The Ultimate Guide to Blackjack Basic Strategy

by D.Djokic • April 2, 2021
blackjack basic strategy

The game of 21 is among the most popular casino games, right after slot machines and poker. You’ll find blackjack tables in any casino on the planet, online or land-based. Even though blackjack offers favourable odds, many players leave the table empty-handed. To avoid such a fate, you should apply the blackjack basic strategy to your sessions.

Considering that many players find this concept intimidating, we’ll first explain the notable basic strategy features. Straightforward and to-the-point, our guide also covers everything you need to know about this system. Best of all, we provide tips and guidelines on winning at blackjack, helping you beat the dealer and win more hands than ever.

Six Quick Facts About Blackjack Basic Strategy:

  • The goal in blackjack is to beat the dealer by coming as close as possible to 21 without going over (bust).
  • Blackjack has a variable house edge that changes depending on game rules and player’s decision making.
  • In the best-case scenario, the house advantage on blackjack can go down to 0.43%.
  • Blackjack basic strategy is based on countless computer simulations and permutations.
  • Statistically correct decisions in blackjack basic strategy are the ones at the intersection of columns and rows.
  • The basic blackjack strategy chart comprises three sections: Hard Values, Soft Values, and Pair-Splitting Values.


Before we move on to the basic strategy in blackjack, we should first revisit the game’s fundamentals. By doing so, we’ll help beginners understand the basic rules of the game of 21, together with more advanced matters such as strategies.

After all, blackjack’s rules could seem simple, but the game hides many secrets and nuances. It can take years to master blackjack, so stay patient and practise as much as possible.

Basic Rules of Blackjack

In essence, blackjack revolves around the magical and ever-present number 21. This number is both a target and a betting limit, meaning that you need to come as close as possible to 21 without exceeding it.

When playing blackjack, your primary goal is to beat the dealer. There are multiple ways to win a hand, but it all comes down to getting to 21 (or close) without going bust (going over 21). To reach this imaginary target, you’ll have at least two cards at your disposal. Depending on the decisions mid-play, the dealer could provide you with extra cards.

Speaking of the basic rule of blackjack, we should mention that players can make several bets once they receive the cards. The most common decisions you can make are stand, hit, split, double down, and surrender. These names are self-explanatory, but we’ll elaborate on them later on in this guide.

Blackjack is a card game that pays 1:1 unless your initial two cards result in blackjack (21). In this case, the payout is 3:2. We should also add that face cards in this game have a value of 10. The Ace changes its value depending on the situation (1 or 11).

Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart

Now that we’ve refreshed your memory, it’s time to take the game to the next level. In other words, we should introduce you to the basic blackjack strategy and explain the concept.

We already said that players need to make several decisions to beat the dealer and win the hand. Yet, the dynamic gameplay can force players into making mistakes, i.e. making the wrong calls and losing their bets. That’s where blackjack basic strategy steps onto the scene.

This theoretical model derives its power from millions of computer simulations. By analysing every situation’s outcome, sophisticated programs can determine the moves with the highest payout potential. In simple terms, the computer tells us how to play and how to make the best decisions. Therefore, the basic strategy acts as a roadmap for players looking to increase winning odds and beat the casino.

Speaking of winning, we should say that the odds of winning at blackjack with basic strategy can be as low as 0.43%. Admittedly, this margin depends on specific blackjack rules implemented by the casino. For example, the soft 17 proposition can affect the house edge. The same goes for the so-called surrender and split/double rules.

Nonetheless, basic strategy maximises your chances of winning at a blackjack table. After all, computer-based guidelines are free from bias and emotional reactions. The math doesn’t lie, and that’s why blackjack players should focus on learning the basic strategy. Here’s how.

How To Win at Blackjack With Basic Strategy

As the name implies, the ‘basic’ strategy is among the most straightforward betting systems for the game of 21. More advanced methods can further improve your winning odds, but it takes a lot of effort to master those strategies.

Likewise, a deep understanding of the basic blackjack strategy can require a lot of time. However, some players can learn the rules in 20 minutes, memorising the blackjack basic strategy chart with ease.

Basic Blackjack Strategy Explained

To clarify, we should say that the chart comprises three segments: Hard Values, Soft Values, and Pair-Splitting Values. Each represents a combination of cards you receive at the start of a hand. For instance, the Hard values are those with two different cards and no Ace. Conversely, the Soft values comprise an Ace and cards 2 through 9. The last section deals with pairs, i.e. two cards of the same value.

Learning the blackjack basic strategy starts by memorising these three sections. After that, you can start practising. The column on the left-hand side represents your hand value, while the top row shows the dealer’s up-card (aka the hole card). Therefore, you should first find your card value and move horizontally. Also, locate the dealer’s position on the top row and move down vertically. When those two imaginary lines cross, you’ll find a symbol that indicates your best betting decision.

Almost every chart depicting blackjack basic strategy features the same abbreviations, including:

  • D – double down;
  • H – hit;
  • S – stand;
  • SP – split.

So, you only need to find the correct cell in the chart and follow the recommendation. For example, if the strategy shows H, click on the Hit option to receive an extra card if you are playing in one of the best online casinos.

In some cases, the move recommended by the chart might seem counterintuitive. Nevertheless, mathematical probability should have priority over any gut-choice you wish to make.

Final Thoughts on Blackjack Basic Strategy

As you could’ve seen, the basic strategy offers effortless access to correct betting decisions in the game of 21. No matter if you are new to blackjack or a seasoned player, this chart will guide you in the right direction, reducing the house edge and improving your winning odds.

If you want to know how to memorize blackjack basic strategy, here are some additional tips:

  • Always stand on hard 8 or lower.
  • Stand on hard 17 no matter what.
  • Always stand on soft 19.
  • Preferably split eights and Aces.
  • Never split pairs of 4s, 5s, and 10s.

In essence, you should always ask yourself the following questions when considering your moves in a hand of blackjack. Note that the order of the following operations plays a vital role.

Ask yourselves: should I?

  1. Surrender?
  2. Split?
  3. Double down?
  4. Stand/hit?

If you combine these steps with the ones recommended by the blackjack basic strategy, you’ll come super-close to becoming a blackjack master.