Blackjack Strategy: The Perfect Way to Play

Blackjack is a game where good strategy can really make a difference. By learning the basics, you can actually make the game’s usual casino edge go down to just about 0.5%. This guide is all about teaching you those smart ways to play, both in real-life casinos and online.

It’s not just about the cards you have, it’s also about guessing what the dealer might do. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve played a lot, the strategies in this guide can help you play better and increase your chances to win at blackjack.

best strategy to win at blackjack

The Basics of the Game

Blackjack isn’t just about getting lucky with cards, it’s also about smart play. Let’s first go over the basic rules and moves for both for you and the dealer.

You want to beat the dealer’s hand but not go over 21 points. You get two cards and then decide what to do next, based on their value and the dealer’s open card.

What You Can Do:

  • Hit: This means asking for another card to get closer to 21.
  • Stand: If you’re happy with your cards, you don’t take any more.
  • Double Down: Here, you double your bet and get just one more card.
  • Split: If your two cards are the same, you can split them into two hands.
  • Surrender: If it looks like you might lose, you can quit the hand and only lose half your bet.
  • Insurance: If the dealer might have Blackjack (an Ace showing), you can bet on it with an insurance bet.

The Dealer’s Play:

  • After everyone has played, the dealer goes. They must hit (take more cards) if they have 16 or less and stand (stop taking cards) if they have 17 or more.
  • In some games, the dealer must hit on a ‘soft 17’ (an Ace and a 6).
  • If your cards go over 21, or the dealer’s hand is closer to 21 than yours, the dealer wins.

Now that you know the rules, let’s talk about how to win at Blackjack. We have some good strategies for you, whether you’re just starting or have been playing for a while. These tips will help you decide when to get more cards or when to stop. Keep reading to learn how to use these strategies to win more games.

Blackjack Basic Strategy

Blackjack basic strategy, often outlined in a handy cheat sheet or chart, is a systematic method to reduce the casino’s edge to as low as about 0.5%. This strategy involves making the mathematically optimal decision for each hand you’re dealt, based on your cards and the dealer’s visible card.

blackjack basic strategy chart cheat sheet

How to Read the Blackjack Chart

Understanding the blackjack basic strategy chart is straightforward. First, look for your hand value on the side of the chart. Then, find the dealer’s upcard value, which is listed across the top. The spot where these two meet on the chart tells you the best move to make, like hitting, standing, or doubling down.

Remember, this cheat sheet is based on math to help you lose less and win more. Just be sure to use the right chart for the game you’re playing, as the strategy changes a bit with different blackjack rules. With practice, using the chart will become easier and help you make quick, smart decisions in your games.

Key Details of Blackjack Basic Strategy

After understanding how blackjack basic strategy works, below are the main tips you should use when playing:

  • Stand on 17 or Higher: Hold your position with a hard 17 or above. This is a strong hand, and further cards could lead to busting.
  • Double Down on 11: When your first two cards total 11, it’s optimal to double your bet. This position has a high chance of improving to 21.
  • Always Split Aces and Eights: Splitting Aces and Eights is beneficial in most scenarios. It opens up the possibility of stronger hands or hitting blackjack with Aces.
  • Never Split 10s: A pair of 10s (totaling 20) is a powerful hand. Splitting could weaken your position, so it’s advisable to stand.
  • Hit on Soft 18 Against Dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace: With an Ace-7 (soft 18), hit if the dealer’s upcard is 9, 10, or an Ace. The likelihood of the dealer forming a stronger hand warrants trying to improve yours.
  • Stand with 12 Against Dealer’s 4, 5, or 6: If you have a total of 12, stand when the dealer shows 4, 5, or 6. These dealer cards have a higher chance of leading to a bust.
  • Stand with 13 to 16 Against Dealer’s 2 through 6: For hands between 13 and 16, stand if the dealer’s upcard is between 2 and 6. If the dealer shows a higher card, hitting is a better option to try for a stronger hand. Consider surrendering with a 16 against a dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace when available.

