Basic Blackjack Strategy: Single Deck

Blackjack is among the most popular casino games. It’s not overly complicated, it provides major thrills, and it can also lead to significant winnings if played right. Many rookies get drawn in by the straightforward premise – do not jump over 21 and outdo the dealer – and simply jump right in the middle of the action without any tactics in mind. If you are reading this, you are not one of them and congratulations are already in order.

Deck of cards

The basic strategy

For blackjack players of all levels, the starting point is the basic strategy which was tried and tested in computer simulations and real life. It greatly improves your chances of winning in the long run – even if you feel you are losing more while sticking to the basic strategy, you should stick to it and see it through. Over the course of more extended play, your discipline will be rewarded. The strategy below reduces the usual 5.5 per cent house advantage to less than 1 per cent, which often means the difference between full and empty pockets.

Single deck play

This is the most straightforward game and also one where counting cards is easiest, so you may afford yourself little situation-dependent deviations – if you are advanced enough. In all other cases, obey the rules.

Your card – Dealer’s up-card

8 – 5 to 6: double. Otherwise hit.
9 – 2 to 6: double. Otherwise hit.
10 – 2 to 9: double. Otherwise hit.
11 – Always double.
12 – 4 to 6: stand. Otherwise hit.
13 to 16 – 2 to 6: stand. Otherwise hit.
17 to 21 – Always stand.
A,2 to A,5 – 4 to 6: double. Otherwise hit.
A,6 – 2 to 6: double. Otherwise hit.
A,7 – 3 to 6: double. 2,7,8 or A: stand.
9 or 10: hit.
A,8 – 6: double. Otherwise stand.
A,9 – Always stand.
A,A – Always split.
2,2 – 3 to 7: split. Otherwise hit.
3,3 – 4 to 7: split Otherwise hit.
4,4 – Same as 8 above.
5,5 – Same as 10 above.
6,6 – 2 to 6: split. Otherwise hit.
7,7 – 2 to 7: split. 10: stand. Otherwise hit.
8,8 – Always split.
9,9 – 2 to 9 except 7: split. 7,10 or A: stand.
10,10 – Always stand.

Practice makes perfect

Now that you have the basic strategy for the classic single-deck variant of blackjack, find an online casino which allows practice play. Run through as many games as you need until the rules above become second nature to you and you instinctively know what to do.