Guide to the Optimal Strategy For Blackjack

Last updated on 10th August 2020

Published: 03/01/2020

Categories: Blackjack Guides, Guides

guide to optimal strategies for blackjack

Blackjack is one of the top choices for many punters like you. Once you know the rules of Blackjack, playing makes it more interesting. As you practice, you’ll realise that the tactics can affect the whole game. So you must learn the optimal strategy for blackjack because the basic ones just won’t be enough.

Considering this, today, I’m going to tell you how to use the right strategy to make sure that you increase the odds of winning.

So, let’s get started.

The Optimal Strategy for Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular live casino games out there and the strategy that you apply while playing blackjack literally determines 2 things:

  • How will the game progress
  • Differentiates yourself as a winning player and someone who loses consistently

These blackjack strategies will teach you when to exactly:

  • Use the basic strategy
  • Start card counting
  • Double Down
  • Hit or Stand
  • Surrender
  • Split Pairs

Now, let me explain each of these.

The Basic Blackjack Strategy

One of the most crucial things you need to comprehend about the blackjack game is that it’s a game based on your decision.

Unlike other online casino games, the decision that you take while playing blackjack has a result on how the hand plays out. Thus, it can contribute to either a win or a loss at the table.

Due to this, there’s a mathematically proven trick known as “basic strategy,” which gives you an ideal advantage while playing.

And if you want the best odds in the long run, this is something you should use.

Dealers Up Card




















Dealers Up Card
H = Hit

D = Double Down

SP = Split

S = Stand

H/SU = Surrender if you’re able tp. Else, Hit


From the image shown above, you’ll see that the basic strategy outlines how you should play optimally while considering what you’ve been dealt with respect to the dealer’s hand.

Most newbies will make the mistake of going with their gut feeling. And if you’ve been doing it too, you need to stop it right away.

And for all this, using the basic strategy is the perfect way to have the odds in your favour.

If you’ve been playing different casino games, you’ll know that the house has an advantage always – no matter what game it is. That’s how casinos make profit and it makes sense.

So, a game like Blackjack isn’t an exception. In fact, it has one of the lowest house edge, which is why it is a brilliant game for you to learn and play.

When you use a perfect trick while playing blackjack, typically, the game will have a house edge of about 0.50%. This means for each ₹100 that you bet, the online casino anticipates to win ₹0.50 from you for an infinite number of hands.

That’s the reason basic strategy plays a key role.

Take the same example of ₹100 bet and assume that an unskilled or ignorant player is betting on it. What happens? Well, the house advantage will go as high as 2.5% or even more, and the house can anticipate to win ₹2.50 or more over time.

Due to this, it is easy to see why playing with this trick is often the optimal strategy for blackjack each and every time.

The Strategy of Card Counting in Blackjack

If you’ve got good experience in playing casino games, I’m sure you must have heard about Card Counting.

Card Counting is a system, which lets you to have a positive expectation while playing blackjack and puts the house edge in your favour.

Card counting isn’t explicitly illegal but most casinos will chuck out card counters because they can damage their profits to a serious level if they hit a hot streak.

In a nutshell, card counting is more like a tracking system where you use your memory power to track what cards have been dealt in the blackjack game.

Since there are only a few cards dealt in every round, it’s possible for you to have an idea of what could be remaining in the deck and manage your strategy according to it.

Most counting systems will use -1, 0 and +1, which gives every card a value (in the deck). Basically,

  • Cards from 2 to 6 are +1
  • Cards 7, 8, 9 are 0 (or neutral)
  • Aces and Face cards are -1

When the cards are dealt, you’ll keep track of the count and get a basic idea of the remaining cards.

But mostly, a game of blackjack uses multiple decks. Therefore, you’ll  have to separate the running count from the number of decks you believe is remaining to form. This is called true count.

With the help of the true count’s value, you adjust your bet so that when it is high in the positives, you bet more and when the count is low, you also bet low.

This trick requires a huge amount of practice. But once you master it, it’s a proven tactic to get over the casino advantage in a game of blackjack.

Card counting is a theory that has a lot of misconceptions. Most players assume that it’s a skill only super talented or mathematical wizards can pull off very well.

But let me tell you that counting cards is no rocket science!

It’s only a variant of the basic strategies and doesn’t require any photographic memory or mathematical prowess to execute it. Any average player can master it, given that he or she keeps practicing.

The only difficult part is to get kicked out from a casino. And even that’s not the case here because you’ll be playing at online casinos.

card counting technique in blackjack

How to count cards in blackjack?

Though blackjack has many variations, a standard game will have you aim at having a hand of cards that sums to 21 points.

The face value of all the cards in the deck is taken to be their points, excluding:

  • Jack
  • King
  • Queen
  • Every card with a value of 10

The Ace can either serve as 1 or 10, depending on your decision. So, the dealer gives out 2 cards (face down) to every player, and 2 cards to himself, with only one face down.

You’ll be able to see the exposed card of the dealer and come up with a speculation what is the dealer’s:

  • Hand value
  • Hole card

In a game like Blackjack, you shouldn’t anticipate to see the deck that’s being shuffled during the onset of the game.

If you’ve been blessed with extremely high memory, you can mentally do these calculations:

  • Mark each card that you see
  • Note the cards after every hand
  • Deduct the number of cards that’s remaining in the deck
  • Deduct the cards that have been already dealt

After this deduction, you can easily tell when is the right time to bet low or high.

For example, if only smaller cards are being exposed for a while, then there’s a high chance that bigger will be revealed in the next hand. This also tells you that it might be the perfect time to bet high.

That’s why land-based casinos won’t allow you to see when the cards are being shuffled.

