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Basic blackjack strategy charts

Unlike pokies, roulette and many other casino games, our decision-making during a blackjack hand can make or break our chances of winning. This is the main reason the game of 21 is popular all over the world – because with the right know-how and a decent set of rules, we can keep the casino’s mathematical advantage to the most marginal of percentages. The easiest way to do this is to apply basic strategy.

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What is Basic Strategy?

Basic strategy involves a fixed list of actions for each possible scenario in a hand of blackjack – i.e. whether to hit, stand, double, split, or surrender based on the make-up of both our hand and the dealer’s. This covers every hard, soft, or paired hand we might draw, and every up card the house might catch.

The specific instruction for a certain hand can differ from game to game depending on whether or not certain rules are in play, which we will discuss in further detail later on, but the bottom line is this: with basic 21 strategy, we make the same move every time. So if good strategy dictates we should hit a hard total of seven when the dealer shows three, we always hit in that situation; and if it says stand on a soft 18 against the dealer’s eight, then we stand every time that combination arises; and so on and so forth.

This is not a magic fix that will turn you into a millionaire overnight – for besides outright cheating, there is simply no way to guarantee a profit playing real money casino games. What basic strategy does do is greatly reduce volatility and variance by showing us the most statistically sound play for any given situation, which often limits the house advantage to well under 0.50 per cent and thus improves our likelihood of long-term wins.

Cheat Sheets For Online Blackjack

The great thing about playing real money blackjack on the Internet is we can use whatever aides and guides we like. There aren’t any disapproving croupiers to scowl at us, or disgruntled pit bosses to tell us off, or security guards to haul us away – so why not take every advantage? Indeed, some online 21 games (such as Microgaming’s Premier Blackjack) even have rudimentary strategy helpers built in, although these are rarely as reliable or comprehensive as the ones we are about to show you.

Whether you play on the Web or prefer land-based casinos, the charts below – courtesy of the wonderful Wizard of Odds, Michael Shackleford – are great reference tools for learning basic strategy. The numbers on the side of each chart represent the player’s hands, while those along the top are the dealer’s possible up cards. At the intersection of each axis is the correct play for that scenario, as according to this key:

H = Hit
S = Stand
P = Split
Dh = Double if allowed, otherwise hit
Ds = Double if allowed, otherwise stand
Rh = Surrender if allowed, otherwise hit
Rs = Surrender if allowed, otherwise stand

We have tailored these strategy charts to correspond with some of Microgaming’s most popular Internet 21 titles, including games where the dealer peeks for natural 21 (Atlantic City Blackjack and Vegas Single Deck Blackjack) as well as those where the ENHC rule is invoked (Classic Blackjack and European Blackjack). Each of these releases can be found in the Microgaming Gold Series collection at Royal Vegas – our top-rated blackjack casino for Australians.

Classic Blackjack
– Single deck
– Dealer stands on soft 17
– No double after split
– No surrender
– ENHC (no peek)Microgaming Classic Blackjack Strategy
Vegas Single Deck Blackjack
– Single deck
– Dealer hits soft 17
– No double after split
– No surrender
– Dealer peeksMicrogaming Vegas Single Deck Blackjack Strategy

 

European Blackjack
– Two decks
– Dealer stands on soft 17
– No double after split
– No surrender
– ENHC (no peek)Microgaming European Blackjack Strategy
Atlantic City Blackjack
– Eight decks
– Dealer stands on soft 17
– Double after split allowed
– Late surrender allowed
– Dealer peeksMicrogaming Atlantic City Blackjack Strategy

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How Blackjack Rules Affect Strategy

As the charts above show, changing just one or two of the core rules can have a significant effect on blackjack strategy. Here are the big ones to look out for.

Number of decks in play: This is perhaps the most important point when it comes to 21 strategy – for in games with two decks or fewer, we have more opportunities to double down or split. For strategic purposes, blackjack tables using four, six, or eight decks are more or less identical to one another.

Dealer hits soft 17: Not only does this rule knock up the house edge by 0.22 per cent, it also requires a strategic shift on the player’s part. Compared to when the dealer stands on all totals of 17, here we are required to double down more often – especially on a soft 18 against a Six or less.

Double after split (DAS): In some games we can double down after splitting a pair, and in others we cannot. When we can, basic strategy says we should split much more often – especially on a pair of Fours, which we would almost never do when the DAS rule is not in play.

Dealer peeks for blackjack: Most Australian blackjack games use some version of the European No Hole Card rule (ENHC), where the dealer takes only an up card on the initial deal. In American blackjack, however, the croupier takes a hole card and checks for 21 straight away. This affects the way we play against 10-value cards and Aces, as US rules eliminate the possibility of losing further bets to a dealer blackjack down the track.

Surrender: There are two versions of this rule, primarily found in US blackjack games. In both cases we can choose to take back half our bet and thus end our hand when the dealer shows an Ace – but in early surrender we can do this before the dealer peeks, and in late surrender we must wait until after. The former is rarely seen these days, as it gives us a chance to get out of jail when the house pulls a natural. The late surrender should only be taken on the ugliest hard hands (16, for instance) against a strong dealer card, especially in games where the casino stands on soft 17.

Ready to put these strategy tips into action? Play the best real cash blackjack games online at Raging Bull Casino, our top-rated casino site for players from United States. Games can be sampled for free in demo mode so you can put your strategies to the test before committing to real money bets.

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