soft 17 (A,6) – Double against the dealer’s 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Soft 16 (A,5) – Double against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Soft 15 (A,4) – Double against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Soft 14 (A,3) – Double against the dealer’s 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
- Soft 13 (A,2) – Double against the dealer’s 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
What to Do When You Have a Hard Total?
A hard total is any hand that does not include an ace or one where the ace can only be counted as 1 instead of 11.
- Hard 17 and up – Always stand.
- Hard 16 – Stand against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 15 – Stand against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 14 – Stand against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 13 – Stand against the dealer’s 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 12 – Stand against the dealer’s 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 11 – Always double.
- Hard 10 – Double against the dealer’s 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
- Hard 9 – Double against the dealer’s 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
- Hard 8 – Always hit.
Blackjack Card Guide
After our previous explanation of some of the more complex aspects of blackjack strategy, it may seem somewhat redundant to revert to the basics now but it’s imperative you’re aware of the value of each card in your hand at any given moment. As such, we’ve created a blackjack card guide below to help you identify the value of each card in the deck.
|Ace||1 or 11|
|K, Q, J, 10||10|
What is a Blackjack Strategy Chart?
Simply put, an online blackjack strategy chart is a visual aid that outlines the optimal move in any given situation, whether it be to surrender, split, double, hit or stand.
It shows what you should do with any hand (hard or soft total) against any of the dealer’s possible face-up cards. It’s important to remember that certain charts are only effective for specific rulesets and/or variants.
One chart may be suitable for a single-deck H17 (dealer hits on soft 17) game, whereas another may be optimised for S17 (dealer stands on soft 17) play. Furthermore, any blackjack strategy guide is merely what it claims to be, which is a guide and not something that guarantees a sure-fire way to win.
How to Memorise a Strategy Chart?
Once you’ve read and gained an understanding of the information we’ve provided, it’s time to put your strategy into practice. Perfectly memorising a blackjack strategy chart is no simple feat but if your goal is to increase your potential returns at the tables it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to do so. As such, we’ve created a step-by-step guide below for your convenience.
- Step 1 – Find a chart online that you wish to memorise, ensuring it’s applicable for your preferred variant.
- Step 2 – Prepare pieces of paper or index cards that you will use to write down each of the player’s possible hands, and on the other side write down the best playing strategy.
- Step 3 – On a separate sheet, create blank blackjack charts where you will attempt to fill out the optimal actions from memory.
So, there we have it, our ultimate guide to blackjack strategy. While we’ve taken great care to ensure you have the correct information to take the optimal actions whenever you play, we must reiterate that it does not guarantee you’ll always win. However, once you begin to master the rules and strategies, you’ll discover that your losses are kept to a minimum, whilst your returns should begin to increase.