Blackjack Basic Strategy Guide
Blackjack is a relatively simple casino game to learn the rules of and understand, and it’s also one of the few table games where strategy can be used to your advantage. Unlike casino games like online slots or live baccarat, a blackjack game is largely a game of chance but also involves some skill.
Online blackjack is one of the most frequently played casino games at an online casino UK site, largely because it has a very low house edge compared to other table or card games. It’s also fun to play and a great game to practice playing with a strategy and sharpen your skills.
One of the most popular blackjack strategies is the basic blackjack strategy, a system which tells you which moves to make based on your cards and the dealer’s upcard. If you’ve been looking for a guide to blackjack basic strategy explained in a way that any beginner can understand, you’ve come to the right place!
This blackjack basic strategy trainer will explain the strategy and how it works. We’ll also explain how to use a basic strategy card and go over our top blackjack tips for using basic strategy correctly.
What is Basic Blackjack Strategy
Basic blackjack strategy is one of many different blackjack strategies that can be used to play blackjack, but it’s the one you’ll hear about the most when learning how to play online blackjack. Like any other strategy, basic blackjack strategy can only improve your odds of winning; it won’t guarantee you’ll beat the dealer every time.
This system tells you whether to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender based on the cards you have in your hand and the dealer’s upcard. The strategy was created through thousands of simulations to determine the most statistically correct decision for every single hand combination.
Following it without deviation is considered the best way to play blackjack, and while it won’t guarantee a positive outcome, using correct basic strategy can reduce the game's house edge from 2% to around 0.5%.
What’s important to keep in mind is that blackjack is still largely a game of chance, which is why any blackjack strategy can only help you so much. If you’re a beginner struggling to determine the correct move in the game, using a UK blackjack basic strategy chart can greatly help you.
How Basic Blackjack Strategy Works
Many players want to know how to win at blackjack basic strategy, but it’s important to understand the strategy first rather than focusing on how to win. Firstly, the strategy isn’t a foolproof way of beating the dealer, it’s simply a guide to the best choice you can make with the cards you have, but it’s only a statistical probability. Additionally, your odds of winning are largely determined by the cards you’re dealt, which you have no control over since they’re dealt randomly by the dealer.
That said, basic strategy can help you lower the house edge to your advantage. Follow the steps below to learn blackjack basic strategy and understand how it works, step by step.
- Any blackjack game begins with the dealer dealing two cards to every player. These cards are dealt face up, but the dealer gets one face-up card and one face down card. Basic strategy is based on your cards and the dealer’s visible card.
- As soon as the first cards are dealt, every player must decide whether to keep their hand as it is, split their cards, double their bet, or take another card.
- This is where you can turn to your blackjack basic strategy table to see what move to make.
- The chart should help you make the best decisions in the game to help you beat the dealer. Using it might also help you play faster and with less obvious mistakes that many beginners make.
The blackjack basic strategy practice can be applied to online blackjack games and live casino games, and it works the same way for both platforms. For live blackjack, a basic blackjack strategy chart can be very useful since the game is much more fast-paced than online blackjack.
UK Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart
Basic blackjack strategy is a set of rules that tell you how to play your cards for every possible combination, including the dealer’s visible card. A blackjack basic strategy card is a visual reference that should make it a lot easier to find the card combination you have and what you should do.
The blackjack basic strategy odds are around 0.5% if you use it correctly, but they aren’t always the same. The strategy chart is designed to give you the best outcome based on statistical probabilities, but it’s not a foolproof method for beating the dealer, so the odds may vary.
The strategy table provides a great starting point for beginners since there are many rules to memorize. If you’re new to the game, it can be overwhelming to remember the best move for each hand, especially if the game has a time limit during which you need to make a decision. However, remember that basic strategy isn’t always enough, and there are instances where you might need to deviate from the standard rules. In the following section, we’ll give you our top tips for reading and using a basic strategy chart effectively.