The Double Down Strategy

In this strategy, this is what you do:

  • Double hard 9 versus dealer 3-6
  • Double hard 10 other than against the dealer A or 10
  • Double hard 11 other than against the dealer A
  • Double soft 13/14 versus dealer 5-6
  • Double soft 15/16 versus dealer 4-6
  • Double soft 17/18 versus dealer 3-6

The Hit or Stand Strategy

Here, this is what you need to do:

  • Always hit hard 11 or less
  • Stand on hard 12 against the dealer 4-6, else, hit
  • Stand on hard 13-16 against the dealer 2-6, else, hit
  • Always stand on hard 17 or higher
  • Always hit soft 17 or less
  • Stand on soft 18 except hit against the dealer 9/10/A
  • Always stand on soft 19 or higher

The above trick will work fine under certain set of rules. But if you’re a true perfectionist, you can make these modifications if the dealer hits soft 17:

  • Double 11 versus dealer A
  • Surrender 15, a pair of 8s, and a 17 versus dealer A
  • Double soft 19 versus dealer 6
  • Double soft 18 versus dealer 2

The Surrender Strategy

Here, this is what you need to do:

  • Surrender hard 16 (not a pair of eights though) versus dealer 9/10/A and hard 15 versus dealer 10. Else, don’t surrender.

The Split Strategy

Here, this is what you need to do:

  • Always split 8s and aces
  • Never split 10s and 5s
  • Split 3s and 2s against a dealer 4-7, and against a 2 or 3 if DAS (Double After Split) is permitted
  • Split your 4s only if Double After Split is permitted and the dealer reveals 5 or 6
  • Split your 6s against dealer 3-6, and against a 2 if Double After Split is permitted
  • Split your 7s against a dealer 2-7
  • Split your 9s against a dealer 2-6 / 8-9

The Soft Totals

Basically, a soft total is any hand, which has Ace as one of the initial 2 cards. The ace counts as 11 to begin.

  • Soft 13 (Ace,2) doubles against a dealer 5 via 6, else, hit
  • Soft 14 (Ace,3) doubles against a dealer 5 via 6, else, hit
  • Soft 15 (Ace,4) doubles against a dealer 4 via 6, else, hit
  • Soft 16 (Ace,5) doubles against a dealer 4 via 6, else, hit
  • Soft 17 (Ace,6) doubles against a dealer 3 via 6, else, hit
  • Soft 18 (Ace,7) doubles against a dealer 2 via 6, and hits against 9 via Ace, else, stand
  • Soft 19 (Ace,8) doubles against a dealer 6, else, stand
  • Soft 20 (Ace,9) always stand

The Hard Totals

Generally, a hard total is any hand, which doesn’t begin with an ace, or deals with an ace that can be counted only as 1 rather than 11.

  • 8 always hits
  • 9 doubles up against a dealer 3 via 6, else,  hit
  • 10 doubles up against a dealer 2 via 9, else, hit
  • 11 always doubles
  • 12 stands against a dealer 4 via 6, else, hit
  • 13 stands against a dealer 2 via 6, else, hit
  • 14 stands against a dealer 2 via 6, else, hit
  • 15 stands against a dealer 2 via 6, else, hit
  • 16 stands against a dealer 2 via 6, else, hit
  • 17 and above always stands

Things to Keep in Mind to be a Successful Blackjack Player

Though you can increase your chances of winning and make the odds more favourable with the most effective blackjack strategies, there are certain things to remember if you want to be a successful blackjack player. I’ve highlighted them below.

1. Remember the rules of blackjack every time you play

A game like blackjack has thousands of variations, each featuring its own set of guidelines and oddities.

Even though these rules vary slightly, there still exists a difference and that’s why they are variants. Therefore, it is very important to check the rules of the game variant before placing your bet.

2. Never use insurance

You must have heard of blackjack insurance for sure and stories of how ignorant punters drain down all their money on it. If you’re thinking of it, then drop the idea right away because it’s probably one of the worst things to do.

It’s money-draining, pointless, and useless. Don’t use it!

3. Never ignore the house edge

You cannot win at blackjack every time you sit down to play. And that’s because like any other casino game, this has a house edge that makes sure that there’s always an advantage to the casino. And this isn’t something that a casino sets.

In fact, every gaming product already has it. So, it’s a part of every game. The house edge remains the same no matter what casino you choose to play at.

One of the best ways to avoid the house edge is to stop playing the moment you win some money.

4. Play unremarkable games with higher pay-outs

Unless you become a pro punter and start spending most of your time playing in casinos, this thing will be the hardest to recognise.

However, occasionally, casinos will hide that one high-payout machine in a remote corner, often flanked by other machines, which haven’t paid since ages.

5. Pick a 3:2 pay-out than 6:5

A few casinos choose to cheat a bit and make the pay-outs 6:5 rather than the typical 3:2. And playing at such casinos means won’t make you win as you’d have expected. In such a scenario, avoid live casinos or online casinos that offer bad pay-outs.

6. Complexity is your best friend

Like it or not, if a game was developed to be simple and straightforward, then it wouldn’t make sense. Anyone walking down the street could grasp the probabilities immediately, play, and win big. If this was the case, then all casinos would have been shut down by now and no one would have thought of doing gambling as a business.

This also means that the game isn’t challenging enough to tickle your minds or make you think of the best strategies.

The more intricate a game is to analyse, the more likely there is some subtle nuance to be taken advantage of.

Are you Ready?

Now that you’ve learned the optimal strategy for blackjack, it’s time to put your knowledge into action by playing at one of the high-payout licensed online casinos offering this game.

Good luck at the tables!

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