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BlackJack Strategy

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Due to the fact that the player's decisions can influence the outcome of the game, many systems for beating the odds of Blackjack have been developed. These systems range from betting styles to extensive counting of the cards that have been dealt and played. However, there is no system that guarantees a win on any particular hand.

At the same time, there are literally dozens of books on the subject of beating the odds, as well as numerous detailed mathematical formulas claiming to give the player that all-important edge. Most experienced players agree that the best edge may be achieved by following the playing rules described in, The Basic Strategy.

The Basic Strategy

In 1956, after three years of painstaking research, a statistician, Roger Baldwin, published a paper in the Journal of the American Statistical Association entitled, The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack. Baldwin's research was the first recognized effort to apply mathematics to Blackjack. Using a slide rule, and probability and statistical theories he evidently was able to come up with a set of plays that could substantially reduce the house advantage in Blackjack. This set of moves became known as The Basic Strategy and has since been the basis of all legitimate winning Blackjack methods. It is, in fact, the strategy used by the vast majority of experienced Blackjack players today.

The Basic Strategy is the optimum way for a player to improve his odds at Blackjack without having to learn the complex science of counting cards. The point to remember here is that The Basic Strategy is not based on guesswork or hunches. It is the mathematically and statistically proven way to play a Blackjack hand against every up-card dealt during a session.

Single Deck-Las Vegas

Dealer's Up-Card

  Player 
  Hand
 

 2 

 3 

 4 

 5 

 6 

 7 

 8 

 9 

 10 

 A 

8

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

9

D

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

10

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

H

H

11

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

12

H

H

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

13

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

14

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

15

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

16

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

17

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,2

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,3

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,4

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,5

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,6

D

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,7

S

D

D

D

D

S

S

H

H

S

A,8

S

S

S

S

D

S

S

S

S

S

A,9

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,A

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

2,2

H

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

3,3

H

H

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

4,4

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

6,6

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

H

7,7

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

S

H

8,8

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

9,9

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

S

S

10,10

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

Multiple Decks-Las Vegas

Dealer's Up-Card

  Player 
  Hand
 

 2 

 3 

 4 

 5 

 6 

 7 

 8 

 9 

 10 

 A 

8

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

9

H

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

10

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

H

H

11

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

H

12

H

H

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

13

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

14

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

15

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

16

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

17

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,2

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,3

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,4

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,5

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,6

H

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

A,7

S

D

D

D

D

S

S

H

H

H

A,8

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,9

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,A

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

2,2

H

H

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

3,3

H

H

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

4,4

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

6,6

H

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

H

7,7

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

8,8

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

9,9

P

P

P

P

P

S

P

P

S

S

10,10

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

The Basic Strategy will work for any player who follows it. Here are the facts. The casino's initial edge in the game of Blackjack is about 5.75 percent, which includes the three to two payoff on Player Blackjacks. By meticulously applying the rules of The Basic Strategy, the player can reduce the casino's edge to about 0.5 percent.

That is, if the initial casino's edge is 5.75 percent, prudent hitting or standing can reduce it by 3.25 percent, doubling down, by 1.5 percent, and splitting pairs, a further 0.5 percent for a total player gain in edge of 5.25 percent. The casino's edge against The Basic Strategy is reduced to only 0.5 percent. Of course, it is possible to affect the house edge further, or even to shift it in favor of the player, by taking advantage of bonuses offered when playing Blackjack online.

The modern version of The Basic Strategy is an even greater improvement over the earlier system. It has been fine-tuned by statisticians using intensive computer simulation and the application of the latest technologies and techniques in statistical analysis. The bright scientists and mathematicians involved used computers to play tens of thousands of hands for each possible play in Blackjack, and statistically determined which plays or decisions favored the player. The following three decision tables are the results of this analysis.

To interpret the tables, use the explanation of letters below (the legend).

H = Hit
S = Stand
D = Double Down
P = Split Pair

Multiple Decks-AtlanticCity

 

Dealer's Up-Card

  Player 
  Hand
 

 2 

 3 

 4 

 5 

 6 

 7 

 8 

 9 

 10 

 A 

 

8

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

 

9

H

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

10

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

H

H

 

11

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

D

H

 

12

H

H

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

 

13

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

 

14

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

 

15

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

 

16

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

 

17

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

 

A,2

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

A,3

H

H

H

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

A,4

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

A,5

H

H

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

A,6

H

D

D

D

D

H

H

H

H

H

 

A,7

S

D

D

D

D

S

S

H

H

H

 

A,8

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

 

A,9

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

 

A,A

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

 

2,2

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

 

3,3

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

 

4,4

H

H

H

P

P

H

H

H

H

H

 

6,6

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

H

 

7,7

P

P

P

P

P

P

H

H

H

H

 

8,8

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

P

 

9,9

P

P