Blackjack Basic Strategy

Chart for Blackjack Play

Many blackjack players are intimidated or scared of the idea of memorizing basic strategy.

I’ve got two pieces of great news if you fall into this category and / or haven’t tried to learn basic strategy yet.

The first piece of good news is you don’t have to memorize the best blackjack strategy in order to use it. I’ve included a handy chart below that includes everything you need to know. Just print it off and use it whenever and wherever you play blackjack.

If you play online keep it with you at the computer and if you play at the casino take it with you. The casino doesn’t care if you use it.

The second piece of good news is if you want to learn basic strategy so you eventually don’t need a chart it’s pretty easy. I offer some advice on how to do that below the chart.

Basic Strategy Chart

Here’s a basic strategy chart you can print off to use while you learn the proper plays. It was designed for a shoe game (usually 6 to 8 decks) where the dealer stands on a soft 17. It represents the best basic strategy chart for general play. If you only play a certain set of rules you can find a chart specifically for your game, but most players have to play a variety of rules, so I’ve listed the best strategy chart here.

The easiest way to read the chart is find your hand down the left hand side and the dealer’s up card along the top. Where the two hands meet lists the best play.

Each starting blackjack hand falls into one of three categories. Hard hands are ones that don’t include an ace. Soft hands include an ace. The third type of hand is one that contains a pair, which can be split.

Hard hands start with “H” and soft hands start with “S”. The split hands are listed at the bottom of the chart.

You don’t split 4’s, 5’s, or 10’s so they don’t have lines in the split section. Play these hands based on their hard hand totals in the first section.

I’ve color coded the chart to make it easier to read.

Hit stands for hit. I used green for go.

DBL stands for double. I used blue for double.

Stand stands for stand. I used red for stop.

Split stands for split. I used purple for split.

Your Hand                                                  Dealer’s Up Card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
H 4 Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 5 Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 6 Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 8 Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 9 Hit DBL DBL DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 10 Hit DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL Hit Hit
H 11 Hit DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL DBL Hit
H 12 Hit Hit Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 13 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 14 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 15 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 16 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
H 17+ Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand
S 13 Hit Hit Hit DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
S 14 Hit Hit Hit DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
S15 Hit Hit DBL DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
S16 Hit Hit DBL DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
S 17 Hit DBL DBL DBL DBL Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
S 18 Stand DBL DBL DBL DBL Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit
S 19+ Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand
2 – 2 Split Split Split Split Split Split Hit Hit Hit Hit
3 – 3 Split Split Split Split Split Split Hit Hit Hit Hit
6 – 6 Split Split Split Split Split Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
7 – 7 Split Split Split Split Split Split Hit Hit Hit Hit
8 – 8 Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split
9 – 9 Split Split Split Split Split Stand Split Split Stand Stand
A – A Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split Split

In games that allow surrender you need to play a few hands differently. Here’s a list.

  • Surrender a hard 15 against a dealer 10.
  • Surrender a hard 16 against a dealer 9.
  • Surrender a hard 16 against a dealer 10.
  • Surrender a hard 16 against a dealer ace.

In games where you aren’t allowed to double after splitting a pair, make the following adjustments.

  • Hit with a 2 – 2 against a dealer 2 or 3.
  • Hit with a 3 – 3 against a dealer 2 or 3.
  • Hit with a 4 – 4 against a dealer 5 or 6.
  • Hit with a 6 – 6 against a dealer 2.

The only other possible adjustment is if you play in a game where you can’t double certain hands. If you aren’t allowed to double, hit every hand that is listed as double except for soft 18. Stand on soft 18 if you can’t double.

Memorizing the Chart

Print the chart off and use it when you play. Sign up for a free account at an online casino and start playing with your new chart. Check every play before making it to see what the best option is.

When I started learning basic strategy I always tried to guess the best play and then checked the chart. At first I missed many of them but I quickly learned where I was thinking incorrectly and learned the best plays in no time.

You can take a look at the chart and try to get a feel for the best plays, but don’t worry about memorizing it. Let you brain do all the hard work as you play. Every time you look up a play you’ll plant a little memory in your mind. If you plant the same memory enough times you’ll be able to recall it in the future.

Continue using your chart in live play until you can play perfect basic strategy. Even if you just need it for the hardest plays, having it with you is a good idea as it only takes a moment to check for the best play.

Conclusion

Learning and using basic strategy is one of the best ways to reduce the house edge while playing blackjack. By using the color coded chart included above you can quickly and easily see what the best play is and start committing all the plays to memory.