These important tips from the basic blackjack strategy help you play the game in an optimal way. They’re based on math and can really cut down the casino’s advantage if you use them all the time. Always refer to a cheat sheet for the best moves and to play perfect blackjack. Keep in mind, though, even with a good strategy, luck still plays a part.

How to Learn Basic Strategy

Every decision you take at the table has a significant impact on your chances to win. To help you with that, below are the top 5 blackjack tips to follow and help you remember what’s on the blackjack chart to play perfect blackjack:

  1. Study the Basic Strategy Chart: Familiarize yourself thoroughly with a basic strategy chart. Understand the recommended moves for different hand combinations.
  2. Use Cheat Sheets: Keep a cheat sheet close while playing, especially as a beginner. This can be a printed copy or a digital version on your device. Refer to it during games for guidance.
  3. Practice with Online Simulators: Use online blackjack simulators or apps to practice. Many offer a basic strategy mode, allowing you to learn without financial risk and often provide feedback on your decisions.
  4. Play Free Blackjack Games: Engage in free blackjack games at online casinos. This lets you try out strategies without risking real money, helping you understand how they work in live scenarios.
  5. Watch Professional Players: Observe professional blackjack players, either in person or through online streams. Watching their gameplay can offer practical insights into how the basic strategy is applied in real games.

Card Counting

Card counting is the best blackjack strategy to win money and get an edge over the casinos. This method involves keeping track of the balance of high and low cards in the deck:

  • High cards (10, face cards and Aces) are marked as -1
  • Low cards (2 to 6) are marked as +1
  • Cards from 7 to 9 are neutral

card counting best blackjack strategy

As cards are dealt, players maintain a ‘running count’ by adding or subtracting based on these values. This count helps determine which cards are still remaining in the deck.

When a deck has many high cards left (positive count) the player has an advantage. When there are more low cards remaining (negative count) it favors the dealer. Players  then need to adjust their betting strategy according  to the count:

  • Bet more with a high count
  • Bet less with a low count

Besides counting cards, players must also use basic strategy to play perfect blackjack and adjust their betting according to the count.

However, card counting has its limits, particularly in online blackjack, including live dealer games. Online casinos often shuffle the deck after each hand, making card counting less effective and monitor players’ activity.

Despite these hurdles, card counting can be effective in physical casinos. Players should understand the game’s specific rules, as they can influence card counting’s success. While card counting can offer an edge, winning in blackjack still involves a bit of luck and variance.


The Martingale strategy in blackjack is a betting system where you double your bet after each loss. The aim is to recover past losses and gain a small profit when you win. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Start with a Small Bet: If your initial bet is $5 and you lose, you double the bet to $10 for the next hand.
  • Double After Loss: Continue doubling your bet after each loss. So, if you lose the $10 bet, you bet $20 next.
  • Reset After Win: Once you win, go back to your original bet size. If you win the $20 bet, your next bet is $5 again.

This strategy has risks. Blackjack tables have betting limits, and a long losing streak can quickly exhaust your bankroll or reach the table limit, making it impossible to continue doubling. The Martingale doesn’t improve your winning odds; it just alters bet sizes. It’s more suited for short play sessions due to its high risk in prolonged games.

martingale betting system blackjack strategy

How to Choose the Right Blackjack Game

Choosing the right blackjack game is key to increase your chances of winning and enjoying the experience. Here’s what to consider:

  • Deck Quantity: Games with fewer decks usually offer better odds. Single-deck games are ideal, but they’re rare and might have other rules increasing the house edge.
  • Payouts for Blackjack: Look for games that offer a 3:2 payout for a natural blackjack. Avoid tables that only pay 6:5, as this increases the house edge significantly.
  • Double Down Rules: Check if the game allows you to double down and on which hands. This feature can lower the house edge, especially if you can double after a split.
  • Dealer’s Action on Soft 17: Prefer games where the dealer stands on soft 17. This rule can significantly affect the house edge in your favor.
  • Surrender Option: Not all games offer the option to surrender. It’s a useful feature, especially in tough situations like having a 16 against a dealer’s 10.
  • Double Down After Splitting: The ability to double down after splitting can be beneficial. Ensure this option is available but use it judiciously.

