Blackjack Strategy

If you’ve seen films such as Rain Man and 21, you may think that card counting is the way to go when it comes to online blackjack.

Unfortunately, that’s not true. In 99% of the online blackjack games, the dealer shuffles the cards after each hand, making it impossible to count cards.

Blackjack Top Tips

  • Don’t under any circumstances play when the blackjack payout is less than 3/2.
  • Use a basic blackjack strategy when playing online – it can reduce the casino’s edge on the game
  • Side bets often look great but they usually increase the overall house edge of the game – for the best chance of winning, avoid them.
  • Double down on 11 and always split aces and eights.
  • To reduce house edge further follow our doubling, splitting and surrendering tips in this guide.
  • Single deck blackjack invariably offers the best odds in the player’s favour.
  • Strategies such as ‘never bust’ and ‘copy the dealer’ should never be used
  • Forget advanced blackjack strategy when playing online blackjack. It’s impossible

Basic Blackjack Strategy

We are, of course, talking about basic blackjack strategy. The method is all about the maths of the game and when to make the right decisions to improve your chances of winning. It’s not cheating; it’s just following a set of predefined rules based on your cards and the dealer’s up card.

The easiest way to use this basic blackjack strategy chart is to have it to hand when you’re actually playing the game. But if you’re keen on your revision then you may prefer to take it all in now so you’re ready to hit the tables safe in the knowledge that you’re making all the right decisions.

The left hand column refers the value of your cards while the top column is the dealer’s up card.

You have: The Dealer is showing a:
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
Key: H = HIT | D = DOUBLE | S = STAND | SP = SPLIT
5 to 8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 or 14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 or 16 S S S S S H H H H H
17 to 21 S S S S S S S S S S
13 or 14 (soft) H H H D D H H H H H
15 or 16 (soft) H H D D D H H H H H
17 (soft) H D D D D H H H H H
18 (soft) S D D D D S S H H H
19 or 20 (soft) S S S S S S S S S S
A, A or A, A SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
2,2 or 3,3 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
4,4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
6,6 SP SP SP SP SP H H H H H
7,7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
8,8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9,9 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP S S
10,10 S S S S S S S S S S

Good Blackjack Strategies and Tips

For those that think following a strict basic blackjack strategy table can be a lot of effort and take some of the spontaneity out of the game, we’ve compiled a simple set of rules you can follow which are easier to remember. These are as follows:

  • Hitting/Standing
    • Never stand on soft 17 unless the dealer’s up card is a 3, 4, 5 or 6.
    • Never stand on 11 or less.
    • Stand on 17 (as long as it isn’t soft).
  • Doubling Down
    • Always double down on 11.
    • Double down on 10 unless the dealer holds a 10 or a face card.
    • Be more inclined to double when dealer’s card is 4-6.
  • Splitting
    • Always split aces and 8s.
    • As much as you think it’s a good idea, never split 10s.
    • Never split 4s and 5s.
  • Surrendering
    • When dealer stands on soft 17, only surrender on 15 or 16 when the dealer’s card is 10.
    • When dealer hits on soft 17, surrender on 15 when the dealer’s card is 10 or a face card.
    • When dealer hits on soft 17, surrender on 16 when the dealer’s card is 9, 10 or a face card.

Bad Blackjack Strategies

Never Bust

As the name suggests, this strategy consists of ensuring that you don’t go over 21 or even anywhere near it by ensuring that a player never hits a hard 12 or more. It’s a nice theory considering the ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ phrase but unfortunately following this strategy means you’re relying on the dealer busting and reducing your chances of beating the dealer’s hand.

Copy the Dealer

This is even worse than the previous strategy and works on the theory that you should play exactly as the dealer does. This means if the dealer has to stand on soft 17 then so do you and that you don’t split or double when the opportunity arises. This is certainly a blackjack strategy to be avoided.

Avoid Side Bets

While not technically a strategy, we would also recommend avoiding the more expansive blackjack side bets that can be found in numerous variations of the game. If a casino is prepared to pay out a large sum for a side bet win, the chances are that they’re recouping those losses elsewhere in the game and most likely on the bet itself. Because of this it’s not uncommon for blackjack games with side bets to have a larger overall house edge than the more standard versions of the game. That said, blackjack games with a progressive jackpot you need to place the side bet so we’ll leave that decision to you. Just remember the odds aren’t in your favour.