What is the correct basic strategy for blackjack?

Copyright © 1994 – 2018By Michael Dalton All Rights Reserved
FAQ 3: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 4 of Blackjack Review Magazine

Example Basic Strategy ChartThere is only one “correct” basic strategy for this game given a set of established rules. However, since all casinos don’t offer the same rules the basic strategy can be slightly different from game to game. Also, the number of decks used affects the basic strategy slightly. Peter Griffin’s Theory of Blackjack and Stanford Wong’s Basic Blackjack are the player’s best resources for the “correct” basic strategy for any number of decks and rules. Basic strategy charts can also be found in Michael Dalton’s book Blackjack: A Professional Reference which is now online as The Encyclopedia of Casino Twenty-One.

The card shown on the right reflects a correct basic strategy for multi-deck games with double after splits not allowed

Basic strategy is a proven winning system for the game of twenty-one. It is a strategy which maximizes the player’s expectation given only knowledge of the player’s hand and the dealer’s up-card. In the good old days when single deck was plentiful and rules were great basic strategy could actually give the player a small advantage. Today, casino managers are aware of the power of basic strategy and generally do not offer games that can be beaten off the top of the deck. However, players should keep their eyes open for promotional games which do surface from time to time!

Basic strategy is powerful! All card counters must master it before moving on to the fine art of card counting. Basic strategy is not difficult! A person with average intelligence can memorize it in just a few hours. Basic strategy is the way to play! Every time you make a play on a hunch or intuition and ignore the “correct” basic strategy play you increase the casino advantage against you.

For example, a pit boss witnessing a player standing on an A-7 versus a ten valued dealer up-card would generally consider this player a novice or an idiot. If you stand on this hand you will win it about 41% of the time. If you hit the hand you increase your chances to 43%. Why would anyone not hit this hand? You can’t bust (at least not initially) and you stand a good chance of improving it. But every time I play this game I witness players standing on A-7 vs 10 with the hope that the dealer doesn’t have a nine or ten in the hole. Don’t be an idiot! Trust in basic strategy and play it perfectly. Your bankroll will thank you for it.

For more information read Michael Dalton’s complete article on “Basic Strategy” in the Summer 1995 issue of Blackjack Review magazine.

3 thoughts on “What is the correct basic strategy for blackjack?”

  1. Blackjack is a classic casino game that can be enjoyed whether you use strategy or not. Skill and knowledge of the game can affect how well you do at the blackjack table, but it’s important to remember that lady luck will have some influence. In our opinion, playing blackjack solely as a money-making activity, and trying to set yourself up with every tool available to make sure you maximize your every move, is kind of missing the point. On the other hand, one of the advantages of playing blackjack online is that you can take your time, and refer to blackjack strategy cards and other tools before you make your decision.

  2. It’s also good to keep in mind that even if you only use strategy for part of your play, it still has a far better chance of putting you ahead than good luck charms or any other superstitious rituals that you may use.

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