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How to play Blackjack, basic strategy

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Test your blackjack strategy here - FreeAs in all casino games, the house has a statistical advantage over the players that will play itself out in the long run. But because internet black jack, unlike other games, has an element of player choice, players can actually reduce the casino advantage to a small percentage by playing what is known as black jack basic strategy. This strategy determines when to hit and when to stand, and also determines when doubling down or splitting is the correct action. Basic online black jack strategy is based on the player's point total and the dealer's visible card. There are slight variations in basic blackjack strategy depending on the exact house rules and the number of decks used. Under the most favorable conditions (single deck, downtown Las Vegas rules), the house advantage over a basic blackjack strategy player can be as low as 0.16%. Indeed, casinos offering special rules like surrender and double-after-split may actually be offering a positive expectation to basic black jack strategy players; they are counting on players making mistakes to make money.

The following rules are beneficial to the skilled player:

  1. Doubles are permitted on any two-card hand except a blackjack.
  2. Doubles are permitted after splitting.
  3. Early surrender; the ability to forfeit half your wager against a face or ace before the dealer checks for blackjack.
  4. Normal (aka "late") surrender.
  5. Resplitting Aces.
  6. Drawing more than one card against a split Ace.
  7. Five or more cards with the total still no more than 21 as an automatic win

The following rules are detrimental to the skilled player:

  1. Less than 3:2 payout on blackjacks (as is the case with Las Vegas Strip single-deck blackjack, paying out 6:5)
  2. Splitting a maximum of once (to two hands)
  3. Double down restricted to certain totals, such as 9-11 or 10,11
  4. Aces may not be resplit
  5. No-Peek (European) blackjack—player loses splits and doubles to a dealer blackjack
  6. Player losing ties

Basic strategy tables

Your Hand Dealer's face-up card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
Hard totals
18-20 S S S S S S S S S S
17 S S S S S S S S S Rs
16 S S S S S S S Rh Rh Rh
15 S S S S S S S S Rh Rh
13-14 S S S S S H H H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
11 D D D D D D D D D D
10 D D D D D D D D H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
5-8 H H H H H H H H H H
Soft totals
A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
A,8 S S S S D S S S S S
A,7 D D D D D S S H H H
A,6 H D D D D H H H H H
A,4-5 H H D D D H H H H H
A,2-3 H H H D D H H H H H
Pairs
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 Rsp
7,7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
6,6 SP SP SP SP H H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D 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

The above is a basic strategy table for the most common 6- to 8-deck, Las Vegas Strip rules. Specifically: dealer hits on soft 17, double after split allowed, multiple split aces, one card to split aces, blackjack pays 3:2, and (optionally) late surrender.

Key:

S = Stand
H = Hit
D = Double
SP = SPlit
Rh = suRrender if allowed, otherwise hit
Rs = suRrender if allowed, otherwise Stand
Rsp = suRrender if allowed, otherwise SPlit

In some LV Strip casinos you may still be able to find the older version of the multi-deck shoe game, where dealer stands on soft 17; those are usually high minimum ($50 or more) tables. This version is much more advantageous to the player, but requires a slightly modified basic strategy table.

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