BlackJack Strategies
BlackJack players have developed a multitude of strategies, and among the most recognized are presented in this article.
Some of the most common strategies used in the BlackJack game are the BlackJack basic strategy, also known as the blackjack strategy card because you can have the rules printed on a card, and the 21 BlackJack card counting, that is somehow a more difficult strategy to implement and requires practice.
BlackJack index |
BlackJack strategy card
This is also known as the basic BlackJack strategy. As players at blackjack are still able to make decisions, some choices can reduce the casino advantage if applied optimally. The list of such optimal plays is knows as basic strategy, and is available in the below table. To play using the BlackJack strategy card you just have to follow the below recommendations based on the known factors (your cards and dealer’s face-up card). The table presents optimal plays for blackjack table where 3 or more decks are used, and the dealer stands on soft 17. If other rules apply, there would appear slight variations.
Your hand | Dealer’s face-up card | |||||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | A | |
Hard totals | ||||||||||
17-20 | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S |
16 | S | S | S | S | S | H | H | SU | SU | SU |
15 | S | S | S | S | S | H | H | H | SU | H |
13-14 | S | S | S | S | S | H | H | H | H | H |
12 | H | H | S | S | S | H | H | H | H | H |
11 | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | H |
10 | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | H | H |
9 | H | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | H | H | H | H | H |
5-8 | H | H | H | H | H | H | H | H | H | H |
Soft totals | ||||||||||
2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | A | |
A,8 A,9 | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S |
A,7 | S | Ds | Ds | Ds | Ds | S | S | H | H | H |
A,6 | H | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | H | H | H | H | H |
A,4 A,5 | H | H | Dh | Dh | Dh | H | H | H | H | H |
A,2 A,3 | H | H | H | Dh | Dh | H | H | H | H | H |
Pairs | ||||||||||
2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | A | |
A,A | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP |
10,10 | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S | S |
9,9 | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | S | SP | SP | S | S |
8,8 | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP |
7,7 | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | H | H | H | H |
6,6 | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | H | H | H | H | H |
5,5 | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | Dh | H | H |
4,4 | H | H | H | SP | SP | H | H | H | H | H |
2,2 3,3 | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | SP | H | H | H | H |
Legend:
- S = Stand
- H = Hit
- Dh = Double (if not allowed, then hit)
- Ds = Double (if not allowed, then stand)
- SP = Split
- SU = Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)
BlackJack basic strategy reduces the casino house edge to near 0% at single deck game and between 0-1% for multi deck games.
Card counting
The basic strategy card provides the player with the optimal play for any blackjack situation.
Card counting is another strategy used based on keeping track of cards dealt out of the deck (or decks) and the probability of hitting a high or low card. Knowing this probability the player will know when the cards remained in the deck are favorable to his hand or not.
Card counting offers some important advantages: the player will know when to make large bets that are favorable or the player can use card counting for improving the basic blackjack strategy.
Card counting system has many variations, but none of them actually require the player to remember the the exact cards that have been dealt down. In all card counting variations a point system is established, and the player just counts the points given to each card dealt by the dealer.
Card counting (as long as done correctly) brings the player in a 0-2% advantage over the casino. To counter card counting, many casinos switched from a single deck to multiple decks blackjack, with the cards dealt out of a container known as a “shoe”.
Card counting systems and values offered to cards:
Card Strategy |
2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | J | Q | K | A |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
Wizard Ace/Five | 0 | 0 | 0 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | −1 |
KO | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | −1 | −1 | −1 | −1 | −1 |
Hi-Lo | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 0 | −1 | −1 | −1 | −1 | −1 |
Hi-Opt I | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 0 | −1 | −1 | −1 | −1 | 0 |
Hi-Opt II | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | −2 | −2 | −2 | −2 | 0 |
Zen Count | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 0 | 0 | −2 | −2 | −2 | −2 | −1 |
Omega II | 1 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 0 | −1 | −2 | −2 | −2 | −2 | 0 |
BackJack card counting based KO variation from the table above will add 1 point for each small value card (1-7), will neglect cards as 8 and 9, and will subtract 1 point for cards having a higher value (10, J, Q, K, A). A simple logic comes in play here: if you will be getting with your counting at a higher value (let’s say 15), that means that more low value cards were drawn than high value cards. As now it is a higher probability for high value cards to come from the deck, you can adjust your strategy based on this knowledge (if your hand is of 15-16 value let’s say, it is highly probably you will get burned if you hit another card).
Same way goes in the situation your counting is at a negative value. In this case the player can only conclude there are many low value cards left in the deck.