How to Read Basic Strategy Chart on Blackjack?
Before you start practicing your blackjack basic strategy drills, it’s important to make sure you know how to read a strategy chart. You’ll need to understand the abbreviations used for each move in the game. Most charts don’t use terms like ‘stand’ or ‘hit’ but a short version of them.
A typical strategy chart comprises four main elements: rows, columns, actions, and colors. We recommend learning a little bit more about these elements to understand the table even better and use it with more confidence, so we’ve explained them down below:
- Rows - There are two row headings on the table, one for your hand and one for the dealer’s up card. Below the player’s row are 26 rows with all the possible hands for the player and the actions to take based on the dealer’s card above. You’ll first need to locate your hand on the left and then find the dealer’s up card to see what action applies to you. The action below the dealer’s card and in the same row as your hand is the action you should take.
- Columns - Underneath the player’s heading, there is one row with all the hands possible, such as ‘H14’ or ‘S20’, for example. The dealer’s heading has 10 columns for each card. These are cards 2 to 10 and the Ace.
- Colors - Colors may vary from one table to another, but most of them have the same color code to indicate a specific action. Although the actions are written, the color coding makes it easier to read with some practice. Usually, green means hit, red means stand, blue means double down, and yellow indicates splitting a pair. Orange is used to indicate the surrender action.
- Actions - The actions in any strategy chart are hit, stand, double down, split, and surrender.
The table below explains all the actions in a typical blackjack strategy chart and the letters used to indicate them:
|Double (if not allowed, hit)
|Double (if not allowed, stand)
|Don't split the pair
|Split the pair
|Split only if doubling after a split is allowed
Besides the terms used in the table, several other facts and tips should be remembered before using this strategy. We’ve summarized these below to make it easier for you to remember:
- Always check the rules carefully before you play blackjack. Some blackjack games offer different rules and features, meaning some of the chart’s actions won’t apply. For example, the surrender option isn’t always offered.
- The same applies to doubling down. Some game variants don’t allow you to double on any hand, so you’ll have to decide between hitting or standing.
- Remember the difference between hard and soft hands. The hands in the strategy sheet are marked by an ‘S’ for soft and an ‘H’ for hard. A hard hand is one without an Ace, while a soft hand is one with an Ace, such as an Ace and a nine.
- Specific charts with deviations based on the specific rules of each blackjack variant also exist, but it’s advised to learn the basic strategy chart well before you attempt to learn additional rules and possible deviations.
- All blackjack strategy charts will also advise you to avoid taking the insurance bet. Side bets like the insurance bet are usually not profitable because they have a very high house edge.
- Most blackjack charts can be used for single deck blackjack and multi deck blackjack too.
With that in mind, you can use a blackjack basic strategy calculator or table at an online casino like Britain Play. You’ll find a large selection of virtual blackjack games to practice your skills on and an even wider variety of live dealer blackjack tables where you can try out basic strategy with a real dealer.
Learn Blackjack Basic Strategy
Using the tips and definitions in the previous section, you can learn blackjack basic strategy over time and with a lot of practice. If you’re a beginner, you can print a strategy table to use whenever you practice the strategy.
You can find free blackjack games online to practice basic strategy without risking real money until you feel confident using it. It may also be helpful to memorize the most important rules of basic strategy by using flashcards. Unlike casino games like online slots, blackjack is a game that requires practice, even if you’re not using a basic strategy.
Basic Blackjack Strategy Terms
We’ve gone over all the main blackjack terms like hitting or standing and other terms you’ll come across in a basic strategy chart blackjack table. When you’ve gotten the hang of these basic terms, you might move on to more advanced terms that will help you sharpen your skills.
Below, we’ve summarized the most crucial terms and rules from basic strategy that you might want to memorize to play faster and with fewer mistakes.
- Stand on 17+– Always stand on a hard 17 or higher. If you have a soft 17, double if the dealer’s card is 3, 4, 5, or 6. For any other card, you should hit.
