Blackjack strategy

Blackjack strategy comes down to knowing when to do what. Certain things just have better mathematical chances, and if you become good enough at knowing these, you could beat the house over a long period time.

Rules of blackjack

The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer. Whichever of the player and the dealer who are closest to 21 without going over is the winner. In case of both the dealer and the player finishing on the same sum, it’s a push, and the player gets his bet back.

The player is dealt a two card hand face up, while the dealer is dealt a two card hand, but with only one of the cards visible to the player. The value of the cards is the same as the numbers on the cards, while Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10 points. Aces are worth either 1 or 11, whichever makes for the higher total sum.

After the initial deal the player can choose whether or not they want another card. As long as the player doesn’t have 21, he can choose to take another card. The standard rules for the dealer is that they will have to hit until their cards total 17 or more.

If the player or dealer go over 21, then they are bust, and if anyone has a hand under 21, they will win that hand.

Basics

Now that you know the rules, you should get into the basics of how you should play:

First of all: Never take insurance. The name itself is misleading, as it’s not really to protect the player, but rather a bet on whether or not the dealer has a blackjack. The house has an edge of 2.04% with 1 deck, 4.95% with 2 decks and 6.34% with 4 decks, and it increases even further as the number of decks go up. And the odds are even worse if there are visible ten cards (10, jack, queen, king) on the table.

Splitting:

The ground rule of splitting is the following: Always split AA and 88, and never split 55 and two ten cards.

Doubling:

10 and 11 are the hand values you should double down on, but there are exceptions. Don’t do this against a dealer’s ace, and with 10s, you shouldn’t double down against a dealer’s ten card or ace.

Hit or stand:

The ground rules here are quite simple as well, but to play optimally you have to go quite deep.

You should always hit hard 11 or less, and stand on hard 17 or less. Usually you should hit 12 to 16 as well, but there are small exceptions, which we will not get into now, as it goes beyond the basics.

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