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Best Blackjack Basic Strategy Guide

Updated on: December 22nd, 2022

blackjack basic strategyThe blackjack basic strategy is somewhat of an iconic feature in the pantheon of blackjack strategies. It’s actually become the go-to strategy for anyone looking to master playing blackjack whether online or offline at a real table. Although, admittedly, it’s easier to use it when you’re playing online as you can have the basic strategy blackjack chart right next to you. However, with enough dedication and patience, USA players can memorize the blackjack basic strategy chart.

This strategy is considered to be the most successful strategy in saving you the most amount of money when playing blackjack. Furthermore, it could be considered a gateway into learning how to card count – which isn’t illegal but casinos do frown upon it because of how much money it loses them at the blackjack table.

For those looking to really master blackjack, the basic strategy alone isn’t enough. It can’t overcome the house edge, even if you get lucky every now and then. You’ll need to incorporate things like counting, true count conversions, and deviations to actually beat the game. But that’s for another guide.

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What is the Blackjack Basic Strategy?

The best strategy for playing blackjack involves using the information about your hand and the dealer’s face up-card constructively. This strategy reduces the long-term house advantage – your expected losses – when playing.

It was created by four US Army engineers who were also gambling authors in the 1950s. The blackjack basic strategy has since been refined and made more accurate by computer analysis. The strategy is presented in chart form which tells you what to do when you have a certain hand along with a specific up-card from the dealer’s part.

Importance of the Basic Strategy for Blackjack Gambling

blackjack tableThe blackjack basic strategy is an important tool to have in your back pocket whenever playing this casino game. Generally, USA players new to blackjack tend to make the mistake of going with their gut and also being afraid to bust while playing. However, with the basic strategy guiding them, it gives players favorable odds.

Additionally, it also helps with lowering the house edge. Even though blackjack may have one of the lowest house edges in the casino, it’s still advantageous to lower it even further. The typical blackjack house edge is at 2.5%.

So, for every US$100 bet you play, the casino gets US$2.50. However, when you play with the blackjack basic strategy, the house edge drops to 0.50%. So, for every US$100 you bet, the casino gets US$0.50 from it.

Using basic blackjack tips and the blackjack chart when you play saves you US$2 every time you bet!

Blackjack Basic Strategy Order of Operations

blackjack hand operationsWhen using basic strategy, it is important to note that there’s an order of operations. This order goes:

Can I/Should I Surrender?

If the blackjack game you’re playing offers surrender (or late surrender known as LS), you can only surrender on the first two cards you’ve been dealt. If you’ve taken a hit card you can’t use this move. Therefore, it’s important to think about surrender first when playing your hand. If you can’t or you shouldn’t, then the next question you should ask yourself is…

Can I/Should I Split?

Secondly, you need to consider if you can split or not. This option is only available if your first two cards are a pair or you have two 10s (a Jack or a King). If you can’t or shouldn’t split, then the next question is…

Can I/Should I Double?

Thirdly, this is where the basic strategy calls for doubling and that is a good thing. If you get to this point, then you are likely to win the hand. Check which hands the casino’s rules allow doubling on. If you can’t or shouldn’t double, then ask yourself…

Should I Hit or Should I Stand?

Lastly, when it comes to the blackjack basic strategy, think about whether or not you want to take another card. If none of the options above work for your situation, then it means you can hit or stand.

Basic Strategy Chart

The blackjack strategy is easily read in the form of a chart. The basic strategy chart shows you all the possible hand combinations along with the possible up-card. Below is a standard blackjack basic strategy chart with abbreviations for each option.

blackjack basic strategy chart


  • H = Hit
  • S = Stand
  • DD = Double Down
  • P = Split
  • H/P = Split if you can double, otherwise Hit
  • H/R = Surrender if allowed, otherwise Hit
  • A = Ace

Blackjack Basic Strategy FAQs

What is basic strategy?

This strategy is a set of rules that tells you the best way of playing every hand dealt. It’s based off knowing your hand and the dealer’s up-card.

Is there strategy in blackjack?

Yes, there are actually various strategies in blackjack. The most popular one is the basic strategy, which is great for beginner players. For the more advanced player, card counting is a tactic they can use to beat the house.

When should you hit or stay in blackjack?

There are various hands that require you to hit or stay:

  • Always hit hard 11 or less.
  • Stand on hard 12 against a dealer 4-6, otherwise hit.
  • Stand on hard 13-16 against a dealer 2-6, otherwise hit.
  • Always stand on hard 17 or more.
  • Always hit soft 17 or less.
  • Stand on soft 18 except hit against a dealer 9, 10, or A.
  • Always stand on soft 19 or more.

Who invented basic strategy for blackjack?

Four US Army engineers first discovered the basic strategy for playing blackjack back in the 1950s. Known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the authors’ names were: Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott.

Can you win blackjack with basic strategy?

Yes, you can win blackjack with basic strategy. It’s the one strategy that’s considered to lose the least money to the house in the long term.

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