By Michael Dalton
There is only one correct basic strategy for blackjack 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 online book The Encyclopedia of Blackjack (Twenty-One) .
The example card shown on the right reflects a correct basic strategy for multi-deck blackjack games with double after splits not allowed and dealer stands on soft 17.
CORRECT BASIC STRATEGY 1)This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed. Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games. When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.
Surrender hard 16 (but not 88 pair) vs dealer 9, 10 or Ace.
Surrender hard 15 vs dealer 10.
Always split Aces and 8s.
Never split 10s and 5s.
Split 2s and 3s vs dealer 4-7.
Split 4s vs dealer 5-6.
Split 6s vs dealer 2-6.
Split 7s vs dealer 2-7.
Split 9s vs dealer 2-6 and 8-9.
Double hard 9 vs dealer 3-6.
Double hard 10 vs dealer 2-9.
Double hard 11 vs dealer 2-10.
Double soft 13 or 14 vs dealer 5-6.
Double soft 15 or 16 vs dealer 4-6.
Double soft 17 or 18 vs dealer 3-6.
HIT OR STAND
Stand on hard 12 vs dealer 4-6.
Stand on hard 13-16 vs dealer 2-6.
Stand on hard 17 or more.
Stand on soft 19 (A8) or more.
Hit hard 11 or less.
Hit soft 17 (A6) or less.
Hit soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 9, 10 and Ace.
IF DEALER HITS SOFT 17
Surrender 15, 88 and 17 vs dealer Ace.
Double 11 vs dealer Ace.
Double soft 18 (A7) vs dealer 2.
Double soft 19 (A8) vs dealer 6.
The correct 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.
For more information on the correct basic strategy and complete charts for blackjack, check out the basic strategy section in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack (Twenty-One). Also, check out the basic strategy app at the bottom of this page.
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FAQ 3: Originally published in Volume 4 Issue 4 of Blackjack Review Magazine
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||This is a generic multi-deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft-17 and double after splits is allowed. Refer to full charts in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack for all rule variations and fine points for single, double and multi-deck games. When trying to make a decision, first decide if surrendering is an option, then whether to split or double and finally whether you should hit or stand.|