When playing Blackjack, players should pay close attention to the face-up card of the Dealer and make their decisions whether to hit, stand, or split accordingly. If you play optimally (so stand and hit on the right hands, given the Dealer’s face-up card), you can reduce the advantage of the house enormously.
It has been calculated that a player playing optimally can reduce the edge the house has on players to almost one half percent (0.5% or 99.5%) – the lowest in any casino game played around the world. We’ll show you how to play at your best using blackjack charts, and how you can use card counting to your advantage.
In Blackjack, you always play against the Dealer – even if there are others playing at the table. You should base your decisions to hit or stand on the strength of your cards and the Up Card of the Dealer. The table below lays out the optimal playing strategy for a multi-deck blackjack table (almost always the case at offline and online casinos).
In the top row you find the Up Card of the Dealer, while in the first column you find your cards – either their total value when you have no Ace or Pair (under ‘hard totals’), or your total when you have an Ace (under ‘soft totals’), or when you have a Pair (under ‘pairs’). Look up your cards and the Face Up card and the chart will tell you whether to hit, stand, or split. You can print these blackjack strategy charts to study them or keep them handy. As you can see, you should always hit on card values of 8 or less and you always stand on card values of 17 or more.
Blackjack Chart Examples
To go over some examples of how to use this basic strategy chart, check our strategy chart page on mastering the chart.
This is one of the most advanced blackjack strategies, and if you learn to count cards in Blackjack you’ll dramatically increase your chances of winning. Pioneered by the members of the now world-famous MIT Blackjack Team, it involves skill and pratice but can yield superior returns when thoughtfully and consistently executed. Please be aware that complex strategies like Card Counting are used by professional players and should only be attempted by the most advanced and experienced players.
When counting cards you pay attention to all cards which have already been played at your table, as these cards will not be dealt again before the decks are reshuffled. Card counting is based on research which shows that low cards in the deck improve chances of winning for the House, while high cards in the deck improve chances of winning for the Players. The Dealer can not adjust his strategy whereas you can! Once the deck is in your favour (that is, when the deck has many high value cards) you can dramatically improve your odds by betting fiercely and raking in the profits. The members of the MIT Blackjack Team have won millions in cash over the years and are refused entry at all casinos world wide as a consequence of the success of their strategy.
Although difficult, you don’t need to memorize each and every card dealt. You merely need to adopt a system which keeps track of whether more high or low value cards have been dealt, thus either lowering or improving your chances of winning. When the deck becomes more profitable you can increase your bets or alter your decisions in order to play more agressively. Look up our special card counting section if you want to learn more about these systems, but remember: You should first learn how to play flawlessly using only the basic strategy chart.