- Double Down on 11 – You should always double on a hand with a value of 11, irrelevant of the dealer’s up card.
- Split 8s and Aces – There are several rules for splitting, but the most important ones are that a pair of eights or Aces should always be split into two separate hands.
- Never Split 10s – Another crucial splitting rule is that a pair of 10s should never be split. Expert card counters might sometimes split a pair of 10s if they’re certain the deck has plenty of 10-value cards, but it’s a risky move.
- Hit on Ace-7 for Dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace – If you have a soft 18 and the dealer’s card is 9, 10, or Ace, you should hit. For any other dealer card, you should stand.
- Only Stand with 12 on Dealer’s 4, 5, or 6 – You should always hit on a hand total of 12 unless the dealer’s card is anything from 4 to 6.
- Stand with 13, 14, 15, or 16 on Dealer’s 2 through 6 – Stand on any hand from 13 to 16 if the dealer’s card is anywhere from 2 to 6. Otherwise, you can hit.
Blackjack basic strategy is an extremely detailed type of strategy that takes a lot of time and practice to master. It’s not difficult to understand the rules of the strategy, but it does take time to get the hang of it. If you want to apply everything you’ve learnt in this blackjack basic strategy guide, we recommend keeping a strategy chart next to you to refer to whenever needed.
Remember, online variants like online blackjack and online roulette allow you to control the pace of the game yourself, so it’s the perfect platform to try out a specific strategy without the pressure of other players and timed betting rounds.
Finally, we’ll wrap up this guide with a reminder that no strategy, system, or tip can guarantee a winning round every time. Remember that losing is always part of the game, but the following blackjack tips might help you lower the house edge the next time you visit Britain Play Casino:
- Avoid taking the insurance bet or any other side bets. Many side bets offer tempting payouts, but the odds of winning are extremely low, making the risk too high.
- Never play under the influence of alcohol or any other substances. Ensure you’re in the right frame of mind and avoid letting emotions cloud your judgement when playing blackjack for real money.
- Change your bet size wisely and start with smaller bets. It’s better to play multiple rounds with smaller bets rather than risk a big chunk in one round and lose it all.
- Remember to enjoy your winnings and know when to quit. Once you’ve used up your budget for the game or perhaps you’ve had a successful blackjack session, collect your winnings rather than risk losing them by continuing to play.
- Understand the rules of the game you’re playing and read the paytable before you start playing.
Basic Blackjack Strategy FAQs
What is the Best Basic Blackjack Strategy?
The best strategy is to use basic blackjack strategy charts to guide you at every point in the game where you need to make a decision. Basic strategy is the optimal way to play blackjack because it’s based on statistical probabilities from thousands of game simulations.
Is Basic Strategy Allowed in Blackjack?
Yes, using basic strategy is definitely allowed when playing blackjack, and you're also allowed to use basic strategy charts to assist you. With online or live blackjack, you can easily keep a strategy chart blackjack guide beside you to refer to it if you’re stuck on a particular hand. This might help you make better moves and will help you make decisions faster too. In a land-based casino, it’s often allowed to use a strategy card as well, although it’s better if you can memorize most of the rules of the strategy.
What is the 17 Rule in Blackjack?
The blackjack basic strategy hit soft 17 refers to the rule in some blackjack variations that the dealer must hit soft 17 before standing. A soft 17 is any hand where an Ace counts as an 11, such as an Ace and a six or an Ace and a two and four. In this case, the dealer must take another card, but there are variants where the dealer stands on soft 17. If the dealer’s hand is higher than 17, the dealer stands.
Is Blackjack Basic Strategy Profitable?
No, basic strategy isn’t always profitable since it’s not foolproof for beating the dealer. There is no guaranteed method to beat the dealer every time, but it’s considered optimal for playing the game and can reduce the house edge even further if followed correctly.