Blackjack Strategy

Ever since Edward Thorpe’s Beat the Dealer was published in the 1960s, blackjack strategy has been a hot topic.

Basic Strategy

Many players are content to adopt a never-bust strategy. They hit on hands below 12, and stand on 12 or more, so that they will never go over 21 and bust. Other players simply mimic dealer strategy, hitting on all hands below 17 and standing on 17 or more. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really give players any advantage over the house.

You can reduce the house edge by a factor of ten simply by making use of the fact that you can see one of the dealer’s cards. Instead of hitting or standing based on your own hand alone, consider how your actions will affect your ability to beat the dealer.

Since 10 is the most common card value, you can start by assuming the dealer’s hidden card is worth 10. So, for example, if the dealer’s up card is an 8, assume that his total is 18. Since dealers must stand on 18, you know that’s the number to beat. Now, if your hand is a 17, you know that you need to hit in order to beat the dealer. If you’re not comfortable hitting and risking a bust, you might surrender at this point instead.


In order to advance your blackjack strategy to the next level, consider memorizing some blackjack strategy charts. These charts have been compiled based on mathematical analysis of the probabilities of drawing various cards in various scenarios. They can tell you whether it is in your best interests to hit, stand, split, double down, or surrender based on your own card total and the dealer’s visible card.

blackjack strategy chart


Card Counting

Card counting helps players keep track of which cards have already been played. By doing this, they can eliminate those cards from the pool of potential cards they may be dealt if they hit. This improved understanding of the odds is most useful in one or two deck games, where it is easy to remember what cards have been played. It is virtually useless for online blackjack, where the cards are random every time instead of being dealt from a shoe.

To read more about card counting systems, check our latest blog post about the best card counting systems for blackjack!

Shuffle Tracking

Shuffle tracking is an extremely difficult strategy that involves memorizing different groups of cards as they are dealt, and then trying to track them through the shuffle to predict when they might come up again next. The idea is, when you see one card from the group, you know other cards from that same group are likely to be nearby.

Strategy Hints

If card counting and chart memorizing are too much for you, you can still boost your blackjack strategy by remembering a few simple hints:

  • If you are dealt two aces or two 8s, always split.
  • Never split two 4s or two 10s.
  • If you are dealt 19 or 20, always stand, regardless of what the dealer has. Your odds of hitting 21 are just too low.

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