In addition to these tips, it’s a good idea to use casino bonuses. They can give you more money to play with and improve your chances of winning at blackjack.

Blackjack Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common mistakes is crucial for success in blackjack. Here are some key errors to steer clear of:

Not Knowing the Rules

Each blackjack variant has its own rules and side bets. Before playing, understand these rules, as they can significantly impact your strategy and odds. For instance, know when you can double after a split, if the dealer stands or surrenders at 17, and if you have the surrender option.

Lack of Strategy

Playing without a basic strategy is a major mistake. Guessing or relying on gut feelings can increase the house edge. It’s essential to learn and apply a solid strategy to make informed decisions.

Not Knowing When to Quit

Set a budget and win/loss limits before you start playing. Many players continue playing in hopes of recovering losses or achieving bigger wins, often leading to further losses.

Blaming Bad Luck

If you’re on a losing streak, control your emotions. Harassing the dealer or other players is unproductive. If you’re having a bad run, consider taking a break.

Playing at a Non-Licensed Casino

To make sure you have fair chances of winning, you should always play at licensed casinos by entities such as the Curacao eGaming Authority.

mistakes to avoid blackjack

Best 5 Tips to Win at Blackjack

Lastly and before you start playing blackjack, we want to leave you with our top 5 tips:

  • Learn Basic Strategy: Master the basic blackjack strategy for the best odds of winning.
  • Manage Your Bankroll: Set a budget for your play and stick to it to avoid big losses.
  • Avoid Insurance Bets: These bets usually favor the house, not the player.
  • Choose Tables Wisely: Play at tables with rules that lower the house edge, like 3:2 payouts for blackjack.
  • Stay Disciplined: Don’t let emotions drive your decisions; stick to your strategy and betting plan.

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These FAQs cover the basics of blackjack strategy, but remember that practice, experience, and a bit of luck also play significant roles in your success at the blackjack table.

What is the basic strategy in blackjack?

Basic strategy in blackjack is a set of guidelines that offers the best mathematical play for every card combination. It tells you when to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender based on your hand and the dealer's upcard.

Does basic strategy guarantee a win?

No, basic strategy doesn't guarantee a win as blackjack is still a game of chance. However, it significantly improves your odds by minimizing the house edge.

What does it mean to 'hit' or 'stand' in blackjack?

To 'hit' means to ask for another card. To 'stand' means to keep your current hand and end your turn.

Should I take insurance in blackjack?

No, it's generally advised not to take insurance as it's a side bet with a high house edge. The insurance bet is a wager on whether the dealer has a blackjack.

Is card counting illegal in blackjack?

Card counting is not illegal, but casinos frown upon it and may ban players they suspect of counting cards. It's a strategy used to track the ratio of high to low cards left in the deck.

Can I use the Martingale strategy in blackjack?

You can use the Martingale strategy, which involves doubling your bet after each loss. However, it's risky and requires a large bankroll, as prolonged losing streaks can deplete your funds quickly.

How important is bankroll management in blackjack?

Bankroll management is crucial in blackjack. It involves playing within your means and setting limits to avoid significant financial losses.

Are online blackjack games rigged?

No, reputable online casinos use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to ensure fair play. However, it's important to play at licensed and regulated online casinos.

Can I play blackjack successfully without knowing how to count cards?

Yes, you can still play blackjack successfully by using the basic strategy and good bankroll management, even without card counting.

What should I look for when choosing a blackjack table?

Look for tables with rules that favor the player, like 3:2 payouts for blackjack, the dealer standing on soft 17, and options for late surrender. Also, consider table limits that match your bankroll.

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