Blackjack strategy is anything you do to improve your chances of winning at the blackjack tables. It includes learning as much as possible about the game, learning the best play in every situation, and a wide range of other things.
You’ll find short summaries of some of the main pages and sections included on this site and links to main pages about strategy below. If you plan to become a true student of blackjack strategy I suggest bookmarking this page because it links to everything you need to know.
The first thing to do is read through all the terms and jargon used in and around the game of blackjack. I’ve compiled one of the most extensive list of terms you can find with definitions and examples where needed.
Unless you’re a seasoned pro, I bet you find at least one or two terms you didn’t know the meaning of.
Once you familiarize yourself with the language all of the other strategy and advice will be easier to follow and learn from.
The house edge is how much the casino will win on average over time. Generally it’s considered per hand, but you can use it to get expected loss rates per hour or session.
The blackjack house edge page lists all of the common rules and includes how each one changes the edge.
You don’t need to memorize what each rule does to the edge, but you do need to know which rules are better for you and which ones favor the casino. It’s also helpful to know the edge based on common rule combinations.
If you play the same place often you can determine the house edge based on their specific rules.
You can find tips, tricks, and advice on every page on the site, but I made a specific blackjack tips page for you. It’s not as extensive as the terms page, but it includes some great stuff to get you thinking and lead you to more in depth pages.
Basic blackjack strategy is a mathematical determination of the best way to play every hand at the table. Every possible hand is linked to a dealer up card and the best decision is listed.
You can find a basic strategy chart on the blackjack basic strategy page or you can stop in a casino gift shop and buy a card that includes it.
Many things change the house edge, but playing basic strategy is one of the biggest ones you control. Combining basic strategy with good rules can reduce the house edge to less than 1%. It’s not uncommon for players to get it down to a half percent.
Professional card counters start by mastering basic strategy to reduce the edge as low as possible so they can swing the edge in their favor by counting.
Perfect strategy is what every blackjack player should focus on accomplishing. It’s simply applying basic strategy with no mistakes.
This may seem like a section that isn’t needed because I just covered basic strategy, but the truth is many basic strategy players make mistakes. I’m comfortable going so far as to say most basic strategy players make mistakes.
Every mistake you make at the blackjack table costs you money in the long run.
I don’t know if the reason so many people make mistakes is because they get lazy or if they just never learn the entire strategy chart in the first place. Possibly they don’t recognize the importance of a reduced house edge in making their bankroll last longer.
Decide to accept nothing less than perfect basic strategy and you’ll be ahead of most blackjack players.
Knowing when to split pairs, and when not to, is one of the ways to reduce the house edge. It represents such an important part of basic strategy that I’ve developed a stand-alone page where you can learn more.
Splitting pairs can help turn poor hands into good hands and reduce the negative expectation of other hands.
Here’s an example. When you have two 8’s they create the worst possible hard total of 16. But when you split them you have a chance to draw a face card on each, creating a hard 18.
Doubling down is just as important as splitting pairs, so it’s discussed in depth on its own page as well.
When you double down you double your original wager to receive one additional card. Common double down situations include when you have a total of 11 or 10. As the dealer’s up card becomes worse your advantage goes up.
Here’s an example. If he dealer has a 3 through 6 and you have an 11, 10, or 9 you should double down. This is a profitable situation in the long run so you need to get as much money on the table as possible.
In many ways mastering the art of card counting is the ultimate blackjack strategy.
Successful card counters have worked hard enough to play perfect basic strategy, learned the best rules, and practiced counting cards until they could almost do it in their sleep.
Their reward is turning a house edge of up to 3% around to make it a player edge of 1% or more.
It isn’t easy, but almost anyone with the time and work ethic required can learn to count cards.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to learn about counting until you’ve got everything else about blackjack strategy mastered. But once you do, take some time learning more about card counting.
The card counting section includes everything you need to know starting with a step by step guide on how to do it and coverage of all the popular systems in use today.
It’s impossible to include all the ways to reduce the house edge on one page. The good news about the Internet is the ability to build more pages containing all the information you need.
This page is a resource, like a map, to all of the other pages you need to master blackjack strategy.