Bringing Down the House Edge
While blackjack is known as the most popular game in the casino, many are not aware it can offer the player the best odds too. By just following a simple strategy, you can reduce the house advantage to under 1%, giving you the closest to a fair bet that you will find in a casino. While achieving this does not come automatically, mistakes can greatly increase the house edge to 5% or even more, blackjack has essentially been solved giving you an optimal strategy to use.
Here you can find out all about playing basic strategy. First is an explanation of basic strategy and how it was developed, after which all the moves are listed out for you. As with most strategies even optimal ones are not always correct and as you become more experienced in the game you will spot times when you can break from basic strategy, although for the most part it should be regarded as the perfect play.
Playing Perfect Blackjack – The Origins of Basic Strategy
Blackjack basic strategy will tell you the best decision to take based on what your hand is and what the dealer is showing. While it is not a guarantee of winning any single hand, it will provide you with the most profitable decision in the long run.
The system was first developed in the 1950s by four US servicemen at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott. After being introduced to blackjack on night in the barracks, Baldwin who had a history in mathematics, became curious as to what the best decisions where.
Realizing it was going to be a big project he enlisted the help of the others and was able to gain use of the desktop calculators located at the base. The four men crunched numbers in their spare time for nearly two years until they finally came up with an optimal strategy. What is even more amazing than their dedication to the project is the accuracy, when you consider there were no computers available. Their original system was 100% accurate apart from some minor double down spots, since corrected. The ‘Four Horsemen of Aberdeen’ essentially created perfect blackjack.
Playing Perfect Blackjack – Basic Strategy in Practice
Most people realize very quickly that you should hit on hands of 11 or lower, stand at 17 or above and not split 10s as it is a potentially winning hand. While basic strategy covers all these it also addresses the more marginal spots, and it is here where you can really lose out to the house by playing hands wrong.
Below is a full list of the decisions you should be making when playing perfect blackjack. It is split into hard Hands, Soft hands and Pairs. Whether your hand is hard or soft depends on whether or not you hold an ace. Hands with aces are referred to as soft hands because you have the choice of playing the ace as a 1 or 11, giving you extra flexibility in the way you play it.
- Hard 8 or less – always hit
- Hard 9 – double when the dealer shows 3, 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- Hard 10 – hit when dealer shows Ace or 10, otherwise double down
- Hard 11 – hit when the dealer shows an Ace, otherwise double down
- Hard 12 – stand when dealer shows 4, 5, or 6, otherwise hit
- Hard 13 – 16 – stand when dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- Hard 17 – 21 – always stand
- Soft 3 or 4 – double down when dealer shows 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- Soft 5 or 6 – double down when dealer shows 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- Soft 7 – double down when dealer shows 3, 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- Soft 8 – double down when dealer shows 3, 4, 5 or 6, stand when dealer shows 2, 7 or 8, hit when dealer shows Ace, 9 or 10
- Soft 9 or 10 – always stand
- AA – always split
- 22/33 – split when dealer shows 7, otherwise hit
- 44 – split when dealer shows 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- 55 – hit when dealer shows Ace or 10, otherwise double down
- 66 – split when dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, otherwise hit
- 77 – split when dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, otherwise hit
- 88 – always split
- 99 – split when dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9, stand when the dealer shows 7, 10 or Ace
- TT – always stand
Playing Perfect Blackjack – Strategy Cards
While these actions can seem like a lot of information to remember the good news is you do not have to, at least not if you do not want to. All of these actions have been converted into charts, which are often color coded making them easy to read and refer to. These charts are widely available and can even be purchased in the casino itself.
Of course memorizing the moves will help the flow of the game and keep it more sociable, especially if you are sat with several other players. These cards can help you do this with their straightforward design, so they are worth getting hold of even if you do not intend to use them at the tables.