General Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack StrategyBlackjack is seen as being one of the key casino games that is driven by strategy instead of by luck. If you want to learn blackjack strategy, then it’s possible to learn a mathematically-correct style for every single decision that can come up in every single type of blackjack ever invented. However, most people don’t really have the time to put in dozens of hours each week to memorize exceptionally detailed and difficult strategies for games. To this end, we’re going to show you the fundamentals of strategy for this game that will help you to perform well no matter what kind of blackjack you’re interested in playing.

The Two Fundamental Ideas

There are two fundamental ideas that you should know before you dive into our blackjack strategy recommendations. First, the difference between hard hands and soft hands is a pretty big deal because you can be so much more aggressive with soft hands since there is no chance of going bust on a single hit or double. Second, the weak dealer hands are six and lower while the strong dealer hands are seven and higher, including aces. The correct play in many instances will be based entirely on whether the dealer has a strong card or a weak card because the dealer is much more likely to go bust with a weak card showing than with a strong card showing.

How to Play Soft Hands

A blackjack player’s bread and butter is in playing soft hands aggressively. If you have a total of 18 or less, then you’re never going to stand except when facing three specific dealer cards with a total of 18. Stand with a soft 18 when you’re facing a two, a seven or an eight. You’ll always stand with a soft 19 or higher, and you’ll always hit with a soft 18 or lower when facing a strong dealer card, except in the two cases listed above.

When you have a soft hand worth 13 to 18, you’re always going to double against a five or a six. If your soft hand is between 15 and 18, always double against a four. If it’s between 17 and 18, then double against a three. You’ll never double against a two or against a strong dealer card with a soft hand. These recommendations completely detail correct blackjack strategy for playing with soft hands, and they’re pretty easy to learn with a small amount of practice.

Playing Hard Hands

Whenever you do not have an Ace that can be counted as an 11, it’s called a hard hand because its value isn’t as flexible. Your main strategy here is going to have three parts. First, you’ll want to hit aggressively against strong dealer cards to try to get a good total since it’s unlikely that the dealer will go bust. Second, you’ll want to stand a lot against weak cards because it is more likely that the dealer will bust, and you don’t want to bust before he does because that means you lose instead of coming out in a tie. Third, you’ll be aggressive with doubling in certain cases when you hold a nine, ten or eleven.

With hard hands that are totals of nine, double when facing weak dealer cards except for twos. With hard tens, double against all dealer cards except for tens and aces. When you have an ace, double against all dealer cards except for an ace. Always follow these suggestions when you can, and always hit these hands if you do not have the option to double.

When facing strong dealer cards with hard totals, just keep hitting until you get a total of 17 or more unless you have one of the doubling scenarios mentioned above. The exception is to surrender whenever you have a total of 16 facing either a nine, ten or ace from a dealer. You should also surrender whenever you have a total of 15 facing a ten. Note that you do not surrender with 15 when facing a nine or an ace. These are the only times you should ever surrender.

If you have a hard total and are facing a weak dealer card, then the strategy is almost the exact opposite. Stand on any total of 12 or more unless you have exactly 12 and are facing a dealer with either a two or three. In those two cases, you should just hit. That covers every bit of basic blackjack strategy for playing hard hands.

Paired Hands

Paired hands are pretty easy to learn how to play. Always split aces and eights, and never split fours, fives or tens. Other than that, you should split if you’re playing against a weak dealer hand, and you should hit if you’re playing against a strong dealer hand. Paired hands don’t happen very often, but they’re easy to learn how to play, so it might be best if you learn how to play them early on when you’re learning blackjack strategy.

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